A couple of years ago I sent my top customers and affiliates a Christmas gift. It was Caroline Alexander’s beautiful book “The Endurance” which chronicles Earnest Shackleton’s treacherous journey to the South Pole and back, in 1914.
This may literally be the world’s greatest adventure story. Shackleton and his 27 men sailed to Antarctica with a team of dogs and plenty of supplies with plans to travel all the way across the continent in the summer.
This would be done after preparing and exercising the dogs while stationed at the edge of the continent during the winter.
The winter went well but in the spring, as the ice melted, shifting plates of ice ground their ship into toothpicks and it sank.
Suddenly 28 men were stranded in Antarctica, nearly 1000 miles from the tip of South America, with nothing but three life boats.
It took an entire year for them to get back and the story of how they accomplished this is nothing short of remarkable. Shackleton didn’t lose a single man.
His story is well worth reading and Caroline Alexander’s book does a superb job of telling it.
This was no adventure for the faint of heart.
According to legend, Shackleton ran the following classified ad:
FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY. SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL.
HONOUR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.
-SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON
Nobody has verified the authenticity of this ad; somebody may have made this up much later.
Nevertheless it accurately captures the true spirit of the expedition and the harshness of the job. We do know that the trip was widely publicized before it happened and Shackleton received something like 5,000 applications from potential voyagers.
Please do not fail to notice that Shackleton didn’t have to tweak his story with purple prose to get a host of loyal followers. Nobody made any effort whatsoever to disguise the fact that if you went on this trip, you stood a pretty good chance of dying, freezing or starving to death.
Consider a different mission impossible – the largest single mass movement in the history of the world.
What do you do and what do you get if you sign up for this one?
* Brother, sister, father and mother may hate you
* You may lose everything you possess
* If you have two coats, give one to a person who doesn’t have one
* If someone asks you to carry their load one mile, take it two
* Decapitation, torture or burning at stake possible
* Long prison sentences
* False friends, true enemies
* Gigantic reward after death
* No signup fee, but you must tithe 10% of income right off top, after trial period
* Eternal damnation if you refuse
That proposition has had about a billion plus takers over the last 2000 years.
Hey, who said you have to make everything sound fun and easy?
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