I read a story the other day about Vice Admiral James Stockdale. He was Navy fighter pilot who was show down in Vietnam, captured, and spent almost 8 years as a Prisoner of War in the brutal "Hanoi Hilton." James never broke. In fact, he would do everything to sabotage his captors plans so he would not be used as a propaganda tool including things like beating his own face to sheer bloodiness to keep from being paraded around by the enemy.
It truly is an amazing story of determination, survival, and grit.
Year later, Jim Collins interviewed Stockdale and he shared what I believe to be some of the greatest advice for success and reality that I think is very relevant for our times.
Collins asked Stockdale, "How did you deal with such harsh circumstances and uncertainty?" Stockdale's answer was succinct and the very epitome of what it takes to survive. He said, "I never lost faith in the end of the story. I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”
What he said next was even more important. Collins asked him, "Who were the type of people that didn't make it out of the POW camp?"
Stockdale answered, “Oh that’s easy. The optimists. They were the ones who said, ‘we’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And then Christmas would come, and Christmas would go.
And then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And then 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,” Stockdale added, “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.”
At a time of global pandemic and crisis, it is important balance your faith and optimism and confront the brutal facts of reality. Beware being an optimist thinking everything is going to be back to normal in a month or two. That's not reality. We will get through this pandemic, deep global economic downturn and we will be prosperous in the future, but the reality is that the road be tough, rough, go on longer than expected, and have lasting effects for years to come. The sooner we face that, the clearer things will be and the easier it will be to find the opportunity during this time. Make no mistake, there is opportunity. The key is to have yourself in position to see it, act on it, and see it through during tough times.
That is what Vice Admiral Stockdale did. He saw things for what they were, held deep faith, and acted daily to get to his freedom (his opportunity). Most of us will never endure the hell that Stockdale did, but we do have our own challenges we will go through during these times.
Keep your faith that you will prevail and you will.
With everything going on in the world right now and a global recession in it's infancy, it is easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom and lose sight of the opportunities around us. No matter how dark it gets, you can still succeed. There have been much darker times and much harder times in our history.
If you lived in Europe during WWII, you not only had to deal with bombs being dropped day and night on your cities and homes and country, but the constant fear of death, alongside disease, medical shortages, etc. Millions died during a few year span. While the current crisis is a major challenge that will have lasting effects for the next few years, it does not compare to what our fellow man had to endure during that time.
With that said, here are 10 articles to help you succeed in 2020 and beyond!
Life-Changing Wisdom from a 7-Year Old
Entrepreneurs are unique breed. We spend our lives working through challenges, pushing ourselves through barriers, and figuring out how to succeed. During these uncertain times in dealing with the Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, I feel entrepreneurs are needed now more than ever to help the world.
It is important that we also stick together and help each other as best as possible. Aside from doing the weekly Misfit Entrepreneur, I wanted to share 3 actions my partners and I are doing across our businesses as it may help you in yours and with those around you.
First, we are doing our best to take care of all employees and our customers. We are helping our employees with everything they need to work from home, give them timely resources to stay safe, and support their individual needs during this time. For our clients, we are doing all we can to help them both financially and with our products and solutions. We are evaluating everything we can do and give to them while making sure to keep ourselves viable and stable for them. And, anywhere we can give our resources to help them, we are doing so for minimal cost or free if possible.
Second, we are evaluating all plans and strategies and adjusting them as needed, but also positioning ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities when this situation ends. Make no mistake, on the other side of this will be one of the best environments to gain market share and grow a business in our lifetimes and we need to be prepared. For example, while others are pulling back in all areas of their business, we are pushing forward with marketing and sales and making sure that we are the solution clients go to when they are ready. We will be uniquely positioned for when things turn around. Look for ways to have your business ready for when things get back to normal.
Lastly, I am doing my best to be a resource and voice of reason to those around me and help them through things as best as I can. Now is not a time for emotional decisions or to let emotions run our daily lives. There is a place for it, but it is most important to use logic and reason in your decision making and in your interactions with others. Make no mistake, this will be hard as things most likely will get worse before they get better, but it is the right way to approach it. Remember, the way you think directly impacts you actions and results. You must think clearly at this time.
