"I don't want to sound too cheesy, but I am doing something that I dreamt of doing when I was a kid. Not many people can say that," Saunders says. He recalls that from a young age, after checking out countless library books on legendary explorers like Scott, Shackleton, Swan, and Amundsen, he decided to be a Polar explorer. As one would expect, the announcement of that life plan was met with skepticism, patronizing dismissal, and the usual questions of practicality. Still, he pursued it. And now Saunders is one of the most prolific explorers of his generation – a modern-day reincarnation of his childhood heroes. Saunders says the key to becoming a Polar explorer – or anyone else with big plans – is the ability to ignore the doubters, the naysayers, and the haters. "It's often experts, and all the people that are close to you," he says. "And from either of those camps, it's hard to ignore that and stay committed to the goal. It's taken a lot of stubbornness, and a lot of kind of bloody-minded persistence and sacrifice. It's just a question of persistence, and self-belief, and determination."
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