Leadership: Where Vision, Values, And Goals Collide
Imagine for the next 634 days, you will be out of touch with the rest of the world. You will have no contact with your friends or family, and they won’t know if you are dead or alive. You will be living in the coldest place on earth and experience hunger to the point of starvation.
On December 5, 1914, Ernest Shackleton set out on the Endurance with a crew of 27 and sailed towards the Weddle Sea in the Antarctic on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
Shackleton’s journey was to become a lesson in exemplary leadership where Vision, Values, and Goals collided and his journey gives us the 7 keys to success.
Shackleton had the vision to cross the Antarctic Continent from a base in the Weddle Sea to McMurdo Sound through the South Pole.
On 19 January 1915, the ship unexpectedly became frozen in an ice floe. The crew lived on board the ship, hoping that they would sail again as the ice melted in the spring. When spring arrived, Shackleton realized that the ship would soon be crushed under the ice’s weight and pressure. Knowing a successful rescue was impossible, he gave the order to abandon ship and set up camp on a large ice floe.
Shackleton hoped the drift of the ice where they set up camp would take them towards a safe landing. On April 9th, the ice flow broke in two when Shackleton ordered the crew into lifeboats and headed for Elephant Island 346 miles from where the Endurance sank. Although a perilous journey, Shackleton now changed his vision, to lead his men back to safety.
Imagine how difficult it must have been to keep his men’s morale high, and yet he did. He never wavered in his belief they would make it back to safety despite the overwhelming odds against them. His extraordinary leadership was a lesson in survival. Remaining in control of the morale of his men was paramount to overcoming the extraordinary risks he took leading his men back to safety. He understood the peril that diminishing morale amongst his crew would cause, which was anarchy and certain death.
Shackleton instinctively knew it was critical to sustain psychological momentum throughout the darkest of days. It was important for him to hire the right men for the job. What he valued was a diversity of skills, personalities, temperament, age, and most of all, their ability to maintain a positive demeanor. He believed the character of his men was as important as their technical ability. Effectively, he hired on attitude and values.
This was the advertisement in the paper that attracted 25 men to follow Ernest Shackleton to Antarctica.
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”
Although they were faced with an unknown future, no prospect of rescue, and little chance of survival, Shackleton shifted his goals, his focus was to bring all his men back alive.
What made Shackleton such an extraordinary leader was he devoted himself to a new mission with the same intensity of conviction he held when they first set sail from London. He could have easily given in to the overwhelming anxiety he and his men felt. He was relentless in his pursuit of capturing this free-floating anxiety by turning this energy into something productive.
What Shackleton did so well in his leadership role was established a routine that continued long after the Endurance was locked in ice. These daily chores meant the men woke every day with purpose. By taking the attention away from failure, he instilled a deep belief in his men they would safely return home. They took shifts in watching the sea, hunting seals, collecting ice for water, and maintaining radio watch. It was business as usual to offset the frustration and bitter disappointment he and his men felt.
Landing on Elephant Island was the first time they had stood on solid ground for 497 days. Shackleton along with five members of his crew then sailed 800 miles of rough sea to find help. Eventually, on August 30, 1916, all the crew were rescued.
The 7 Keys to Success
There are 7 keys to success we can all learn from Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership during one of the most perilous journeys ever undertaken.
Key to Success 1: Vision Values and Goals
To move forward in life, you need a vision for a better future. Never lose sight of your vision for this is what feeds the human spirit, the promise of something better. Shackleton was a visionary and the shared values of his team is what brought them all back to safety. Your values and goals should always support your vision.
When you focus on short term goals and objectives, keep the ultimate goal or vision in sight. Shackleton started out with a vision to explore the Antarctic continent then shifted his focus to getting his men back alive. He set many short-term objectives all of which led to supporting his mission to return his men to safety.
When you focus on short term goals that are aligned to your vision and values, each short term goal leads to the achievement of the ultimate goal or vision.
Key to Success 2: Let go of The Past
When the Endurance was lost to the ice, and faced with an unknown future, Shackleton had the foresight to reshift his focus and the focus of his men to getting home.
You must be willing to shift your short-term and medium goals when something is not working. Channel your energies into a new goal or vision as a way of capturing perceived failures and roadblocks and putting them where they belong, in the past.
Key to Success 3: Deal With Adversity
You will always be faced with challenges and adversity will hit you. Life always presents us with unexpected events, shifting opportunities, changing environments, and conditions. It’s the ability to deal with adversity and come up with positive solutions to keep your vision alive. If you struggle with dealing with adversity, find a life coach, business coach, or mentor that will support you and help get you back on track.
While it’s important to stay grounded in reality, it is equally important to believe in yourself and instill that same level of confidence in your supporters. Don’t listen to the naysayers for all things are possible, Shackleton is proof the impossible is possible when faced with overwhelming odds against him. It’s your attitude that determines your altitude in life.
Key to Success 4: Activity Begins With Purpose
Never mistake activity over forward-facing momentum and getting results. All the activity in the world is meaningless if the momentum is backward. While part of Shackelton’s approach to keeping his men forward-focused was in establishing a daily routine, it was never just busywork, he had a purpose and that was to keep his men in the best physical, mental, and emotional shape he could. Shackleton instinctively knew this was critical to creating psychological momentum. He needed them to believe in their eventual rescue to prevent conflict and depression.
If you are busy doing things that aren’t aligned with your vision, values, and goals, then success will undoubtedly slip into oblivion.
Key to Success 5: Learned Optimism
Psychologist Martin Seligman pioneered the phrase Learned Optimism. He studied the effects of optimistic self-talk in real-world conditions. His research concluded that optimists experience more successful outcomes than pessimists.
Spend time nourishing your own optimistic spirit. When you believe you will succeed, others too will believe you will succeed, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If optimism is not natural for you, especially if you were brought up in a negative environment, this is a key benefit of success coaching. Redirecting your negative energies into positive thoughts and activities that support a compelling and powerful vision for the future. Recognize the consequences of negative beliefs for they are a major barrier to success.
Key to Success 6: Put Things Into Perspective
You may be strong but you are not invincible. Inner turmoil, stress, and worry coupled with physical exhaustion take their toll and leads to burnout. The human tendency is to become so fixated on a single goal to exclusion of all else can be your downfall. Goal obsession is dangerous as it takes your focus away from the bigger picture. When in the pursuit of a single goal, it makes you oblivious to pending doom where you lose sight of your psychological and physical limits.
Put things into perspective and remain balanced. Recognize when it’s time to take a step back and don’t get caught up with an emotional fever to reach unrealistic targets, and goals.
Key to Success 7: Find Support
If you are struggling with your vision values or goals, you can enlist the help of others. Find guidance and support from a friend or someone you can trust and confide in. It might be a mentor, life coach, business coach, counselor, or someone else again. At times you may need to make tough decisions, which is why having the right person to talk to will ease any guilt or pain you may feel. Best of all, recognize you are human and will make mistakes, and remember mistakes need not define you.
You are a self-appointed leader which means you are the CEO of your own life. Without a vision, values, or goals to inspire your future, you may end up with a future you don’t want. The fastest way to change the current trajectory of your life is with a Life Coach or Business Coach who can help you eliminate fear, and learn how to thrive, not just survive!
On a Final Note
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