Category Archives: Motivation


In sorting through my files to organize and to decide what goes to recycle I’ve selected some things I’ve saved over the years to share with you.  I’ve spent a lot of years reading material in the area of advertising, sales and human psychology. Industry has spent millions studying marketing, advertising  and decision making with much of  it available to us as trial lawyers. We are in the profession of persuasion for others and the material can be helpful. Here are a few examples to think about.

In 1985 Kay Porter and Judy Foster wrote a book The mental Athlete: Inner Training for Peak Performance (Wm C. Brown Publishers). They interviewed champions and applied their background in human behavior development to reach conclusions. They include some of the following:

  • Champions believe totally in themselves and in their talents
  • Their concentration and focus during competition is absolute
  • They employ the techniques of visualization for weeks before an event
  • They analyze loses carefully to refine technique, improve strategy and boost performance  levels
  • They put defeat behind them quickly and look forward to new challenges
  • Even  when losing, they never see themselves as losers
  • They always have goals

Brian Tracy was a well known writer and speaker on motivation and success. One of his presentations was about the techniques of self-made millionaires. His points included these:

  • Dream big dreams
  • Set clear goals
  • Do one thing at a time
  • Be honest with yourself and others
  • Be persistent 

In 1991 a magazine interviewed a number of elderly people and asked them for advice about life. One man, William Van Hooser, replied “Life’s a dance. Take it one step at a time and keep listening for the music.”

Helen Collier led a training firm in New York about how to communicate and how to reach goals. Here are some of her ideas:

  • Have a definite purpose . You need a clear cut plan for achieving your objectives
  • Believe in yourself.
  • Go the extra mile.
  • Speak clearly. You’ll be more convincing if you do.
  • Look the part. Dress and have the demeanor of a self confident person
  • Be enthusiastic

For many years Tom Lambert was the editor and heart of the American Trial Lawyers Association. His columns Tom on Tort were always inspirational. In one column he wrote about the role of the plaintiff’s trial lawyer:

“You cannot choose your battlefield. The Gods do that for you.  But you can plant a standard where a standard never flew”

Here are some quotes I have always liked:

  • “An appeaser is one who feeds the crocodile, hoping that it will eat him last.” Winston Churchill
  • “He was like the cock who thought the sun had risen to hear himself crow.” unknown
  • “If you want a friend in Washington, go buy a dog.” Harry Truman
  • “if an ocean liner could think and feel, it would never leave its dock. It would be afraid of the thousands of huge waves  it would encounter. It would fear all of the dangers at once – even though it had to meet them only one wave at a time.” Unknown
  • “You never know how a horse will pull until you hook him to a heavy load”  Paul “Bear” Bryant

Lee Ann Womack has sung some songs with truly wonderful lyrics. Here are some from the song Something Worth Leaving Behind:

I’ll probably never hold a brush that paints a masterpiece. Probably never find a pen that writes a symphony. But if I will love then I will find that I have touched another life and that something, something worth leaving behind.”

And Jimmy Buffet has many songs with lyrics worth studying. Here’s one from Cowboy in the Jungle:

“Roll with the punches, Play all his hunches. make the best of whatever came his way. What he lacked in ambition, he made up with intuition. Plowing straight ahead come what may.”

I read Roger Rosenblatt’s advise daily as reminder of the wisdom of these things he wrote:

  • Nobody is thinking about you. They are too busy thinking about themselves
  • Ignore your enemy or kill him. The idea is not to care –  not pretend but to really not care.
  • After the age of 30 it is unseemly  to blame your parents for one’s life.
  • A swine is always a swine. Yes, there may be a bad person who changes once in a great while, but on the whole accept the fact a swine will always  act like a swine
  • Envy  no one – ever
  • Live in the past, but do’t remember too much.
  • To thine own self be true (unless you need to change)

A golf pro was interviewed about golfing. His advice included the following:

  • You can only play one hole at a time. Keep your mind on that hole. don’t worry about the shot you just missed or the next one.

Lastly, there was a study of  what motivated the  average juror which was done some time ago, but it seems to me the principles haven’t changed. I have employed these thoughts in every jury argument I have made. Here is the list of powerful motivators for most people:

  1. Everyone wants to feel like they did the right thing under the circumstances.
  2. Everyone  wants to  achieve things  they can be proud about.
  3. Everyone wants to belong to a group that achieved something extraordinary
  4. Everyone wants respect and recognition for what they have achieved.

So, that’s enough for this writing. Maybe there is something here that you find helpful or inspiring. I hope so.


