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Famous Explorer Spent Years in Preparation

In 1911, Roald Amundsen became the first person to lead a successful expedition to the South Pole. Amundsen was also famous for his incredible commitment to prepare for this expedition. While in his late twenties, Roald Amundsen traveled from Norway to Spain for a two-month sailing trip to earn a master's certificate. It was 1899. He had a nearly two-thousand-mile journey ahead of him. And how did Amundsen make the journey? By carriage? By horse? By ship? By rail? He bicycled.

Amundsen then experimented with eating raw dolphin meat to determine its usefulness as an energy supply. After all, he reasoned, someday he might be shipwrecked, finding himself surrounded by dolphins, so he might as well know if he could eat one.

It was all part of Amundsen's years of building a foundation for his quest, training his body and learning as much as possible from practical experience about what actually worked. Amundsen even made a pilgrimage to apprentice with Eskimos. What better way to learn what worked in polar conditions than to spend time with a people who have hundreds of years of accumulated experience in ice and cold and snow and wind? He learned how Eskimos used dogs to pull sleds. He observed how Eskimos never hurried, moving slowly and steadily, avoiding excessive sweat that could turn to ice in sub-zero temperatures. He adopted Eskimo clothing, loose fitting (to help sweat evaporate) and protective. He systematically practiced Eskimo methods and trained himself for every conceivable situation he might encounter en route to the Pole.

Amundsen's philosophy: You don't wait until you're in an unexpected storm to discover that you need more strength and endurance. You don't wait until you're shipwrecked to determine if you can eat raw dolphin. You don't wait until you're on the Antarctic journey to become a superb skier and dog handler. You prepare with intensity, all the time, so that when conditions turn against you, you can draw from a deep reservoir of strength. And equally, you prepare so that when conditions turn in your favor, you can strike hard.

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