Throughout your life no matter how privileged you are, how much money you have, how high your GPA is, what kind of car you drive, or how much real estate you own there are always going to be tribulations.
The amount and circumstances of the tribulations that you face will always vary when compared to someone else. But, the way you should react to these tribulations should always be the same. Whenever you are faced with a hardship in life, you should follow the Stockdale Paradox. The Stockdale Paradox is from a book called Good to Great by Jim Collins.
The book is about how eleven good companies turned themselves into great companies as well as comparing them to other good companies that had similar circumstances but failed to become great. The book is talking about companies because the stock market business is easily measurable but in all reality, you can take the topics in this book and relate it to everyday life. In chapter four of the book there’s a topic called the Stockdale Paradox.
He was not the only one who was imprisoned, but he was one of the very few who survived. He stated that the only reason why he survived was his faith and his acceptance of the brutal facts. Stockdale also stated that the people who did not survive were the ones who were too optimistic. Being too optimistic can harm you because when you tell yourself something is going to happen by a specific time and it doesn’t happen then you set yourself up for failure.
To clearly define the Stockdale Paradox, it is maintaining unwavering faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.
The past few years I’ve had to use the Stockdale Paradox and didn’t even realize I was using it until I read this chapter. In high school I excelled in athletics. Don’t get me wrong, my grades were also of high quality but athletics was my thing. It’s funny how it worked out because the sport that I was best in, I had never competed in until freshman year of high school. That sport was track and field.
I made varsity outdoor season of freshman year and sophomore year my head track and field coach convinced the head basketball coach to persuade me to not play basketball anymore and run indoor track and field. Fast forward three years and it ended up being one of the best decision’s I’ve made in life. At one time I was a co-national record holder in the Octathlon as well as a three time All American. I got a scholarship to run Division I track and field at Delaware State University.
Although I was a scholarship athlete I was not happy. I made my decision to attend DSU mainly because they gave me the most money, but DSU did not have the adequate facilities nor coaches to make me the best athlete that I could be. I am a decathlete, which means that I have to train for ten different events. Out of those ten events I did not have a coach for six different events. I was promised by the head coach that a new coach was going to be hired, which a coach was but it was not for my events.
My freshman year of college although I placed in the conference for high jump, I sort of went with the flow and just let things happen. My sophomore year I accepted the brutal facts that I wasn’t going to get a coach so I had to do everything in my power to become better. I put in countless hours of extra practice alone after we finished regular practice, extra time in the weight room with the weight training coach, watched videos online, and even recorded myself and attempted to critique what I was doing wrong.
I started to make a list of colleges that I would like to transfer to. My final decision ended up being the school in my home state, Rutgers University. I began emailing the coach at Rutgers and we were in contact for about six months with me sending him results from my season. Towards the middle of May, the coach from Rutgers emailed me and told me that because of a university mandate I would not be able to be apart of the team the upcoming season.
That truth hurt and I was dismayed for a number of weeks, but then I began to have unwavering faith that although I could not be a member of the team my junior year I would become a member my senior and graduate years. I accepted the brutal facts of my reality and knew that I would have to train myself harder than ever before to be given a shot as a senior with only two years of eligibility left.
Currently I am receiving workouts from my high school coach and working out on my own until I am given a shot to make the team. Even though my story is unfinished I still practice the Stockdale Paradox by have unwavering faith that I will not only be apart of the team here at Rutgers but I will also make contributions to the team. I have accepted the brutal facts that it won’t be easy and I need to train myself to compete against the best athletes in the country but it wont be something that I’ve never done before.
“You will never make it,” “You need to play club,” “You’re only a show-off.”
As the engines started to roar and the giant metal bird started to take flight my head spun in a million directions. My time had finally come to leave home and move abroad to embark a new challenge; against all odds. I started to grin, I had proved everyone wrong. I went against the current and decided against what everyone told me and stuck to my own believes.
