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On Optimism and Confronting Reality

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The optimists.  Oh, they were the ones who said, “We’re going to be out by Christmas.”  And, Christmas would come, and Christmas would go.  Then they’d say, “We’re going to be out by Easter.”  And Easter would come, and Easter would go.  And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again.  And they died of a broken heart.  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 that might be.

— Admiral James Stockdale, talking to Jim Collins about his time in the notorious “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner of war camp in Vietnam.  The optimists, said the Admiral, died first.

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Written by frrl

May 12, 2010 at 4:25 am

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