Making Tough Decisions: The Story of Robert “Bob” Abram Bartlett
Bob Bartlett was born August 15, 1875. He was a man that had an insatiable appetite for the Arctic waters and at the ripe age of 17, mastered his first ship. For over 50 years, Captain Bartlett of the SS Roosevelt mapped and explored the entirety of the North, thus ultimately becoming the first man to sail north of 88 degrees N. Sadly for us, he never found Santa Claus or any reindeer when Bartlett was sailing up in the North Pole, but he did continue to courageously lead his crew on more than 40 daring expeditions throughout the Arctic; the most any explorer has led before or after him since.
One part of his life that has been famously told throughout the years, is about one expedition in particular…an expedition that didn’t go quite as planned. In 1914, Robert and his shipmates found themselves aboard the “Karluk” helplessly stranded on Wrangel Island in the dead of winter. The ship’s leader, Vilhjalmur Stefansson, abandoned the Karluk the first chance he had, ultimately leaving everyone to fend for themselves. After being stranded for months, who do you imagine stepped up to the plate? Yep, you guessed it: Bob Bartlett. He and an Inuit hunter that was also aboard crusaded 700 miles over the ice of the Chukchi Sea and across Siberia. Although they were able to put together a roughly-built kayak with whatever supplies they could muster, they mostly voyaged on foot. From there, they boarded an expedition from Alaska and returned to Wrangel Island to successfully rescue everyone aboard the Karluk.
Unsurprisingly, in 1917 Bob came to the rescue of the ship, Crocker Land Expedition, and again saved the remaining survivors left alive. They had been stranded on the ice for almost 4 whole years.
You’re probably asking, “okay, so what does this story have to do with my business?”
I wanted to shine a bit of an unconventional spotlight on Bob Bartlett’s unwavering drive to reach his lifelong goals and passions of sailing across the Arctic. It’s beyond admirable. He spent decades planning every route, immersing himself in every weather measurement possible, determining how long each leg of an expedition would take, and estimating how much supplies he would need to take. He had to be precise, patient, calculated and intentional. But most importantly, he had to be able to communicate effectively with each crew member while being prepared for anything and everything that could go wrong.
Bartlett’s approach is not too different from the approach our business leaders must take to reach their goals. Though passion and mindset are crucial, they alone cannot help your business thrive, it takes work and a lot planning. Bartlett surrounded himself with enough data to make calculated decisions that transcended circumstances. Leaders need accurate information that can help them make the decisions they need to make daily, monthly and annually. Alpine’s office application and in-cab technology provide leaders thousands of data points and hundreds of reports that do just that…equip leaders to make informed decisions. Reports should:
- Help you determine a profitable path you should take.
- Give you a sense of control of your business instead of “flying blind.”
- Give you objective measures to make sure you stay on the right path.
- Alarm you when something goes awry.
- Provide a platform to have productive dialogue with others about what you feel is important.
Are you flying blind or are you getting the reports you need to sleep well at night? If not, as a leader you have an obligation to find a solution that provides operational, profitability and efficiency reports that can guide you in your business journey.
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