Transcript: Dave Sissens – raising the bar and reaching the North Pole (Max#45)


Kevin: Welcome to Maximise Potential the podcast to educate and motivate through a range of original interviews designed to help you maximise your potential.  Brought to you in association with the award winning recruitment group Jenrick.

Welcome back to Episode 45 of the Maximise Potential Podcast.  We have a fascinating interview in store today that covers so many of the topics that we have developed this podcast around. Goal setting, going after the impossible, where to find your inner strength and motivation, the power of true teamwork and how your mind will give you the answers you need if you just ask it the right questions.  Today our interview is with Dave Sissens whose mantra is to constantly raise the bar and by doing so how he seeks to take himself out of his familiar surroundings in order to present an array of fresh challenges that enable him to keep growing, developing and learning.  I hope you enjoy the wealth of information Dave shares as he describes how he strives to maximise his own potential.


Dave Sissens welcome to the Maximise Potential Podcast.

Dave: It’s fantastic to be here thank you very much.

Kevin: Looking forward to chatting today. You’ve got a lot of stories to tell that orientate predominantly around one particular adventure.  Why don’t you tell everybody the predominant reason why we are sitting here today?  What have you just returned from doing?

Dave: Okay right it’s nice to be here as I say and probably to start quick summary I guess after an 18 month ordeal of building up and preparing I walked unsupported the last degree of the planet to the North Pole in April this year.  So I am somewhere between 111 and 150 kilometres across the moving ice flow to the North Pole itself.

Kevin: Just talk people through what is walking to the North Pole like?

Dave: Quite interesting I was full of excitement from two years before the event to two minutes before the event.  Then being touched down on the floating sea ice 4km deep ocean beneath the ice and then being left there with just myself and my small team, huge amount of agoraphobic thoughts then started coming across you.  You realised that being 300m away from land and anybody else you well and truly are in the middle of nowhere.  So that was my initial thought and one that was very strong and really reminds me of that isolation I guess.

Kevin: Yeah talk a bit about that. So what was it physically like when you saw that helicopter turn around and disappear?

Dave: Yeah the noisiest helicopters you can imagine and they are big Russian jobs that take 40 odd people.  We were dropped off lots of tourists believe it or not there are tourists that go to the North Pole hanging out the window taking photographs of the six of us just being left on the sea ice.  The down force of these big blades is quite significant so you are laying all over your kit to stop it blowing away while the helicopter lifts off.  Then all of a sudden it is dead quiet.  Absolutely amazing truly, truly quiet.  Then there was no wind that seemed to be the only day of the expedition without any wind.  The difference between the chopper being there with the blades spinning to nothing was quite massive actually.  All of a sudden felt very alone, I only had insurances that would cover me if I was being threatened terminally so if I had severe problems my insurance company would come and get me otherwise it was £10,000 helicopter ride if I didn’t fancy doing it any more or I completed the expedition then I didn’t have the £10,000 to get me home should I have needed to.  I didn’t plan on becoming terminally ill so that being right in front of you; it was that black and white.  It was so binary I just had to finish.  But at the same time you are balancing that with agoraphobic thoughts that you are in the middle of nowhere and finishing is a long way away mentally and physically. So one of the most extreme experiences I have had from an emotional perspective I guess. So it was quite amazing we landed it was about 23:00 bright sunshine and 24 hour daylight at the Pole the sun just spins around the horizon at that time of year.  And we decided to do a bit of exercise try at least get semi physically tired so we had a sleep.  Fortunately and unfortunately just past over some polar bears in the helicopter just 10 minutes before we landed on the ice and we didn’t fancy being in that vicinity for long.  So we probably did about three or four hours man hauling that night before camping and going to bed at 2 o’clock.

Kevin: I was going to ask you whether you, yeah I was going to ask you whether you just literally started setting off walking?

Dave: Yeah within five minutes.  So put on the ice, few photographs smiles, tears and then we set off.  Then headed north.

