Feeling on top of the world, at the bottom of the world
Rowing the Atlantic that was a real eye-opener for me. I started to see the parallels between business success and success in adventure and I wanted to test my ideas about the steps required to achieving both.
Despite never having skied cross-country before, a trek unaided to the Antarctic seemed the perfect test bed. It was a feat that no Kiwi had achieved before and would require two years of ruthless preparation and effective management of stakeholders including media, sponsors, technology, logistics and research and development teams. Inspiration came from our patron, Sir Edmund Hillary, whose own Antarctic trip filled me with excitement and a drive to head to the white continent.
It sounds simple - start at the Antarctic coast and head south. But Antarctica is the driest, highest, windiest and coldest continent on the planet and littered with obstacles. Not unlike some business environments. Meticulous planning is one thing, but not everything goes according to plan. And the strategies we developed to cope with the unknown, sometimes accompanied by a healthy portion of adversity, were critical to the success of the expedition.
After 52 days and 1,111 km of freezing temperatures, torn hamstrings, lost toe nails, rough ice and huge weight loss, I arrived at the South Pole with my expedition partner, Kevin Biggar.
For me, the expedition served to strengthen my theories about achieving success. Throughout our business lives, we are faced with complex situations in which we need to overcome obstacles in order to achieve a planned goal. The surroundings, though less extreme than the Pole, can be just as unfamiliar. But the insights I learned about appropriate training, planning, critical thinking and drive are transferrable to the slightly less life threatening corporate landscape.