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Ryan E. Day


Navigating the Impossible

Build extraordinary teams and shatter expectations

Published: Thursday, January 9, 2020 - 13:03

“Before I do the things I do, people call them ‘impossible.’ After I’m done, they call them ‘crazy.’ I call them ‘world records.’”
—Jason Caldwell, author of Navigating the Impossible

Books on leadership can be dry or boring. Not so with Navigating the Impossible: Build Extraordinary Teams and Shatter Expectations, by Jason Caldwell (Berrett-Koehler, 2019). Caldwell, a self-proclaimed “professional jock,” is president and owner of Latitude 35 Leadership, which uses experiential training to explore the fine art of leading and maintaining high-performance teams.

Navigating the Impossible is anchored around Caldwell’s record-setting run at rowing across the Atlantic Ocean. Yes, the Atlantic Ocean. Thirty-five days, 14 hours, and three minutes. That’s how long it took Jason Caldwell and the crew of the American Spirit to row 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean during the perilous 2016 Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge—or, as it’s known to those who attempt it, “The World’s Toughest Row.”

Caldwell’s book is an engaging mix of narrative, pith, and insight. Although the story is intensely personal, the insights are uniquely relevant to leadership acumen. Caldwell has a clever way of weaving his own collegiate sports experiences with more current, team-based world-record attempts to lead the reader on an easy reading adventure that both illuminates and entertains.

“I teach them that they should stop saying ‘I could never do that,” and start saying ‘I could never do that alone.’”
—Jason Caldwell, author of Navigating the Impossible

Each chapter builds on the last, fleshing out Caldwell’s journey to attempt the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge. And each chapter is punctuated with “Leadership Lesson” and “Gathering Point” segments that elucidate insights Caldwell has synthesized from his watery exploits.

“Productivity, leadership, efficiency, endurance, discipline, success—these are the traits of elite athletes. They are also the traits that a sales manager in Phoenix or Seattle really wishes he could bottle and slip into his team’s morning pot of coffee.”
—Jason Caldwell, author of Navigating the Impossible

Among the many amusing nuggets Caldwell tosses out is one of my faves that deals with risk management:
“I guess you could say we’re in the impossible business. It pays the bills, but the insurance is a nightmare.”


About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s project manager and senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20-lb tabby cat at his side.