How to Reach Your North Pole in Business

In 1996, I became the first British woman to ski to the Magnetic North Pole. Prior to this, I had never travelled further north than Scotland, been cross country skiing nor worn the same clothes for a month, but I overcame these challenges and achieved my goal.

Of course, everyone may not have the desire to go to the extremes of the earth like I did, but we all have passions and dreams of things we would like to achieve at work and in our lives. So how do you make them happen?

This type of issue comes up with some of my consulting clients, who are generally all very successful, savvy executives already, but when it comes to applying what they do best in business to their own lives they struggle. Maybe they can create a brilliant business strategy, or manage multi million pound projects, but if they try to set a goal for them personally that's another story!

So how do you get to your North Pole in business?

First of all, you need to know where it is. If you are so busy at work, doing long hours and making lots of money, but have no time to step back and work out what your true purpose is, then life can pass you by. You miss seeing the family grow up, or have no opportunity to spend all your hard earned cash on things you enjoy.

1. Set the Direction

I did not always know that I wanted to go on an expedition to the North Pole, but I did always know that I wanted to do something adventurous. Once you have the general direction, then experimentation and reflection can help you to hone in on your true purpose. Once we got on our expedition, and we knew where the North Pole was, the route was not always direct, because there were many obstacles to overcome. Giant blocks of ice, crevasses, and polar bears all threatened to take us off course, so we had to be very clear about the end goal and keep focused on that.

2. Identify whats really going on

Then you also have to be honest with yourself and ask - whats really stopping me? Sometimes the answer is a reason that you are consciously aware of. It may be you don't want to make the commitment of time and energy that is needed to accomplish your goal. Or you would prefer to focus on your family at this stage in your life rather than a personal goal. But sometimes there are unconscious patterns of behaviour or beliefs that individuals hold that stop them from moving forwards. They say all the right things, but somehow are unable to accomplish what they want to. That's where a coach can help. What I do is work with clients to observe whats really going on. How does their non verbal communication match with their words, what patterns am I noticing in their language, or behaviour that could be a clue? Once we work out whats really going on, I help my clients find new ways to move forward. It can be transformational.

In the Arctic, there were some days where no matter how much I tried to ski, it felt like hard work. There was no lightness of movement, no smoothness. And when I analyzed things during the endless hours of skiing in nothing but white all around me, I realized it was not what I was doing, but how I was thinking. Changing the thoughts changed the behaviours.

3. Sustain the change over time

So, once the transformation has taken place, (reframed your thoughts, chosen a new behaviour patter or whatever it is) there is the need to sustain the change, otherwise its too easy to slip back into the old way of behaving. And you can create may different activities to sustain the change. Get others to encourage you, use positive self talk, reward yourself, think of the consequences of not doing it etc. The important thing is to keep at it.


Sue Stockdale helps leaders and entrepreneurs step out of their comfort zone and achieve extraordinary results. She is a serial achiever, using her varied business and personal experience to inspire others. From athlete and adventurer to entrepreneur and executive coach, Sue demonstrates how you can achieve anything if you "believe it is possible".

As a WOMEN'S ENTERPRISE SPECIALIST Sue works globally on a number of initiatives to help women-owned businesses achieve greater business a...

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