Good to Great


Jim Collins

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Jim Stockdale Character Analysis

Jim Stockdale served as an Admiral in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. He spent eight years imprisoned in a notorious prisoner-of-war camp, during which time he bravely led his troops in withstanding torture while also planning for an eventual release. Stockdale was beloved by his troops and was invaluable to the military. Stockdale tells Collins that the secret to his success was believing that he would someday be free, while not shying aware from the brutal realities of his situation. Collins uses this duality, which he calls the Stockdale Paradox, as a term for the simultaneous hope and realism that good-to-great companies exhibit.

Jim Stockdale Quotes in Good to Great

The Good to Great quotes below are all either spoken by Jim Stockdale or refer to Jim Stockdale. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Possibility of Transformation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of Good to Great published in 2011.
Chapter 4  Quotes

I asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”

“Oh, that’s easy,” he said. “The optimists.”

“The optimists? I don’t understand,” I said, now completely confused, given what he’d said a hundred meters earlier.

“The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”

Related Characters: Jim Collins (speaker), Jim Stockdale (speaker)
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jim Stockdale Character Timeline in Good to Great

The timeline below shows where the character Jim Stockdale appears in Good to Great. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4 
Duality and Contradiction Theme Icon
...showed, Collins describes a framework that he calls the Stockdale Paradox. The Paradox refers to Jim Stockdale , a US military officer in a prisoner-of-war camp during the Vietnam War. Stockdale led... (full context)