Great work is always measurable

Global expedition leader receives three lofty honors in less-than-four weeks

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Great men are often recognized by single great achievements. Truly great men are recognized – and measured – by regular accomplishments achieved in relatively short spans of time; with those spans being linked to a longer chain of the same, year-after-year.

Take, for example, my longtime friend Tom Mullikin. He is always doing something, going somewhere, leading a team, climbing a mountain, diving with sharks, or finding a solution in a world of problems. And a measure (though not all) of what he does has been recognized in his latest three acknowledgments of measurably good work.

Last month, Mullikin – an attorney, professor, and global expedition leader (a “NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC expert,” by the way) – traveled to New York for a three-day conference where he was welcomed into the company of the famed EXPLORERS CLUB as a Fellow. The Explorers Club is an elite organization of, yes, accomplished explorers, some of whom have been the first to the North Pole, first to the South Pole, first to the summit of Mount Everest, first to the Mariana Trench (the deepest point in the ocean), and first to the surface of the moon.

Then earlier this week, Mullikin was named a Fellow in the ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY. Since its founding in 1830 as the Geographical Society of London, the Royal Geographical Society has included the likes Ernest Shackleton and Charles Darwin among its number.

Then yesterday, Mullikin was appointed one of three vice chairs of the American Bar Association’s International Environmental Law Committee: His term running from Aug. 10, 2018 to Aug. 10, 2019.

If the combination of the three sounds extraordinary, it’s because it is. But for Mullikin, who has chalked-up like-combinations and accomplishments over the previous 10 years that I’ve known him, it’s all a result of getting up every single day, without fail, and not just going through “the process of working” (as he and I have so-often discussed): It’s about producing a measureable body of work, which not everyone who works, does.

Aside from his thriving law practice in Camden, S.C., his teaching at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, having lectured at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, presently attending classes at Columbia International University (formerly Columbia Bible College) and other projects and ventures too numerous to list; Mullikin is presently on “a measured quest” to becoming the first human to have both climbed the world’s seven great summits and recorded SCUBA dives in all five oceans.

Mullikin has already logged the dives including certified ice dives in both the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans (He is a certified SCUBA instructor); and he has climbed four of the seven great summits including the highest mountains in Europe (Mt. Elbrus), Africa (Mt. Kilimanjaro), Australia (Mt. Kosciuszko) and South America (Mt. Aconcagua).

Mullikin has also summited or circumnavigated many of the world’s other highest mountains, none of which have anything to do with his record quest. And according to a recent article, “He has sailed through some of the world’s roughest straits, cut his way through seemingly impenetrable jungle and rain forests, and traversed some of the most unforgivably arid stretches of desert.”

All this, and Mullikin – a former U.S. Army officer – also commands the 1,000-person S.C. State Guard (SCSG), a legislatively mandated state defense force organization which exists as a component part of the S.C. Military Dept. (which includes the S.C. Army National Guard, the S.C. Air National Guard, the Emergency Management Division, and other elements).

Mullikin plans to retire from the SCSG in Dec. 2018, which will allow him additional time for extended exploratory expeditions around the world, perhaps even capping his “measured quest.”

In the meantime, he’s getting up every day and going to work.

– W. Thomas Smith Jr. – a former U.S. Marine infantry leader and counterterrorism instructor – is a military technical advisor (for programs which have aired on The Military Channel) and a New York Times bestselling editor.

Author: Chris Carter

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