When I feel down and out I pull out a book titled “The Endurance“. It’s the tale of Shackleton’s attempt to reach the South Pole and how he and his crew survived trapped in the Antarctic Ice Shelf for nearly two years, and how they all lived to tell the tale.
They went through hell unimagined, and nothing I’ve faced in my life has ever been that dire. (Once when my car’s gas line froze 30 miles north of Tok, Alaska while the temperature was -70 and the wind blowing thirty miles per hour things were grim, but that was short and we didn’t even get frostbitten during that four hour glimpse of infinity.)
The tale itself is both an example of terrible leadership, and a tale of supreme will begetting great leadership. Shackleton could have made several smarter decisions before he became trapped in pack ice with his crew, but he didn’t – that’s the bad leadership. The great leadership comes into play in how he kept his men going even though they were in a ridiculously terrible environment and most dire strait all due to following him.
It helps me put things in perspective. No matter how bad things seem here, they certainly aren’t that bad.
To the left you can see their ship, The Endurance, trapped in pack ice at night. The photograph was taken by Frank Hurley, and in another six years it will be 100 years old. This post is mostly about this photo, please click on it and enlarge it. Then imagine yourself there, thousands of miles from anywhere in 1915 while the First World War was on with no one coming to rescue you.
Then be happy, happy that you are warm, happy for whatever you have, and for whoever you can hold. Think of the ship next time you flip on a light, or open the fridge, or turn on the TV, and you will know joy.