Extreme preparation – The 200 words project

Roald Amundsen and Robert Scott had contrasting approaches in their race to be the first to reach the South Pole. Scott hoped for the best-case scenario. He had one thermometer and one ton of food for 17 men for the trip. He also stashed supplies for the return journey in one spot marked by a single flag (easily missed if they went off course). Amundsen, on the other hand, prepared for every scenario with multiple thermometers, three tons of food and planted 20 markers around their return supplies. Roald Amundsen exemplified extreme preparation and read obsessively for his journey whereas Robert Falcon Scott did the bare minimum.

While Amundsen’s team made history, Robert Scott’s team tragically died due to fatigue, hunger and frostbite.

In their analysis of great businesses and leaders, Jim Collins and Morten Hansen found that the ones that executed most successfully did not have any better ability to predict the future than their less successful counterparts. Instead, they were the ones who acknowledged they could not predict the unexpected and therefore prepared better.

As simple as this sounds, perhaps it is worth asking ourselves before our next meeting – did we do the reading?

Outstanding leaders embrace a paradox of control and non-control. On the one hand, they understand that they face continuous uncertainty and that they cannot control, and cannot accurately predict, significant aspects of the world around them. On the other hand, they reject the idea that forces outside their control or chance events will determine their results; they accept full responsibility for their own fate. – Jim Collins and Morten Hansen, Great By Choice


Source and thanks to: Great by Choice by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen

(The 200 words project involves sharing a story from a book/blog/article I’ve read within 200 words)

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