I was thinking about people I admired at different companies where I've worked. One individual was an attorney who had steady strength and an upbeat demeanor. He never said anything negative. When you said something to him, he would pause to really understand you. I remember saying something to him I didn't think through. Then, I had to stand there thinking about what a stupid thing I said while waiting for him to respond. He responded kindly, but I became more committed to thinking before speaking.
I remember seeing him in his office calmly going through a stack of clinical trial agreements. He may have been bored out of his mind at times but he never showed it. Many jobs have a repetitive aspect. He would get through repetitive tasks without making them seem trivial. He was master of the task, master of himself, and a leader. I looked up to him.
I remember another individual who was the head of a research laboratory studying lupus. He made significant scientific contributions and wrote many papers that were published in prestigious journals. I remember weekly laboratory meetings. Many researchers were post docs; young, ambitious, bright minds, from all over the world, taking the next step after receiving their Ph.D.'s.
There were always unspoken questions floating around the room. The post docs wanted to impress and were afraid of appearing stupid. We couldn't have an effective meeting with that going on. The head of the lab was from Greece and he would ask the group in his thick Greek accent the most basic questions everyone was afraid to ask. They would look at each other as if they couldn't believe how ignorant he was. Then, their eyes would lighten in an oooh and Ahhh moment as they finally got the point they never considered because it was buried in something simple. He expressed a unique confidence and fearlessness I hadn't considered before. His leadership got everyone to discuss what they needed to discuss. I miss those meetings, his insight, and his way with people.
Now, I'm far from those places and my job is different. Distance makes me realize that time, place, and their roles weren't essential to who they were. Those things gave them opportunities. Their character transcended all that.