On a day of uncertainties, Homeward Bound participant Heidi Steltzer finds learnings and opportunities in the unknown

Change can be unsettling. We wake each day and shift out of slumber. We transition from home to work, from work to dinner, from dinner to preparations for tomorrow and bed. These daily transitions can be stressful, especially when they are not expected.

This morning, I woke tired, not ready to begin the next phase of training for Homeward Bound.

The journey has been beyond incredible. And this, our 12th day, marks the second half of the journey, a transitioning point towards planning for our post-voyage time. Appropriately, it was the first day of our training on strategy. How will we implement what we have learned into our lives?

Soon after breakfast this morning, we gathered in the lounge area and waited. The daily schedule posted the night before said we would be doing a landing in the morning and learning about strategy in the afternoon. We all had a sense this wouldn’t be how our day would unfold.

The faculty should have been buzzing about, but none could be seen.

By 9.30am, we were informed that due to too much ice in the Neumayer Channel, we couldn’t take that route as planned to Palmer, a US research station on the Antarctic Peninsula. We would reroute and head to the north side of Anvers Island, heading south along the west side of the island. Our new route would take us into open seas. We may expect to once again be seasick.

At Andrews Pointom Scholaert Channel, a cold spring slowed the transition of sea ice to sea water. There has been more ice at this time of year than any crew can recall, including those with nearly 30 years’ experience. We would not be heading to open water; we would retreat back into the Gerlache Strait.

When the Antarctic sea ice blocks one’s way, you can reroute or wait and see if the ice shifts position. Our new plan changed to beginning our morning with a review of 4MAT, a learning styles and communication tool. We’d then start on strategy and wait to see if the wind direction would shift from south to north, clearing the ice and opening one of the intended routes.

Sliding downhill on day 12 landing: image by Songqiao Yao

Despite the schedule changes of the day, we spent time on crafting our own personal strategy maps which shed light on our priorities, watched a filmed interview of Bob Kaplan, a leading strategist in the world, and landed again on the Antarctica Peninsula at Orne Harbor and saw chinstraps nesting on top of ridge nests. The day went on beautifully while we discovered more about our own strategic priorities and stepped on the White Continent from a different perspective.

For some, we easily shifted to live in the moment. Much of this journey and life’s journey requires we do this. For others, the change led to questions. For them, change could be accepted if all the facts were available. Yet in life, we rarely have all the facts, and there is always an element of chance, every single day. Rather than seek facts to settle our uneasiness, we need to find patience and seek new opportunities. This can be a strategic commitment we make.

Read more about Heidi Steltzer on our Participants page.

(Feature image by Fern Hames – sphere photo at Orne Harbour)

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