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The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition

George Butler
Written by: Caroline Alexander and Joseph Dorman.
Length: 93 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Studio: Cowboy Pictures

"Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success." -Ernest Shackleton

As he frequently admitted himself, Ernest Shackleton was unsuccessful at most things in his life except one--exploring. A frequently absent husband and failure in several businesses, he was happy and challenged at just one thing--planning and carrying out one of his polar expeditions.

Shackleton had already tried unsuccessfully twice before in attempting to be the first person to reach the South Pole. In this, his third expedition, he sought to be the first person to cross the Antarctic continent. And , when asked why he said “Because it is there.”

In early 1914, Shackleton, with a crew of 27 men, sailed for Antarctica. One day before reaching their sailing destination, their ship, the Endurance, became trapped in an ice-pack where it remained frozen in ice for ten months. Throughout their ordeal, the men endured diminishing food supplies, tremendous boredom, frequent sickness, and blizzards. Then, just when things seem their darkest, shifting ice floes crush and sink their ship and the men are forced to make a harrowing escape using open lifeboats. In this moment, Shackleton decides to change goals.  Instead of crossing the Antarctic, he chooses to save his crew, despite knowing that the closest  civilization is over 800 miles away.

The way Shackleton achieves his goal and saves his men in the process makes this one of the greatest heroic survival stories of all time. The lessons in leadership embedded in this story are ones that coaches can carry forward into their work with leaders.  First there is the vision, then we see perseverance, courage, motivation, commitment and even love. In the end, it is Shackleton's leadership skills and values that turn an initial disaster into one of the greatest success stories of human survival.

The story of Shackleton and his crew is deeply compelling, bone chilling and heroic. If you have ever thought about or sought to achieve something great, watch this movie.

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