“Never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.” – Admiral Stockdale, POW for seven years
Screw the optimists; bring on the realists! Not really.
Balancing the idea that you will prevail in the end with confronting brutal reality is, however, an empowering lens through which to see the choices we make. We certainly don’t have to confront the literally brutal facts that Admiral Stockdale did, but in the choices we make about our lives and about who we are, we do have to balance our faith that we will prevail with the brutal facts.
I once worked at a place that I LOVED. I had fond memories of it and many of my lifelong friends were made there. When I went back after a few years away, it was different. (And I was different!) I kept trying to make it what it was, to make it the place I remembered where innovation was encouraged and new ideas were prized. I spent a lot of time trying to change it.
At some point I realized I was confused. I was thinking that “prevailing in the end” meant changing the organization. When I confronted the brutal facts of the current reality, I realized that prevailing in the end meant moving on.
I’m optimistic that it was the right choice.