Nearly one hundred years ago (December 7, 1914), Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 28 men aboard the ship Endurance entered the pack ice off the continent of Antarctica.
To be the first party to trek across the continent on foot. It was a goal they would never achieve.
Nearly a century later, the tale of Endurance remains one of the most fascinating examples of human triumph in the face of adversity.
The Endurance sailed uneventfully for just over a month. On January 18, 1915, the ship became trapped in the crushing ice of the Antarctic ice pack. Despite the efforts of the crew, Endurance would remain lodged in the ice for the next nine months.
The thick ice of the Antarctic pack pressed constantly, threatening to crush Endurance to splinters. Ultimately, the threat forced the crew to abandon ship in October 1915. From that point on the crew would live on the ice.
One month later, the ship sank, stranding the crew -- with minimal stores and three short-boats -- on the drifting pack ice. The men survived for the next six months by killing seals, penguins, and ultimately their own sled-dogs for food.
In April 1916, an island was seen on the distant horizon. It was their only hope.
The ice floe broke just enough, allowing them to put to sea in some of the roughest waters on Earth. Seven days later they landed on the uninhabited -- and inhospitable -- Elephant Island. Far from regular shipping lanes, Shackleton knew the chances of a rescue from their location were nonexistent.
They might be on land, but they were far from safe, farther from home.
On April 24th, Shackleton again put to sea, this time with a crew of five, headed for the populated island of South Georgia -- 800 miles away.
Navigating by sextant, fighting through storming high seas of freezing water, Shackleton and his small crew reached South Georgia Island in 17 days! The weather (and their own condition) forced them, however, to land on the uninhabited side of the island. Shackleton and two other men had to trek on foot across the island. In 36 hours they traversed 22 miles across the glacier-clad, thousand-feet high mountains to reach the whaling port of Stromness on May 20, 1916.
His attempts to rescue his crewmen left behind on Elephant Island would not be successful until August 30, 1916, a full 22 months after they'd initially set out. Remarkably, all 28 men survived the ordeal.
The next time you face an obstacle that seems impossible to overcome remember the story of Endurance... and press on.
Success is gained not by taking the easiest path (or even the one you planned on taking); it is achieved by taking consistent and persistent action until your goals have been achieved.
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