Reflections on Turning 50 During the Coronavirus Pandemic

On April 28th, 2020, yours truly turned 50 years old. While some might consider this a monumental age to complain and groan about, I’m more inclined to be reflective and consider what I’ve learned about life. I’m comfortable in my own skin enough to share some personal pain, which helped me evolve into the person you know today. Here are a few things about me that you might not know and what I’ve learned along the way.

• Growing up in the 70s and 80s, there wasn’t something called ADHD at the time, so I struggled terribly in school. Sadly, I had multiple meetings with the principal, all of my teachers, and my parents. Not only were my grades in the crapper, but my self-esteem also took a beating on a daily basis. Being called “lazy” and “stupid” was not uncommon for me.
• My mother was a stroke victim at a very young age, becoming a paraplegic at 57 years old. I was 18 at the time and had to help take care of her, assisting the nurses for 13 years. None of my friends understood what I was going through at home as I usually masked my pain through jokes and kidding around.
• When I was 26, I was traveling in a small plane that crash-landed in Crystal Lake. In addition to becoming a human pretzel for a while (broke both my arms, which really sucks by the way), my serious girlfriend had a traumatic brain injury. I stayed with her for years, never giving up hope that she would fully recover. She didn’t.
• After college I quickly went into sales as a profession. In addition to the negative connotation salespeople have, I found myself very risk adverse and terrified of rejection (which is kind of a problem in sales). Additionally, I had some sleazy bosses who taught me nothing valuable about planning, process and helping my clients.

So, that all being said, here are the top five things I’ve learned that might be valuable to you in living a better life and succeeding in your legal business development endeavors:

1. Living through pain/diversity can be the fastest route to personal growth. It’s hard to improve without adversity. Lean into it! Maybe now more than ever…

2. When you help, support, and take care of others, you live a more fulfilled life. I think it was Paul McCartney who sang, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Cheesy, maybe. But so true.

3. Practice doesn’t make perfect, “perfect practice” makes perfect. That’s a Vince Lombardi quote. If you’re practicing poorly over and over, you are probably not getting better anytime soon. As a networker, for example, ask yourself, “Do I have 10-years of experience networking or one year of experience ten times?” Interesting, right?

4. The best time to start something important is right now. Putting things off is rarely the best solution to a problem or making change in your life. I have lawyers calling me daily that didn’t hire me years ago, and now they’re deeper in the weeds.

5. This quote might be Buddha or possibly hijacked by a motivational speaker somewhere, but it’s so true; “We become what we think about.” If you’re negative, expect negative things to befall you. If you stay positive, good things will tend to find you (even if it appears as hardship or challenges).

If you were thinking I should do fifty of these, I’m too busy helping attorneys these days to write that much. I hope that you can read or re-read these five points and get some value from the lessons I’ve learned over my 50 years. I am so grateful to my clients, my friends, and my family for their support and allowing me to be a part of their lives.