Greg Imhoff and I met in 1992. He and I were assigned together in the U.S. Army throughout Airborne School and some tougher stuff, too. It seems like the toughest times were the down times between training events and schools. That’s where you could really observe people in their most natural state. Young men with big aspirations can self-destruct when not gainfully employed. I was one of those people, or close to it. Greg was not.
Greg was a few years older than most of us, and I found myself gravitating toward him. Looking back after my own career in the Special Forces, I know more about why that was. Greg was always independently motivated and had an internal drive that could make you see the top of the mountain just like he did. His unique brand of humor and compassion, mixed with his unbelievable pain threshold in training, showed me how to be a more resilient person in a short time. Greg would smile and joke through the painful parts, keeping a focus on why we were training in the first place, and building a real unity in focus for the team. He was the only one present who had the power to communicate these things effectively, while suffering like the rest of us. He was the best teammate… and mentor… one could have. He wound up being the best coach, too, as he drove us toward higher personal and professional places and better performance than our designated leaders did. Greg taught me that you don’t need to be the boss to be a leader, and that being the boss doesn’t necessarily make you one.
What continues to inspire me the most about Greg is the balance, the posture…the poise. When I say balance, I mean being engaged and great with the task at hand, while never forsaking personal faith and family as a priority. That kind of balance sets an example that changes lives forever, speaking to people long after time with him ends. When I say posture, I mean upright and strong, while remaining kind, compassionate and even loving. Yes, I mean loving. This brings me to poise. Life among professionals can be like swimming among sharks, praying not to bleed. We love the self-image of making the cut, but we know we aren’t perfect and that we make mistakes. Feeling as though we might fall as humans gives us fear, particularly in “zero-defects” environments… with seemingly “zero-defects” people. Greg Imhoff possesses and imparts on others the ability to perform at great levels, while remaining tuned in to being human. He demonstrates that the whole of each of us is worthy of celebration. That’s hard to come by in the real world, but I’ve seen him do it where the only survivors would normally be testosterone and arrogance.
Greg is among the most resilient people I’ve ever known. He has a unique power that he shares with everyone near him. He communicates with energy and passion and humor. But he is one of my favorite people, because with all his capability and potential….he is strong enough to love in any environment.