In April 2006 I stood on the precipice of the most significant educational accomplishment I had ever dreamed of realizing, a Masters of Science degree.
On a bright hot spring day that month in southern California my wife and I walked the isles of my universities grad fair. How would I commemorate this accomplishment? How would I remember this special time?
Class ring. That’s it, I always wanted to get one, couldn’t afford the undergrad ring, now was the time. I chose carefully selecting what only a Metallurgist would love. A ring made of silver, with palladium and a bit of platinum for good measure. A cool ring. I filled out the paper work, selected the wording, paid the bill and went on my merry way.
A few weeks later I got the call. You cannot fit your degree name on the side panel you have one too many letters in the name. WHAT?! How could this be! This is my ring! The symbol of overcoming adversity finally kicking the “You cant finish” spectre out of my mind. It has to fit! I want that ring to be perfect. It has to be perfect!
I hung up the phone and called my wife knowing she would understand, she would console me. She knew how important this ring was to me.
What did I hear from my soul mate? “It’s not about you!”
Her words cut me to the bone. After a short pouting moment I began to consider her feedback. I had been acting like a spoiled brat. I was being irrational. It really isn’t about me, she was right. How many times have I counseled leaders about the fact that leadership is about sacrifice and responsibility. “I” doesn’t enter into the equation for a leader. In that moment it hit me. Its not about me, its not about “I”… There is no room for “I” in leadership. I had the perfect solution and from that day on I would have the coolest leadership story engraved on the very ring that commemorated my Masters of Science in Leadership and Management.
You have to check the photo to appreciate the coolness of this story. You can see them here
Look closely at the side panel you will notice the point I made above and how after 3 years now you might notice how I have worn “lead” almost right off the ring. I wonder how that happened? ;-)