We are still in our jury trial in Seattle which doesn’t leave much time to keep this blog as current as  I would like. But, this week I’d like to share some thoughts about how we view life as trial lawyers. Some of this directly does  apply to trying cases and some of it is general advice about our attitudes about life.

The late Ann Landers printed these “tips for life” one time in her advice column:

1.         When you say I’m sorry, look the person in the eye.

2.         Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt, but it’s the only way to live life completely.

3.         Call your mom

4.         Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

5.         Remember silence is sometimes the best answer

6.         When you have an argument with someone close to you, deal with the current situation and don’t bring up the past.

7.         Never interrupt when you are being complimented

8.         Mind your own business

9.         Trust in God, but lock your door

10.       When you know you are wrong, take immediate steps to fix it.

Alexander Chalmers, the Scottish writer, has said “The three grand essentials of happiness are:  Something to do, someone to love and something to hope for.” Bill Cosby was quoted as saying: “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure – try to please everybody.”

William Van Hooser gave his rule for long life as “Life’s a dance. Take it one step at a time and keep listening for the music.”

When two rodeo cowboys from Twin Bridges, Montana were asked about their rule of life they said “There’s only about three things that’s really most important. Be honest, do your best and like what you’re doing. And get up as good as winner as you are a loser.” They were talking about rodeo, but the advice is good for  all of  us.

As someone has said, “do what you enjoy, what you’re best at and life will let you find a way to succeed.”

Now here’s a quote that I think does apply to trying cases. Christian D. Larson said “Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind; to talk health happiness and prosperity; to forget the mistakes of the past and profit by them; to wear a cheerful countenance and give a smile to everyone you meet; to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.”

It’s been pointed out that life is like an hour glass. Only one grain of sand can pass at a time. When you are so busy you are flying in all directions remember that each of the tasks need to be dealt with one at a time and not all at once. That’s a good idea for us to remember when we have so many issues to deal with at the same  time.

Another set  of ideas I think we should consider are: Live with enthusiasim. Dance like nobody is watching. Work like you don’t need the money and love like you have never been hurt.

Well that’s all I have time for. I hope something here is helpful. Thanks for reading this blog.


I’m involved in a jury trial in Seattle which presents unique challenges. I went back over my past writings for some inspiration and thought I’d select this as much for you as for me:

We must have dogged determination in the face of adversity

The key to achieving success for our clients lies in overcoming adversity with dogged determination. Calvin Coolidge was the  30th President of the United States. He once wrote:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common then unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”

A heroic example of determination occurred on October 29, 1915 when a group of Antarctic explorers were trapped on the frozen Weddel sea with their vessel, Endurance, locked in the ice and were forced to abandon the vessel. After nine months the ship had begun to be crushed by the ice. They had no radios. All they had were 70 sled dogs, a supply of food and three 22 foot life boats. Led by Sir Ernest Shackleton they began to drag the boats across the ice pack towards an open sea some 350 miles away. Shackleton’s plan was to sail from there across over a 1000 miles of rough sea to the nearest civilization. It would mean covering that distance through floating ice and one of the roughest, most unpredictable seas in the world. The men carried the clothes they wore, two pair of mittens, six pair of socks, two pair of boots, a sleeping bag and a pound of tobacco plus two pounds of personal belongings. It was a tremendous struggle that took thirteen months of starvation, danger, near death and freezing temperature, but Shackleton led them to safety without losing one life.

Then there is the story of the determination of Tom Dempsey who was born without a right hand and with only half a right foot. He was determined to play football and became a place kicker. By dogged determination and long hours of practice he played in college and was good enough to be signed by the New Orleans Saints. On November 8, 1970 the Saints were behind in a game against Detroit 17-16 with only two seconds to go on Detroit’s forty five yard line. The Saints sent in Dempsey to attempt a sixty three yard field goal. Dempsey kicked the ball and set a NFL field goal record when it cleared the uprights to win the game for the Saints.

An African slave who was given the name Sojourner Truth lived in the 1790′s. She escaped and obtained her freedom. She could neither read nor write but became an unmatched story teller and orator for women’s rights in the early years of this country. She could transfix audiences with her presence and her spellbinding oratory in spite of a lack of education and in spite of racist attacks against her and the other women suffrage advocates. She was determined and nothing could stop her. Against all odds  every kind of attempt to silence her, she struggled on with her message and became famous in doing so.

So, let’s remember the lines of the poem:  “If a task is once begun, never leave it till it’s done. Be the labor big or be it small, do it well or not at all.”

I plan to give it my best.