In November 2022, 10 brave men and women will ski some 900km to the South Pole.
In so doing, they will be following in the storied footsteps of Captain Scott, Ernest Shackleton and Roald Amundsen.
Of the ten, 7 are in the military and three are civilians.
Major Natalie Taylor, Leader
An army doctor and lecturer in Military General Practice based at the Academic Department of Military General Practice she has been deployed to Afghanistan, Oman, Uzbekistan, Estonia and other remote locations around the globe.
In 2018, she was catapulted to fame when she co-led the Ice Maiden Expedition, the first all-female team to cross Antarctica coast to coast using muscle power alone.
Professor Chris Imray
Professor Imray is an eminent vascular/renal transplant surgeon with an interest in extreme environments.
Dr Roger Alcock
An experienced doctor of considerable experience, Dr Alcock has had worked in all seven Continents, having practised medicine under the aegis of the Royal Society of British Emergency Medicine and the Humanitarian Global Emergency Care.
Surgeon Lieutenant Stefano Capella
Surgeon Lieutenant Stefano Capella is a Trauma & Orthopaedic trainee in the Royal Navy currently working at Frimley Park Hospital. To begin with, he took his commission in the Royal Force, after which he trained as a commando before exchanging the air for the sea in the Royal Navy.
Captain Pat Harper
Captain Harper is a British Army Doctor who has been deployed to Canada, Oman, the USA and Kenya.
Flight Lieutenant Mike Eager
Flight Lieutenant Mike Eager is an anaesthetic trainee in the Royal Air Force, currently working at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Devon McDiarmid Expedition Guide
After living in Yukon, Canada, Devon recently moved to the Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada.
A highlight of Devon’s career came when he kite-skied from the South to the North of Greenland, covering some 3000km with no re-supply, setting a then World Record.
LCpl Stephanie Innes-Smith
Stephanie has recently resumed her Reservist service with the Intelligence Corps (5MI Battalion) after returning spending five years teaching in Oman.
Major Henry Crosby
Major Crosby is a commissioned Royal Engineer Officer and Chartered Mechanical Engineer. Currently working in a staff role, he has seen service in Afghanistan, the Falkland Islands and Mali.
Dr Nadja Albertsen
Nadja is a medical doctor and health anthropologist based in Aalborg, Denmark.
A lover of the cold, Nadja spent 13 months at the Concordia Station in Antarctica as a Research Medic for the European Space Agency from 2018 to 2019 (DC15) and she is now doing a PhD focusing on cardiac arrhythmias in Greenland in a collaboration between Aalborg University and Ilisimatusarfik (University of Greenland).
These ten men and women, who together will be adding their chapter to the annals of Antarctic exploration, will be man-hauling their supplies behind them for up to 55 days.
A Scientific Endeavour
The expedition is primarily a scientific one and its chief aim is this: to find out what the Antarctic does to the human metabolism.
Why do research in Antarctica?
Antarctica is the coldest and highest continent on earth and she does not take kindly to human trespassing upon her realm. Among some of the main challenges are:
- Altitude up to 4000m.
- Temperatures down to -50°C.
- Days and months of back-breaking slog for those exploring on foot and ski.
- A delicate balancing act between the body’s need for nutrition and the energy required to transport food, and fuel to heat it.
The Inspire Team will take metabolic measurements immediately before and after the expedition to investigate the effects of acclimatisation and de-acclimatisation for the first time.
In addition, it will obtain indirect measurements of metabolism in the field such as perspiration sweat and cortisol by means of state-of-the-art body-worn sensors.
Antarctica does not like explorers
Antarctica does not like explorers, nor does it like scientific instruments.
Therefore, the Expedition has commissioned specially designed instruments to be made which will be able to withstand the cold.
Where does Lumina Learning fit in?
Quite a lot as it turns out.
Realising the vital importance of morale and psychology on such a physically and mentally taxing expedition, Inspire’s leaders turned to Lumina Learning’s empirically validated tools to help them better understand themselves and the team they lead.
The expedition stood in need of an irreproachable personality assessment which would not only paint an accurate portrait of each personality (strengths, weaknesses, Hidden Treasures, Paradoxes and all) but also shine a light on the emotional drivers of behaviour.
Because at -50 teamwork can be a matter of life and death.
That’s Lumina Learning has put two of the best empirically validated development tools out there into their psychological backpack: Lumina Spark and Emotion.
Each member of the team filled out both a Lumina Spark, Lumina Emotion questionnaire and took part in two lengthy workshops in September 2022.
Pressure Testing Lumina Learning
It will be important, nay vital to have a clear idea as to who you are and how you appear to others. Furthermore, when so much is at stake, you need a common language with which to think about how you show up, one that is easy to imbibe, easy to decode and will not let you down. The Antarctic tests the human body to its limits, both psychological and physical.
If Lumina learning can work here, it work anywhere.
This Antarctic is the ultimate laboratory. Inspire 22 will be a big test for the ten men and women taking part and indeed for Lumina Learning. Will Lumina Spark and Lumina Emotion be equal to the task? Will they make the team stronger? Will they help improve morale and increase knowledge of self and others?
We’re quietly confident that they will, not least because they have been proven to work in the field time and time again, because they are backed by science and because they look at people in three dimensions, not two.
Also, although the conditions will be rather more testing than the average office, the results should in theory be much the same because the science on which the Lumina Learning model is based is sound.
Lumina Spark will (one hopes) help the team answer the following questions:
- Who am I?
- What are my strengths?
- What are my weaknesses?
- How can I get on better with others?
- How can I be a better team player?
- How can I be a better leader?
- What happens to me when under stress?
- How can I improve?
Antarctica amplifies stress, magnifies our faults and exposes our frailties. In the white wastes, there is nowhere to hide. An expedition stands or falls by the strength of its team members. Self-awareness, emotional intelligence, mental toughness, grit and selflessness-all are essential. It is about more, much more than mere kit.
Fortitude in adversity is vital. So, too, is not letting your emotions get the better of you and Lumina Emotion will give the team an excellent means of managing their responses to stress and raising their emotional intelligence to boot.
If then Lumina Spark and Emotion can make the journey that little bit easier and can give the team an edge, then we will consider our work done.
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