Have you earned the Brass Ring?

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.
Image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Simon Howden/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“I can’t reach it!” cried little Billy. He hung his head, embarrassed. His father, Jim, was standing outside the carousel, watching it circle. Billy was frozen stuck to his white horse. His knuckles white from gripping the pole so tightly. “C’mon, Billy—reach for it!” called Jim.

Billy was feeling dizzy. “You can do it!” Jim coaxed. “You gotta reach for the ring, Billy! Reach for the ring!”

The ring. Billy passed under the wooden arm, suspended overhead. A ring dangling just beyond reach. “How am I supposed to grab that way up there?” he wondered.

He took a deep breath. He needed to get the ring. For his father. For himself. He was tired of feeling afraid all the time.

“What do I need to do first?” thought Billy. He started with the spinning of the carousel. Figured out how to focus so he wouldn’t get dizzy.

“Stand up in the stirrups!” Jim shouted. Billy wobbled. Pulled desperately on the pole. Afraid to slip. Fall off the horse. Look stupid in front of his father. His thighs taut, he inched his way to a standing position. Balancing himself on the stirrups, as the horse bobbed up and down.

Billy s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d his right arm out. His fingertips barely grazed the ring.

“I … can’t … reach it!” Billy cried.

The carousel music shifted. The spinning slowed. Billy knew this might be his last change to grab the ring.

He focused his gaze. “I gotta do this,” he told himself. The ring came closer. Closer. He stood up in the stirrups. Used the pole for leverage. S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d his whole body out … and ka-choonk! felt the cool metal in the palm of his hand as he pulled it from the dispenser. “I did it! I did it!” Billy shouted, holding the ring up for his father to see, as the carousel did a last victory lap.


Many people think of getting the “brass ring” as achieving something special. But that’s not where I see the value. The ring is only the end result. Getting a brass ring (instead of an iron one) on a carousel is sheer luck. Timing. It’s the ring that happens to be overhead when you pass by.

But the real prize is the process. What Billy experienced. The shift from believing he couldn’t reach the ring, to preparing himself to do it. The s-t-r-e-t-c-h beyond your seat of safety.

I used this metaphor with my client, Helen, recently. She was on a merry-go-round with an underperforming business partner. Had complained about this for a while. He wasn’t pulling his weight. Made huge, costly mistakes. She had stayed “on the horse” hoping the situation would work itself out. It didn’t. Finally, Helen was ready for me to help her begin the “business divorce” process. Stretch past the comfort zone of “what can I put up with” to “I need to become a leader in my business.” Once she took that risk, Helen got rid of the partner. And her business was free to flourish.

It’s not just about getting the ring. It’s about who you have to become to get the ring. That’s the real prize.

Are you tired on being on the merry-go-round? Ready to stretch so your business can grow? Contact me at http://bit.ly/TheBrassRing.

And if not now, when?

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