How often do we hear someone we know saying something like “that’ll do” or “I can live with that” when talking about a job they are doing. It’s a strange idea when you think about it. Especially considering how much we as human beings demand excellence when being served by others. Why would we allow ourselves to make do with anything less than the best?
It is also very frustrating to see someone giving up half way through a task, when you know if they persisted they would achieve something much greater.
That is why ubu say “near enough is not good enough”. We know that the people we serve deserve nothing but the very best support to enable them to feel safe and confident in achieving new levels of independence. So we want to start a revolution across the country. Let’s all give every challenge our utmost effort and passion, to ensure the results are nothing short of inspirational.
Make it our mantra: Near enough is not good enough!
Alaska lies just below the Arctic Circle. In 1925, Nome was a town of about 1400 people. During the winter, when daylight was scarce and temperatures could drop to almost 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, the only lifeline between Nome and the outside world was the Iditarod Trail, a path 938 miles long.
The trail crosses mountain ranges and drives through the vast and potentially deadly interior region of Alaska. In 1925 airplanes were fragile things that did not take well to severe weather and cold. The only trustworthy way in and out of Nome was by sled.
The first sign of trouble in Nome actually came from a nearby village in the form of a young Inuit boy who was brought to the area’s only doctor, Curtis Welch. Doctor Welch diagnosed the child as having tonsillitis, but he unexpectedly died the next day. Cases of what was thought to be tonsillitis cropped up in the town and surrounding area over the course of the next month, including four other children who died suddenly. The last of these children was 3-year old Bill Barnett; it was during his examination that Doctor Welch discovered not tonsillitis, but something much more sinister: diphtheria.
The town hospital did not have enough serum to handle a full-blown epidemic. The mayor sent radio messages to the governor of Alaska and to the US Public Health Service in Washington, DC. He told them of the need for anti-toxin, stating that an epidemic of diphtheria was “inevitable.”
All of northwest Alaska, with a population of about 10,000, was threatened. Without the anti- toxin, the mortality rate for those infected would be near 100 percent. At that time, a railway ran from the southern Alaska coast north to the small town of Nenana. 300,000 units of anti-toxin were brought via train to this northern terminus from Anchorage. It was not enough to stop an epidemic, but it was enough to allow the town to hold on until more units could be brought in from the United States.
A relay of dog sled teams was quickly organised. The best teams from the interior were tasked with the mission and all of them accepted. The trip began at 9PM on January 27 when “Wild Bill” Shannon accepted the package of anti- toxin at the train station in Nenana. It was 50 degrees below zero.
The next morning, his nose was black from frostbite and he had lost four dogs. Nonetheless, he pushed on to Tolovana, a total of 52 miles.
Edgar Kallands took the next leg of the journey as the temperature fell to 56 degrees below zero. When he arrived at Manley Hot Springs at 4PM on the 28th, a local man had to pour hot water on his hands to unstick him from his sled’s handlebar.
Leonard Seppala, serum in hand, took over next. He would travel the farthest of any of the teams, over 90 miles north after his 170 mile southbound run. He passed the serum to Charlie Olsen on February 1st.
The only mix up during the relay occurred when Gunnar Kaasen, having traveled through a storm so intense that he could not see his dog team in front of him, arrived at Point Safety only to find his relief asleep. Instead of waiting for the man to get his team together, Kaasen decided to make the run into Nome himself. He arrived in Nome at 5:30AM on February 2nd, 1925. Not a single vial of the antitoxin was broken.
It is not known for sure how many people died as a result of diphtheria in and around Nome, Alaska that winter. While the official estimates range between 5 and 7 people, it is likely much higher due to the fact that the native Inuit’s did not always report deaths. Either way, the number is exponentially lower than it would have been if not for the bravery and perseverance of a few men and their dogs.
There are few more powerful stories than this to bring home the message of why we have to strive, and never be content with saying “that’ll do”. We have to push ourselves, believe in ourselves and work at everything with the same level of passion and enthusiasm.
We must live by these words: Near enough is not good enough.
So what do we do to prove that we mean what we say, when we say “near enough is not good enough”?
We have to be committed to pushing ourselves and each other to always give 100% to every task/challenge/activity. We have to really want our goals and then use that passion to fuel ourselves all the way through to ensure we hit, and then exceed our targets.
We have to do what we say, when we say we will do it. Remember that words will only take us so far. If we want to make something happen we have to act. So yes we must plan properly; take the time to put in place all the necessary actions to make things work. But then we have to take action, follow the plan through and use our hearts to guide us as we push ourselves further into unknown realms outside our comfort zones.
Most importantly we must be able to reflect on our accomplishment and ask ourselves “is this good enough”? This is when we must be honest with ourselves. Sometimes this will take a great deal of courage, to admit we haven’t done as well as we should have. But that is part of learning and is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a true mark of strength if you can look at a completed task and say “I can do this better” and then fire yourself up to make it better – even if that means starting from scratch.
There are many great examples throughout history of people who refused to accept any less than the best from themselves. One such story is of a town in Alaska, whose fate rested in the hands of a few determined men and a pack of fearless huskies.
Click through to the next level to read this amazing account.