I knew next to nothing about Amundsen until I happened across an anniversary article by Mark Jenkins in Outside that provided fascinating food for thought. Old Amundsen knew a thing or two.
I like that. I try to put it in practice in my work on progressive campaigns. “Angst and drama just reveal bad planning,” I say.
Attractively, Amundsen modeled overcoming difficulties and impediments by paying attention to the people who knew how to traverse the unfamiliar terrain at the poles, the native inhabitants of these forbidding environments.
Who knows better than the people who live in a place how to survive and thrive in it? I try to remember this when working to bring message and mobilization to diverse groups within the population of California. If we want to talk with people who often live at the margins of the mainstream, we need to find who they already listen to and bring those leaders into the core of our efforts. We need to speak their native languages, often literally in a state where 43 percent of us speak a language other than English at home.
Amundsen was obviously a competitive, driven man. He misled and even taunted Scott about the progress of his plans when they were both still within range of communications. But when it came to the crunch, he was about accomplishment, not heroics.
You know, for good political organizers, working so successfully that victory seems as natural as the sun rising is the highest success. The political consultants you hear about -- the Scotts -- the ones who make themselves the story instead of the cause or candidate, they may suck up a lot of oxygen, but they are not necessarily the brightest, the best or even the most successful.