Wednesday, July 09, 2008

On Being Inspired to WIN

Ernest Shackleton is most noteworthy for leading the unsuccessful Trans-Antarctic Expedition, often known as the "Endurance Expedition", between 1914 and 1916. Although Shackleton failed to achieve his goal of crossing the Antarctic continent on foot, he demonstrated the qualities of leadership for which he is best remembered when the expedition ship Endurance became trapped in the ice and was destroyed. Shackleton, known by his contemporaries as "the Boss", led his men to refuge on Elephant Island before heading across 800 miles (1,300 km) of the Southern Ocean to South Georgia, in an open boat with five other men. Upon reaching the remote island, Shackleton and two others crossed severe, mountainous terrain to reach a whaling station, from which he was able eventually to rescue his men on Elephant Island. All the men on Endurance survived their ordeal after spending 22 months in the Antarctic.

In the book, “Endurance” by Alfred Lansing there is a lot of insight to what made ‘the Boss’ such an inspirational figure.

“ Shackleton was not an ordinary individual. He was a man who believed completely in his own invincibility and to whom defeat was a reflection of personal inadequacy. What might have been an act of reasonable caution to the average person was to Shackleton a detestable admission that failure was a possibility.

This indomitable self confidence of Shackleton took the form of optimism. This set men’s souls on fire as some said just to be in his presence was an experience. It was what made Shackleton so great a leader.

As a football coach- I will be having some open discussions on this will to win. Where does it come from? What gives a Tiger Woods or a Michael Jordan that competitive fire? How can it become more evident on a team?

Shackleton gives us a little insight into some of the seeds of this attitude:

1) Preparation and Experience
2) No thoughts of even the possibility of failure- no bailout
3) Willingness to rise above the ordinary
4) You take defeat personally

I will be including our coaches and players on this over the next several weeks. I have to give proper inspiration from Ernest Gordan and well as Ernest Shackleton.

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