Maybe this is a throwback to the time I wrote to the British Antarctic Survey, saying: "Hello. I got a thick, woolly jumper for Christmas from my gran. Can I have a job, please?" (I nearly got one, by the way. I just couldn't grow the beard.) Maybe it is to remind me there are worse places to be than London in winter.
Mostly, it is because the tales of derring-do and the extremes to which mankind goes to to discover new things are genuinely inspirational. They put all the griping that goes with working through the winter into perspective and spur you on to do better things. I can recommend Alone by Richard E Byrd, Scott And Amundsen by Rainer K Langner and The Last Place On Earth by Roland Huntford. This year's epic was Endurance by Alfred Lansing. A cracker.
This tells the tale of Sir Ernest Shackleton and his ill-fated attempt to traverse the Antarctic in 1915. Shackleton rightly became famous for leading a team of 27 men out of the most precarious situation imaginable in conditions that even today are beyond inhospitable. Aside from the incredible feats the team pulled off to survive, three things struck me that are still relevant today - especially as the ice closes in around our industry.
First, a critical tool that Shackleton insisted on maintaining in 20 months trapped in the Antarctic was optimism. He exuded it himself and nurtured it in his men. It was one of the team's most potent defences against failure. Remember, in business, we strive to stay positive in the face of the realities that beset us. Only then do we find a way out.
Second, while Shackleton was the hero, the navigation of Frank Worsley was incredible. Using just a sextant, a chart and a watch, he navigated a tiny boat across 650 miles of the worst seas on the planet and managed to land on South Georgia. The role of those who plot the course is not often celebrated but, boy, is it vital. We should remember this and hold a new respect for the people in our companies that do it.
Third, at one particularly perilous moment, Shackleton sets off on a journey that he probably won't survive and he leaves a letter behind bequeathing the rights to the speeches and the photographs from his mission to another. Even in those conditions and at that time, the power of content and the ability of great stories to drive commerce were high on his agenda. Again, a lesson for today - never let go of the power of the tale brilliantly told.
Against incredible odds, the whole team was rescued in August 1916: an enduring tale of the potential of people to do amazing things. Remember these lessons that come in from the cold and challenge yourself to do something brave today. And take your woolly jumper.