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Surviving Vs. Winning: The Leader’s Mindset

I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life.”
Admiral James Stockdale

Admiral Stockdale was the highest ranking U.S. officer at the “Hanoi Hilton” POW camp during Vietnam. A navy fighter pilot, he was shot down and endured brutal torture, all while doing everything possible to inspire and strengthen the spirit of his fellow prisoners. When he returned a free man, he earned the Medal of Honor. He never lost faith that in the end he would win.


Admiral Stockdale was a leader.

We all experience setbacks and defeats on our journeys towards victory in business and life. The death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a serious illness, or even losing that major sale…they all have a tremendous effect on our lives. But it’s how you deal with them that counts! When you never lose faith that in the end you will prevail, that’s the key to winning in life.

The best leaders embrace a mindset of winning, not surviving. They have the courage to confront the facts and focus on the things that have the greatest impact. They know when to ask for help from their wingmen, and always manage to give in the face of adversity.

Admiral Stockdale passed away in July at the age of 81. May we never forget this amazing leader and human being, and always strive to lead like he did.


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