Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Endurance...

Several years ago I had the good fortune to stumble on to a documentary entitled, 'The Endurance'. This powerful film was about the failed expedition of Ernest Shackleton and his crew in 1914.

Shackleton and his men embarked on a journey to cross the Antarctic continent on foot. To put things in perspective, what Shackleton and his crew was attempting at the time was akin to traveling to the moon.

Unfortunately, the crew encountered disaster almost immediately as their ship (aptly titled 'The Endurance') was trapped in ice floes and they had no choice but to hunker down for the painfully long and bitterly cold winter. Remarkably, Shackleton was such an inspired leader that he did all kinds of things to keep morale up including vaudeville shows, ice hockey, dog races, etc.

Perhaps even more remarkable was Shackleton's ability to maintain a positive outlook given that he was 40 years old at the time and this was his last chance to attempt a crossing of the Antarctic continent (he had failed in his previous attempts).

Rather than curse his fate, Shackleton managed to adapt and while his dream of crossing the Antarctic continent faded, a new dream emerged...that of getting all of his men back alive.

After 18 months, countless trials, near disasters, and some remarkably good luck, Shackleton pulled it off and got all his men back alive after almost 18 months!

Shackleton's story has always resonated for me and I frequently find myself thinking of him him during my particularly challenging runs when I find myself feeling daunted by what lies ahead.

Adversity is everywhere. There are challenges and obstacles that stand in the way of all things we desire. It's my hope that all the runners I have the good fortune to work with employ a 'Shackleton-esque' approach to their running (and to their lives).

Shackleton had the intelligence, resolve, and strength of character to recognize that his dream was not going to come to fruition and he refused to let this defeat him or his men. He adapted, he evolved, and he ultimately, survived.

You fight, you persevere, you stay positive, and eventually good things will happen. This is an inspired approach to running as well as life.