Will You Prevail?
I have mentioned already that I’ve been taking a Positive Psychology course at Udemy.com (which I highly recommend). On re-listening today I picked up something I missed on the first listen.
The instructor is talking about the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. He refers to an interview that Collins did with Admiral Stockdale, who had been a prisoner in the Vietnam War. Collins asks him how he coped with his circumstances and his answer is brilliant.
He says, “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.” He goes on to say, “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 may be.”
He knew it wasn’t going to be easy. He knew he would have to face huge challenges in the interim, but he held fast to the belief that he would prevail in the end.
We can apply it to our lives. How? By deciding right now what the ending will be and prevailing our way to it. By knowing we will make it through our course, no matter what the challenges. By deciding we will triumph over the illness, no matter what it takes. By knowing we will survive the loss of a loved one.
The biggest challenge I’ve yet faced in my life is coming to terms with the events of August 17th, 2012, the night we learned that our son had died. I made a decision to prevail, immediately, even though I wanted to die, too; even though I felt as if I’d just stepped off the edge of a cliff. I am still falling, still working my way through the many layers of my grief but I will prevail. I will prevail because I say I will. And I will make it the defining event of my life.
It’s not easy, but Admiral Stockdale was right; prevailing is a process of dealing with “the most brutal facts of your current reality”, one brutal fact at a time.
“Prevailing” means more than just surviving. It means flourishing. It means coming out at a better place than the one at which you entered. Does the word “prevail” sound like old-fashioned stoicism to you? It does to me and I think that’s a shame. Why have we allowed this brand of courage to go out of style?
How have you prevailed over circumstances in your life that seemed insurmountable? What are you facing today? Will you prevail?
Photo by Lori