“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
Ernest Shackleton wrote the above text for an advertisement placed for his 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica via the South Pole on foot. Shackleton had clarity of mission and transparency in his communication because he was certain about what motivated him – as man and as leader. As a result, his advertisement for an uncomfortable, life-threatening, and arduous journey attracted people to his team who signed on neither for themselves (for they were promised nothing but discomfort and loss) nor for Shackleton (for they did not yet know him). They responded because they operated from the same core reasons for living – even, if not especially, in the face of formidable challenge. Much has been written on Ernest Shackleton and the lessons his 1914 voyage of the Endurance provides about leadership. As an educational leader in the 21st century, Shackleton’s clarity of mission and three qualities of his leadership have rooted themselves in me professionally and personally. They are presence, acknowledgement, and play. The power and importance of them transcend time and space: they are enduringly relevant and necessary for leaders, faculty, families, and most important of all, the children we serve.