CRC028 Stockdale Paradox

“Positive thinking will not solve your current problems!”   The reality of an unprecedented economic collapse is staring at us in the face.   Getting up this morning and pretending your problems are not there or wishing them away will not get the job done.

Facing Reality Is The Way Through To Survival And Eventual Success

Having been through a few ups and downs in past 36 years, I like to tell our younger colleagues here: “History does not repeat itself exactly but if you think of it as a movie, the sequels have a familiar plot line.”  There are echoes of 2008 with this one, but it appears we have an end in sight.

Watching Andrea Bocelli sing Amazing Grace to a closed down Milan – a Paris devoid of people – a London with no black cabs or double decker buses, and an empty Times Square in New York; was like a dystopian science fiction novel – yet also is a powerful reminder of hope for a resurrection from COVID 19.

Balancing Realism With Optimism In Times Of Crisis Is Critical To Survival

How do we proceed?  My friend Russell Gray likes to quote Admiral James Stockdale in a lot of his speaking engagements “you have to have faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Familiarity With Hard Times

First you should know a little about Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale.  Stockdale was a US Navy fighter pilot who flew combat missions off aircraft carriers. An original Top Gun type of guy.  He was shot down in his third combat tour over North Vietnam.  As the senior prisoner of war at the Hỏa Lò Prison in Hanoi  (ironically called the Hanoi Hilton by inmates) for seven and one half years he was singled out for horrific treatment.  He was tortured more than 15 times, in solitary confinement for over four years, and in leg irons for two years.  You can say he experienced a bit of adversity in his life.

The Stockdale Paradox

Author Jim Collins interviewed Admiral Stockdale for his book, “Good to Great” and refers to the above quote as The Stockdale Paradox.  In the book, Stockdale explained “I never lost faith in the end of the story, 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, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

Collins goes on to ask about those prisoners who did not survive and Stockdale’s response was:

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists. Oh, 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. This is a very important lesson. 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.”

Confront The Brutal Facts Of Your Current Reality – Hold On With Faith

Stockdale stayed fully aware of his difficult situation however he did everything he could to improve his options for survival.  He had faith that he would get out, but also acted on what he could control to fill his life with purpose.  During a recent LeaderImpact Forum, presenter Donna Brighton had a great acronym for FAITH as Focus Action Intention Time Hope.

Stockdale was a leader who raised the morale of those around him.  He implemented systems that helped improve the conditions for him and his fellow POWs.  He created a reason and purpose to survive.

We too know that this virus will end, cures will be found and vaccines will be developed.  We have faith that our elected officials will act courageously in opening the economy and unleashing the creative power of individual human beings to flourish.

There are impressive stories of entrepreneurs designing and building ventilators, sewing masks and retooling factories.  The incredible use of AI to sort through millions of existing drugs to find over 90 potential matches for a treatment.  The many anecdotal cures using  hydroxychloroquine or the Israeli company with a placenta-based cell-therapy product with a 100% survival rate.

You Will Need Optimism To Survive – Don’t Panic

Panicking and negative thought patterns are not helpful.  In fact panic has never saved anyone or solved any problems.  Thoughtful optimism and focusing on possible outcomes will be the most helpful things you can do to improve your situation.  Improving your situation will also help those around you.

When the plane is crashing you need to put your oxygen mask on first in order to help those around you that may not be able to help themselves.  Take thoughtful action, but also take time to pull back and get the 30,000 foot high view of the situation.  It will give you a point of reference for moving towards your desired outcomes.  Even if that outcome is merely staying alive.

Meaning And Purpose In Life Are Essential

Two other great book recommendations for this time, and really any time are Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren.

Frankl was interned in a Nazi concetration camp.  The experiences he describes are horrific. Evil people stripped away his family and created an enviroment of pain, torture and suffering.  Frankl found meaning and purpose in his life even amidst his suffering.  He went as far to say he found meaning going through his suffering.  Pain is the mother of all growth.

Warren’s book guides you through three of life’s most important questions: The Question of Existence: Why am I alive? The Question of Significance: Does my life matter? And The Question of Purpose: What on earth am I here for?  When you know your purpose, you don’t quit

To quote Nietzsche and Conan The Barbarian “That which does not kill you makes you stronger.”

Peace be with you.

Michael Flight is a founding principal of Concordia Realty Corporation, Concordia Equity Partners LLC  and more recently Liberty Token Real Estate Fund, a net leased property fund curated to create a conservative, safe haven portfolio of long term, Single-Tenant Net-Leased properties designed for geographic diversification, tenant credit diversification and industry diversification.

Michael is a real estate entrepreneur who is an expert in Retail Real Estate (Shopping Centers and Single-Tenant Net-Leased) investment, leasing, operations, and redevelopment. Michael has been active in commercial real estate over the past 34 years and has handled more than $500 million worth of real estate transactions. Michael has extensive experience in development, leasing, sales, property management, and innovative financing techniques.

Michael has been featured on The Real Estate Guys Radio Show, Cash Flow Connections podcast, the Real Estate Espresso podcast, the Kingdom Capitalist podcast, and Buck Joffrey’s Wealth Formula podcasts to name a few.  Michael is also a well-known speaker at FreedomFest, Investor Summit at Sea, the Intelligent Investors Real Estate Conference, the Multifamily Investor Network Conference, and the Liberland 5th Anniversary Conference. He is a published author having been recently, and was featured in the #1 Amazon bestselling book: DESIRE, DISCIPLINE & DETERMINATION (2019).  He is currently finishing a book on the benefits of Single-Tenant Net-Lease (STNL) real estate investments.

Michael has been elected to public office and is currently serving in his third term as treasurer of the Riverside Public Library.  He also serves on the real estate investment advisory boards of two non-profits: Chicago Hope Homes and Sunshine Gospel Ministries and is a founding board member for Freedom of Life, a Romanian NGO helping women achieve liberty and build new lives while recovering from human trafficking.

Concordia Realty Corporation has been successfully connecting sound economics with experience in real estate for more than 30 years.  More recently, Concordia Equity Partners LLC was created to provide the same investment opportunities and expertise that our institutional partners have enjoyed over the years.  We are a premier private real estate investment and management firm that specializes in Retail Real Estate, including Shopping Centers and Single-Tenant Net-Lease Detail/Medical (“Medtail”) properties. Our wide range of experience has uniquely positioned us to redevelop and repurpose properties that are experiencing disruptions related to technology and merchandising.  This experience has built a skill-set that helps to add value to all of our real estate ventures.


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