“I had a job to do so I did it”, is what my stepdad told me about being a 20 something year old dropped into the middle of Vietnam. He never really talked about Vietnam much but I knew that my stepdad was a true patriot.
After graduating from college where he played basketball, my stepdad was drafted into the Army’s 101st Airborne. At 6’7 he was a formidable guy. He was the M-60 gunner for his platoon, which was nicknamed “The Pig” because it weighed over 25lbs. He earned two bronze stars in just under a year in Vietnam, and to be honest, I am not sure why, because he never spoke of his accolades – he just wasn’t the type.
His sense of duty from the military and teamwork from his college basketball days permeated his entire life. He made a good career in electronic sales and eventually was the GM over the business. Back in the early part of his career he was consistently the top sales person, but he never spoke about it. I imagine that he gained his success by building true relationships within his customers. He was never developed the sleezy side of the sales business. He had that military theme of duty that he extended to his customer base.
As he grew into the GM role the sense of duty went into hyper-drive. He was the first one in and last one out on most days. He told me once that he was amazed at how some people could be successful without the effort. He chalked it up to them being smarter and having natural abilities to connect the business dots. For him, he had to work hard every single day and that was the only way he knew how to be successful. He helped mold a company of future leaders by displaying the discipline of hard work and his company is undoubtedly better for his decades of hard work.
Just prior to his passing, a large, long-term client of mine had been acquired by a competitor. All the projects we had went on hold and eventually went away all together. It was a hit to the business. A colleague asked if we were going to be okay without their business and I responded that it would be a tough year, but eventually it would be a good thing because the leadership will most likely break-up and move to other companies that could then become new clients. She was amazed by my confidence, but I was only being truthful. I was right. Two years later the business has returned just with different companies. Lessons learned by my stepdads understated approach and sense of duty to his clients gave me that confidence.
He not only was the guy you could completely count on at work, but he also was the anchor of our family. Unfortunately, we lost him two years ago due to a group of individuals that did not hold the sense of duty in their job
I am thankful that he taught me some lessons.
- The hardest working person in the room is often the person that never complains about it.
- You will never be criticized by someone doing more than you.
- Talent means nothing without hard work.
- Duty in all matters is the only thing that matters.
In Loving Memory of Burt Stills