Why Did I Ski to the North Pole? – Ben Saunders
There are those who enjoy outdoor adventures, and then there are those who enjoy extreme expeditions. Ben Saunders is one such individual who skied not only to the North Pole (as we hear in this video), but since has also skied to the South Pole and back. In this TED talk, we get to know this daring character a bit more.
Saunders had planned to do the North Pole expedition once before. Unfortunately, he and his partner did not succeed their first attempt to reach the North Pole. He describes the feeling of utter disappointment and failure to amount to anything after being picked up when dangerous conditions set in. After a few years of doing nothing and feeling badly about it, he decided to plan a second expedition; this time from Russia, through the North Pole to Canada, and this time alone. He successfully did so, and returned with a sense of pride and exhilaration from his expedition. The last thing he shows in the video is a report card from when he was thirteen years old, where the teacher wrote that he “lacked sufficient impetus (motivation) to achieve anything worthwhile.”
While this TED Talk is based on an expedition of physical trial, what stuck with me the most was the mental trial that Saunders went through; a mental trial that many children are going through now. How could a boy of such apparent lack of self-motivation achieve such great heights? What does this mean for our society? I think Saunders himself challenges the very basis of our judgment of worth. You could see it two ways, either Saunders changed his attitude from the time he was young, or; he simply had the drive the whole time, yet it was failed to be perceived. I find this fascinating. Who defines our self-worth? Society plays a huge role in this – we are from a young age taught that what others think of us is pivotal in the part we will play in our world, and “how far we will go in life”. Ben Saunders carried that lesson with him so that he could shatter the fact that this is accepted, and encourages us to challenge that belief as well. I learned that you should never underrate someone, or negate the fact that their potential is just as desirable as the next person’s. You need to believe in your own abilities attain your goals. “No one else is the authority on your potential.” (Saunders, 2005.)
To sum it up, I think that attitude plays a huge role in our Outdoor Education classes. You can choose who you want to be, and even if others don’t recognize your potential it right away, you are the one who knows how well you can do, and also the one who decides how well you will do. Why did he ski to the North Pole? Because he could.
Saunders, Ben. 'Why Did I Ski To The North Pole?'. 2005. Presentation.