Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

2012-11-12 09-57-01
Alfred Lansing
Basic Books
19 March 1999

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Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to lead the first group of men to cross Antarctica is today one of the greatest adventure stories of the twentieth century. The year was 1915 and Ernest Shackleton, an experienced adventurer, assembled a team of 27 men and 69 sled dogs that set sail from England to the southern hemisphere. Alfred Lansing’s historical account of the journey was constructed through diaries kept by the men and some early photographic evidence.

The adventure was a failure as their ship was soon trapped in ice floes and eventually had to be abandoned. The men spent two years stranded on the ice and never even set foot on the Antarctic landmass. The legacy of the adventure stems from the fact that every man survived in good health, a phenomenon attributed to the character of Shackleton.

Shackleton’s leadership principles have been analyzed in great detail in the business world and run the risk of being romanticized. At the same time, these principles are fascinating to experience in action among the ice and hardships as you read along and Shackleton leads his team through a two-year fight for their lives.

Examples of these principles include:

  • embracing change as opportunity,
  • putting your team first,
  • managing personalities/conflict discretely on your team,
  • remaining optimistic yet realistic, and
  • being bold in vision yet careful in planning.

For a refreshing and exciting alternative to a leadership and management theory textbook or article, we recommend this book.