Achieve the Outrageous is a new keynote by Scott Kress. This keynote is a new offering to add to his extremely popular Learning in Thin Air Keynote. The discussion below will give you insight into Scott’s latest adventure and the resulting keynote.
Q: What is Achieve the Outrageous?
A: Achieve the Outrageous is my new keynote based on my 2016 expedition to cross Antarctica on foot from the coast to the South Pole.
Q: Tell us about this expedition?
A: In November of 2016 I headed to Antarctica with three friends to travel on foot to the South Pole. Our plan was to follow in the footsteps of the early Antarctic explorers. We would start at the coast and travel by cross-country ski for close to 1000km to reach the South Pole. To make it as true as possible to the original explorers we would travel in what is called an unsupported and unassisted fashion. In other words, we would do it the hard way.
Q: What does unsupported and unassisted mean and why is this special.
A: Unassisted means that we would travel under our own power only. We would have no assistance from snowmobile, kite, sled dogs or any other advantage. Unsupported means we would have no support from the outside world to drop re-supplies to lighten our load. This means that all we would need for 50 days of travel we would start with and drag in sleds the entire distance. A supported expedition sled may weigh 30 kilos, ours would weigh closer to 130 kilos. An assisted trip would move fast because of the light weight. Unassisted we would need closer to 45-50 days. Why is this special? Because very few people have ever done it this way.
Q: What was the expedition like? Tell us about it?
A: The expedition was one of the greatest things I have ever done, but it was also one of the most difficult things I have ever done physically and mentally. Every day for 44 days we would pull our sleds across the extremely difficult terrain in sub-zero temperatures. Our bodies took a beating from the physical exertion and the repetitious nature of the journey. Our minds took a beating from the discomfort, the pain, the loneliness and the isolation.
Every day, regardless of the weather or how you were feeling, we would get up, make breakfast, break camp, put on our skis, hook up to our sled and pull. The days were long and hard, but we had no choice if we wanted to achieve our goal.
Q: How did you work together as a team?
A: We were a great team. I knew two of the members prior to the trip and knew we would work together well. The fourth member of the team was well known one of the other members so we all knew we were a solid team. We had to start with a team of people we felt could take it physically and mentally. If one person had to be extracted for any reason we would lose our unassisted and unsupported status so we had to work together and support one another physically and emotionally.
We spent time up front discussing our vision of teamwork and clarifying our roles and the style in which we wanted to complete the trip. We were all committed to this and it made decision making easy.
Q: What was the hardest part of the expedition?
A: At first it was difficult mentally. The isolation and monotony would tear at your mind all day every day. We all tried strategies from music to meditation to combat this and all found our personal coping strategies after about a week. As the trip went on it was the physical punishment that became most difficult and this contributed to the mental and emotional challenge. Blisters, muscle aches, pulled tendons, frost bite, sun burn, wind burn, polar thigh, sore backs, hips and shoulders were the norm. Every one of us suffered physically from the day-after-day non-stop physical beating. When the snow conditions were bad, the wind was raging, and the visibility was zero this made it even more difficult.
Q: How did you come up with the content for the Achieve the Outrageous keynote?
A: As I was skiing 8-10 hours a day I had a lot of time inside my own head. We could not easily talk to one another as we skied and at breaks, we were often too tired and too focused on fixing gear or self-care to talk. As I was skiing, I marvelled at how difficult what we were doing was. I began to wonder what allowed this to happen and I asked myself “how do you achieve the outrageous?”. In an almost meditative state, the ideas came to me. Those that did not fit, kept on going, and those that did fit stuck and I boiled it down to seven points that I felt allowed me to achieve the outrageous. Everyone will have their own, but I think my seven will connect with most people and when applied can help those people achieve the outrageous in their lives.
Q: Who would benefit from this keynote?
A: I believe anyone looking to achieve something big. This could be personal or in business, but if you want to achieve something big, something outrageous, I believe my story and my insights will help to inspire and motivate you and to give you focus in some specific areas to help you achieve your goal.
Q: How is this keynote different from your Learning in Thin Air keynote based on your climb of Mount Everest?
A: My Everest keynote is very much focused on high-performance team development, leadership and teamwork. In Achieve the Outrageous I focus more on the personal elements that one needs to achieve their goals. Yes, we were a team, but so much of the South Pole expedition was about personal determination, focus and perseverance. Yes, we did it as a team, but every person had to do it individually. We had to get up, fulfil our role, and persevere every day and nobody could do that for us. This is a much more personal story in many ways.