My friend the lunatic

Originally Published in Materials Management & Distribution Magazine

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

I’m fortunate to have a lunatic for a friend. His name is Ian Evans and it was his choice to call his book Lunatic, with the subtitle “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”

Quite a statement when you think about it.

For Ian this belief was realized when he decided to trek for 44 days over 900 kilometres to the South Pole at an elevation of 9,300 feet above sea level. Antarctica is the harshest climate on earth, with no permanent residents and a record low temperature of minus 89 Celsius.

Very few adventurers have attempted this trek; in fact, 20 times more people have climbed Mount Everest. In January 2015, Ian became the oldest Canadian to complete this journey.

From my perspective Ian is no lunatic. He is bright, energetic and very adventurous.

I first met him several years ago as a potential candidate for a senior finance role we were looking to fill on behalf of one of our clients. When we met we covered the typical questions about his financial background, and it was only towards the end of the meeting when I asked a few questions about his “adventuring” that I learned of his coming journey.

Of course that discussion turned into several lengthy conversations over the next few months. Once I learned of Ian’s plan to trek to the South Pole I followed his planning and training phase with great interest.

No detail was too small to consider, and the logistics of completing a journey like this required exceptional planning.

Ian Evans spent 44 days trekking more than 900 km to the South Pole.

Ian is a person who is thrilled and challenged by adventure. He’s someone who just can’t say no to exploring and pushing himself to the limit—well beyond his comfort zone.

But along with that goes rigorous logistical planning that allows him to accomplish great feats while living to tell the story. His planning and preparation is second to none. He truly does begin his training phase with a clear focus on successful completion.

Having taken in all that the adventure will throw at him, including multiple things that can and do go wrong, his plan includes all the physical and mental training required, all the provisions that will be needed, and all of the hours that must be invested to ensure completion of the mission. It is a logistical exercise of great proportions, and those of us in the supply chain and logistics world can certainly appreciate the importance of such careful planning.

Shortly after he returned, I had the opportunity to meet with Ian and hear his spellbinding story firsthand. Suffering through significant physical hardship, bone-chilling temperatures, and extreme emotional fatigue, Ian soldiered on and completed the journey as planned.

To hear him recount the expedition right after his return was one of the most interesting lunches I’ve ever had.

His courageous feat inspires me in two significant ways. First of all, it is worth listening to that little voice inside ourselves that says: “Let’s do some things that are out of the box and out of the comfort zone.”

It doesn’t have to be the South Pole; in fact, it could be something else entirely.

The key is moving outside one’s comfort zone. There is no question that’s where personal growth begins.

Research tells us that stretching ourselves outside of our typical world in a specific area can actually have impacts across numerous other parts of our lives.

The second piece I take away from Ian’s successful expedition is that execution is critical. To be sure, the planning phase is important, but once the journey has begun it’s the execution that determines ultimate success.

Are we ready for unforeseen circumstances and fully committed to the success of our mission—whatever that may be? There will be numerous times along all of our journeys when quitting seems like the logical thing to do. It is there that execution and the determination to follow through will bring success.

I’m always thankful for the opportunity to cross paths with people who’ve done significant things that require unusual resolve.

There are many ways to apply Ian’s inspiring story to our lives both personally and professionally. For most of us the key is to choose one or two new things we want to achieve that will test our mettle. From what I’ve seen with my friend Ian, the benefits are real and long lasting.

If you’d like to check out Ian’s story, visit his website at www.ianevans.ca.

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