In our house, we are observing the Advent season, a period of anticipation and preparation. The word Advent comes from the Latin root “adventus,” which means arrival. We are waiting for the arrival of the solstice, of Christmas, of the New Year, and a new life. If feels like the world is holding its collective breath to get to 2021.
I was reminded recently about the Stockdale Paradox (my idol Brene Brown interviewed President Obama on her podcast and mentioned it). The Stockdale Paradox was developed by author Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. He tells the story of Admiral Stockdale, who spent more than seven years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. When Collins asked him who did not survive the experience, Stockdale immediately answered “the optimists.” The optimists hoped they would be out of prison by Christmas, and every year Christmas would come and go, and they were heartbroken.
Stockdale posits that humans must balance faith and reality. “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 may be.” Collins credits this worldview as one of the ways entities can excel – to not just survive adversity, but to move from good to great.
So we wait – for 2020 to be over, and for 2021 to be magically better. We wait for a vaccine (according to the New York Times calculator, there are 257 million people ahead of me). We wait for for hugs from friends and family, and a draft beer at the local pub watching a game. We wait for all kiddos to be back in school full time, for trips to Europe, and for taking our aging parents to the theater. I would even take a staff meeting at this point. What about you? What are you waiting for in 2021?
Let’s practice, waiting with the faith that we will prevail, standing strong through the end of this brutal reality. Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy world in 2021.