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Is There Still A Brass Ring?

BEIJING, CHINA – APRIL 21: The potential consumer looks at a Rolls-Royce Phantom car during the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition at China International Exhibition Center on April 21, 2014 in Beijing, China. More than 2,000 automotive enterprises from 14 countries and regions participated in the 2014 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition from April 20 to April 29. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

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For those of you who might not know what the “brass ring” is I will explain. Years ago kids would ride merry-go-rounds at county fairs across the nation. During each rotation you would pass a slot holding a brass ring just out of reach. You would need to lean out from your horse and hope to catch the ring with a finger without falling off your steed. And if you were successful you were awarded a free ride. So the term catching the “brass ring” became synonymous with success and reward for your efforts.

The Brass Ring Is Not Fair

Taller kids or kids with long arms or long fingers had an advantage in catching the brass ring over smaller shorter kids. So as a result many of the smaller kids would not even try. Or try and quickly give up.

One of the things they failed to realize is that one day they too would grow to a size where they might easily catch the brass ring. The problem is they never tried again.

They let their present circumstance dictate how their life was going to progress in the future. We all grow physically but we also grow mentally as well. But for many people that “little kid” disadvantage still lingers and dictates behavior. Why try something when you are sure to fail? Just like the brass ring.

The Brass Ring Limitations

I played high school and college basketball. As much as I would have liked to be LeBron James or Michael Jordan I simply did not possess that athletic ability. I could have practiced until the cows came home but my physical body would not allow me to do the amazing things those players do on a nightly basis. So an NBA championship ring was a type of “brass ring,” or success, I would never possess unless I bought one at an auction.

Identify Your Brass Ring

If there is a brass ring somewhere in your life it must be evaluated based on current and future potential. Success is not just what you know today; it’s what you know today coupled with what additional skill or knowledge you need to achieve your brass ring goal down the road.

Thomas Edison failed to find the secret of the light bulb over 1,000 times.  But he learned from each failure. The invention of the light bulb was just one of his brass rings. He knew he would find the answer if he just failed enough times. Failure was no more than eliminating things that didn’t work.

Some Final Thoughts

If I asked you to define success what would you say? For some it might be money, others might be creating a company or business that helps people, for others it might be charity work, or a successful marriage.

Each of us has a “brass ring” in our minds just out of reach. There is something inside each of us that says, “If I could do that my life would be great.” And then you don’t do it. Why not? The simple answer is fear of failure or fear of success. Sounds a little contradictory doesn’t it? Succeeding and finding yourself in over your head is every bit as scary as failure and the possible ridicule that might accompany it.

With every rotation of the earth that brass ring passes by just out of reach. Why not start today to do whatever you can to move a little closer to it. There is no feeling in the world like grabbing your brass ring. It’s well worth the effort.

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