By Brett & Kate McKay/ Source: The Art of Manliness
In 1910, two explorers began their quests to become the first men to ever set foot upon the southernmost point on earth.
It was the “Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration,” and the South Pole represented one of the last unexplored areas on earth.
Robert Falcon Scott hoped to claim the bottom of the world for England; Roald Amundsen wished to plant the Norwegian flag there on behalf of his countrymen.
Despite their common goal, the two adventurers’ approaches to their expeditions were quite different—as were the end results.
Amundsen reached the South Pole first and returned home on a trip that was relatively smooth and straightforward. Scott arrived at 90 Degrees South only to experience the crushing disappointment of seeing one of Amundsen’s flags flapping in the wind. He would never make it back; he and his four companions died of starvation, exhaustion, and exposure as they attempted to make the 700 mile return trip to their base camp.
Some have painted the differences between the men and their respective expeditions too simplistically: Amundsen as the brilliant leader, Scott as an utterly incompetent boob. In truth, both men had strengths and flaws, and both men made mistakes. And there is much merit in a struggle, even if it ends in tragedy, and I personally greatly admire Scott’s courage and character and his stoicism when facing death.
The outcome of any endeavor is decided by the weights of a scale–on one side lies fate/risk/circumstance and on the other, preparations/tactics/heart. The adventurer cannot know exactly how much will be loaded on the luck side of the scale when he sets out, but he can overload the other side as much as possible, in hopes of tipping the chances in his favor. This is what Amundsen did, and how he did it reveals a number of strikingly clear insights into how we too can reach our goals.