Kevin: Do you think that was probably the best thing you could have done as well just to stop; you know just get the mind through that transition phase?

Dave: Definitely, definitely and if you hadn’t have asked I would have probably said just that.  We weren’t in the right gear at that point so we were on a helicopter everything is new, eyes wide open irises just popping out of our heads, the excitement factor was very high.  We’ve now come on to an environment which is hugely dangerous. Polar bears are present; we’re moving 17km an hour believe it or not on the ice.  We needed to start focus and think about okay we need to survive, we need to be able to get to the North Pole and yeah we weren’t in that frame of mind when we landed on the ice.  So over the next few hours not physically acclimatised but emotionally acclimatised to being in the middle of nowhere and on the polar icecap.

Kevin: And from you know when I’ve been lucky enough to meet people like Pen Hadow and other people who have done similar events in very hostile environments they say the key to it then is having a strict routine, a strict game plan and literally not letting yourself deviate from that game plan.

Dave: Very, very much from that very minute.  So we had pre agreed our routine, we knew exactly how many hours per day we were going to be resting, how many hours sleeping, how many hours making water because obviously everything is frozen we need to melt snow to get the water to live on and how many hours we were going to be man hauling.  So we had a very, very tight schedule and in fact I think on about day 5 or 6 we weren’t quite at the position that we would have liked to have been so we injected another hour’s man hauling into an afternoon stint and it threw all of us.  Mentally we really found it hard to cope with.  And you would have thought by five days of man hauling hundreds of km’s you would actually be alright with an extra hour but yeah the routine is very important, really, really important and we set into that straight away.

Kevin: Talk to me about the difficulties and I will say difficulty but the difficulties in maintaining that routine.  In disciplining yourself because there must have been days particularly in the early stages where you are thinking we feel fit, we feel strong let’s carry on let’s make hay while the sun shines.

Dave: That’s quite interesting because my experiences were perhaps slightly the other way round.  The first day, so we set up camp on the ice slept one evening and then we were off in the morning for a full day.  That full day I wore a very thin but incorrect at the time fleece jacket.  So I had a very thin normal windproof, waterproof jacket and a base layer and I thought there is no way that is going to keep me warm in -35 so I put my fleece on as well but when you are man hauling 11 stone and you are going over ice, pressure ridges it takes a lot out of you and you keep very warm and I started to sweat.  And any water that is not in your body freezes pretty quickly.  My fleece started to freeze to my body and I pushed through this because I was unaware that being warm and sweating was a bad thing.  In hindsight it was foolish but I didn’t know that or think that at the time.  So by the end of the evening I am shivering uncontrollably.  I am borderline hypothermic, my core temperature has dropped quite a lot and we are sitting in the tent in the evening so we’ve done probably about nine hours man hauling in the first day and I just couldn’t stop shivering.  So I was stripping off out of all of these clothes because they were all frozen solid or soaking wet soon to be frozen solid.  So I got out of everything and put on my second and last kit because you only take two sets of kit. One to wear, one just in case it gets wet.  So I put on my remaining clothes because everything else had now frozen solid.

Kevin: This is day one.

