When I was a young sergeant in the Army, I had the honor of serving under a Staff Sergeant who had spent 18 years in the Army. We worked in a unit that handled the administrative functions surrounding wounded and injured soldiers. The unit itself was rather large at the time (this was in 2005, at the ‘height’ of the Iraq war) and as such there was plenty to keep us busy. He was nearing retirement, this would be his last assignment, but you’d never know it by talking to him.
We hung out a lot at work, and daily there’d be something that he’d wonder about. He did that a lot, just wondered aloud why something was the way it was; or how we would go about doing x. Invariably I’d talk to him the next day and he’d have asked the right person or already gotten x done. This Staff Sergeant batted 1.000. You could bet that if he ever brought up a task that wasn’t assigned to you, he’d already have it done by the time it came up in conversation again.
I’ve never seen anyone work like that.
He would give me tasks to do, and he’d give himself tasks to do. In the beginning I’d ask him about the tasks he’d assigned himself, curious since I hadn’t seen any visible progress. As it turns out, I never saw visible progress because he’d already have it done by the time I asked.
It wasn’t just the small things that he seemingly got done, it was everything. If he brought up a topic, I could bet money that before we talked about it again, it would be done. Without fail.