Mental Endurance in Alfred Lansing's Endurance Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
In Endurance Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, Alfred Lansing recounts the tale of one of the greatest successes of the Twentieth Century. Ironically, Lansing's detailed account of the 1915 Trans-Antarctic Expedition illuminates the stark reality that Sir Ernest Shackleton's expedition did not fulfill its goal. In fact, the expedition never even set foot upon the continent that they had intended to cross. The outstanding success of that motley crew of adventurers was in their ability to endure the harsh Antarctic climate. Despite having their ship crushed by an ice cap, spending the dark Antarctic winter hopelessly alone, suffering through a stormy voyage in an open dingy, and stumbling blindly across an uncharted island, Shackleton and his men persisted in their quest to survive. Truly, Shackleton set an outstanding example of never giving up.
Although it may first appear that Shackleton's greatest perseverance resided in his stamina to endure the harsh marching and sailing that it took to lead his men back to safety, this physical strength was only a small part of the real endurance. No, it was not even in dealing with the chaffing absence of any substitute for toilet paper that Shackleton manifested his endurance, but it was prevalent in his underlying attitude. Endurance is more than just taking the next grueling step; it is maintaining a belief that all efforts3/4 whether they are physical or mental3/4 can improve the future. This incessantly positive attitude is the very foundation of stamina because when there is a will, a sense of self-worth, or a shard of hope, the body and mind will find a way. In addition, a positive attitude will unite a group of people in cooperation. Undoubtedly, the survival of Shackleton and his men is proof enough that the flesh, the gray matter, and even the human community will adapt to one's overall mentality. In order to endure, one must get along with himself to prevent the self-pity that cripples the human organism, and he must also cooperate with his peers unless he wants to abandon any help he might have received from the resourceful human community around him. There it is then, Shackleton's indefatigable trait, the positive attitude that permits people to explode through obstacles by the means of cooperation of mind, body, and peers.
While I am not as experienced in the faculty of endurance as Shackleton was, my trials as a distance runner have bequeathed me with a concrete idea of what endurance is. My debilitating cramps, my slogs through mud pits that were formerly legitimate trails, and my stomach emptying wretches on the side of the sizzling track have enstilled in me the prerequisite for a belief that what I am doing really matters. When I fail to maintain a positive mental attitude, my exhausted legs slow in their powerful dance; they simply refuse to go any faster as the blanket of apathy envelopes me....