Get up and get ready

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

If you're looking for an inspirational nugget to share at stand-up tomorrow morning, I might just have something for you. 

It contains the two ingredients necessary for any good story — raw heroism and plenty of pelican meat. It was told to me by a dear friend who is waging her own heroic battle, and was delivered with tears in her eyes. Which is also the way it was received. 

You've probably heard about Sir Ernest Shackleton, the legendary polar explorer who unwisely decided to try to be the first to cross the Antarctic from coast to coast by way of the South Pole. Pulled by dogsled. Shackleton did this in 1914, when cell coverage was spotty at best. 

Long story short, disaster struck, the ship sank and he was trapped on an ice-floe with 28 equally foolish colleagues. His valor in rescuing his crew became the stuff of legend and yielded a treasure-trove of leadership lessons and motivational moments.  

But my friend wasn't interested in Shackleton. She wanted to talk about the courage of the 22 frostbitten men left behind when he went to get help. 

Stranded on an ice-covered island, eating little but seaweed and pelicans, they had no plausible reason to hope. But hope they did. Every day, the man Shackleton left in charge awakened his crew with the words, “Get your things ready, boys, the Boss may come today.” 

Day after day, for more than four months, they prepared for the rescue that would almost certainly never come. And then it did. 

In the face of her own monumental struggle, my friend finds comfort and courage in the dogged determination of their example. And if the key ingredient to success and happiness is just showing up, there's a lesson there for the rest of us, too. 

From the bedside to the therapy room, none of us knows what wonders are possible if we're truly prepared to receive them. Just be there and be ready. 


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