01/23/2014 05:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What The First Man To Swim At The North Pole Can Teach Us About Leadership

Chris Jackson via Getty Images

To those of us who are satisfied with a jog on the treadmill or a 45-minute yoga class, endurance adventures like running 100 miles or swimming from Cuba to Florida can sound plain crazy.

Which is part of what makes Lewis Pugh's accomplishments all the more impressive, considering the wisdom he has gathered through his extreme swims.

Pugh, who has swum in every ocean in the world, was also the first person to complete a long-distance swim at the North Pole, where waters are below zero degrees centigrade -- the freezing point for fresh water, Mashable pointed out.

This week, he's joining global leaders at the 2014 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to share some of the lessons he learned while training and swimming at the North Pole as well as in a lake on Mt Everest. Many, he asserts, also apply to leadership on terra firma:

Called the Human Polar Bear, Pugh has spoken about leadership before, most famously in a 2008 Business Innovation Factory speech named one of the seven most inspiring videos on the Web by Mashable in 2009.

In the video, he describes three "anchors" his coach gave him to help him stay motivated through times of self-doubt and fear of his impending swim. Through those anchors, he was able to find the symbolism in his swim and uses his extreme accomplishments to shed light on the important global issues he discusses in the video below:

Get more from Davos below:

01/25/2014 10:07 AM EST

Bill Gates Discusses The Hyper-Connectivity Concern

01/25/2014 10:06 AM EST

Polman's View On Work/Life Balance

"We are very fortunate to do what we like to do... so I get a lot of energy out of what I do," Polman said.

"I don't personally believe in work/life balance," Polman said, adding that he hopes to have a happy life balance that includes his work.

"We have to watch what we do, I like to run so I do that every day, and increasingly watch what you eat and maintain your health a little bit," Polman said.

01/25/2014 10:00 AM EST

'We Have A Moral Obligation'

"I think we have a moral obligation to use what is given to us for the benefit of all," Polman said.

"We have no rights to exclude people," Polman said.

01/25/2014 9:59 AM EST

Statue Of Responsibility

"I always say when they built the Statue of Liberty on the east coast of the United States, they forgot to build the Statue of Responsibility on the west coast," Polman said.

01/25/2014 9:56 AM EST

'We Really Need To Move Into Reaction Mode'

"I think people are starting to discover that we really need to move into reaction mode," Polman said.

Polman said the political process has become "incredibly difficult" and is riddled with "poor agreements."

"There is some progress but frankly, not fast enough, and the business community can not wait," Polman said.

"There is more of an urge from responsible business... to drive to action," Polman added.

01/25/2014 9:55 AM EST

'There Is An Enormous Demand On Food'

"Obviously as the population grows with the changing dietary habits, there is an enormous demand on food," Polman said.

Polman said he's worked to find sustainable solutions to food production.

01/25/2014 9:52 AM EST

'There's An Enormous Pressure On The CEO Of Today'

Arianna sat down with Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, on HuffPost Live at Davos on Saturday to talk about pressure in business.

"There's a lot of pressure on the short-term," Polman said.

"There's an enormous pressure on the CEO of today," Polman added.

Polman said "the real purpose of business is to serve society," not to cater to the shareholder, but often the latter is what CEOs are focused on because of pressure.

01/25/2014 9:22 AM EST

Al Gore: 'We Need To Put A Price On Denial In Politics'

01/25/2014 8:49 AM EST

Brad Smith On Unplugging

Smith said he unplugs by getting outside and learning new things by doing things like reading.

"To me, that's a real joy," Smith said.

01/25/2014 8:45 AM EST

Relationship Between Business And Government

Smith said the relationship between business and government has a few different dimensions that usually exist at the same time.

"The government defines the laws and we comply with them," Smith said. "There may be times we think the government goes too far and we challenge them... there are times when we work together. There are times when the government is our customer."