My Most Valuable Possession
I remember my fifteenth birthday. My dad knew that I like the ring my grandpa gave him. That day my dad gave me a present and when I opened it there it was. The biggest smile you have ever seen lit up my young face and I said, “Are you sure dad”? Today, I was looking at the ring he gave me that day, he told me;” this is your lucky
ring now”. I realized the great value it has. It is my most valuable possession because
of the great sentimental value it has, it is a family heirloom and it is the most costly
thing I own.
The first reason I value the ring is because it has great sentimental value. My dad and I are very close. He is like a friend to me. Lots of people have role models and heroes. For me, my dad is both. Dad always takes the “high road.” He taught me the values of honesty, responsibility and loyalty. He not only taught these things but lives them. I see how he cares about mom and treats her with respect; how he treats people he works with, how he is honest, even if he doesn’t come out ahead. When he retired last year, it was a great thing for me. I had someone I love and look to every day at home. Now, I am so glad to have this ring. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of the love he has for me and I have for him.
Although the ring has a great sentimental value towards me it also has a great family heirloom. Only the other day, as I was looking at it, did I realize it was an heirloom. I had forgotten, but my grandpa gave it to my dad, the day dad and mom got married. Dad had told me this when he gave it to me. Dad gave it to me the day of my birthday. At that time, he told me the story of how grandpa had given it to him. Dad told me to keep it in the family. When I get married someday and have children, I plan to keep that promise and tell my son about dad, give him this ring and relay to him the priceless possession it is.
Finally do to I have a sentimental value towards it and it is a family...
What would you consider your most valuable possession? When I first asked myself this question, I went down the typical list of possibilities. We have a beautiful home. And I really like my car. Many envy my home theater and I take great pride in my extensive music collection. I don’t have much art or exotic jewelry.
Then I began to get more creative. What about my children or my wife? Those thoughts quickly passed when I remembered that the lease expires on children at the age of consent and the idea of possessing or owning a spouse is more creepy than tender. Perhaps I could say that I owned those relationships and that I’d worked hard to keep them positive. Again, that doesn’t seem right.
Most dictionaries define possession as a form of ownership. Most of the things that fall into that category are either bought or earned. And the term valuable, is normally used with relation to monetary exchange or at least to convey great importance. Perhaps the answer would be easier if I had purchased a few thousand shares of Microsoft stock when Bill Gates was getting started or created a more robust investment portfolio.
On further reflection, the answer to this question became self evident. In fact, the mere act of asking the question was a clue. My most valuable possession, without a doubt, is my education.
And I’m not talking School of Hard Knocks here. Nor am I talking about a few hundred books that I’ve read on my own. I’m talking about the formal education I got in grade school, high school, college and graduate institutions. Even though I did not fully appreciate this at the time, the things I learned there formed the foundation for everything I’ve done since leaving and all success that I have experienced to date.
As I’ve tried to explain to my children, a college diploma, no matter where it’s from, tells a potential employer at least one important thing. Each holder of such a document started a long and convoluted journey and finished what he or she started. Their rich and/or loving parents couldn’t buy it for them. They had to delay gratification, suspend disbelief and trudge through all the obstacles to complete the maze according to the rules of the institution that grants them accreditation. Granted, some schools are easier to get through than others. But, any completed college experience says something good about the degree holder, no matter what their GPA or caliber of school. Potential employers know this, but the graduate carries the confidence of achievement with them as well.
I am blessed to have two degrees supporting me. Both are in the same area – Organizational Communication. In school I was most fascinated studying how people talk to each other, and particularly how they talked to each other in a work setting with a shared business goal in mind. I had no idea how this form of focused inquiry would make me any money. I tried unsuccessfully to find a more market-friendly area in which to specialize, but in the end, I wound up being a generalist with a pair of liberal arts degrees. How could I have ever known that I would one day create a business where this would be my primary focus?
Since obtaining my Masters degree and heading out into the “Real World,” I have continued taking formal classes through work. And, of course, I have supplemented that with lots of reading, writing and self-study. This ability to think and write and speak that I worked so hard to develop in school is how I make my living today in the same way my brother, Ken, uses the diplomas he earned becoming a periodontist as the foundation of his dental specialty practice.
I was fortunate enough to get my formal college education quickly and immediately after high school. Many, particularly those who got an early start on their families, had to juggle work and school for much longer periods. Some even had to make the challenging leap from Non-Exempt to Exempt once they obtained their degrees because they opted to stay with their same companies. My good friend Nick obtained three degrees at night while working full time. He went from being a ditch digger to become Sr. Vice President of Operations for an international chemical company. Imagine the pride and confidence it gives you from achieving such a feat. What could you possibly ask Nick to do that would require greater effort or perseverance than that?
Unlike a car that depreciates or a piece of jewelry that can get lost, education is one possession that keeps on giving. If it’s not on or near the top of your list of most valuable possessions, my wish for you is that you will someday earn the right to put it there.
So what can you do to make education your most valuable possession? Consider taking the following actions:
- Invest in Your Own Education. Use your time and your company’s money to obtain degree or certification in an area that means something to you. If you have no company sponsor, look for other ways to fund your formal learning expedition. If it takes eight years, so be it. Had you started four years ago, you’d be half way done today.
- Don’t Stop Learning. If you’re fortunate enough to have a degree or three behind your name, congratulations. But please don’t rest on your decades old laurels. Information atrophies rapidly these days. What have you done recently to keep yourself up to date?
- Find Others to Learn With You. Most absorb information better through interaction. Even if you find it most convenient to pursue a degree online, seek out a partner or group of people to share your educational adventure with. You’ll learn more, faster, and it will be more fun!
- Appreciate What You Have. If the bulk of your current knowledge base comes from total immersion in the real world, don’t devalue what you’ve learned. Instead, supplement it with some strategic reading that gives theoretical foundation to your pragmatic experience.
Gary Markle is one of the most sought after experts on how to improve human capital to transform companies into highly productive enterprises where people actually enjoy going to work. Markle’s landmark work, “Catalytic Coaching: The End of the Performance Review” spent 37 weeks as an Amazon bestseller, ranking it in the top 5% of all books sold, and earning it the coveted Five Star rating. His follow-up book, “No More Performance Reviews” has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company and The Detroit Free Press. It was also favorably reviewed by Atlanta Business Chronicle.