People have asked, “How do I prepare for the adversity I know will come into my life? It`s going well right now, but I know it won’t always be smooth sailing.” To answer that, let’s look at two explorers who treated preparation quite differently and with shocking results.
In October of 1911, two teams made their final preparations to be the first explorers to reach the South Pole. Roald Amundsen’s team would race to victory and safely return home. Robert Falcon Scott and his team experienced a devastating defeat, reaching the Pole 34 days after their competitor but during their race home died.
Amundsen’s view on preparation: You don’t wait until you’re in an unexpected storm to discover that you need more strength and endurance. You prepare with intensity, all the time, so that when conditions turn against you, you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength. He lived with Eskimos and learned how to dress, live and survive in freezing temperatures. He became an expert dog handler, ate raw dolphin and became a skilled skier.
Robert Falcon Scott on the other hand did not train well for his expedition. He used the knowledge he had and didn’t learn from those who lived in similar conditions. He chose ponies instead of dogs who didn`t hold up in extreme conditions. He took untested “motor sledges” which broke down under the extreme conditions.
Unlike Scott, Amundsen took more supplies than he needed and carefully marked his route on the way to the Pole with black flags in case of bad weather on his return. Scott took just enough supplies and didn`t mark his return route. [Source: Great by Choice, by Jim Collins]
Three behaviors of a prepared person:
- They learn and hang out with wise people.
Amundsen learned from and lived with the Eskimos who had a proven track record of survival in harsh conditions. Scott didn`t and used untested methods instead resulting in failure.
Who can you and I learn wisdom from?
- Historical mentors who have left their stories for us read
- Wise family and friends with life experience
- Bible characters whose positive or negative example teaches wisdom
2. They temper optimism with a good dose of realism.
Untempered optimism clouds our ability to accept the possibility of trouble. Scott’s optimism cost him his life and the life of his team due to unforeseen “bad luck” encountered on the trip home.
A mindset with room for adversity prepares us for the unexpected.
3. Practice hardship before you “have” to.
Another word for self-inflicted hardship is self-discipline. George Patton once said, Make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up.
Amundsen trained himself so his mind ran his body. You and I have the option of making daily choices that help the mind run the body. Then when hardship does comes, we have the strength of character to withstand difficult circumstances.
What habits have you developed to prepare you for a life storm? What could you do to better prepare?