WATCH: How Is The Pandemic Affecting Your Mindset?

Today, I’d like to talk about ‘Realistic Optimism’ and ‘Resilience’. Because Resilience is the ability to bounce back from any adversity.


The Stockdale Paradox

Realistic optimism is a way of being able to look at the facts and look at the reality of the situation while maintaining a deep optimism that you will prevail. And, in psychological terms, this is referred to as ‘The Stockdale Paradox’. Because James Stockdale was a prisoner of war in the  Vietnam war. And he was incarcerated in brutal conditions for seven years. And, he was able to maintain a sense of optimism without getting into blind optimism without thinking, “Oh to be all okay”.  

He was able to ‘Face Up to the brutal Facts’ of the situation while maintaining a sense that  ‘Confidence that I will Cope’ with the situation and ‘Belief that I Will Prevail’ in this situation. 

And it was interesting that over the years, he noticed that a lot of his fellow prisoners would have blind optimism at first, they’d be going like “We’ll be out by Christmas or we’ll be out by  Easter”. And, then Easter and Christmas would come and go and they wouldn’t be out. And they’d be thinking like “Oh it must be the next Christmas.  It’ll definitely be the next Christmas,  yes, it’ll definitely be the next Christmas!” And then that will pass. And he said that over the years he could see them being ground down by this constant beating up of having this optimism and actually, not getting through it. And then he said many of them died of a broken heart. And it was also, really difficult for the pessimists.

Because the pessimist was “God, we never get out, we’ll never get out, this is going to be terrible!” And they would then actually get very stressed as well and many of them passed away as well. And he was able to balance this ferocious realistic optimism with a sense that I will confidently I will get through this and I will prevail but yes  I know that I’m in a dire situation. So, I’d like you to think about your own sense of resilience and be aware of your own levels of optimism or pessimism and how you can get that balance right that paradox of both being able to say Yes, this is a dire situation this is a difficult situation and I hope the optimism to know that I can prevail I have the confidence to prevail.  

So, think about that and above all. Stay Curious! 


With best regards,

David Klaasen 

Talent4Performance help business leaders clarify complexity. We inspire people and drive continuous performance improvement, so they can convert thinking into action and results. 

©David Klaasen – 2014