The last fire watch

Last week I promised another leadership story so this time it will be from the military.

This happened when I did my mandatory military service in Sweden. The very last field exercise we did was in the winter and since we were sleeping in large tents you need somebody to keep the fire going. Since I was a platoon commander I did not participate in the fire watch schedule officially. What typically happened was that I would ask to be woken up 30 minutes before everybody else and spend that time keeping the fire going and prepare any orders for the day.

So the very last night the platoon had together in our tents the squad leader that was preparing the fire watch schedule asked me if I should not take a shift that last night. My response was simple; it is the last night and I'll take whatever shift you put me on. But think about what I do and decide if you think I should sleep all night or not.

I did not get a shift that last night either. Not because the squad leader did not dare put his commander on the schedule but because I worked hard for the platoon. I was typically the last person to get to bed every night since I needed to meet my commander and receive orders, prepare new orders for the next day and sometimes even do some reconnaissance in the middle of the night. Then I would be the first person up in the morning for the same reason.

So no I did not carry the heaviest equipment nor participate in all the routine work on the platoon. But I did my best to do my part and I think that was what got recognized that last night. Remember that sometimes people have different roles on a team and fairness is not about doing the same work but to work together.

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