Dave: This is day one yeah.  It does get slightly worse as well in that I am in a very good down arctic sleeping bag gradually warming up, I’ve got my dry clothes on and I’m relaxing a bit because back of my mind I’ve got this insurance policy that I don’t want to call on, so I’m going to get through this, I’m going to get through this.  That’s all I kept on thinking and I’m warming up now and that’s all fine.  But in order to fully relax and go to sleep like most mortals I needed to go to the loo first.  In the arctic once you’ve got the stove going in your tent you probably get a 15 – 20 degree temperature within the tent itself which is quite nice so you can take your clothes off and just be there in a jumper.  Outside it is still -35 and it is windy and it is pretty horrid and I’m still shivering a bit, I’m in my arctic sleeping bag 50 degree difference between my sleeping bag and outside I don’t really want to be going out actually that first evening.  But luckily enough we all take equipment so that you can have a pee bottle and obviously for many reasons you don’t take that out of your sleeping bag once you have used it because it will freeze solid so you keep it in there until the morning and you’ve got a hot water bottle so it’s great.  Now as anyone who has ever been to the Pole will tell you, you test everything before you go. Absolutely everything over and over.  Plastic breaks, metal breaks everything breaks in those temperatures so you test and you just make sure that everything that you own works.  And I did that with everything bar my pee bottle.  So I woke up on day two having had a pretty rubbish first day to find a litre of urine has now soaked all the way through my sleeping bag and there is no way of removing that now.  So from that day onwards I’ve got a nice down sleeping bag that freezes solid because it’s in my pulk during the day so at night time it’s almost snapping it open to get it to go into its full length mode because half of it has got frozen wee in it.

Kevin: That’s incredible.

Dave: So little things like that soon, they don’t become problems you get over them and these things become quite normal very quickly.

Kevin: How do you get over them? How did you get over them?

Dave: I did a lot of this for charity and I was thinking about a lot of the good the money I was raising was doing.  I ended up raising a significant amount of money for some poor kids and I thought actually yeah your day is pretty tough you’ve walked for 10 hours, you’re boarder line hypothermic, you’re laying in a sleeping bag full of frozen wee but actually there are some kids around that would love to be fit enough or well enough even to be in that position.  And that was a bit of a reality check actually and probably kept me sane.

Kevin: I’m going to take you back a bit now.  I think it will be quite useful to help the audience understand that you have not always been active like this, that you actually had a bit of a life changing event yourself and that very much put you on this path that you needed to make some changes to your life.  Do you want to talk a bit about that?

Dave: Yeah in 2008 I had a very simple kidney stone removal operation which actually resulted in me having severe internal bleeding and I was pretty unwell for about six weeks in hospital.  This was over the period of the London Marathon that I had been sponsored heavily to go and run.  My mother tragically was very ill and passed away at that time as well so it was quite an emotional time of my life that I felt that I had let down kids that I was hoping to raise money for.  I had lost my mother at the same time so I came out feeling pretty crap actually and I could have let myself slip but I wanted to really do something good.

Kevin: Slipping from a health perspective or a life perspective or?

Dave: Slip from a positivity, a mental positivity perspective. I guess I wasn’t on a slippery slope but I was feeling pretty low and I’ve never really felt low I always, you can speak to anyone that knows me I’m a eternal optimist and generally see the best out of everything.  So coming out of hospital felt pretty bad for not being able to raise some money, not being able to see my mum again, I thought right what’s next I’ve got to do something.  So I immediately signed up for a Marathon in the New Forest to try and re-earn the money that was pledged for me to run the London Marathon.  So that was some six months away and right I’ll get fit and I’ll be able to do that no problem.  And I guess at the same time, and I say I guess I know strongly, at the same time there was a BBC documentary called ‘On Thin Ice’ on and it was about Ben Fogal and James Cracknal going to the South Pole. I found it quite inspiring and just saw what they pushed themselves through and I thought that’s pretty amazing, that’s tough stuff.  And I appreciated I guess the mental drive that they must have had as well as the physical strength to be able to do that.  And that I quite got into actually and I got really interested in it.  So I was watching that and feeling pretty good and a chap at work bought in a newspaper article for me from one of the Sunday papers magazines and that article had in there just a one pager of this polar explorer, what motivates him, what drives him, how he likes to raise the bar each time and what book he likes – he was Jonathon Livingstone’s Seagull which I’ve now bought tens and tens of copies of and I give it to everyone who I want to inspire as well.  I read this book that he reads at the Pole all the time and I felt pretty inspired by this book and all of a sudden I’m thinking this polar stuff sounds jolly interesting.  So it sounds silly now there was also celebrity TV show called ’71 degrees north’ and I quite liked all this ice stuff.

