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Revisiting the Stocktake Paradox

A paradox is a statement which is seemingly absurd or contradictory.

The optimistic will fail, the pessimistic will also fail.But someone with the right blend of both will succeed.

This paradoxical statement was made by US Admiral James Stockdale.

He was the senior most US Prisoner of War in the Vietnam war.

He is probably the longest survivor of captivity in these camps.

He returned to the US after seven years of intense torture.

When asked how he survived he said that he did so by being both an optimist and a pessimist.

He optimistically told himself that these difficult times would pass.

He also pessimistically told himself that he did not know how long this unfortunate situation would last.

He was thus prepared for and had the patience and courage to face adversity but was also confident that he would come out a winner.

The people who were just optimistic died because they expected to be released in a month or in three months or in a year. They could not handle the disappointment when this did not happen.

The pessimistic could not handle the stress and fear and died of broken hearts.

Rear Admiral Stockdale survived because he found both the patience and the courage to last through adversity. He also had the belief that he would come out on top and finally prevail.

We can all learn a lesson from him in these hard times.

We need to understand that these difficult days are not in our control and hence we need to have patience, resilience and endurance.

We also need to know that we will come out victorious and that good times will come back.

As long as we have these two thoughts and as long as we have each other’s back there is nothing that can harm us or stop us in our march forward.

God bless all of us.

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