The Emperor's New Clothes" is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about two tailors who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that he doesn't see any suit of clothes until a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"

The Stockdale Paradox comes from Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great. It is named for Admiral James Stockdale who developed the paradox while he was a prisoner in a Vietnamese POW camp. Mr. Collins summarized the paradox as follows:

“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.”

Noah built the ark despite intense criticism and skepticism but he was not perfect. As recounted in Genesis 9:20-23 (TLB) after the flood waters receded “Noah became a farmer and planted a vineyard, and he made wine. One day as he was drunk and lay naked in his tent, Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and went outside and told his two brothers.

Then Shem and Japheth took a robe and held it over their shoulders and, walking backwards into the tent, let it fall across their father to cover his nakedness as they looked the other way.”

These three stories come from widely different genres and sources – a fairy tale, a non-fiction business book, and the Bible. However, as leaders we can find important clues about how to perform a critical role -- confronting difficult situations.

We will explore these lessons in detail in the next blog.