Being more worthy. Many authors have reported on Scott’s failings, his temper, isolation and depressive moods. But Scott was insightful enough to recognise these himself. In the biography by Fiennes an extract from an earlier journal recalls Scott’s thoughts on his ‘dark depressive moods’. ‘This slow sickness that holds one for weeks. How can I bear it ? I write of the future hopes of being more worthy, but shall I ever be ?’
Scott’s Journal 13th January 1912. They started the days march on soft snow and made slow progress. Scott was concerned this surface would now last all the way to the pole but after a few hours they entered another area of sastrugi. By the end of the day they had made 11 miles and Scott’s target of double figures for each day’s march is met and so the prospect of reaching the pole remains. The work is ‘wearisome’ and the effort to advance a light sledge is immense. Scott recognises the advantage of ski and feels for poor Bowers struggling through on foot. They are only 51 miles from the pole and Scott notes that ‘if we don’t get it we will be damned close’. A light southerly breeze which Scott hopes increases in force to help them along.
Commentary. Since the last group turned back Scott’s diaries have had more recorded care and concern for his men, especially Bowers. Scott is the oldest man in the group, has had the same rations and workload and has the pressure of leadership and yet his journal really is starting to come alive with a greater appreciation of his team. The earlier journal entry where Scott’s awareness of himself highlights his flaws is fascinating. In modern leadership terminology we look to the emotional intelligence of leaders and their ability to understand, explore and manage the complexity of who they are. Fiennes also offers the thought that the modern world may have a name for his condition, a diagnosis and maybe a treatment. Coaching, therapy and the such like. His improved disposition to his men may be because although they are alone, isolated and up against it there is little they can do but work hard to go progress forward, there is a clear goal. Scott maybe feeling that a difficult burden (telling men they are not going to the pole) is over and hard work progressing forward is a shared and indisputable reality.