Kevin: What do you think was drawing you to the ice because you could have been drawn to anything at this stage?

Dave: True.  So two things I think.  I’ve been to northern Sweden in the winter and did a sort of a very mini wilderness type expedition with huskies I guess 2004 I think and just going on frozen rivers was quite bizarre.  I found it a complete alien concept you don’t go on rivers that are frozen we all know that.  I found that quite interesting while we were there and it was only a few days but a great experience and one I really enjoyed.  And I think seeing ’71 degrees north’, seeing ‘On Thin Ice’ it made me rekindle some of that and I thought that was quite good.  And I guess the other thing was the physicality of it, these brutal environments.  I like to do things that other people haven’t done.  I like to say well I’ve done that.  Not for five other people to say so have I how did you find it.  I like the fact that I’ve done that and in my mind it is slightly unique and I’m not sure why I think that but I guess that is probably how some of the mechanics work in my mind.

Kevin: So possibly when you look at those environments and they seem to desolate they seem to inhospitable do you think it was the thought of actually most people will say that can’t be done.

Dave: Yeah that resonates a lot actually. Over my younger years I recall being told that you can’t do that.  I think I quite like the mental challenge thereafter to prove whoever said it wrong in a professional life, projects that can’t be done I wouldn’t want to do any other ones other than those.  I think things that can’t be done and the things that actually get me up and running.

Kevin: Go on carry on, I didn’t think that we were going to go down this route but go on.

Dave: Anything like that really fires me up; it’s where I get my strength from.

Kevin: Why do you think it fires you up?

Dave: Probably some trigger when I was young perhaps but I like doing impossible things. I think the challenge of proving to yourself and everyone else that something impossible can be done. But as soon as they are done I am probably looking for another one soon after because once you’ve done it it’s done. So then I am looking for the next challenge.  So I guess time went by I completed my Marathon.  Once I had finished that I started to prepare to do a marathon and a half. One evening I did a half marathon locally and then came to London to do the London Marathon first thing in the morning.  That was quite an experience and meanwhile I am then thinking crikey what do you do after a marathon and a half. So my mind is once again, I have now got this little void I have achieved something that I never thought I’d be able to and if people then go on to meet me you will see that I’m not built to be a marathon runner.  I guess I’ve probably at this point in time now 2010ish and these polar things keep flicking in and out of my life.  So I then made the plunge and I signed up for a full on unsupported expedition. I did my research I wanted to go with the best people I could and I obviously needed to dig deep in the pocket to fund something like that so it took time to prepare and I saw the Harry Hero’s unsupported expedition to the North Pole and that was it.  That was it from that very second seeing these chaps participate in such an exciting gruelling that really just triggered it then.  Everything all came quite clear it was obviously that, that was what I was going to do. I’m so glad I put my deposit on this. That was it, it was a fate a complit there after I was going to the North Pole and I had probably told everyone by that point anyway. But at that point in my mind it became very clear.

Kevin: I’m going to make a guess, or you know just make an assumption that there must have been programmes about arctic exploration, adventure they must always be around but for some reason they all started making sense to you at a certain time.  Do you think that is coincidental or do you think that is something in our internal makeup?

Dave: It’s funny I think the polar influences were quite vague to start with and maybe I latched on to something but I’m a very strong believer in your brain getting you to where you want to go you just need to tell it what you want.  Every day our brains and eyes take in huge amounts of information of which a massive percentage of it is disregarded.  An example could be the yellow car that no one owns, no one has got a yellow car, you go and buy yourself a yellow car because no one has one but then you see everyone has got yellow cars.  There are yellow cars everywhere you even notice the AA are driving round in them perhaps.  Your washing machine breaks in the morning coincidentally there is a half price sale on washing machines in the newspaper.  That advert may have been there months but today you saw it.  You saw it today because your brain was trying to get you what you wanted.  And I wanted to get to the North Pole so all of a sudden these polar things are now flicking in front of me.

