The Stockdale Paradox
Belief drives behaviour, always. As Maxwell Maltz says in his book Psychocybernetics “Human beings will always feel and act and perform in accordance with what they imagine to be true about themselves and their environment.”
In the last while we have seen bizarre behaviour world-wide because people are driven by beliefs around panic, fear and self-preservation on the one extreme, and beliefs around indifference, fatalistic resignation and false optimism on the other.
I’m reminded here of the Stockdale Paradox, which was penned by Admiral James Stockdale, who spent 8 years being tortured in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp called the Hanoi Hilton. I believe it to be the appropriate belief for our current reality. It states:
“You must maintain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties,
and at the same time
confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
For me this means that I take all necessary and sane precautions to not become infected. But if I do end up with the virus, to take it seriously and cease contact with all others so that it ends there, and at the same time continue to work, learn, interact, contribute and generally use this time productively because this too shall pass sometime. Weeks, months or even longer we don’t know, but it will end.
And no, I don’t have a massive financial back-up to say this with comfort. I also stand to lose a lot, like many of you. But let’s be calm and choose what we should believe, rather than let our imaginations run wild.
What beliefs will you choose?