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Leading on the Edge: Extraordinary Stories and Leadership Insights from The World's Most Extreme Workplace by Rachael Robertson

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Chapter 23      image

It's important to know your people, not just the work they do

Antarctica abounds with mystery and mythology. We know so little about the continent and so few people have seen it for themselves that many interesting, and at times downright hilarious, urban legends have emerged.

Some myths dispelled

Recently I was presenting at an international conference for the finance sector. I had answered many insightful questions from the floor and was mingling with the delegates for an hour or so after the keynote presentation. A rather shy, well-dressed gentleman approached me and hesitantly asked, ‘You didn't talk about the polar bears. Is it because they are nearly extinct? I heard that the Japanese had hunted them all from Antarctica.’ I stifled a laugh. He was so earnest and I didn't want to embarrass him. I gently explained, for the umpteenth time in my life, that there are no polar bears in Antarctica. Wrong pole. Then there's the one about the incredibly spectacular blue ‘wave-shaped’ ice formations at Dumont D'Urville. Apparently these are ‘waves of the sea, frozen in time’. (Or the secret Nazi base to which the baddies escaped in their U-boats after World War II …)

Now I want to dispel the most prevalent myth. Antarctica is not an exciting place. Particularly in winter.

It is extreme, yes, gruelling, challenging … but in human terms nothing ever happens. There is nothing ...

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