How important is it to have clarity when you want to achieve your goal?

I read an interesting article that showed how the Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen and his team planted the Norwegian flag on the South Pole in 1911, becoming the first humans in history to reach it. The secret to Amundsen’s success stemmed from the amount of planning he put into the expedition and the clarity he tried to achieve prior to the start of the trip. Amundsen’s British counterpart, Robert Falcon Scott reached the spot 34 days later and sadly on their way back the team was lost, de-moralised and exhausted and died only 11 miles from the depot of food and shelter. So, why did Amundsen win and Scott lose?

Every now and then you can hear someone say, “I could’ve done it better if I had the clarity!”. What is it with us and clarity that is so important? The answer is simple – if you knew what to do exactly, then you could get doing it right every time you started something. However, the reality of life is that you never know the true picture till you actually get your hands dirty. Then how do all those successful people manage to get it right? Or what did Amundsen do get it right?

Envision, plan and prepare. Amundsen’s primary aim was to reach the South pole and not work on other exploration or discovery (Vision). He did nothing but plan and plan more and prepare in order to achieve that clarity. He took into consideration all the possible things that could go wrong and then tried to come up with possible ways to circumvent them. The ship he used for his expedition The Fram was different. It was designed and built for polar travel. Prior to this expedition, Amundsen had endured a forced polar winter in Belgica and knew how to keep up the morale of his men during the Polar winter. The most successful leaders do not always win, they fail too. But the difference is  in what they learn from the failures, even if  those mistakes are made by themselves or their counterparts. Amundsen did just that. Scott in one of his earlier expeditions had nearly died. He did not have enough markings on the depot shelter and was fortunate to survive then. But he learnt nothing from this experience and put only one flag as a marker in his expedition to the South pole. Amundsen on the other hand, made markings all around the shelter to locate it easily on their way back.

Amundsen put in enough buffers and took a lot of precautions and achieved the clarity which ultimately helped him and his team in the success of this expedition. The most successful leaders are paranoid about achieving similar clarity and preparing for possible problems that can crop up during the course. They continuously work towards ways of mitigating the possible risks/threats.

Clarity is discipline. The kind of clarity that I am talking about needs to be built into our system. If you cook daily or know someone who does it daily, say your mother then ask them one simple question. Is cooking tougher or trying to decide what to cook today tougher? The answer would more or less always be the latter. Achieving the clarity of what to cook helps you chart out a plan and then you can go about achieving the meal. By planning ahead you can achieve the desired results in far lesser time that you would spend in trying to decide what to do. Clarity is an attitude and mindset thing and by learning to do it regularly we learn to be disciplined. Most young achievers are successful because they have the clarity of what they can do the best and then go about implementing this by planning. Amundsen also worked on integrating this discipline by being a part of numerous expeditions, one to Antarctica itself to ensure he acquired the clarity he needed.

So strive towards achieving the clarity in what you want to do and get rolling. South pole (success) will be yours to conquer.