Ernest Shackleton’s Trans-Antarctica expedition of 1914 – 1917 is one of the most incredible adventure stories of all time. When the great explorer advertised for men to join his expedition this is the advert he posted:
Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success
Firstly, you have to admire the frankness and honesty of marketing in the early twentieth century. What an incredible value proposition! Low wages, bitter cold and probable death and yet he received so many applications that he commented:
“So overwhelming was the response, it seemed as though all the men of Great Britain were determined to accompany me.”
Leaders with a clear and inspirational destination for a meaningful quests discover very quickly that there is never a shortage of talented applicants.
The crazier or bolder the idea, the greater is the attraction. There is a lovely anecdote of a NASA janitor from around the time of the Apollo moon landings who was cleaning the computer room at mission control. When President John F Kennedy stopped to ask him what he was doing, the janitor replied, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.” It is not only astronauts and adventurers who get to go on quests. There is a role for anyone who dares to venture out and find new ground. Quests offer meaning to our lives and people want to be involved, no matter how big or small a part they play in its success. Quests are part of the human spirit that keeps humanity driving forward
Once a quest has taken off, those who take up and heed the call of the quest also own it. Work without management is believed to be chaotic, too risky to contemplate, but it is surprising how efficient self-organising systems become when the destination is inspiring, understood and meaningful.
Set your sails, navigate away from your safe harbour. Explore. Dream. Discover. Be successful.