T Nation

Philosophy Friday - Who Is The Most Impressive Person You've Met?


#1

So its slow at the office and I thought we’d exercise our brains a little. My question is “Who is the most impressive person you’ve ever met, and why?”

(This may be a little long) Way back (late 1980’s) when I was active duty we would have “red flag” exercises where we played war, shot guns, slept in tents, wore MOPP gear, and yelled “gas, gas, gas”. For a couple of years during these exercises, my Hospital commander would come out and talk about his experiences in Viet Nam. Now the good Colonel wasn’t any grunt back in Nam, he was a fighter pilot who was shot down and held as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton for 6 years. After he was found, they beat the shit out of him and stabbed him with bayonets and marched him off to Charlie. He told us how they beat him and other prisoners with bamboo and rubber hoses and all the other shit we have all read about. He talked about Jane Fonda and all the fucked up shit she did.

Now a lot of men survived that ordeal, but what I always liked about my CO was that when he was released after 6 years, the USAF asked him what he wanted to do. The SOB wanted to go to medical school and become a Dr. which he did, and then a Flight Surgeon, and then my Hospital CO.

Now this man has had an impact on me for most of my life after I separated. I went to college and when I was there I was obviously an older student but I just couldn’t seem to get worked up about my professors, they did not impress me, they did not intimidate me.

I have realized that over the years, this man has become my standard for who impresses me and who doesn’t. Few people have impressed me like he did.


#2

Kaz. It’s a bizarre experience meeting and talking to someone who was literally the best there ever was. Hearing his stories of some of the crazy stuff he did in training, competition and life just puts things in perspective about limitations.


#3

On the fence about this:

So, I’m in the transition period between jobs where I’m transitioning back to my old company in a new position where I’ll be working with a lot of accomplished people.

During the interview process I met with this guy who’s the VP of Logistics who I had known of before I left previously but with whom I had never had the pleasure to speak. For whatever reason, he was on the panel of people I spoke with during the process. And I’m glad I did. He didn’t ask me the same old tired fucking questions, but instead we talked. He asked me why I studied Economics in undergrad because he wish he had (he studied business admin) and his son is. He and I share a philosophy of constantly challenging ourselves and seeking out opportunities where we’re outside of our comfort zone. We both served in the military - he in the Marines, me Air Force. I only spoke with him for about 45 minutes but just from what we talked about he’s someone I’m going to seek out and talk to and learn from.

Another guy who is at the company I’m going to is the EVP of the Eastern Division and President of the division I was previously at (I’m heading to the corporate office - was previously at a division). This guy is another genuine leader. He’s been doing a fantastic job at transforming an entrenched organization (in their old ways) with silo’d, scattered divisions and instilling an overall culture and centralizing a lot of their functions. Anyway, he’s a charismatic, dynamic guy who’s super focused and inspiring. I was genuinely sad to leave the company just for the sake of not working with him moving forward. As it turns out, he campaigned hard for me to come back and basically convinced the CIO to create this position, more or less, for me.

Having stepped away from this company into a much larger, much more corporate and conflicted organization, I was exposed to other types of “leadership” styles and I have to say most of the leadership at the company I’m moving away from was very disingenuous - more managers than leaders.

I’ve also met a lot of impressive people during my time in the military - some really great leaders there but these two guys I’ll be working with are guys I’m looking forward to learning from. These guys can only improve my habits and I’m genuinely excited for the opportunity to work with genuinely great leaders again.


#4

Great managers and Shitty managers can make or break your career. Glad you found someone who stepped up for you and that you can admire. Personally, I have found few of my managers over the years to be worthy of admiration.


#5

Without a doubt … I listen to Jocko Podcast quite regularly … he was talking about the difference between managers and leaders. Managers maintain a status quo, leaders lead change and progress. These guys are leaders - to be successful at leading, I’ve found, you have to know how to navigate, speak to, and inspire a wide variety of personalities - this takes empathy. These guys have high emotional intelligence coupled with intellectual intelligence.

I’ve had both good and bad managers but to come across quality leaders is pretty rare … I had a guy teach a leadership seminar in grad school, he was a 3 star general in the Army (retired) Van Alsten was the guys name. I’d follow that guy into battle any day…it’s a pretty electrifying thing to come across good leaders man … when you do, it might be brief, soak up what you can from these people…


#6

Many people confuse leading with being the boss and directing other people. Most people aren’t leaders, they only think they are.


#7

Without a doubt … just because one is in a leadership role doesn’t make them a leader necessarily


#8

I’ve met quite a number of people who have impressed me in one way or another for at least a short period of time. One person who left a lasting impression did so for something she accomplished after we fell out of touch.

Many years ago I went through basic training CFOCS. There was a woman in my platoon that I admired very much for her easy way with people and natural ability to inspire and lead. About 10 years after we fell out of touch, I discovered that she had been discovered to be gay in the Canadian military and forced out. Following that, she took the Canadian military to court and, with her lawyer, forced a change to national military policy.

This is a quick summary of something that would have been agonizing and polarizing at the time but affected a positive change in effect today. She continues to be a leader and someone whom I admire.


#9

I can’t write about people in real life as it would reveal too much about my identity so I’m going to bring up an infamous person online.

An ex-poster here who went by the name “Professor X”. Reading his posts had a great impact on the way I used to think and I really don’t think I would not have what I have in life today if not for him.

That’s all I’m gonna say.


#10

Sorta lame I guess, but my uncle is probably the most impressive person I’ve met. He worked at a pretty high level in the government, but I have no doubt he could have been a private sector executive. He just has the kind of intelligence that’s hard to comprehend and he’s pretty thoughtful.

Otherwise, our current COO is pretty impressive. The man just knows/understands our business in ways that no one else does, but he doesn’t big league you and is happy to explain concepts no matter how basic or trival. Just a good dude.

One of my DI’s too. Sgt Clark, I will never not look up to Sgt Clark.


#11

In regards to leadership / management, I’m convinced roughly 90% of managers have no business managing anyone. Leadership training in corporate America is utter garbage plus not everyone is cut out to manage others anyway.