Kevin: Yeah so just by giving yourself this focus, I’m not even going to say target or anything, but by giving yourself a focus then you are waking it up and you are honing it on on looking for signals to help it understand how to make that reality sort of thing.

Dave: Yeah very much so and I’ve heard one of your other speakers Andy North talk about telling people where you want to go and imagining yourself there and all of a sudden these things pan out and I completely agree with that.  And as I say it is very much I believe how your brain works. I think the brain is extremely clever but we need to know how to control it and I think that’s how my brain works.  I just need to tell it what I want to do and it will tease out along that journey everything that is relevant to get me there.  Maybe that first thing coming out of hospital seeing that TV show was the trigger. Everything thereafter may have been sort of pulled in perhaps who knows.  Yeah it is interesting.

Kevin: Yeah it is.  So then you are on the route for training. Sounds like very hard to get yourself in shape.

Dave: Yeah I was training 14 times a week by the time I’d got to the stage where I was ready to go.

Kevin: While you are managing careers, family, everything else?

Dave: Yeah probably didn’t appreciate quite as much that you do need to give up something in your life.  With hindsight I would have been a bit more considerate with my family life.  My wife didn’t see much of me for quite a while. I was up at half past four down the gym training straight into work, coming out of work straight down the gym and getting home in time to go to bed.  That was Monday to Friday.  Saturdays I was out twice in the gym so we had a bit of time at lunchtime and then Sundays if I wasn’t out all day I’d be out twice training in the morning and the evening.  So I probably didn’t consider that quite as much at the start as I thought I needed to.

Kevin: So with hindsight now how would you approach it if you had the opportunity to do it again knowing that you’ve got to put in that training what do you think you need to do?

Dave: Some of it is down to expectation management.  So I perhaps could have planned for things better at home so that me being in the gym all of the time wouldn’t have been quite so tough and actually it was going to be a known period of the training that every evening I’d be out or every morning or every weekend. Taking the shock out of some of these things is probably the best way. Because invariably you still need to do that quantity of training to achieve that sort of thing. Yeah not doing the training wouldn’t have been an option and not having a career wouldn’t have been an option either so it only really leads to expectation management.  This goes back to that brain theory as well that I have.  This is the down side of it. So you become amazingly boring.  All I spoke for 12 months was about polar this, polar that or training this and training that.  I bored everyone stupid. I bored my wife stupid. I’m grateful to have come out the other side with some friends because last year I wasn’t the greatest of entertainment I’m sure.  And these are some of the down sides of your brain focusing you on your goal. It consumes you.  I tried not to let that happen but when you are training 14 times a week you are going to be going to a polarised cap and you don’t even know anyone that has ever done that sort of thing before all of a sudden your brain is just continually thinking that way and you are preparing, you’re planning, you’re working out what kit you need to buy or what kit you want to get rid of and somehow free up weight or whatever that may be.  When you brain is so focussed you have another down side in that it is only focussed for you generally.

Kevin: Jumping forward to now and you haven’t got that focus how does your mind feel now?

Dave: So it’s been good to get fatter and relaxed and rest to be frank. I’ve enjoyed the downtime that’s been quite good however I think from a career perspective I’ve had the opportunity to build and develop and do lots of things within the workplace so that has been really exciting and interesting and challenging which is good.

Kevin: Do you manage more on an average daily basis now because you’ve pushed yourself so far mentally as well as physically with the challenge?

Dave: Maybe not more but probably differently.  Issues that were around a year ago even to someone who thinks nothing is impossible were issues to be managed.  Managing a litre of frozen urine in your sleeping bag whilst you are borderline hypothermic 300 miles away from anywhere and you know there is polar bears ten minutes up the road that is an issue.  So all of a sudden in the workplace an issue that we haven’t been able to solve the problem we wanted to today and we are going to try again and work out how best to solve a business problem tomorrow that doesn’t really come across as an issue now.  I think I can do more complex things.  I think I can get less emotional about issues in the workplace and perhaps my skills are slightly different now but I don’t think I can necessarily do more.

