Yesterday, I read an article in about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s favorite collars. It reminded me of how much I enjoy origin stories, the ones that trace back to the start of something and explain how the puzzle pieces fit together to create a picture.

An interesting thing I’ve noticed about origin stories is that they very often start with a small action, a seemingly unremarkable, ordinary moment. In hindsight, the moment becomes important because of additional facts and context or because it was the first of many other such moments. Initially, however, that one little something that occurred at that point in time – that decision, or reaction, or word choice – floated in a pool of other somethings until it became Something More.

In the case of Justice Ginsburg, her iconic collars started with a quiet desire to feminize the robes worn by the U.S. Supreme Court Justices. The robes were designed for men; she and Sandra Day O’Connor were the first women to ever wear them.

In the space normally occupied by a man’s collar and tie, Justice Ginsburg and Justice O’Connor first added lace. Over time, Justice Ginsburg expanded her judicial wardrobe with a wide variety of collars. Some had beads, some had beautiful colors. Some were gifts specially designed in her honor. Each one held meaning for her; each one reflected a message or a memory, an unspoken display of her opinion and perspective.

What started as a simple choice evolved into an iconic signature. A small thing, perhaps – it certainly doesn’t have the significance of a military battle or a coronation. That fashion choice, however, now stands as a symbol of influence and impact, of possibilities and potential.

Who knows how many people will be inspired by one of those collars and the story behind it? And then, once inspired, what might they achieve?

How many origin stories are happening out there, right at this moment?

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