As my prof takes roll in Econ the first day of class, he comes to my last name, and with a puzzled look, decides to ask for 'Nathan' instead. After I explain how to pronounce my last name, Zach pipes up: "He's an outstanding cadet."
"Is he, now?" Dr. L responds. "Tell me - what exactly is an outstanding cadet?"
We're grounded by the question. We use the term all the time, but we couldn't come up with a valid definition. I say I 'stand' taller than most. It gets a few chuckles, then someone says, "An outstanding cadet shines his shoes and has a sharp uniform."
To which Dr. L replies, "That's not what makes an outstanding officer. Nobody cares how good your uniform looks, as long as it's decent. A good officer cares about his men, less about his uniform."
"An outstanding cadet is respected by his superiors and those under him," Zach adds.
True. I try to care more about practicality than rules; more about people than their clothes.
"It is an interesting question how far men would retain their relative rank if they were divested of their clothes." - Henry David Thoreau.