Ernest Shackleton’s story teaches us leadership—and also how to fight climate change

Sometimes we have to look to the past to find inspiration for how to impact the future.

One of the best places to look for leadership is in the explorers who have persisted through the most dire of situations—and there are few pioneers with more pluck than Sir Ernest Shackleton. Shackleton’s story of keeping 27 frostbitten men alive for more than 15 months in Antarctica is now taught in many of the world’s leading management schools: Yale, Harvard, Cambridge, Wharton, you name it. NASA even has a Shackleton training program.

Most people use Shackleton’s story to teach teams about leadership. But I think it can teach us how to fight climate change.

It’s one thing to read the accounts of explorers’ death-defying pilgrimages or study them in universities—but it’s quite another to learn from their experiences yourself.  I had already relived the journey of one seemingly impossible Antarctic odyssey (shown in the above photo)—that of Douglas Mawson, who was the lone survivor of a 1911 expedition to the South Pole, where he was accused of cannibalizing his fellow explorers. So what was one more?

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