Jim Collins, author of the famous book Good to Great, suggests making one small change to your thinking. Collins recounts his interview with General Stockdale who was a prisoner for eight years during the Vietnam War, about his experiences in captivity. After surviving torture and losing many friends in jail, General Stockdale miraculously made it out alive. The General shared with Collins how he managed to survive the torture, starvation, and horrors of captivity, when all hope was seemingly lost.
I didn’t say anything for many minutes, and we continued the slow walk toward the faculty club, Stockdale limping and arc-swinging his stiff leg that had never fully recovered from repeated torture. Finally, after about a hundred meters of silence, I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”
“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”