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The Stockdale Paradox

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The Stockdale Paradox Is A Key Leadership Trait
The Stockdale Paradox is one leadership trait that should be utilized by all leaders. Outside of the military,
leaders of business, schools, and the like will probably never face what James Stockdale went through. But
the core of the Stockdale Paradox is universal for everyone to use during difficult and trying times. Having
“unwavering faith†and not allowing any other outcome to embed itself in your mind, will without a
doubt keep you fighting until you reach that outcome. The Stockdale Paradox transcends business, it is for
everyone who is going through a struggle. From health issues, faith issues, family issues, and so on
adopting the Stockdale Paradox will only help, not hurt the situation. I would add that the Stockdale
Paradox is not reserved for trying and difficult times. Rather the Stockdale Paradox can be used for
anything worth fighting for.


The Stockdale Paradox Is An Amazing Reality Of Personal Strength
Good to Great is a fantastic book, definetly one of my favorites. It is loaded with a lot of great content on
leadership and strategies for success. One of the parts that stood out to me was the Stockdale Paradox. It is
nothing far from amazing what James Stockdale went through during the Vietnam war. The leadership traits
that he bestowed in times of turmoil should be modeled time and time again by anyone facing a crisis. The
author of Good to Great, Jim Collins writes about an amazing example of “unwavering faith†by James
Stockdale. But first a little back story, Admiral Jim Stockdale was captured in the Vietnam war and was
held captive for seven years after being shot down in 1965. Over those seven years he was tortured over 20
times (let that sink in for a moment and allow your mind to speculate) while being held captive. He was one
of the most highly decorated officers of his time. I could not fathom being tortured over 20 times let alone
once. The Stockdale Paradox is both captivating and an example for us to model.


I used it when I was getting my MBA. While I was getting my MBA, I was newly engaged, working a full
time job, renovating a newly purchased condo, and working a side job to save up for the wedding. I used
the Stoockdale Paradox “unwavering faith†approach to get me through those stressful and downright
exhausting times. But, my faith never wavered that I would finish my MBA program with high marks, to
have a successful wedding and a new place to call home. The Stockdale Paradox is for anyone who needs to
overcome a challenge or time of turmoil.


The Origin Of The Stockdale Paradox
What set apart Admiral Stockdale from the other prisoners was his “unwavering faith.†The fact that he
not only knew he would one day be released or rescued, but that these trying, horrible, and absolutely
horrendous seven years would end up defining who he was. The faith that in the end, when it was all over,
he would be set free kept him alive. Thus, this was the origin of the Stockdale Paradox. Other prisoners put
time stamps on their faith and rescue, essentially picking a date and saying that they would be released or
rescued by then. When that date came and went, so did their faith, will, and desire to keep fighting. Admiral
Stockdale says that those men “died of a broken heart.†The Stockdale Paradox rests on the ability to
put your mind past your wants and hopes and set it on the end goal which in his case was freedom.
Stockdale Paradox

				
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posted:11/18/2011
language:English
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