Endurance: How To Build Solid Foundations That Can Save Your Business
Think of your business like a ship sailing through the water. You’ve charted your course and acquired funding for the journey (created a budget), assembled a crew (hired leverage), and have a faraway destination in mind (a BIG goal—salary or otherwise). Inevitably there will be stormy days where the seas are rocky. But if you have built a ship with a solid foundation and trained your crew to batten down the hatches, bad weather won’t capsize you. It might bring a little water on board and shake up your sailors’ confidence. But if your business is not airtight, a big shift in the market (an iceberg-sized shift) could strand you with no rescue mission in sight.
Ernest Shackleton And The Endurance
To illustrate the importance of having a solid business that can withstand any market shift, we're going to tell you about an actual ship that did sink.
In 1914, British explorer Ernest Shackleton and a crew of sailors set out on a transcontinental journey to explore and cross the South Pole. The island was first reached by Roald Amundsen in 1911, but Shackleton wanted to lay claim to researching the continent itself. He observed other pioneers attempt to take on the quest, only to die in the process. While the prospects looked bleak, Shackleton carried on with plans for his own trans-Arctic voyage.
Charting The Course And Acquiring Funding
The journey included two ships, the Endurance and the Aurora. The Endurance was set to carry Shackleton and most of the crew from the island of South Georgia, through the Weddell Sea, to Antarctica. The Aurora would set sail from the opposite direction, embarking from Hobart, an Australian island. Once the sailors arrived at the South Pole, the Aurora’s crew was assigned to set out food and supply depots across one half of the island. This would feed and fuel the Endurance’s team on the back half of their 1,800-mile cross-continent trek.
Based on his extensive plans and prior successes, the British government gave Shackleton 10,000 pounds in 1913, bringing knowledge of the journey to the public’s attention. After that, he was able to raise what would be several million pounds in today’s money from individuals and institutions.
Assembling A Crew
To gain exposure and acquire sailors for the journey, Shackleton allegedly posted an ad in a London newspaper that read:
“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”
While the ad in question has never been recovered or verified, twenty-eight men did in fact board the ship and set sail with Shackleton, despite the guaranteed hardships that they would face along the way. In fact, over five thousand people applied to join the expedition.
A Faraway Destination Meets A Shift
Shackleton and his crew departed the Weddell Sea base in August of 1914. The Endurance successfully sailed for almost six months. But then, as if submitting to the mythical ad, the ship became stuck in ice off the Caird coast. It floated off course for ten months when it finally sank and the crew was forced to camp on the ice. There they were stranded for another six months, surviving on seal and penguin meat. The weather at first was frigid, making an amputee out of a sailor whose foot became too frostbitten. The days eventually got warmer and the ice melted, forcing the team to break into three lifeboats and make an escape to Elephant Island.
While most of the sailors set up makeshift shelters on the island, Shackleton and five crew members mounted a rescue mission. They made an over 800-mile lifeboat journey to South Georgia. They sailed in rough seas for sixteen days before they reached their destination. There, they trekked across difficult terrain before finding help at a whaling station. Finally, the men left behind at Elephant Island were rescued. Endurance turned out to be an apt name; in the end, every single crew member was saved.
What Shackleton initially hoped would be a journey of exploration and research turned out to be a testament to the human spirit. Shackleton mapped his journey with detail and proper planning. He raised money to support his potential research. He hired experienced crew and set expectations from the start. Because of this, he was able to lead his team to survival even through the direst of conditions. Even though it took over a hundred years for his ship to be found, because of his endurance the vessel was never forgotten.
If you think of your business like a ship, remember that it’s possible to get stuck in the ice. It is a fact that you will face hardships. That’s why it is so important to have a strong business from the start. This includes hiring the right people to help your business succeed, building a budget that will help you reach your financial targets, keeping your goals big and inspired, and practicing being a steadfast leader. When you are working from a solid foundation, it is easier to adjust to whatever is thrown at you.