My confession of the week?

The other day I spent about 2 hours learning about random, desolate islands and the history behind them.

Practical, I know. But when I go on these “information binges,” my mind hates the useful. The more obscure the better.

I started off at the Tierra del Fuego, moved to the Wollaston Islands off Cape Horn, and eventually found myself across the Drake Passage at Elephant Island.

A place I’d forgotten, but once knew much about due to the story of Shackleton: the polar explorer who through calm determination, courage, and a not-insignificant amount of luck, managed to keep his entire expedition alive after being stranded nearly two years in Antarctica.

If you haven’t read the story yourself, I highly, highly, highly recommend it.

It’s one of the most inspirational and incredible stories of all time; up there with the 300 Spartans who stopped 100,000 Persians at Thermopylae.

Basically, Shackleton’s goal was to go across Antarctica, from one end to the other. No one had ever done it before; indeed, it was the last great polar feat left to accomplish. Scott and Amundsen had already reached to the South Pole, but they had returned via the shorter path they came.

Not long after going down there, however, tragedy struck: Shackleton’s boat got frozen in the Weddell Sea (basically that big “open” — read, frozen — area in the otherwise round continent of Antarctica). Despite his best efforts it was impossible to dislodge, and with the ice pack moving with the current, the boat slowly but surely moved towards the Antarctic Peninsula (the long jutting out part of the continent). Best case scenario, the expedition would have to attempt their objective all over again after months of being trapped on the ice — worst case scenario, the ice pack would compress and crush their boat.

Unfortunately, after a few months it became clear the boat wasn’t going to make it. Realizing that the mission had shifted from science to survival, Shackleton had his men take the lifeboats and as many provisions as possible out of the sinking ship and onto the ice pack. Once the ice moved far enough north and began breaking up, the expedition would take to the open ocean — hopefully to a few islands on the Antarctic Peninsula where whalers occasionally stopped and left supplies. There was a reasonable chance of rescue from there.

But things, again, didn’t go according to plan. Instead of letting them out early, the ice pushed them out past those islands. By the time they broke out of the pack into the sea, they only had one last reachable island: a desolate little rock called Elephant Island.

This was far from ideal. Elephant Island is north of the Antarctic Peninsula and was practically never visited by whalers. Chances of rescue were virtually impossible. And the island itself was far from livable: with the exception of a few seals and sea birds, it was completely devoid of life.

Shackleton led his men there out of necessity, but he knew they wouldn’t last there for long. He had to get help, and fast — many of the men were already sick and injured due to cold exposure.

Shackleton weighed his options — they weren’t good. There was only one guarantee they would be able to get help, and it was unthinkable. He would have to take one of the lifeboats across the dangerous Southern Ocean and hope to land on South Georgia, an Island in the South Atlantic where whalers had a station. From there they could organize a rescue party to save the others.

It was, to be blunt, an insane idea.

The Southern Ocean is the most dangerous bit of sea on earth. Without interruption from any land, winds roar unimpeded there, consistently at 45+ mph; waves are oftentimes as high as 60 feet. To go across this in a small lifeboat, bolstered only by minor additions of scrap wood to make her ocean worthy, over a distance of nearly 1000 miles was damn near impossible — not to mention they would have to do the navigating solely by dead reckoning — aka the sun and stars.

But what other option did he have?

Shackleton took with him four men, and for two and a half weeks, they braved some of the worst conditions imaginable. Wind and waves whipped them mercilessly; they were so swamped with water one man had to continually bail the frigid water while another hacked the constantly-accumulating ice off of the boat and ropes, which got so heavy at times they threatened to capsize the ship.

Yet somehow — against all odds — they landed on South Georgia in one piece.

The only problem?

They were on the wrong side of the island — and the boat (and two of the men) were too damaged and ill to go any further.

So Shackleton and the other two “healthy” men did the only thing they could do: trek for 36 hours straight across the uncharted glaciers and mountains in the interior of South Georgia, managing by crafting home-made hiking boots by placing nails from the boat through their shoes.

When they landed in Stromness, the whaling station on the other side of the island, the Norwegian whalers couldn’t believe what they saw. It had been 15 months since anybody had seen or heard from Shackleton’s expedition; they were all assumed dead.

Immediately Shackleton went to work to save the rest of his men. It took 3 months and 4 attempts, but Shackleton — the final time with a ship he had to beg the Chilean Government for — reached his men, who were shivering and starving on Elephant Island, yet alive.

Yes, you heard me correctly: all of his men were saved, despite being in the Antarctic with barely any provision for 2 years.


It led polar explorer Raymond Priestly to remark:

“For scientific discovery give me Scott; for speed and efficiency of travel give me Amundsen; but when disaster strikes and all hope is gone, get down on your knees and pray for Shackleton.”

Anyway, this was a long and random story — why did I decide to share it?

Well for one, I think it’s amazing, and WANTED to share it.

But mostly because of Shackleton himself, and how responsible he was for averting what was almost certainly a 99% chance of disaster.

When asked why they survived, his men said the same thing: no matter what happened, Shackleton never panicked. No matter how bad it got, he was always level-headed and calm.

It’s a lesson most modern men could bear learning about, not only when it comes to leading other men, but women.

Women are in many ways like nature. Beautiful and alluring, but wild and unpredictable.

For a man to survive with them he must always maintain his confidence and composure.

When you’re with a woman, sometimes you’re going to feel like Shackleton on a tiny boat in the middle of a cold, raging sea.

If you want to get to land, you’ll have to ride the waves.

Lose your cool and you’ll drown.

I know: this isn’t something that might come naturally to you. Fact is, very few of us had fathers who raised us this way, and none of us had a culture that made this sort of ethos important.

We’ve been taught to respond to problems emotionally; to complain.

Only problem is: this guarantees you’ll have not only a shitty life, but shitty relationships with women.

So, if that’s something you struggle with, consider working with me.

I break down female psychology with my clients and make them viscerally understand the counter-intuitive ways women want men to treat them… as well as diving into their own psyche to break down self-sabotaging beliefs.

Frame-work is truly my forte. If there’s something in your subconscious that’s making you act a way you wish you didn’t, I’ll find it and sort it out for you.

My prices are going up on Monday, so fill out the application now if you want in.


PS You know the most poetic thing about Shackleton? 5 years later he returned with most of the same men on a second expedition. It was in many ways a “reunion.”

But the moment Shackleton landed in South Georgia to kick the expedition off, he had a heart attack and died. He remains buried there to this day.

Some things man, you just can’t make them up.