Unwaivering faith

June 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm 2 comments

Recently, Katie and I went to Yosemite for a wedding.  It was my first time, and I can’t believe I haven’t gotten up there before.  Places like Yosemite make me realize how insignificant we all are when compared to nature.

The morning of the wedding, we hiked up to a waterfall at Hetch Hetchy (the source of SF’s water supply).  Along the way to the falls we walked through a dark tunnel (it reminded me of the Goonies), and through the darkness, I could see the proverbial light at the end.  This light continued to get closer and closer, but I could never quite tell how much further I had to travel until I reached the end.

It turns out the cave is pretty short, only a few hundred yards at most.  So no big deal, but the misleading distance to the light reminded me of the Stockdale Paradox which Jim Collins discusses in his book Good to Great.

Based on the story of Vice Admiral Jim Stockdale’s time as a prisoner in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during Vietnam, the Stockdale Paradox suggests that “an unwaivering faith in the endgame” while also confronting “the most brutal facts of your reality” is what helps us prevail.  In my case, the brutal facts weren’t so brutal, but let’s get back to Admiral Stockdale…

Admiral Stockdale was a prisoner in the “Hanoi Hilton” for 8 years.  He not only survived, but also, according to Stockdale, was stronger coming out then he was going in.  Regarding how he came out of the camp with strength, Stockdale replied:

“I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life…”

And who didn’t make it out?  According to Stockdale, it was the optimists:

“Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Often we are in dark places and can see the light…but many times we don’t know how far away that light is.  Stockdale’s story suggests that it’s those that know they will reach the light, but don’t how or when, that succeed.  An unwaivering faith.

Discovering happiness is a continual path.  It’s important that we all know that we’ll get there, and Traba is trying to help shine some light in your path along the way.

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About Me

I'm a San Francisco-based strategic thinker who believes that life is only as great as the people you choose to interact with. I love people, and studying business has given me greater insight into how to most effectively develop myself, and my personal relationships. I look forward to discussing people and business with those that find this area as fascinating as I do.

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