06 December 2011

“Trial by Fire”

Attached (here) is an essay written by VADM Jim Stockdale USN (ret) from his book “Thoughts of a Philosophical Fighter Pilot” in which he shares the five qualities he believes are essential in leaders during turbulent and difficult times. Now, I understand there are a lot of leadership books out there, but VADM Stockdale’s views are particularly compelling because they were shaped by the seven years of “death and hopelessness” he endured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. His story is one of great struggle and determination to lead and guide his fellow prisoners (he was the senior officer) under the most challenging conditions imaginable and stand by his convictions (he would rather die than submit) during the most perilous of times (read his bio here).
I want to share this essay with you because I believe (as I’ve said here many times) that the times are indeed changing and VADM Stockdale’s message concerning the essentials of leadership is just as relevant and important today as when he wrote it for us in 1985.
All the best, JCHjr


NVYGUNZ said...


Thank you Sir, I enjoyed reading that essay.

He is also coined in "How The Mighty Fall", by Jim Collins. Listed under "Stage 2: Disciplined Thought" -Confront the Brutal Facts – The Stockdale Paradox: Retain unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Again, sound and sage advice from a wise and legendary leader! Cheers.


s said...

From the linked essay, VADM Stockdale wrote: "The key to our future leaders’ merit may not be 'hanging in there' when the light at the end of the tunnel is expected. It will be their performance when it looks like the light will never show up."

That's probably the best summation I've read of what being a leader is all about.

Thank you for the post, Admiral.

David Marquet said...

Navy is #20 on happiest places to work in America!


mike said...

I am a huge fan of VADM James Bond Stockdale's. I wrote this essay about him and the VADM J.B. Stockdale Inspirational Leadership Award Winners


Phil Wisecup said...

admiral, right on. stockdale said it's easy to lead when the sun is shining...