Coronavirus (COVID-19): A piece on perspective

It is fair to say that the Coronavirus pandemic is causing a significant deal of worry and to some degree panic across the world. This is certainly being felt in the business world as the Government have stepped in to announce some history making measures. In these challenging times we need some inspiration and most importantly, perspective.

Taking a excerpt from Jim Collins’ book, ‘Good-to-Great’, we don’t think the wisdom of the following story can be bettered.

Vice admiral Jim Stockdale was the highest-ranking US POW in the Vietnam war. In 1965 he went on a mission from a carrier to boost the morale of naval aviators who had lost confidence in a certain aircraft suffering high losses and got promptly shot down.

The opposition didn’t release him for 8 years. During his period of internment he was very badly tortured but didn’t break.

Jim Collins wrote about a conversation he had with Stockdale and how he coped during his long years in captivity.

The veteran said: “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, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

Perhaps equally interesting, when then asked who didn’t make it out of Vietnam, he added: “Oh, that’s easy, 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.”

“This is a very important lesson. 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 might be”.

Within the Good-to-Great book a number of companies are identified that are classified as ‘Great’. The author, Jim Collins selected a group of businesses that consistently outperformed the market to a significant degree over time. Collins and a large team then spent years researching these companies to find out if they had anything in common.

Through these difficult times it is useful to know that one of the characteristics identified was that that they had all had to face and overcome some really difficult times. When they had to confront and overcome the brutal facts to survive, grow and flourish. Collins described this particular trait in his book as the Stockdale Paradox after the Vice Admiral Jim Stockdale..

This is going to be a long and tough time, deal with it.

We’re here to help

With all the legislative changes and updates over recent days in these ever changing and uncertain times, our teams are briefed and here to help you and your business.

Whilst our physical offices are closed following the ‘lock down’ advice, the team at NR Barton are working remotely from home. If you have any questions you should not hesitate to contact your engagement partner or manager who will be happy to assist; our contact details can be found here.

For anyone unsure of who to contact, we are still answering phones (01942 242245) and we are answering emails to

We’re here to help.

All the best

The NR Barton team

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Integrity is at the forefront of everything we do as we apply the strongest ethical and moral rigour across how we work and assist our clients.

At NR Barton we understand the importance of trust and through our integrity we make sure this underpins absolutely everything we do.

We like to do the best for our clients and this isn’t always easy. We aren’t afraid to use our integrity to confront difficult situations. We firmly believe that acting with our utmost integrity those difficult conversations will help to build our trust with our clients. Sometimes the difficult option is the best.

It is also our integrity that has helped us to build a strong local relationship in our market place and the thrive as a business for the last seventy years.

We’re here for the long term and our integrity will help us to achieve that.