Redefining Success

What makes a great story? For me, I love a story where the hero risks everything for something that seems impossible. I love it even more, when the story is real life.

Neil Armstrong and the Moon landing, Amelia Earhart’s flight around the world, or even a recent show like Dangerous Waters, where a team of five men set out to jet ski around the world… There are so many stories of heroic feats of the impossible throughout history. But my personal favorite is the Imperial Trans-Antartic Expedition of 1914, which started as a complete failure.

The expedition’s leader, Sir Earnest Shackleton, plotted a journey to accomplish the “one great main object of Antarctic journeyings”, a trip across the mainland of Antarctica. In order to do that, two ships set out to develop supply lines from islands that were well off shore. But Shackleton’s 28 man crew never even made it to the Antarctic continent, let alone accomplish their mission to get to the other side of the continent. Instead, their shipped lodged into pack ice and drifted out into the Weddell Sea. Their ship would eventually be crushed by the ice, abandoned, and sunken, leaving the entire crew to ice floes and life boats that eventually left them stranded on the harsh, uninhabited Elephant Island.

Shackleton would then lead five other men, on a single lifeboat named the James Caird, east across treacherous seas to South Georgia Island. Those six men traveled nearly 800 miles in a that lifeboat, in freezing temperatures, on a voyage that took sixteen days to complete.

Shackleton’s expedition was a colossal failure, but make no mistake, Shackleton was a success. In my mind, this expedition was one of the greatest success stories in the history of the world.

Shackleton never crossed the Antarctic. But he did lead like a champion. Shackleton’s success  was that through his leadership, care, and grit he saved the lives of ALL 27 of his crew. Not one man died after over 3 years on ice in the worst weather on the planet, in two of the most dangerous bodies of water in the world, the Weddell Sea and the Drake Passage.

Sometimes our dreams do not turn out like we planned or expected. Is that what failure is? No. Failure is not trying. Shackleton’s success was in redefining the event. Sometimes our greatest “failures” are actually some of our greatest successes. Failures teach us about ourselves in ways that “success” often cannot.

As your coach my goal is two-fold in this area. First, I want to help you succeed in whatever your goals and dreams are. And when we reach our goals, and things turn out just as planned. I will be there with you, celebrating those successes. But when we do not reach our goals, my work is to help you see the success through the failure. With my coaching you will succeed. Your success is my success.

Let’s get started.

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