Kevin: But it’s definitely changed how you approach.

Dave: Yeah very much and I need to, I’m very conscious not to come across as arrogant because I believe I can do anything impossible.  You tell me I can’t do it and I know I can.  So I am very conscious about balancing the I can do anything with yeah well we need to bring everyone with us, we need to create a good team, we need to be able to make sort of more of a collective effort if you like on achieving things.

Kevin: Just talk to me about the teamwork side of it. What did it teach you about real teamwork?

Dave: I’ve probably had a very different view on how we can achieve things now.  So if I believe I can do X myself I now believe a team of people can do 10X and that’s quite an amazing thought. So I’ve tried to look at okay what are the lessons I learnt at the Pole and if you truly believe you can get these people unlock people’s minds and get them all to work as a team what are those things.  And I think probably empowerment, trust are two of the biggest things.  So I make sure that my team feel fully supported of course because that was something I found from the Pole if everyone felt supported we all had a better day.  If you felt that you had that crutch with someone there behind you that could help you then we actually had a great day.  You could get through the tough weather because you knew someone was going to help you.  In the workplace I make sure that all my team feel that they’ve got me to support them whenever they need it but then you can then start empowering people and if you unlock people’s minds, give them the ability to make decisions, give them responsibility to take risks and allow people to develop then actually the team then grows and the team develops and what can be achieved then goes up expenentionaly.  It really is amazing to watch.  We are sitting here what five months, four months now since I’ve been back from the Pole and I think my team dynamic has changed radically in those few months.  I’ve great visions for the team that work for me and I work within and I think a lot of that has come from experiences from the Pole.

Kevin: Thank you and I appreciate you sharing that.  One thing I am keen to understand.  What was the most challenging part of that trip?

Dave: I guess the toughest piece was probably the emotional determination.  The I need to finish this in order to come back alive feeling.  That was something that I really had to wrestle with.  It was something I had never experienced.  I had never thought you need to do this and overcome this otherwise you might not make it home.  You are going to bed 4km above the ocean floor on ice that is breaking up around you whilst polar bears are walking around that don’t know on tents.  You have got all of these dangers around you and are permanently thinking am I going to get through this.  Wrestling with that emotion.  I probably never slept for more than 40 minutes continuously. I’d be waking up because I heard something, waking up because I thought I saw something go past the tent or a piece of snow fell on my face on the inside of the tent or whatever it may be but fatigue comes in a great deal I’m sure.  You are physically exhausted after a long day, you are not sleeping and I think that emotional am I going to finish and being able to remain focussed during that was the toughest.

Kevin: It sounds like it so you must be living on adrenalin for a huge chunk of it.

Dave: Yeah exactly.  But that was the unique and toughest thing about the expedition.

Kevin: Yeah because it really is life or death.  What was it like when you got there?

Dave: Oh amazing.  The last day was terrifying because the wind changed so lots of ice was breaking up.  Leads were opening all over the place.  It became very frightening, we had gone through the night so by the time we had got there it was almost an 18 hour day of man hauling and I was hugely wrecked physically.  I was just absolutely exhausted so emotionally I just let go.  I’d raised a huge amount of money and I was just overjoyed.  Very hard to explain I sobbed for a long time. The kings gin jar liqueur did help and so did the big fat cigar when I was there.  But yeah relief I guess and pride and big bucket loads of both of those so yeah I was very emotional.

Kevin: Who was the first person you wanted to call?

Dave: I phoned my wife, it was about four o’clock in the morning.  She probably didn’t understand I word I said because I was crying so much down the phone but I was so chuffed and I think she was pleased to hear from me.

