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    The Third Man Factor

    September 15, 2009 2171 Views

    In Dan Green's book Finish Strong, he tells a story about the famous explorer, Sir Earnest Shackelton. On August 1, 1914 the captain took 28 men to Antarctica to attempt to cross on foot. Due to the ice and losing his ship The Endeavor, he and his men were left to survive the -15° average temperature.

    They traveled over miles of barren rocks, and they traveled in their lifeboats over 800 miles across the most treacherous ocean sea in the world to a whaling outpost. On August 30, 1916 the crew was rescued. More amazingly, all twenty eight crew members survived the ordeal.

    The crew members credit their survival to the strong faith of Sir Shackelton, his trust that they would leave the Antarctic alive and together. Listening to National Public Radio (NPR) yesterday, I heard a very interesting addition to the story. John Geiger, author of The Third Man Factor describes an extra help that Shackelton encountered:

    "If we understand that the Third Man Factor is a part of us, the way adrenaline is ... then we can start to access it more easily," he explains. "It's not a hallucination in the sense that hallucinations are disordering. This is a very helpful and orderly guide." The full story is here. One of the most famous instances of the phenomenon took place during Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expedition in 1916. The team's boat was trapped in ice and they were forced to make a grueling journey across mountain ranges and glaciers to a whaling station in Stromness Bay. Shackleton later wrote: "I know that during that long and racking march of thirty-six hours over the unnamed mountains and glaciers, it seemed to me often that we were four, not three."

    To know more about this phenomena, listen to the whole story (it's only about 7 minutes long):

    The Third Man Factor

    Well, that is quite an addition to the story! Share your thoughts with us. When have you been in a difficult, stressful time, and what helped you persevere?


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