It was a small cozy event where I knew almost everyone. About 50 people sat in the auditorium to witness the announcement of the first recipient of the level 5 leader award at Isenberg School of Management. The school commenced the prize based on the book “Good to Great“-Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t, a management book by Jim C. Collins.
The audience attentively focused on Prof Alan Robinson, who described the key characteristics of a level 5 leader. Different faces came to mind as the possible would-be recipients of this inaugural award. I was very confident that the person I had nominated would take the prize.
“One of the two award recipients is Julian Atim,” Mike. Mike called my name. I sighed and stared blankly. “Why me?” I asked myself—several colleagues, who had demonstrated level 5 leadership qualities during the MBA program deserved this recognition more than me.
I moved to the front and stood next to Mike Famighetti, the MBA Program Director, as he shared the reasons for my nomination for the award. The detail about why the school thought I deserved the award made me feel selfless. Mike’s words later gave me flashbacks of memorable moments, such as attending an advanced analytics class with my 6-year-old son during his spring break or presenting on Tesla after researching the company’s future for my strategy class with three classmates.
When it was my turn to make an acceptance speech, my cheeks felt moist. I used the tissue a colleague handed me a tissue to wipe off the stream of warm moisture running from the corner of my eyes to my cheeks. The sense of gratitude and lift made me feel this way. “Thank you. You made me”, I said. The shortest speech I had ever made in my entire life. The audience gave me a huge ovation, stood up, and clapped.
We meet incredible people and access priceless resources that shape our lives while in school. Reflecting on my time at Isenberg made me appreciate the resources, people, and experiences that shaped me. I learned to stretch beyond boundaries with the tenacity to accommodate personal and professional priorities. I could affirm that I had elements of Good to Great! This moment was my spring. I felt reinvigorated.
Becoming “Good to Great” requires one to live multiple small good-to-great moments in life that make one realize greatness. Consequently, when one looks back, the picture of the whole journey might seem too blurred to associate the result with all the effort. I am learning to live in the moment, work on that one thing that matters most, and celebrate all gains no matter how small they are.