The Stockdale Paradox

— 2 minute read

In an interview talking about his imprisonment and torture from 1968 to 1974, Admiral Jim Stockdale had this to say when asked how he didn't let it get him down or depressed:

He said, “Well, you have to understand, it was never depressing. Because despite all those circumstances, I never ever wavered in my absolute faith that not only would I prevail—get out of this—but I would also prevail by turning it into the defining event of my life that would make me a stronger and better person. Not only that, Jim, you realize I’m the lucky one.”

I said, “No, I don’t.”

He said, “Yes, because I know the answer to how I would do, and you never will.”

A little later in the conversation, after I’d absorbed that and said nothing for about five minutes because I was just stunned, I asked him who didn’t make it out of those systemic circumstances as well as he had.

He said, “Oh, it’s easy. I can tell you who didn’t make it out. It was the optimists.”

This link / quote post is basically a copy of what John Gruber posted on Daring Fireball. I wanted to try it as a test of how easily I could post to my new CMS I set up for my blog.