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“22” A Rally Cry

June 17, 2009

Long ago a ship set sail with a full crew from the West Coast of Europe.  They encountered calm seas and the navigation was sound.   They made it to their destination in the Southern Atlantic on schedule and didn’t encounter any major issues while en route.  Although this is a terrific outcome, it’s not a very exciting story.  Not the kind of story that produces legends or great non-fiction literary works.  My point is that, during tough times, like the rough economic situation we’re experiencing right now, is when new leaders are born.  This post is about finding your motivation to succeed in not just good times, but in tough times as well.   If you look carefully, you’ll find extraordinary opportunities in times like these, this is your window of opportunity to step up, differentiate yourself and truly make a difference.

Now what is the title “22” all about?  In 1914, Sir Ernest Shakleton, with his 28 man crew, set sail on the Endurance on a expedition to achieve the first land crossing of the Antarctic Continent.   I won’t get into the details of their multi-year adventure in this post, but let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned.  To net it out, just a few months into their journey, they lost their ship to the crushing grip of the ice pack and spent the rest of their journey stranded in isolated, sub-zero cold and barren conditions.  Through the skillful planning and leadership of Shakleton, and the determination of his crew, they managed to find food, create shelter and opportunistically changed camps many times as they made strategic moves in an effort to survive this ordeal.  In the end, Shakleton secured their own rescue by launching himself and 5 men in a life raft on a 16 day journey through rough and icy seas back to the island of South Georgia where they launched the expedition many months prior.   Shakleton returned with another ship to pick up his crew and it would be almost 2 years from the time they left civilization until their ultimate rescue, and amazingly every member of the crew survived this 22 month ordeal.

So the simple phrase “22” has become the rally cry for my team in these tough economic times.  With determination and resolve, anything is possible, and the inspirational 22 month journey of Ernest Shakleton and his crew is one more source to fuel an “anything is possible” attitude that can drive one towards continued success.   I recommend Dennis Perkins, Leading at the Edge for a leadership account of this extraordinary saga.

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