Thursday, February 15, 2007

How do you measure success?

How do you view failure? Do you have to reach your ultimate goal to be considered a success? I think that is the general way of viewing accomplishment. When you reach your ultimate goal then you are successful. I read a really good book that changed my view of success and failure. The books title is "Shackletons Way" The book is about the leadership practices of Sir Ernest Shackleton who was an Antarctic explorer. Oddly enough Shackleton never realized his goal of being the first to navigate to Antarctica. He failed on two attempts. So,as fate would have it, Shackleton is forever regarded as a failure, right? Nothing could be further from the truth.

Although he is unknown to many people, in some circles he is regarding as one of the great leaders in history. Shackleton lead 27 men into the Antarctic. Well into his journey his ship "The Endurance" became ice bound. Unable to fee the Endurance from the ice they had to eventually abandon the ship and watch it get crushed in the ice and sink in the frigid ocean water. With no way of communicating with the civilized world and floating on ice flows, Shackleton and his men set out on one of the most amazing and perilous adventures in history. With little provisions and minimal means of shelter Shackleton and his men survived nearly 2 years in the most incredible conditions imaginable. Shackleton and a couple of men eventually made a perilous adventure to navigate icy waters in trecherous conditions to seek help and rescue his men.

Shackleton was able to accomplish all this and he did not lose one single man. All 27 in his crew survived! What an amazing story. One well worth reading. If you get a chance pick up a copy and give a good study. You will learn some great leadership skills while being amazed at the courage of the human spirit.


Trevor Gay said...

Hi Rocky

I am about half way through 'Shackleton's Way' after your recommendation and I endorse all that you say about it. It is probably the best leadership book I have read. What impresses me most is his genuine care for his followers.

Herman Najoli said...

Here's a similar story that I like so much: One of the most prestigious events of the Olympic Games is the Marathon - 26 miles - 385 yards of one of the most severe tests of human endurance. In the 1968 Summer Olympic Games, held in Mexico City, John Stephen Akhwari of Tanzania started with the other runners but fell way behind the leaders. At the finish line - the 100,000 plus spectators packing Olympic Stadium - cheered the winners of the race. Other runners entered the stadium and crossed the finish line to the cheers of the crowd. The race was over. Other events took place. Thousands of spectators had left. Then, one lone runner entered the stadium - John Stephen Akhwari. Akhwari’s pace was slow. His steps were wobbly. His knee was bloody and bandaged from a fall earlier in the race. He looked terrible. As He entered the stadium and began to slowly complete that last lap around the track the few remaining spectators began to realize who he was and what he was doing. As Akhwari slowly - painfully - crossed the finish line - they cheered - saluting the man’s determination. After the race, Akhwari was asked - what kept you going? Why didn’t you quit? Akhwari said, “My country did not send me to Mexico City to start the race. They sent me here to finish”. Isn't this what true success is all about?