I knew that my path to D-1 was harder by going my own way, but that is what felt right for me not what others said. I knew I would get to American University and my playing time would be almost non-existent my first year because of my decision but that’s what I wanted to do. However, the offer arrived and I grasped it with both hands and there is no way I’m letting others push me back for not listening to them.
All those negative remarks from back home are what push me every day to push through class and my training, followed by study hall and gym time. I want to be the best I can, to be able to prove everyone wrong and show them I wasn’t a showoff as some labeled me.
I got to DC it hasn’t been any different from what I envisioned, the team has flown to Florida for the first game if the season and I wasn’t named on the roster. Although I half expected I wasn’t going to travel with the team, it was still a hard pill to swallow. It left a bitter taste of agony inside. But the saying goes, it isn’t about how many times you fall but how many times you stand up and keep moving forward. The difference between being considered a player or legend is all the work done behind the scenes no one can see.
I might not play this season at all or maybe I will, I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that it won’t be for lack of effort. Someone can be better than me or more talented but no one can try harder than me.
I have battled against forces pushing me back and negative influences all my life and got to where I am today. So I won’t let one more negative feeling push me down. Instead this will be the drop that turns the glass and makes me become the player I know I can be.
This will be what pushes me to be great.
I don’t consider myself leader material. I am a “normal” college student that is doing everything in his power to make sure that I along with many “sheep-walkers,” finish college, get a steady job, get married, and retire. This unfortunately, is the easy way out according to many, including myself.
One thing is for sure, I do not want that and don’t really think the reader wants that either. We are a generation that wants to make change, yet when things get tough, we retract into this safe zone we call the easy way out of life, and to be honest, I’m really tired of doing that and want to start making a difference, not only in my life but in others.
I want to thank Jason Belzer and Tribes author Seth Godin for making me despise the word sheep-walker. I along with some students in one class fall semester thought of a decent idea involving Rutgers Athletics and student fans. I want to let you know that in order to really lead, you have to have everyone on board, meaning as author Jim Collins says, “…first get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) before you figure out where to drive it” (Good to Great 44).
I learned that a level-5 leader is one of the most selfless people anyone can meet. They are to me, one of the most successful people that can run a company, as well as run their lives in the best possible way. They also tend to have a lot of rigor when they need to get from good-to-great. These people may be the most humble, but they need to know when to get the right people and put them in right seats when they make their way toward greatness traveling on the bus. I think that I have yet to fill my bus with the right people when it comes to the idea that I would like to present to the Chief Marketing Officer as well as Athletic Director Patrick Hobbs of Rutgers University.
The group in my sport marketing class wants to provide students with a valid type of entertainment during their time at Rutgers. This idea is easier said than done. I understand that at first this idea will be shot down over and over until we as a group can come to an agreement and the CMO and Mr. Hobbs find it to be feasible. I hope to make sporting events at the University more welcoming, give an opportunity for students to gain school spirit, and treat themselves to possible prizes in the process as well. I want students to enjoy their time while they are at the university, as well as advocate for the athletic program for a school that is in a constant “doom loop” that seems to be okay with mediocrity.
The school’s athletic success is something that the fans cannot control and is completely understandable, yet the teams must understand that there are brutal facts to endure. This is from someone who wants to lead students in the right direction and help bring some school spirit to a once prominent school. I must say that we do not excel at sports and we do not do enough to provide students with a great experience, due to the lack of talent.
We as a group can help one another at first by finding students willing to attend events by giving them a chance to win some things for a possibly point-reward systems strictly for students and from there in, help them realize that these events are exciting and fun. You also have to understand that with enough generated interest over time and become one of the most spirited University.
It also starts with having the right leader, one who is not willing to take all the credit, and one that can realize that without the right people in the right seats on the bus, there is a chance that some ideas are good and can become great with the likes of good people that all agree on a great idea.
Again, I do not consider myself a leader, just someone who thinks they have a great idea along with a great group of kids. Real leaders take action and make sure that they are dedicated and stop at nothing to ensure there is an idea set in motion. It is with this idea that he plans not to forward himself to success, but forward those that he brought along for the ride and make sure that they all reach the top.