Faith. Discipline. Family. These are the things that have kept me going during this year that seemed to have no bottom. With more time to read, I came across the story of Admiral James Stockdale that resonated with me. Admiral Stockdale was a prisoner of war and held captive during the Vietnam War. Let’s be clear that the challenges I have faced in 2020 are minuscule compared to the ordeals he and other prisoners of war endured. Yet he has a powerful message that felt personal and profound. When Stockdale was asked what helped him survive his circumstances in captivity, he replied “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.” This balancing of optimism and facing of reality is a level of wisdom that I strive to bring when confronted with the disappointments and challenges of this pandemic.
In reflecting on 2020, I am most grateful to have been surrounded by others who have displayed this important balance of keeping one’s chin up while facing what was happening. Here are several examples:
- My children – While dealing with many disappointments of what “should have been” in high school, my kids have remained engaged and determined in a virtual environment. We all know there are so many life lessons learned by being face-to-face, yet my teens are enhancing their ability to work both independently and collaboratively with others in a remote environment. Plus, we gave in and got my daughter a puppy who is keeping smiles on all our faces.
- My cycling team – As 2020 went on and almost all events were canceled, many of my Phoenix Fitness and Training teammates transitioned our training programs and decided to create our own team racing challenge. My coach organized a 100-mile challenge against the clock to see how fast we could accomplish our course. This team environment inspired the discipline to keep going, and I was able to drop my 100-mile time by 25 minutes, completing the challenge in 4 hours and 10 minutes.
- Our Team at MJ – We all miss our collaborative time together, yet time and time again I see team members display a determination to “find a way” and recreate how we go about doing our work and bring value to our clients.
While I am ready for the calendar to turn to brighter days, I am convinced we will take forward valuable lessons from 2020. Just like Admiral Stockdale, we must hang on to our faith that we will prevail. I’ll close with a video illustrating this belief. Below is a link showing how my daughter’s choir dealt with their virtual reality. You might be able to relate to the first song: “I’m Still Standing!”
Thank you to all who have been on this journey balancing optimism and reality!