On January 18, 2014, I stood at the South Pole with my husband Marty after 48-days of skiing across the cold, barren, windswept continent of Antarctica. Our South Pole expedition began with the spark of an idea three years earlier, during a casual conversation in which Marty asked, “What do you think about going to the South Pole?”
As I slowly processed his words, a neon DO NOT ENTER sign flashed through my mind. Who would care for our son? How long would we be gone? What about our jobs? How could we afford it? Isn’t it dangerous? How cold is it in Antarctica? What type of training is required?
Honestly, going so far out of my comfort zone frightened me, even though I frequently professed the benefits of getting out of your comfort zone in order to grow your business or foster self-discovery. But the more I researched and learned about the idea, the more excited I became. Soon I found myself standing squarely at the intersection of fear and excitement, and that is when I knew I would be heading to Antarctica.
Over the next few years as I worked through the intense planning and training for this journey, it dawned on me that I was in the midst of a Create with Fire Project, one that used the process I teach in SparkFire workshops and retreats. This process, which applies to both business and personal endeavors, addresses questions such as:
– How can you ensure your projects, choices and actions align with your inner compass and fire?
– What if you could train your mind to see possibilities instead of obstacles?
– How can you learn to listen to the excitement of an idea instead of the fear behind it?
– What if you could overcome all of the problems and concerns with an idea?
– What if you had a process to systematically take you from idea to action?
– What if you learned how to interject play along the way?
On the day that my husband and I arrived on the edge of Antarctica to begin our journey, we watched in awe as our ride, a small Twin Otter plane, disappeared onto the horizon. We were alone in piercing silence, surrounded by a blank white canvas. We each pulled 220 pound sleds filled with food and equipment, skiing an average of 9 hours a day for 570 miles. During our seven weeks on the ice we endured intense cold (up to 50 degrees below zero), white out conditions, waves of frozen snow (from two to five feet tall), and a shortage of food. Despite these challenges we also found intense joy, a purity of existence, an adventure inward to self-discovery, and a deepening of connection to family, friends and work.
In the end, my husband and I became the first American married couple to ski from the coast to the South Pole without a guide while carrying all of our own supplies. More importantly, this venture to the coldest place on earth ignited my inner creative fire and sparked kids and adults following along to imagine possibilities that they previously thought were beyond their reach. When I’ve presented this story to various companies, business groups, conferences, and schools, people tell me they walk away inspired. They question their own capabilities and self-imposed limitations, excited to put more fire into their business or life.