WHAT’S YOUR FOCUS? : Jeanne Mayo

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If you’ve never read Jim Collins’ bestselling leadership book, Good To Great, I highly recommend it. In his book, he tells a story that is very profound and gives us wisdom as we look at our current times in dealing with COVID-19 as leaders. He calls it, “The Stockdale Paradox.”

The name refers to Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was the highest-ranking United States military officer in one of the infamous prisoner-of-war camps during the Vietnam War. He was imprisoned for eight years and tortured over twenty times. He lived out the war with no prisoner’s rights, no set release date, and no certainty whether he would ever see his family again. His biography describes the depressing hopelessness of his situation. How did he deal with it when he was there and didn’t know the end of the story?

Admiral Stockdale said the ones who did not leave that prison camp alive were the “Optimists.” They were the ones who told themselves, “We’ll be out by Christmas,” and Christmas would come and go. Then they’d say, “We’ll be out by Easter,” and Easter would come and go. And then by Thanksgiving, then Christmas would come again…and they would eventually die of a broken heart.

But the ones who made it out were the ones who prepared for the most challenging situations that might be forthcoming…and looked at them totally realistically. But always with the awareness that eventually, everything would be good again.

One day we will be on the other side of COVID-19. Our lives may never be the same, but we will prevail, if we keep our eyes on Jesus. Like Admiral Stockdale, be a giver of hope to the ones you are leading. One day, EVERYTHING WILL BE GOOD AGAIN. Remember that the generation before us had to go to war to save our civilization. Now we’re just being asked to sit on our couches to save it! So there’s not much to complain about when you put it all into perspective.

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