Lessons From Shackleton

06 Jul 2015

I’m not sure I’d be too far off the mark if I suggested that men of great character who are equally great role-models, are a little hard to come by in the 21st century – and especially hard to find with those who are in the public eye!

However, if you take a quick look back in history, you’ll find a number of remarkable men worth aspiring to – and one of my favourites, is the great explorer, Ernest Shackleton.

For those who don’t know the story that made him famous, in August 1914, Shackleton set out on his expedition with the goal of being the first man to traverse the Antarctic continent on foot. Aboard his ship, named Endurance, he and 27 men set sail for the South Pole.

But along the way, the ship became trapped in ice, setting off a series of events that would become one of exploration’s greatest stories of survival.

While he didn’t complete the journey he’d hoped for, he brought back all 27 of his men alive – an amazing feat of leadership that’s without parallel.

For nearly two years, Shackleton and his men were stranded off the coast of Antarctica. His rescue attempts are fraught with danger and seem almost Hollywood-like, they’re that surreal!

His is a story of hope … progress … then crushing setback. Hope … progress and once again … crushing setback. This was Shackleton’s reality for nearly two years and such a string of endless disappointments would’ve made most men, want to curl up and die. But he refused to let his spirit be defeated.

Ernest Shackleton as a role-model? Now that’s a man worth aspiring to!

NOTE: If you want to learn about more of this fascinating story, check out his book 'South!'

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Black Hole

03 Jul 2015

Saw this programme a while back. About this nice family who sold up, quit their high-powered jobs, and went bush with their kids – living simply and self-sufficiently six hours from the nearest shop. 

My cup of tea? Nah, not really. I’m too fond of my comfort and mod-cons. But every now and then I sense that something’s missing. I mean, look at us:

We work at a pace we wish we didn’t have to … to earn money that’s never enough … to buy things we don’t really need … to impress people we don’t really like. We put so much effort into having a good time, it fair wears us out.

We’re like Bono in that U2 song: ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for …’

He explained it once in an interview: “You don’t become a rock star unless you’ve got something missing, that’s obvious to me. If you were a more complete person, you could feel normal without 70,000 people a night screaming their love for you.

“Blaise Pascal called it a God-shaped hole,” says Bono. “Everyone’s got one, but some are blacker and wider than others. It’s a feeling of being abandoned, cut adrift in space and time. I was like the character in that old blues song, ‘Sometimes I feel like a motherless child …’

“My own hole can still open up. I don’t think you ever completely fill it. You can try – with songs, family, faith, and a full life. But when things are silent you can still hear the hissing of what’s missing …”

Ouch – touché! Bono’s words seem to echo Saint Augustine’s: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless ‘til they find their rest in thee.”

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