Saturday, July 10, 2004

Weekend Edition: Ernest Shackleton

Journalist Alfred Lansing tells an inspirational tale of patience, courage, and leadership in Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage.

With the goal of landing on the Antarctic continent and marching coast to coast, Ernest Shackleton led twenty-seven men aboard the ship Endurance in 1914. After battling pack ice for six weeks, the Endurance became permanently stuck in the Weddell Sea, just off the coast of Antarctica, in January 1915.

Incredibly, Shackleton led all of his men back to civilization alive. They faced many life-threatening perils, but the biggest adversaries the men fought were boredom and hopelessness. Faced with ice-laden sea that was impossible to sail through or march upon, Shackleton and his men could do nothing but hunker down on the barren ice, where they camped for well over a year. Finally, when the natural sea currents brought them close enough to land, they took to their life boats for the final amazing chapter of the journey.

For anyone battling through life transitions, Shackleton's story is good sustenance. During those long months when every option for action was cut off, Shackleton wasted no energy trying to create opportunties that didn't exist. He simply instilled his team with patience and hope. When a real opportunity finally presented itself, Shackleton and his team were more than ready.

I discovered Lansing's book at the library and read it purely for pleasure, but it also relates to organizational effectiveness. The story of Shackleton has recently inspired leadership seminars, notably one offered through Linkage, Inc.

1 comment:

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