The Polar Explorer

What I teach, and coach is not complicated at all.  It is simple, however, just because it is simple does not mean that it is easy.

I am interested in what motivates people, why some people achieve their goals and others don’t.  What success means to the individual and how some process models, persistence and GRIT* (or whatever you want to call it) can help people achieve success.

Ben Saunders is one of the world’s leading polar explorers, and a record-breaking long-distance skier who has covered more than 6,000 km (3,700 miles) on foot in the Polar Regions since 2001.  I listened to part of Ben’s podcast on the TED Radio Hour ( where he talked about his three-and-a-half-month journey (with his colleague Tarka), across Antarctica.  THE LONGEST EVER POLAR JOURNEY ON FOOT.
Most of us will never attempt or experience anything like this, however, I believe there are some parallels we can draw between what endurance athletes do, and the challenges my clients face (bear with me!).

Ben talked about focusing on putting one foot in front of the other – that sounds simple, right?  Having done it myself (in Minnesota not Antarctica), cross-country skiing is not that complicated, a little tricky to start perhaps, but once you get the hang of it relatively easy.  The function of what he does is not that complicated, however, the planning, preparation and successful execution is by no means easy.

The point I’m making is that like cross-country skiing, there are simple steps and techniques which you can use to help understand your strengths, your goals and what direction you want to take in your career and life to achieve them. 

However, even though the process may be relatively simple, to understand your direction and achieve the required focus to put one foot in front of the other, you may need to dig deep.  If you’re like me and were operating in a bit of a fog, or felt that something was missing, then you’ll need to do some soul searching so that you clearly understand what you want to be doing, where you want to be heading and what the steps are to get there. That is the starting point, once you understand that you will need to execute those steps and show some grit when the going gets tough. 

The good news about grit, is that it is something that can be developed!

*Angela Duckworth writes about grit and its impact on success in her bookGRIT: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success’’.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of any other person, organisation, employer or company.  The author is a performance coach for individuals and businesses with a belief that we all have untapped potential which once found can improve performance.  I draw on 25 years corporate experience, a Bachelor of Arts in Social & Cultural Anthropology and a Masters of Business Administration.


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