I’ve been waiting on a piece of news. I’ve been playing this waiting game for a while now and throughout this period, I’ve let myself believe that the outcome will either make or break the next year of my life.
For those of you that have played this waiting game before, I’m sure you know that this period of limbo is an excruciating space to be in. Over the last week I’ve tried every perspective I could take. I’ve tried being an optimist - believing that I would stop having to wait within 5 minutes…then 10 minutes…then 5 more. I’ve tried being a realist where I brace myself for the worst scenario possible then try to believe that the outcome never really mattered too much after all. Neither strategy really worked and for a while I couldn’t reason out why that could be possible.
Stockdale solved my problem. In Good to Great, Jim Collins writes about his interview with Admiral Jim Stockdale who was imprisoned in the Vietnam war for 8 years. I’m not saying that my position is at all comparable, but he does still have some very applicable lessons to anyone in a place where their immediate fate lies in someone elses hands.
“Jim - How did you deal with not knowing the end of the story?
I never lost faith in the end of the story.
This is a very important lesson.
You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end - which you can never afford to lose - with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”
So 2 big things to remember:
1.) There is a huge difference between being optimistic and in ignoring the facts
2) There is a huge difference between being realistic and forgetting the rest of reality beyond the immediate obstacle
I’m quickly figuring out how hugely important these distinctions are.