Scott 100 Day 146 27th March 1912 : Others

Others. Scott, Wilson and Bowers remain in the tent, there is no mention of when they died or who died first but Scott still has unfinished letters to write and it will still be a few days before his final entry. No food, no fuel, no energy and alone wrapped in their sleeping bags, drifting and dreaming. But what of the others, Atkinson at Cape Evans and Campbell sheltering in his ice cave. Terra Nova is only a few days away from land but all they will be able to share with the world is that Scott was last seen going strong on the plateau. Today Atkinson and Keohane set out from base camp to try and meet the returning party. The temperature was low and the two men man hauled onto the barrier. They made it just past Corner Camp Depot when they decided to turn back and arrived back at camp on April 1st. Cherry-Garrard reports Atkinson as stating that ‘in my own mind I was morally certain that the party had perished’. Over the next few weeks a few further trips were made to see if they support Campbell but by the end of April they had left supplies and communication equipment at Hutpoint and made for Cape Evans. Now the task of these men was to prepare for winter and to think about what to do when the sun came back. Campbell and his men had killed seal and added this to their stores and had built their ice cave. Terra Nova was not coming back and they needed to survive the winter as a first priority. The ice cave was cramped but had separate areas for sleeping and food. They couldn’t stand upright and after a short while they and the cave were saturated with blubber from the stove. Campbell insisted they exercise in the cave as best they could and kept a discipline and routine in place, including sunday worship. The weather outside was terrible, heavy snow and strong winds but both Atkinson and Campbell safely led their teams through an Antarctic winter. Once the sun came back they needed to decide what to do next !

Scott’s Journal 27th March 1912. NO ENTRY

Commentary. The main effort of the writers of this expedition seems to focus on Scott but Campbell and Atkinson both faced challenging leadership moments. Cherry-Garrard spends time in his writing supporting the decisions of Atkinson while Huntford sees Atkinson as a medic unprepared and incapable. Campbell’s ability to think through situations and take the greatest care saw the Terra Nova land more supplies for unseen events, these stores would be vital for their survival. Campbell is described as cautious and forward thinking. Yet according to Hooper Campbell had a difficult relationship with others in the party. Add into this Oates’ dislike for most officers who commanded him, Amundsen’s falling out with a senior member of his team, disgruntlement within the ranks of officers and men and even Shackelton’s disagreement with men in his own team means that the business of leadership is not quite the glorious position often portrayed. Why would anyone want to be a leader ? Perhaps the difficulty with leadership is not the delivery but the expectation. Leadership now comes with such expectation and comes with measures and competencies that make it beyond most of us. It has always been thus, perfect leadership was beyond Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen and it is beyond you. Forgive yourself. Now take away the pressure to be perfect or to function in teams without tensions and disagreements and you may manage to thrive rather than be paralysed. What if getting things wrong as a leader is not a mistake but a byproduct of getting things right and that having difficult conversations is a byproduct of having successful relationships. Of course my theory fails at the first hurdle when someone describes the perfect leader they have worked for and the constantly happy team they were part of. I’m still waiting for that day. The challenge is not to eliminate flaws, it just doesn’t happen that easily. The challenge is to learn to live with them, yours and theirs, and still be great.

About hutpoint

Interested in leadership, teamwork, resistance, perseverence and change. A former senior nurse dedicated to learning from and sharing with other flawed humans.
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