Last weekend I had my ten year high school reunion at the boarding school I attended in Connecticut. Over the weekend I heard an amazing story about a well known faculty member who has been a mentor and cult hero to many throughout the years. Over a tenure of 49 years, this professor served as an inspiration in the classroom, on the playing field and in life, as an ardent adventurer.
I’m sharing the story because to me it epitomizes what leadership and leading by example is all about. An economics professor by trade, this teacher is cited several times in the famous book, Barbarians at the Gate. The great financier Henry Kravis has repeatedly attributed his massive success in business to the teachings of this professor.
As a lacrosse coach, his leadership resulted in the school being considered a premier national high-school team, winning championships and producing numerous collegiate division one players. An avid promoter of elite physical fitness, he also taught an advanced training class that was a before it’s time CrossFit; he recognized the clear connection between a prepared body and mind.
An adventurer, this professor was participated in the world record breaking 1982 British-American expedition to Mt. Muztagh Ata in Western China. He also summited Everest.
More importantly well into his 70’s despite having plenty of money, he continued to opt-into living in the student dormitories where he felt he could have more of an impact.
Then from what I hear, suddenly, after 49 years of service this professor walked in and handed in his resignation. Why? It was time to move from leader, to follower. Acknowledging that the school had been his life (he was just short of his 50th year at the school) he now felt a calling conviction to serve Barack Obama — he is joining the Obama campaign as a full-time as a volunteer.
I thought this was an incredible story that deserved to be shared. This level of leadership and commitment to mission is something to be appreciated by all.