Making progress 30 kilometers per day

3771 2018-12-03 01:17

One hundred years ago, before December 1911, no one had ever been to the South Pole. Therefore, explorers around the world would dream of claiming the glory of being the first one been there.

We all know that the South Pole is located at the south-most of the earth, namely the 90°S in latitude. A typical exploratory plan was that expeditions started from 82°S, went to the South Pole, and then came back alive.

Two teams were competing against each other for the first place - the Amundsen team with 5 members and the Scott team with 17 members. Which one do you guess will win this competition? Of course, more people do not necessarily mean more chances of success.

They set off almost at the same time. As the same with all the competitions ever happening in the world, it is quite intensive. When there are great opportunities, there are no reasons that only you can see it; unquestionably, there are a lot of people can see it. Both teams prepared well around October 1911 at the periphery of the Antarctic Circle, and they were racing and rushing for the last distance.

The result was like this – the Amundsen team planted the Norwegian flag at the South Pole first in the following two months, namely December 15th, 1911. However, the Scott team was late for more than one month, though they started almost at the same time and had more team members… What does this mean?

It means the difference between success and failure. Amundsen team was remembered as the first one reaching the South Pole in human history, and the winner takes all the honors. Unfortunately, the Scott team suffered the same challenges but was just late. No one would remember the second place, but we all remember the first one.

This story was not as simple as the above. There were even more - you should not just go to the South Pole; you should come back alive as well. The Amundsen team went there first and came back to the base smoothly.

On the other hand, the Scott team was late and failed to win the glory. Even worse, because of being late, the weather became awful during the way back. People left behind in increasing numbers. Finally, none of them survived. This team, these 17 people, failed to achieve the victory and perished as a whole. It is the difference between death and life.

Today, we can say that they are risking more than us the entrepreneurs. The bet was bigger and thriller than we could imagine. Why was this difference more than just between success and failure, but actually between death and life? Researching the causing facts gives us the insights.

First, exploring the South Pole is not just about people; it is also about the supplies. Researchers analyzed afterward and found the vast difference in the preparation. The Amundsen team prepared three tons of supplies though they had fewer team members. The Scott team made only one ton of supplies, though they had more team members.

Is one ton of supplies adequate? If you make no mistakes, completely no mistakes, then that is just enough. It is horrible that things are perfect in theory and you plan with a tight schedule of resources. People come across unexpected scenarios all the time in reality. People get lost in the wilderness all the time when exploring. People make inevitable mistakes all the time under stress. The fact is that a plan without any slack leads to grave danger.

On the contrary, the Amundsen team did a great job on this. They had only 5 people but prepared three tons of supplies. The surplus in resources made them more fault-tolerant and well-prepared for the unexpected challenges.

It is a considerable difference whether the resource is abundant enough and whether the team leaves room for making mistakes.

In fact, both teams were competing in the same environment, but they delivered two fundamentally different results, which is well worth reaching.

In one word, the success of the Amundsen team is due to making progress 30 kilometers per day no matter what the weather is. In extreme environments, you do the best. More importantly, you do the best in a sustainable way.

Unfortunately, the Scott team was less-disciplined according to their logs. They could advance 40 to 60 kilometers in one day if the weather were pleasant. However, when the weather was terrible, they were bad-tempered, they cursed the bad luck, and they stayed in the tent for the entire day.

In retrospective, this might be the most significant difference. The difference is that no matter how bad the weather is, keep moving 30 kilometers a day and then you can reach the South Pole and then come back alive.

Why am I telling this story? It precisely resembles the intense competition today we are facing in the Internet era. People may say it is the winter of the market and things are getting worse. It is the same with the awful weather 100 years ago in the South Pole. What we can do to survive is like the Amundsen team - making plans with slackness to prepare for the unexpected; leaving room for making mistakes; and most importantly, making progress 30 kilometers per day, and no matter how bad the weather is.

I may say that this is the greatest factor—the way in which the expedition is equipped—the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order—luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck.

- from The South Pole, by Roald Amundsen


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