Thursday, August 12, 2004

What about inspirational people?

It's staggering to note that in all this chat of inspirational leaders, we fail to laud specific individuals who've impacted our lives. People who are/were the root cause -- in many cases -- of some of the dear successes we enjoy today - albeit oftentimes indirectly. (God works in strange -- to us -- ways).

Simon's post of 12AUG2004 comes close to this -- though I shall refer to a particular professional during my years at school around June of 1996 -- an international business course -- banal, rudimentary, and for overall course credit at McGill U here in Montreal, Canada. Nicolas M.'s entreaties and lessons stand the test of time for a number of reasons. A sampling:

** consistency is key: rain or shine -- sweltering sun, or of any variety thereof -- one could count on Professor Nick to come into class ready for pedagogical battle. He was one of the Old Schoolers -- dapperly dressed despite the oftentimes 30C weather in summertime Quebec. I had scads of respect for that -- most of the so-called 'professors' during my undergrad years in this country were into this newfangled casual dresscode - which in my opinion was counterintuitive to the learning process.

My tizzy in a winkle? Leaders are authoritative not merely because they're the de facto leaders -- but also because what they demonstrate and do outwardly that entitle them to a position of respect. I shudder to ask -- why don't MPs come into Parliament wearing jeans and jerseys -- mind you, current German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and his Green Party co-MPs used to come into the former-FDR's Bundestag dressed in sloppy jeans -- just to prove a point. But obviously dress plays a role. Otherwise it wouldn't be as salient as it remains.

** delivery: Prof Nick's voice boomed! And I mean it quite literally. That voice was toally unmistakable. When he wanted something accentuated...the voice would deeped into his signature baritone and captivated you became. As if he were hammering it into the listener. For example: Professor: "...KEY EXAM QUESTION: Why are trade accords so beneficial to the developed world and so rapacious and exploitative to the developing...?" -- this sort of thing. (No agenda there, just the first example that came to mind).

** likeable, um, guest appearances: Prof. Nick used to have rather, em, engaging female personalities who'd await him at the conclusion of class. Respectable professional sorts of ladies. I make no bones about it that after 2 hours of an enthralling transformational lecture, observing how he'd spend his 'downtime' were compelling enticements indeedy to heed his lessons, musings, and advice just a wee bit more closely.

** controversial: Nick wasn't afraid to utter the controversial stuff either. A current event not to his liking? Oh, he'd let us know about it right enough! Then the floor would open the floor to comment (I used to love that part, that's where the real learning took place). Not like other teachers playing politically-correct charades, hotfooting it about the dicey issues, avoiding controversy, collecting a lousy paycheck as per syllabus. He wasn't afraid to take a stand. That type of risk-seeking-ness I felt, for his station (instructing twentysomethings in the School of Hard International Knocks), was most appropriate. One always left the room secure that you'd gotten what you came for.

In the three years I'd spent at university, Nick's lessons impacted me the most. That's leadership too, isn't it?


At 4:34 pm, Blogger Simon said...

Right on, Adam! This was just the kind of thing I had in mind for this blog - profiles of remarkable people who lead.

That's the way I learn best - not to copy exactly what a person does, but to take the bits I admire and see how I perform in those areas.

Nice one. Long live professor Nick.


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