#190 – Optimism and Leadership

People often ask me to recommend a book on leadership, and I certainly do have a few favorites. One of them is Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer, a New York Times Business Bestseller by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell. It’s the true story of a disastrous exploratory trip to Antarctica in 1916, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose ship was grounded in the polar ice of the Weddell Sea. The men were stranded for two years on an ice floe twelve hundred miles from any assistance, without means of communication. The amazing leadership achievement is that Shackleton got all 27 of his crew home alive. It’s a story worth reading. His survival and leadership skills were brilliant.

Food for Thought ~

The story illustrates many of the great principles of leadership, but the one I want to emphasize today is his optimism and how essential that was to their survival. In this case, it was, quite literally, a matter of life and death. Although they suffered one setback after another, and the odds were unbelievably slim, Shackleton was able to maintain his conviction that they would survive. His creativity, discipline, and commitment to keeping his crew’s hopes alive are truly inspiring.

Question for the day ~

How would you describe yourself on the optimist – pessimist continuum? Where would your employees and associates place you?