I can still vividly recall my first day of class at Harvard Law School. I was one of 24 women in a class of 550. And a male student came up to me and demanded to know what I was doing there.... He said ... "Don't you realize that there are men who would give their right arm to be in this law school - men who would use their legal education?"
That man is now a senior partner in a very prestigious Washington law firm. And every so often I tell this little story.... You'd be amazed at the number of my male classmates in high-powered Washington law firms who've called me to say, "Tell me I'm not the one. Tell me I didn't say that!"
I had so much to prove to myself and to others back then. In the years since, I've learned that accomplishment and influence are sometimes different than we expect and greater than we plan. And they require, in the end, not just ambition but mission - a sense of calling beyond the cold calculus of personal gain and loss....
On whatever path you now choose, I urge you to commit to a mission that stirs your soul. To be truly absorbed releases us from the limitations of ego. It melts the ice of apathy and cynicism. It gives purpose to our freedom and direction to our gifts, turning life into an honorable adventure and a source of joy. And ... it brings fulfillment to our lives.
* Former US Secretary of Transportation Dole in a May 17, 1998, address at Smith College in North Hampton, Mass.