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Coronavirus Update


Stockdale Paradox


As we are once again in the middle of a lockdown, I hope this finds you and your family safe and healthy. I want to share a perspective about our current situation that may be helpful to you, since I have found it very helpful personally and it reflects what we are trying to do at Hale Kipa.

Let me begin by saying that I am referencing material that I found in the Harvard Business Review. The headline said, The Stockdale Paradox and survival psychology contain wisdom for how we can manage the Corona virus crisis. “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 it might be.” – Admiral James Stockdale

Admiral Stockdale was a Prisoner of War (POW) in Vietnam for 7 ½ years. When asked how he survived, Stockdale replied that he never lost faith in the end of this story, but he was extremely realistic about the day-to-day expectations that he had with regard to rescue or release. This to me is one of the challenges that we are facing right now with COVID-19. This is a long-term issue, and yet we consistently are setting short-term goals with the expectation (unrealistically) somehow things will suddenly improve. We would be far better off in taking the long view; seeing the inevitable ups and downs of dealing with COVID-19 as simply part of the process. That is a ruthlessly realistic assessment of our current State. It is imperative that we retain hope that there will be a vaccine and that we will at some point return to a new “normal” that is closer to what we lost than where we are. But excessive optimism simply puts us on a roller-coaster; riding up and down with the news every day whether it be good news that things are improving and the infection rate is dropping in the State of Hawaii or in the country or in the world. Or bad news, that there are more deaths and more active cases.

I have recommended that we, at Hale Kipa, try to take the long-term view, and keep our eyes on the horizon. That is that things are not going to get appreciably better in the next several months. In fact, they may not get better for a year or more. If we can adopt that kind of thinking, we may be better able to tolerate the daily mood swings from following the news or the reports or the trends.

For us, it has always been important to have a long-term view of what we want to accomplish. We will deal in the moment with whatever the issues are that come up, but our focus is on the horizon working every day to create a future that will be what we want it to be. In spite of the challenges, in spite of the obstacles, and in spite of the constant emotional roller-coaster that we all seem to be on. I know personally that I find it much easier to stay with my eyes focused on a future that I want to create, than in trying to consistently be optimistic that things are going to get better in the short-term.

At the risk of extending the metaphor, let me remind that focusing on the horizon is one way to avoid the seasickness that swells in the ocean can cause. And similarly, in parachuting, one is told as one approaches landing to focus on the horizon and not on the ground rushing up to meet you. For if you look at the ground, you may be prone to lifting your legs up involuntarily to avoid impact with the ground, which can result in a less than desirable rough landing.

Taking the long-term view allows us to shepherd our scarce resources, to plan in ways that makes sense for the future that we want to create. I would add, by the way, that this is akin to working with the youth, young adults, and families that we, at Hale Kipa, are privileged to serve. Most come from situations that have been extremely difficult, and thus when confronted with short-term problems or barriers it is often easy to get de-railed and to feel a sense of hopelessness. What is most helpful, is to remain hopeful but realistic about the fact that the road is and will be bumpy, the path is not straight, and that the process will inevitably be filled with challenges, difficulties, and barriers. All of those can be overcome if we maintain the perspective of looking to the horizon, the future, and to maintain hope for what we would like to experience at some point down the road. Meanwhile every day we need to deal with what is in front of us, the hand that we have been dealt, and to do the very best that we can to make decisions that will ultimately assure that we have a future and that that future will be one that we want.

I wish you and your family well. Stay safe.

Punky Pletan-Cross
CEO, Hale Kipa

Previous Covid-19 Updates from Punky:

July 10th, 2020  • March 27th, 2020