The challenges of leading and performing in isolation, something people all over the world over have been introduced to, are familiar terrain to Ben Saunders. Navigating and overcoming self-doubt, loneliness, uncertainty, and adversity in pursuit of a goal is what makes Saunders a record-breaking polar explorer, and an invaluable speaker in uncertain times.
While the achievements of this world-leading adventurer are deeply inspiring in their own right, it is the hard-won life lessons etched within each voyage – totaling 4,400 miles and more than a year spent in complete isolation in the harshest environments on the planet – which prove most valuable and applicable to his audiences. Saunders gained notoriety for leading the longest human-powered polar journey in history; a 108-day return journey to the South Pole on foot that spanned 1,800 miles – the equivalent of 69 back-to-back marathons, dragging 200 kg (440lbs) of food and supplies in his sled.
From the main stage at TED to small screens around the world, Saunders is a sought-after and acclaimed motivational speaker. Featured in the New York Times best-seller TED Talks: The Official Guide to Public Speaking, and labeled a ‘master storyteller’ by TED, his three main-stage appearances at the conference have been viewed more than five million times. Through his real-time journal entries, stunning visual content, and earnest reflections, he takes audiences on a physical and psychological journey into the unknown.
Controlling the Controllables
In an era when global headlines have painted a challenging, unpredictable, and seemingly insurmountable outlook, Saunders gives audiences a compelling insight into the value of optimizing physical, emotional, and psychological energy – both individually and collectively – through an immediately applicable masterclass on the vital importance of focus.
Operating and performing in the polar regions over two decades, he has learned the futile nature of expending his own precious and finite energy on elements outside of his control. “The fear at a cloud pattern signalling a storm, or the anger at a persistent headwind are a waste of energy. They are factors and variables that I cannot change.”
During a period when emotional and psychological reserves are under greater strain than ever before, Ben’s story has a unique capacity to motivate an audience to remain present, positive, and purposeful.