There is a strange middle ground of a sort. I am not invested too much in the outcome. Some people shrink from the fight because victory is impossible. This is the 'pragmitist' who evaluates the probability of success and decides the low chance of success means the goal itself isn't worth the effort. Then there are the optimists who fool themselves that the goal is easier than it is, or who believe that the good guy always wins. This is delusional.
Then there are people who accept the reality: they know the road will be hard, and long, involve personal sacrifice and perhaps suffering. They will not fool themselves about the ease of the goal or the probability of success. In fact in many ways the success or failure is deeply irrelevant because as I said above all we have is our intentions and actions. Do or do not, that is our choice. The outcome is up to fate and should not concern us.
This is what Stockdale meant; that we should not fool ourselves about the ease of the goal; that we should face up to grim reality and conduct ourselves in a way that best reflects on us. Because nothing else matters.
It is this attitude that drove my involvement in the campaign against Software Patents in New Zealand. A campaign that was always one breath away from failure. A campaign that many concluded was doomed to fail. A campaign that despite being passed into law may be swept away by the TPP. But these threats do not worry me because so long as I am prepared to stand up and work for the common good I honour myself regardless of the outcome.