There are parts of Shackleton's Way that I have memorized by heart but I'd forgotten about this long riff from Orde-Lees in Chapter 4 - Getting the Best from Each Individual...
Orde-Lees had sciatica and suffered a particularly bad bout in late July. Shackleton privately blamed Orde-Lees’ carelessness. He had gone out in frigid temperatures “in just the ordinary things one would wear on a mild cold day in England,” as Orde-Lees admitted.
Shackleton also suffered recurring bouts of sciatica, so he empathized. Orde-Lees was laid up flat on his back in bed for a week, unable to move from the pain and full of self-pity. Sir Ernest invited him into his cabin. The patient stayed for two weeks, certain he was receiving better care under Shackleton than he could have found in an English hospital. The close quarters must have been extremely uncomfortable. To help his patient’s sciatica, the Boss, stoking the small stove, allowed temperatures to climb to sweltering heights night after night.
“Here I have lain in the utmost comfort but severe pain for the last five days while Sir Ernest has coiled himself up as best he could on a narrow little bench much too short for him!” Orde-Lees wrote at the beginning of his stay. “He is a wonderful man. He takes the minimum of sleep; seldom more that three or four hours a night, sometimes less, but how he manages to get even that on such an uncomfortable couch is a puzzle. He looks after me himself with all the tender care of a trained nurse, which indeed he seems to me to be far more than merely my leader and master for the time being. He attends to me himself, making up the fire and making me a cup of tea during the night if I happen to say that I am thirsty, reading to me and always entertaining me with his wonderful conversation, making me forget my pain by joking with me continually just as if I was a spoiled child. What sacrifices would I not make for such a leader as this.”
As I read this, I was reminded of a Shackleton program at the Sydney Opera House. Senior Australian executives were sharing stories of leaders they knew personally that they admire.
As we got to the last person, out of about thirty, I felt kind of sorry for him because it seemed like everything had been said. To the astonishment of everyone in the room, he proceeded to blast the ball right out of the park, so to speak.
He said the leader he admired most was his current boss whose mantra is "The heart that gives is the heart that gathers." Wow! He added that the mantra reflected the fact that they were in the hospitality industry. "Still..." as he said, leaving the rest of us to consider that. Powerful thinking.