I recently read a book called “Good to Great.”  It was a very good book about taking an organization (a business, charity, or team) from a place of “good” to a place of “great.”  The book operated from a comparison of businesses (since that data is the easiest to find), but the author Jim Collins was very clear that the principles were sound in all applications, and one particular principle that stuck out to me was called the “Stockdale Paradox.”for_jake_s_story_w640

The Stockdale Paradox was derived from Admiral James Stockdale who had been captured and tortured for about seven years.  Stockdale was (needless to say) a very impressive man, even creating a primitive form of Morse code for the prisoners to be able to communicate with each other.  Upon interviewing him, Jim Collins asked “how did those oppressive circumstances not ‘beat you down?’”  Stockdale replied “you have to understand: it was never depressing because, despite all of those circumstances, I never ever waivered in my absolute faith that I would not only prevail but prevail by turning it into the defining event of my life that would make me a stronger and better person.”  Jim Collins went on to ask which captives were not able to make it through all of the oppression?  Stockdale replied “that’s easy: the optimists.”

This is where we find the paradox; Stockdale had never-wavering faith that he would live (and he did), but at the same time the “optimists” were the ones who were unable to endure.  Stockdale said that the optimists said things like “we will be home by Christmas.”  The problem was: they didn’t, and they eventually died of a broken heart.  Stockdale believed he would someday be free, but he was (as Jim Collins put it) able to look at the “brutal facts.”  [You can download a short free mp3 of Jim Collins speaking about this by clicking here]

Now that I have “totally bummed you out,” let’s change the tone!  Everyone keeps telling me that Denton is the “next Austin.”  Not a bad goal at all, in fact quite an honor (however, I like to think of Denton as its own entity, no offence to Austin, but I am a Dentonite!!!)!  But how do we get to that next level?  Denton is everything anyone could ever dream of in a fun place to live already: music, entertainment, creativity.  What we would like is for the rest of the world to experience it!  For instance, how do creative entities achieve the level of reach that they would like to:DentonRadio.com, PanHandle HouseBanter?  I will tell you exactly how!  The Stockdale Paradox: continuing in faith, knowing that Denton is about to reach a level of growth that we have never seen before, while at the same time having the maturity to continuously focus on our goals and growth one day and one challenge at a time, even when we feel discouraged.

My blog posts are usually for everyone, and while I believe the Stockdale Paradox is applicable in everyone’s life, I wanted to dedicate this particular blog post to those of Denton that continuously create things.  To the musician that keeps playing in hopes that someday it will be their career, to the business owner that continues to push even when the bills are hard to pay, to the community that lifts up its brothers and sisters, I dedicate this post to you.  Keep believing, keep working, we need you; you are what make this community great.