Kevin: And then what? Then did you guy’s camp up or what happened from that point?

Dave: Yeah the Russians that operate the base drifting near to the Pole they come and rescue you but they don’t like wasting precious helicopter fuel on keep on going back and forwards so they wait until there is enough of you to make it a journey worthwhile.  So that meant unfortunately we had to camp there for about 36 hours whilst we waited for the helicopter to come and evacuate us.

Kevin: That must have felt actually horrendous.

Dave: I was finished at that point, I had achieved the goal, I quite fancied a stiff drink and going home and actually you couldn’t so that was almost a trapped sensation I guess.

Kevin: Yeah and I imagine at that stage as well I can see that probably for the first time ever that probably the team dynamic would begin to breakdown and everybody was probably feeling quite low.

Dave: Well said yeah I couldn’t have said it any better yeah the team dynamic did.  We were all high fiveing of course but actually the support element that we’d had and we’d built and grown over the days leading up to that started to disappear and we became quite self focussed on what we had individually achieved as well as what we had achieved as a team.  Yeah you are right when you haven’t got those tough challenges, those dimensions sort of break down.

Kevin: The simple fact is you reached your goal didn’t you so therefore mentally everybody is checking out from that point.  Again it just shows the importance of having those fresh goals each time doesn’t it to keep you going.

Dave: Yeah indeed.

Kevin: So finally the helicopter did turn up.

Dave: Yeah the helicopter turned up, evacuated us back to Barneo where this sort of floating ice airport is that the Russians build every year and straight to the bar really.  It was quite party atmosphere.  I think everyone had a bit inside that they had left at the Pole so everyone was feeling a bit empty but happy. It was a strange sensation.

Kevin: What do you mean by that empty but happy?

Dave: Empty in that you’ve achieved the goal and you’ve done and it and that’s a box ticked and something you have been preparing for for so long has now gone.  It was very sad to actually leave the Pole in the same time we couldn’t wait to get away from it once we’d achieved it and it was breaking up.  But very sad we were now on the way home almost and it was the end of a 18 month – 2 year adventure in the planning and it was over.  A little bit of flatness I guess but with the celebration of having reached the goal as well.  But there is a slight twist for me at this point because I went to speak to a gentleman that actually looked familiar to a good friend on mine and that was the sole reason for me talking to him and he was the production director for a film crew that were at this ice base airport which is on the TV soon and this gentleman and I got chatting and started talking about what other things he had done and it turned out that he even showed me the footage on his iPhone at the time, it turns out that he was the guide for Ben Frogle and James Cracknal to get to the South Pole.  And then the conversation unravelled more and he is also the guy who puts together the stunts and the challenges for all the celebrities on a programme called 71 degrees north and at this point the hairs on my arms were standing up a bit and then he started to show me other photographs on his phone and he was the guide that took Prince Harry and the walking wounded to the North Pole the year before.  So at this point I’m feeling quite amazed that these little things that have been triggering me and driving me this one man has been involved in and we were talking about favourite literature and I got out my book of Jonathon Livingstone Seagull that I had read about all those years ago and I said you have got to read this book you will love it, it’s right up your street.  At which he responded it was his favourite book and he always reads it when he goes to the North Pole.  And it turned out that the one page Sunday Times or I can’t remember if it was the Times or not but the Sunday magazine tear out that I read the article was about him, which was just quite spooky.  In four or five different ways this one man has inspired me to get to the North Pole.  That in itself is unbelievable but then to be at the North Pole and meet him was well just an amazing experience.

Kevin: Yeah so he had been there the entire time, even though you didn’t know, he had been there.

