A client recently shared with me a survival story* about Sir Ernest Shackleton.
Shackleton was a polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic in the early 1900’s. He was considered one of the principal figures of the period known as the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.
As I was reading and listening to the story about his travel on The Endurance, one thing kept coming up.
In the video**, they commented that his crew felt that there was no one they would rather have with them in crisis. This speaks to the fact that he was well known in crisis situations; he was not new to them and experienced his share.
Which leads me to wonder, why?
Certainly, when we take big risks in life, there can be a greater chance for experiencing crisis. This does not always happen, however, unless we are wired with a belief system for it. If we believe, and, therefore, have an expectation that it is/will be a part of our experience, it is also highly possible that we will tend to believe that it is the way we can “prove” ourselves and define our value.
I have worked with many who are in career crisis. What I find, over and over again as they talk of their experiences, is a belief that “this is just the way my industry is.” Now, I have worked with people in many different industries, so I know, although it may be manifesting as “truth” the reason why is that we perceive this to be so.
Why do we?
Other than the typical sense perception that might dictate what we come to experience, a lot of why we are even attracted to given situations is due to our beliefs.
What I find with many in places of high power and stressful industries is this practice of standard that goes like this . . .
If I were to lose my “fighting edge,” I would no longer have the ability to make an impact.
We see this everywhere, really, but it’s highly obvious in areas such as the military, the government, and industries where big power is at play. The belief: we must “fight” to show and prove ourselves.
We have been wired and conditioned, at every turn, to believe we have to “expect the worst,” and approach with “our guard up,” “armed and ready.”
We talk about the fight against inequality, the battle against cancer, the struggle to get ahead.
Our language is geared towards looking at and expecting crisis. The belief is getting our dukes up and guns ready means we are on alert and more prone to being prepared for what’s to come.
We see this when we talk of choosing procrastination because we perform better “under pressure.”
What if it didn’t have to be this way? What if preparation and performing at our best was more about being in the zone of balance and peaceful knowledge of who we are and what we have to bring to the table? What if truly “being at our edge” is being present & focusing on what we have to offer (gifts, skill sets, etc) so that when something does come down the pike, we are in a calm state of ready, and thus more apt to make a reasonable, quick and intuitive decision that leads us away from crisis instead of towards it. What if this state were considered “being the hero,” “getting ahead” and “being prepared?”
What if serotonin trumped cortisol?
What if our vision of a hero were someone in a peaceful state of meditation instead of a combat soldier with bulging muscles and weaponry slung all over his body?
What if Shackleton (most likely subconsciously or unconsciously) created crisis so that he could have the opportunity to perform “at his best?” The story narrative spoke to the fact that his expeditions were not as well planned and thought-through as others of the time. Is this truly something to celebrate?
Not to subtract from his heroism, but if he had been more prepared and honoring of the needs of not only his men, but himself, perhaps he wouldn’t have needed to be a hero at all. Perhaps he had a belief that in order to have true value, he had to be the savior, so he created opportunities to be this.
I’m mentioning this because we have to watch what we believe in, follow and hold at high value. If it isn’t in true alignment with our core values and integrity, we need to look at shifting what we believe, subscribe to and how we look at the reality we experience.
When choosing anything, a mate, a career, a company to work at/with, friends, if we don’t fully understand our ultimate whys and the impact of what we align with, we can be at risk of creating a reality that we truly don’t want.
*To read the article about Sir Ernest Shackleton, go to http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/History/Shackleton-Endurance-Trans-Antarctic_expedition.php
**To watch the video, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgh_77TtX5I