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Friday, November 11, 2005

Fair Winds, Following Seas

Fair Winds and Following Seas, Master Chief

Jeff Pickhardt retired from the Navy today after 26 years of service. I was honored to be at the ceremony, because of all of the men and women I've met in 23 years of association with the military, he's the one I look at and say, "That's what a Sailor should be.".

I'd been in the Navy 17 years by the time I had the privilege of serving with him, and thought I'd met some very good leaders. What I found in knowing Jeff was that the rest of the leaders were good at certain aspects of that art form. Jeff seemed to have all of the traits. He knew what the right thing to do was, for the Navy, the Command, and always, and to him most importantly, to the Sailor.

I've worked for just about every kind of leader there is, from the screaming tyrant to the milk toast push over. Jeff is not in those groups, he is cerebral and caring at the same time, which is rare. He can look at a problem from two or three or four points of view, and always seems to come up with the right solution.

He also had a humility that many lack. Even though he was the highest ranking person, he understood that didn't always make his solution the correct one. He listened to everyone, and found the important nuggets in each persons input, and was willing to give credit instead of taking it.

He is probably the greatest teacher I've ever met. Not in a classroom though, because that job is easy, (hell, I can do it) but a teacher of life. He understood that failure was part of the process of life, and getting folks to learn from it was just as important as learning from success. He completely lacks the Zero Defect Mentality that infects so many leaders, and thousands of people have become better because of that.

He has the rare ability to motivate people to work above and beyond what they feel their capabilities are, to let them grow. I'm not sure he truly understand that those people did it because they always knew that he was behind them, not just in words, but in actions.

Thanks Jeff, for your service, your guidance, your friendship and your wisdom. I'm a better person because I met you. Where ever your next career takes you, they will be better off because you are there.


Blogger Nedreck Milhunky said...

He sounds like a fine human being Bob.

10:18 PM  
Blogger John Studinski said...

I have personally worked with Jeff in the startup of the Elm Road Generating Station for We Energies in Oak Creek, WI and can tell you that it was my pleasure to work with him on that project. All of the commments above can be repeated for this project as well. Jeff is a fine technician. We Energies made an excellent choice in hiring him.

8:36 AM  

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