Dave: It just goes to show how tiny little things one can do in their lives can actually indirectly or directly inspire people without you even realising.  That’s the big thing I’ve taken away.  I just think if I could get someone to read a book that is inspirational or if I could become involved in something that is inspirational then well it’s worked on me, it’s worked on me four or five times, so actually all of our actions can be quite inspirational to others. We just don’t realise that and I think if you start to think like that these things will happen.  Once more your brain will make sure these things happen.  An amazing time because I was empty, feeling flat, achieved a great goal, shame that it is gone, sad to be going home maybe and then all of this came out which was astounding.

Kevin: Great story.  What a great story and what a great end to that story.  And I’m going to use that for us to draw this to an end. Before I do let you go I’m going to put you on the spot a bit and I like all of our guests that come on the podcast to leave our audience with one takeaway that they can try and apply, one thing that you find is probably the most like that barometer that you keep coming back to.  What would be that one thing that you would like to leave our audience with?

Dave: It’s quite a challenging question but very simple as well.  I think in pictures so I’m going to describe a picture and I want everyone to think that.  If you think of a small circle in that picture with your comfort zone written in it.  That’s where we operate most of the time because it’s comfortable.  And then you imagine another big circle ten times the size of that over on the other side of the page and that’s where the magic happens and I truly believe if you get outside that comfort zone there’s just unlimited opportunities, ways of inspiring others, opportunities to be inspired, goals that you can achieve and I think all of this is just a decision.  So the thing I’d leave with people is to get out that comfort zone because that is where the magic happens and actually it’s just a simple decision to make.

Kevin: Dave Sissens thank you very much for coming on the Maximise Potential Podcast.

Dave: Thank you.


Kevin: I need to finish this to come back alive that is a line I can’t shake from my mind.  It has left me wondering how many of us have ever taken on a challenge that has put us in that type of situation.  And equally how we would react if we were.  Dave thanks for sharing so much of your story and giving us a wonderful understanding of how you motivate yourself and constantly drive yourself on.

When I was writing the show notes for this episode I found myself taking down so much of what Dave spoke of and what we can all apply to our own situations.  Here are a few highlights – I really liked how Dave actively looked to take on impossible projects.  Sitting that these are the ones that provide him with his strength, energy and motivation and how he is quick to seek out another impossible goal as soon as he has achieved the former.  Also Dave’s explanation of his belief that your brain will get you to where you want to go you just need to tell it what you want it to do, was a very powerful technique that several others have highlighted within their interviews.  Importantly Dave’s references to how the trip completely altered his perspective on the power of teamwork and how through creating an environment which is based on trust and empowerment you can produce results at a level you never thought imaginable.  There were so many others that I could have added to this list but I will steer you all to the webpage for this episode for additional notes and information including links to the book Jonathon Livingstone’s Seagull as well as the TV programme that Dave spoke about called North Pole Ice Airport which is currently running on Channel 5.  I would like to send out a big thank you to Dave Sissens for joining us on the Podcast and providing us with so much to think about and consider within our own lives.

I would love to get your feedback on this episode specifically with regards to taking on the impossible and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so please leave a comment or two through our groups on LinkedIn or Facebook or come and connect with me on Twitter.  As this is our last episode for 2012 I would like to thank all of our listeners and all of our guests for being part of Maximise Potential throughout this year and especially to the Jenrick Recruitment Group for their sponsorship, support and belief in the project.  I couldn’t resist bringing back and old Xerxes favourite to finish off this episode with so here is ‘Frozen’ for you all to enjoy as I thought that was highly appropriate to finish on.  Thank you again for everything have a great Christmas wherever you are and look forward to making 2013 a superb year for maximising your potential.  Bye for now.


Interview transcription kindly provided by “AP Transcription” – for more details, please contact:

About the Author

Hi, I'm Tom Burkinshaw, I co-produce the Maximise Your Potential Podcast and Website and my goal is to help as many people as possible be successful in life, careers and business, by offering free coaching and mentoring through a series of unique interviews from inspiring people who all display exceptional self-belief, mental toughness and desire to achieve. Thank you for taking the time to visit Maximise Your Potential!