View Full Version : Stockdale Paradox

10-17-2004, 09:24
I recently read something in a best-selling business book “Good to Great”, that seemed to ring true with regard to thru-hiking. Jim Collins wrote of what he called “The Stockdale Paradox”.

The Stockdale Paradox refers to the true story of Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, a vice-presidential candidate in 1992 and a prisoner of war who survived torture and escaped his captors twice. He noted that those POWs who had optimism that was not tempered with the reality of their situation (like those who held fast to ideas like “we’ll be out by Christmas”) would give up and die when that failed to pass. The man’s formula for survival" have unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality."

Like with a lot of things, I immediately placed these thought s in the context of the Trail. To my way of thinking, when you start a hike it’s a good to know that you will get to Katahdin (or Springer) AND accept you will have some days where 8 miles feels like 20, and everthing just sucks. Or as Admiral Stockdale put it—You won’t get out by Christmas, “get over it”.

Rick B (Whose opinion is based on a sample of one)