How Being a Realist Will Help You Reach Your Goals

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.”
~ James Stockdale

Where’re my realists? Show of hands! I’ve got my hand up; I’m a realist, for sure. That’s why this quote, known as The Stockdale Paradox, resonates strongly with me.

Vice Admiral Stockdale was a POW for over 7 years during the Vietnam War. When asked the difference between U.S. POWs that made it out vs. those who didn’t, Stockdale shared that it was the optimists who died of broken hearts. They’d cling to “we’ll be home by Christmas,” but Christmas would come and go. Next, they’d set sights on Easter to no avail—and so on, until they were despondent and depleted.

However, those who faced daily struggles realistically yet kept faith were able to sustain until freedom was achieved.

Today, as every day, I’m a realist facing the facts and tackling what I must in light of current circumstances. But I’m doing so with my immovable, deep-rooted faith in the ultimate outcome.

Being a realist who has faith gives my discomfort a purpose. It invites me to invite discomfort on purpose for the purpose I’m focused on. It reminds me this is really about who I’m becoming rather than what I will achieve. It bolsters me to take steps on a staircase I can’t fully see. It empowers me to be emotionally intelligent. Being a realist, being measured, regulating my emotions with great intelligence, facing those facts and not assigning undue drama to those facts…this means I’m limiting the drama and seeing things as they are…that is truly a point of strength.

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