This situation is "once in a lifetime" situation, but it will pass and entrepreneurs will be there to lead the world back and help in many ways. It is what we were made for and it is what we are called to do.
Books are plentiful. Everybody is writing one these days. But, every once in a while something comes along that really separates itself from the crowd and can make a real different in your life and success. If you are looking for a book that will not only educate, but also enlighten you and help you to truly think in new ways, I suggest reading one or all of these 5 books in 2020.
1.) Redefine Impossible by James Lawrence
James is also know as the Iron Cowboy because, well he is seemingly tougher than iron. James was the guy who came up with the crazy idea of doing 50 full Ironman Triathlons, in 50 states, in 50 days. And he did. As a frame of reference, a full Ironman is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, followed by a marathon. Could you imagine doing 50 back to back and traveling every night across the country doing them on 5-6 hours sleep? James book tells the story, but more importantly shares deeply everything he went through internally and externally to reach this goal. It will make think much bigger about what is possible for you.
2.) The Volunteer by Jack Fairweather
What could be crazier than being a lone wolf fighter against the Nazi army at it's fiercest? Volunteering to go into Auschwitz death camp to try and bring it down from the inside. That is exactly what Witold Pilecki volunteered to do in 1940 years before the camp was liberated. He spent 2.5 years in the camp before his escape. This books shows us what the human spirit is capable of at it's best (and worst). It is painstakingly researched and real. This is true hero story. Warning: It does not sugarcoat what happened in Auschwitz, so be prepare to get a full view of the atrocities.
3.) Innovation on Tap by Eric B. Schultz
I had Eric on the show and really enjoyed my time with him. I enjoyed his book just as much as it explores and shares some of the greatest entrepreneur stories of U.S. history and brings them to life in the setting of the entrepreneurs sitting at a bar swapping their stories together. It is a great, inspirational read that will help you to think in more innovative ways.
4.) Everybody Always by Bob Goff
If you think you know what love is, I challenge you to read this book and learn from the adventures of Bob Goff. He truly is an amazing individual and has more in his life than most people can dream of - all in the name of goodness and love. This book will help you understand the true contribution that is possible for you to make in this world and after reading, you'll have no choice but to get started doing it.
5.) Augmented by Brett King
Brett was also a guest on the show and his work as a futurist and in the technology space, especially in the new age of banking is profiled all over the world. In Augmented, Brett shows what the future looks like with the technologies being created today. He also shows you how you can take advantage and set yourself and business up to prosper in the rapidly changing world over the next decade. You'll be amazed at what is possible and already being done in this world.
From Misfit's "Top 10 Lessons to Thrive and Succeed" Guidebook. Click here to get a FREE copy
Lesson #8: Learn to Be a Great Problem Solver
High performing Misfit Entrepreneurs are great problem solvers. This ability truly separates them. They also have figured out that the bigger the problems that they can solve, the bigger their business and success can grow. They seek out bigger challenges.
The take calculated, what I call asymmetric risks. Meaning that the risk they take have some downside, but very little compared to the massive payoff they will get in succeeding in taking the risk. Solving big problems requires taking risks and sometimes a leap of faith.
How about you? What problem or problems can you or should you be solving? Are there any problems that you have thought about and are passionate about solving? How can you go about doing so taking an asymmetric risk?
You will have to grow yourself to handle larger problems and that is why our earlier lessons on understanding how to condition yourself and live from your choice along with personal development and who you surround yourself with are so important – they help you continue to raise your game and your ability to take on larger challenges.
Think of it this way. If your mind is currently set to handle a level 4 problem and you get a level 7 problem – well, you’ve got a problem. But, if you have grown yourself to be able to handle level 10 problems and you get a level 7, it’s no big deal.
Make it part of your growth routine and goals to become a great problem solver and learn to love them. It will help you tremendously on your own journey.
Misfit 3 Action Items for #8
Get Excited About Problems!
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