There are times when trial lawyers need to step back from their stressful work and reflect on life. Here are a collection of items you may find refreshing and perhaps helpful.

  • LIFE LESSONS: Alexander Chalmers has said “the three grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.”
  • LESSONS FROM FAILURE In the 1929 Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day Georgia Tech fumbled the ball and California’s Roy Riegel picked it up and ran it back 65 yards, but in the wrong direction. After running 65 yards his own players eventually were able to tackle him. When California ended up having to punt, Georgia Tech blocked the kick and scored a safety. During halftime Riegel’s expected coach Price to be angry. But Price didn’t mention it until halftime was over when he put his hand on Roy’s shoulder and said ”the games only half over. Give it your all” and Riegel played an inspired 2nd half.
  • STOP JUDGING OTHERS ON APPEARNCE In 1884 a young man from America died while on a trip to Europe. The parents were grief stricken and decided to create a memorial in his name that would go on year after year in education. They met with Charles Elliott who was the president of Harvard University. They told him they wanted to establish a permanent memorial that would help others get an education. Elliott viewed the unpretentious couple with reservation and with badly concealed contempt said to them: “Something like that would be very expensive.” The couple were offended and left. The following year Elliott learned that the couple had contributed $26 million as a memorial to their son. It was to be named Leland Stanford Junior University.
  • TRUE ORIGINALITY David Vestal is a professional photographer who wrote an article about the skill of taking photographs, but  his thoughts can be as easily applied to rules of living. For example, he writes: “when you want to be original and want to draw a circle, don’t try to make it original by putting corners on it. Draw the best round circle you can. It will be your circle and it will be original. Originality is a byproduct of being yourself, and not of being clever. Be yourself and do what satisfies you. The hard thing to refrain from doing is trying too hard. Relax. Accept yourself as you are. You are the only person you can be and no one else can be you. There is an illusion that technique make makes pictures good. Technique doesn’t automatically make better pictures.”
  • THE IMPORTANT RULES OF LIFE There are first rules in life. The first rule of human nature is the Golden rule. Plato’s first rule was “know thyself.” The first rule of arguments is disagreeing without being disagreeable. The first rule of frustration is when you’re right, no one remembers. When you’re wrong, no one forgets. John Wayne’s rule was courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway. The first rule of Star Wars was “do or do not; there is no try.” The first rule of how to always win at tennis is never play anyone who can beat you. The first rule of communicating is saying what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean. The first rule of making a good impression is to smile.
  • THE ONLY LIMITS ARE THOSE WE CREATE FOR OURSELVES In 1954 Roger Bannister ran the mile in less than four minutes. It was the first time in history that had happened in track. Over the years more than 50 medical journals had published articles saying that running a mile in less than four minutes was not humanly possible. Doctors had been warning athletes of consequence anyone who tried to do so. Bannister proved that when you believe and think you can, you activate motivation, commitment, confidence, concentration. Airplanes and kites rise faster when they fly into the wind. Individuals grow stronger physically and mentally when they are tested with resistance or opposition.
  • MAKE LEMONADE OUT OF LEMONS IN LIFE Once Italian violinist Niccolò Paganini was playing when a string on his file and snapped. He improvised and continue to play when two more strings broke, and he completed the composition playing with only one string. When the applause eventually stopped, he smiled at the audience and said, “Paganini and one string” and began playing again with one string. It’s been said that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.
  • IF YOU WANT TO SUCCEED YOU NEED TO WORK FOR IT Eric Hoffer has said: “You’ve got to have the goods, my boy, if you would finish strong; a bluff may work a little while, but not for very long; a line of talk all by itself will seldom see you through; you’ve got to have the goods, my boy, and nothing else will do. The fight is pretty stiff, my boy, I’d call it rather tough, and all along the routes are the wrecks of those who tried to bluff – they could not back their lines of talk, to meet the final test. You’ve got to have the goods my boy, and that’s no idle jest.”
  • LOVE OF NEIGHBOR IS THE SECOND GREATES COMMANDFMENT Lee Ann Womack’s song “Something Worth Leaving Behind” has the lyrics: “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’s something, something worth leaving behind. I’ll probably never dream a dream and watch it turn to gold no; I’ll never lose my life to save another soul. If I will love that I will find that I have touched another life and that’s something, something worth leaving behind.”
  • BE PREPARED FOR THE UNEXPECTED As to change and dealing with the unexpected remember the Yiddish saying: “if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.”
  • YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF DOING UNTIL YOU TRY Paul “Bear” Bryant Alabama football coach said about testing players: “You never know how a horse will pull until you hook them to a heavy load.”
  • THE FEAR OF TRYING MEANS YOU HAVE FAILED BEFORE YOU START If an ocean liner could think and feel it would never leave the dock. It would be afraid of the thousands of huge waves it would encounter. It would fear all of its dangers at once – even though it had to meet them only one wave at a time (author unknown)
  • THE MOST POWERRFUL FORCE WE HAVE IS WHAT WE TELL OURSELVES AND BELIEVE When Glenn Cunningham was seven years old his legs were burned so badly the doctors considered amputation but at the last minute decided against it. He was told he would not walk again. Glenn was resolved to not only walk but to run. Two years later he was running, not fast but running. When he went to college he continued with track. He qualified for the Berlin Olympics and broke the Olympic record for the 1500 m race. The boy who wasn’t supposed to walk again became the world’s fastest human.
  • DETERMINATION HAS THE POWER TO OVERCOME TEMPORARY FAILURE Richard Bach wrote his 10,000-word story, Jonathan Livingston Seagull in 1970. 18 publishers rejected the book before McMillan agreed to publish it. Within five years, it had sold over 7 million copies in the US alone. Richard Hooker took seven years to write his humorous novel M*A*S*H which was rejected by 21 publishers until a publisher finally took a chance and published it resulting in a bestseller and an Academy award-winning movie as well as a long-running television series.
  • LIFE CAN HAVE UNEXPECTED COINCIDENCES Mario Tonelli was a former Notre Dame star fullback. He had played for Notre Dame in the 1930s and was known for a 77-yard run that beat Southern California. He played for the then Chicago Cardinals before joining the U.S. Army. He became a Japanese prisoner during World War II and was among the soldiers on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines. He along with thousands of other soldiers who had surrendered were forced to march under conditions where about 24,000 soldiers died, and others were gunned down during the and forced march. During the March, a Japanese guard saw his Notre Dame graduation ring and ordered him to give it to him which he did. A short time later however, a Japanese officer gave him back the ring and said, in perfect English, that he had attended USC and was game to watch the famous run by Tonelli.

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