Today's Dentistry

The Stockdale Paradox

On September 8th, in only a matter of hours, and without warning, our valley and homes were ruthlessly assaulted by savage wind and fire. The resulting smoke, in the days that followed, taxed our lungs with every breath. For most of us, now is not the time to quibble about the cause, or the solution to how or why the fires started. Does knowing that someone is in jail restore memories lost? Does exacting justice on power companies, or cursing the heavens for lightning bring our homes back? Of course not. However, We Will Prevail!

I recently read the book, “Good To Great” by Jim Collins. In it he describes what he has titled, “The Stockdale Paradox.” Which is “Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, AND at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

Admiral Jim Stockdale was tortured as a POW during the Vietnam War from 1965 to 1973. Admiral Stockdale related to Collins how he was able to manage this time by realizing the paradox as truth. In the following excerpt from the book, Collins explains the power that came to him and can come to everyone that understands this paradox:

“Life is unfair – sometimes to our advantage, sometimes to our disadvantage. We will all experience disappointments and crushing events somewhere along the way, setbacks for which there is no “reason,” no one to blame. It might be disease; it might be an injury; it might be an accident… What separates people, Stockdale taught me, is not the presence or absence of difficulty, but how they deal with the inevitable difficulties of life. In wrestling with life’s challenges, the Stockdale Paradox has proved powerful for coming back from difficulties not weakened, but stronger – not just for me, but for all those who’ve learned the lesson and tried to apply it.” (emphasis added) (Collins 85-86)

We have been called on to look around, to help and to lessen the burden of our neighbors. Over 2,357 homes and countless businesses have been destroyed. Our human responsibility is to find ways we can help others. Jack Canfield has said, “Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” Sometimes that can be only a wave, or a smile. Just saying, hello, when you pass by others shows your acknowledgement that they too are worth a greeting. Giving of your time or opening your home to provide support to families displaced can bring immeasurable amounts of peace and rest to worried minds. Do what you can, but please, do something.

It’s okay to be good, Dr. B gives you permission! May we all work to come back stronger!

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Dr. James Burneson

Our practice is working together to realize a shared vision of uncompromising excellence in dentistry.

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