←  back to Notes

Endurance - Shackleton's Incredible Voyage

Big Takeaways

**Spoilers Warning** There are some spoilers in these notes. So for those who haven't read the book, you have been warned.

Ernest Shackleton, the ship's captain, was a leader and a good one too. Through all the crazy things they had to endure, he successfully kept everyone alive throughout this entire perilous expedition. 

I feel like his success could be attributed to several factors:

Safety over Speed

Throughout the expedition, there had been countless times when they encountered dangerous situations. Shackleton always chose the plan that would be safest for the whole team. Rushing was never an option.

Hiring & Intuition 

Shackleton was extremely thorough when it came to planning an expedition. Still, when it came to looking and finding members for the journey, he would ask very shallow questions and even decide based on appearance and demeanor. He even selected people with hardly any experience in a particular field he was assigning them to for the expedition. 

Relying heavily on these crew members, choosing them so flippantly seems like pretty odd behavior. Still, the book mentions that historically, he had great success with choosing people this way.

Maybe our initial impressions of people are more robust than we know.

Optimism & Resilience

There were quite a few times in the book where it mentions positivity and optimism. The expedition team could have quickly fallen into misery and despair for their icy situation, but many of them choose to see the positives. 

Even without the hope of rescue, the crew members' journal entries revealed that they adjusted well to the harsh terrain and were "quite sincerely happy." Macklin, one of the expedition members, in his diary, wrote: "I read somewhere that all a man needs to be happy is a full stomach and warmth, and I begin to think it is really true..." From the diary of Mr. Greenstreet, while deserted on a giant iceberg, "One of the finest days we have ever had...a pleasure to be alive."

Their past life at parts had become "pleasant reminiscences rather than longings." Shackleton also kept a powerful optimistic mood that gave his team confidence and strength.

This positive mindset reminds me of the notes from Victor Frankl's observations in his book, "Man's Search for Meaning," and how positivity and optimism significantly impacted a person's health and well-being. 

No Grudges

Ernest Shackleton felt entirely responsible for the situation he got his team in. He knew the importance of morale when conditions were rough, so he actively made sure that the people who had disagreements with one another had them settled quickly. There was no time to hold grudges. He would even spend time with team members he didn't like to mend disputes and bad feelings.

Random Interesting Notes & Research

  • While on the ice shelf, cutting down on their supplies, Shackleton threw away his Bible that Queen Alexandria gifted him but ripped out the flyleaf, the 23rd Chapter of Psalm, and the Book of Job.
  • The expedition's ship, The Endurance, was built from oak, Norwegian mountain fir, and this wood called greenheart. The greenheart wood was strong enough to break through the ice while also protecting the hull from ice chaffing. The wood is so dense that it weighs more than iron and needs special tools to work with it.
  • Images from the voyage: (Photos Link) (Photos Link)
  • Fortitudine vincimus - "By endurance, we conquer"

Did you enjoy this?

Then consider joining the Monday Mishmash newsletter! This is a short weekly email of interesting topics, products and articles I've come across during the week. You'll also be the first to hear about new articles, resources and projects going on. Sign up to receive the next edition! Never spam, unsubscribe anytime.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
←  back to Notes