Chude Jideonwo: Pandemic reality

This, is from the timeless Harvard Business Review essay on Resilience.

It’s the foundation for the Surviving Crises module Joy, Inc. is using to help companies and organisations in the midst of this pandemic.

“A common belief about resilience is that it stems from an optimistic nature. That’s true but only as long as such optimism doesn’t distort your sense of reality. In extremely adverse situations, rose-colored thinking can actually spell disaster. This point was made poignantly to me by management researcher and writer Jim Collins, who happened upon this concept while researching Good to Great, his book on how companies transform themselves out of mediocrity. Collins had a hunch (an exactly wrong hunch) that resilient companies were filled with optimistic people. He tried out that idea on Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was held prisoner and tortured by the Vietcong for eight years.

“Collins recalls: “l asked Stockdale: “Who didn’t make it out of the camps?’ And he said, “oh, that’s easy. It was the optimists. They were the ones who said we were going to be out by Christmas. And then they said we’d be out by Easter, and then out by Fourth of July, and out by Thanksgiving, and then it was Christmas again.”  Stockdale turned to me and said, “You know. I think they all died of broken hearts.”

“In the business world, Collins found the same unblinking attitude shared by executives at all the most successful companies he studied.

“Like Stockdale, resilient people have very sober and down-to-earth views of those parts of selity that matter for survival. That’s not to say that optimism doesn’t have its place: in turning around a demoralised sales force, for instance, conjuring a sense of possibility can be a very powerful tool. But for bigger challenges, a cool, almost pessimistic sense of reality is far more important.”


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