Become unshakeable!

Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it? Of course, we all want that – NOW more than ever!  

Especially given the brutal reality of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the significant global change experienced daily. Economic stability, stable trading conditions, customer loyalty, predictable consumer behaviour…all concepts of a distant past.  

Conversations, speculations, nervous forecasts have become characterised by underlying feelings of uncertainty, fear, panic, distrust on all matter’s health, business, wealth, etc. Every now and again the eternal optimists that seem to hold on to the promise of a future where ‘all of this’ will be a distant memory and the world will go back to ‘the way we were’.  

We are reminded of a concept called the Stockdale Paradox. A concept first referred to in a book called ‘From Good to Great’ by the well-known author, Jim Collins. The Stockdale Paradox originates from the true story of Admiral Jim Stockdale. Stockdale was a United States Navy Aviator in the Vietnam War. During the war, he was shot down and held prisoner in Hanoi for 7.5 years. He was tortured as a prisoner of war with no real hope of ever being released or even surviving his ordeal.  

Jim Collins interviewed Jim Stockdale years after his release and asked: “Who didn’t make it out as strong as you?”. Stockdale replied: “Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. 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.”  

The Stockdale Paradox means to confront the brutal facts of one’s reality whilst keeping one’s faith/belief that one will survive/prevail. As Stockdale explained it: “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.”  

The Stockdale Paradox can be a great foundation to build on towards ‘becoming unshakeable’. Instead of asking questions like: “How long will COVID-19 last? When will we see the end of this?”  

 The questions you should be asking are:  

  • What is the absolute worst current reality for my life, health, wealth, and business?  
  • With this in mind, how can I best prepare?  
  • What areas of my life and business can I improve on?
  • What opportunities can I seek and optimise?  

In light of the Stockdale Paradox, it’s best to keep going with resilience, ‘eyes on the prize’. Easier said than done, but this allows us to face the challenges of the day with all the underlying uncertainties with a strong mind and unwavering belief.  

This state of mind adapts a pragmatic approach needed including the following:  

  • Focussing on areas of opportunity and potential improvement that leads to perspective on the greater picture.   
  • Accepting current restraints or limitations forces innovation and becoming more creative in the process of finding solutions.  
  • Developing relationships and collaborating towards a community – collective goodwill and growth.  
  • Leadership that is inspirational based on a realistic view of the future whilst being resilient in day to day efforts. 

To become unshakeable, in the words of Andrew Zolli, is “the capacity of a system, enterprise, or person to maintain its core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances”. 


Lindie Malan, ActionCOACH Business Coach 

lindiemalan.actioncoach.com | lindiemalan@actioncoach.com 


Photo by You X Ventures on Unsplash