To dream the impossible dream


One of my favorite musical recordings is Richard Kiley singing The Impossible Dream in the original cast performance of “The Man of La Mancha”. Don Quixote sings about his impossible dream and the resolve he brings to attaining it:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

What is your impossible dream? The one that defines you and your purpose but eludes you?

Perhaps you have dismissed your dream as truly impossible, or banished it to a faraway land called someday.

At some point in your life, your impossible dream filled your thoughts as you fell asleep each night. Perhaps no longer. Perhaps too much has happened and those days are long gone.

Never give up on your dreams. Your dreams are what make life worth living.

It’s time to begin your journey. It’s time, right now, to set forth towards your unreachable star so that when you are laid to rest, your heart will be peaceful and calm.

Go back in your mind to the place where your dream was exciting and real. Remember how exciting that felt and feel that way again. Sing about it. Affirm that nothing will stop you. This is your quest, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

To reach your impossible dream, you need that kind of unassailable determination because without it, you won’t get out of your comfort zone and do the things you need to do. You won’t risk rejection and ridicule and you won’t keep going when pain and frustration make you want to give up.

Don Quixote was thought to be crazy. You need to be a little crazy to accomplish your impossible dream.

Then, prepare for the journey. Research, study, practice. Find your Sancho to travel with you.

Or just start. Put one foot in front of the other, and then do it again.

Work on your dream every day until it becomes a part of your routine. John Grisham developed the writing habit by committing to writing every day, even if only 5 minutes, no matter how busy he was with his law practice.

Some days you’ll do a lot. Some days not so much. But if you work on it every day, you will make progress. You’ll get better, and faster. Eventually, your efforts will compound and you will see meaningful progress towards your destination.

Keep going and the pace of your progress will accelerate. Before you know it, what was once an impossible dream will be a foreseeable reality.

You might tilt at windmills along the way, but that’s how you will find your unreachable star.


Why lawyers should make their beds every morning


I have tremendous respect for our military. What they do to protect us in an increasingly dangerous world is awe inspiring. If you have every served, I sincerely thank you.

Military training is about a lot of things, the most important of which, I believe, is learning to be a leader. Leadership starts with self-discipline, courage, commitment, and honor. It is nurtured by compassion, good habits, and a hell of a lot of hard work.

You can’t lead others, however, until you learn how to lead yourself. That’s the lesson I got from the commencement address delivered by former Navy SEAL, Admiral William H. McRaven, to the UT Austin class of 2014. It was brilliant. I hope those who had the honor of hearing this 20 minute talk got as much out of it as I did.

I was directed to this page after reading elsewhere one of Admiral McRaven’s lessons about the importance of making your bed every morning:

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.

By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.

If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.

Navy SEALS candidates are challenged to do things few people will ever be asked to do. Their physical training is astonishingly rigorous. But their training does far more than mold their bodies and prepare them for service, it molds their minds and their character and prepares them for life.

Broadly defined, leadership means showing people a better future and then helping them get there. As lawyers, we need to remember that we are more than warriors or scribes, we are leaders. Our clients and our community depend on us to guide them to a better future.

We don’t need military training to learn how to lead, but the military has no doubt turned out more leaders than any other institution. Listening to Admiral McRaven’s stories about some of the lessons he learned in basic SEAL training and his advice to the class of 2014 show us why.