Shackleton: A Study in Leadership, Perseverance, and Providence


For over twenty-six weeks, from May 24 to November 26, 2003, a new IMAX film about famed explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton was shown at the Fernbank IMAX Theatre in Atlanta. To complement “the greatest IMAX film yet” (Chicago Tribune), approximately 150 photographs were displayed documenting the exhibition. The title of the 41-minute film was Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure: The Greatest Survival Story of All Time.

To the best of my recollection, I do not believe I had ever heard the name of Ernest Shackleton until I saw the notification of the film’s release in Atlanta. Out of curiosity, I invited a small group of friends to see the film with me at Fernbank’s Giant Screen Theatre fifteen years ago on Friday evening, July 18, 2003, after which we met for a time of reflection and discussion. The following Monday, I mailed a letter to a couple who, unfortunately, were unable to join us. “The Shackleton story,” I suggested, “is so compelling that I would still like to encourage you to go see it at some point. There are many lessons that can be learned from his life and explorations.”

Since that memorable night, this great Antarctic explorer’s story has taken a well-deserved and prominent place in my mind and has been a regular companion to me during many situations in which I have needed his courageous example and leadership skills. Longing to know more about Shackleton, I began to collect some of the best books on his life, including an A&E biography, Ernest Shackleton, by noted author and journalist George Plimpton; South with Endurance: The Photographs of Frank Hurley, published by Simon and Schuster in 2001; Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer by Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell; and Shackleton’s own account of his expedition seeking to cross the South Polar continent from sea to sea, South: The Endurance Expedition. These and many other works on his life and his intended 1,800-mile crossing of Antarctica all capture what became a harrowing two-year fight for the lives of his entire crew. When it was all over, one writer summarized his life in this way: “Shackleton failed only at the improbable; he succeeded at the unimaginable.”

Almost a century later after his death on January 5, 1922, Shackleton is still studied as a “model of great leadership and, in particular, a master of guidance in crisis.” Some have called him “the greatest leader that ever came on God’s earth, bar none.” This short series allows us to sit at the feet of this great explorer and learn valuable lessons about leadership, perseverance, and providence – lessons that can shape our own lives, strengthen us in our resolve to discover the great purpose for which we have been made by God, and give us a steady confidence in our Invisible Companion during failure or success.


Click on the chapters below to download.

Shackleton: A Study in Leadership, Perseverance, and Providence, Part 1

Shackleton: A Study in Leadership, Perseverance, and Providence, Part 2

Shackleton: A Study in Leadership, Perseverance, and Providence, Part 3

Shackleton: A Study in Leadership, Perseverance, and Providence, Part 4

Shackleton: A Study in Leadership, Perseverance, and Providence: Selected Bibliography

Additional Reading

A Brief Bio of Sir Ernest Shackleton by Frank W. Boreham

Selected Bibliography

Ernest Shackleton

Boreham, F.W. A Casket of Cameos. Chapter III: Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Text. New York: The Abingdon Press, 1924.

Lansing, Alfred. Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. New York: Basic Books, 1959.

Mill, Hugh Robert. The Life of Ernest Shackleton. Plano, TX: Read Books Ltd., 2013.

Morrell, Margot and Capparell, Stephanie. Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer. New York: Penguin Books, 2001.

Plimpton, George. Ernest Shackleton. New York: DK Publishing, 2003.

Rex, Tamiko, ed. South With Endurance: Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition 1914-1917. The Photographs of Frank Hurley. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

Shackleton, Sir Ernest. South: The Endurance Expedition. New York: Barnes & Noble, 2008.

Stott, John R.W. People My Teachers. Chapter 11: Ernest Shackleton. London: Angus Hudson Ltd., 2002.

Worsley, Frank Arthur. Captain of HMS Endurance. Shackleton’s Boat Journey. Reprint ed., New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1998.


Shackleton (Kenneth Branagh). 2012. DVD, 200 mins. A&E Home Video.

Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure. 2001. DVD, 41 mins. A co-production of White Mountain Films and NOVA/WGBH Boston.

The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition. 2000. DVD, 98 mins. White Mountain Films LLC.


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