October 23, 2012

Being All That You Can Be

Law Practice Magazine

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April/May 2008 Issue | Volume 34 Number 3| Page 10

NEW Reading Minds

Being All That You Can Be

For this second installment of our new Reading Minds column, a stellar crew of contributors tells us which single book most inspired them to their personal best. As
you will see, our group—Marian Lee, Bruce MacEwen, Michael Melcher and Catherine Hance—have made some intriguing selections, while also providing very thoughtful reasons for their choices. If you have a book topic to recommend for a future Reading Minds, please e-mail me at stephanie@idealawg.com.

Marian Lee RECOMMENDS: Stand Up for Your Life

In Stand Up for Your Life (Free Press, 2003), best-selling author Cheryl Richardson lays out an easy-to-follow, step-by-step plan for identifying your values, clarifying your goals, and then removing the obstacles that may get in the way of your success—whether the obstacle be fear of giving up your power, undervaluing yourself, or worrying too much about the opinions of others. The author challenges the reader to stretch “your courage muscles,” to try new things, to pass up “good” for “great,” and to take good care of yourself. So much of being able to advise and assist others, whether in our professional lives or our volunteer activities, comes from first truly knowing ourselves and creating a life that is congruent with our deepest values. This was a life-changing book for me and I reread it every year or two.

Marian Lee , formerly a practicing attorney, is Director of Professional Development and Risk Management at Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck in Denver.

Bruce MacEwen RECOMMENDS: The Great Gatsby

As a freshman in college, I read this F. Scott Fitzgerald classic (first published by Charles Scribner in 1925) in one uninterrupted sitting stretching from late evening to early morning. While it may seem odd to pick a novel, as opposed to a famous person’s biography or a nonfiction recounting of an achievement like climbing Mt. Everest, Gatsby encapsulates for me the challenge, the promise and the peril of the American dream—the dream that has always enthralled me and that pulls me forward to this very day. Be of large vision, care deeply, immerse yourself fully in your pursuit, and the world will come to reward your enterprise. But Gatsby himself, of course, incarnates the inauthentic dark side of the dream: The aspiring striver who is only and all about striving and aspiring, devoid of a vision, devoid of a soul, and ultimately devoid of existence.

Bruce MacEwen is a NewYork-based lawyer and consultant to law firms on strategic and economic issues, as well as founder of the widely read Web publication AdamSmithEsq.com.

Michael F. Melcher RECOMMENDS: The Artist’s Way

Julia Cameron’s landmark book The Artist’s Way (Tarcher/Putnam, 2002, 10th Anniversary Edition) helped me figure out who I really was as an adult, not so much as an artist but as a person. It helped me to strip away some of the comforts of title, prestige and security, and to examine what makes me tick. An award-winning journalist and poet, Cameron’s genius is that she doesn’t tell readers what they should achieve or who they should be—instead, she creates a map for readers to start exploring these questions themselves.

Michael F. Melcher , author of The Creative Lawyer: A Practical Guide to Authentic Professional Satisfaction, is a partner in the leadership development and coaching firm Next Step Partners.

Catherine A. Hance RECOMMENDS: To Kill a Mockingbird

This Harper Lee masterpiece (originally published by J.B. Lippincott in 1960) inspired me at an early age and continues to inspire me today. I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, in the 1970s and 1980s, so part of the book’s impact on me certainly stems from my childhood experiences in an environment confronting similar race and class issues. This book moved me by its messages of the importance of doing what is morally right, even if that is not easy or ultimately successful, and of being understanding, rather than judgmental, of others’ views and shortcomings. One of the hardest things in life is seeing the world other than from our own personal perspective; however, doing so can enable us to reach goals that would never otherwise be possible. To Kill a Mockingbird also guides us to assess others based on who they are (i.e., their character) rather than “what” they may be (in social standing, race, gender, religion and so forth). It gives me faith in the underlying goodness in the world, notwithstanding the bad and evil we may see every day.

Catherine A. Hance is a partner in the real estate group at Davis Graham & Stubbs in Denver, practicing in commercial real estate development, leasing and finance.

About the Author

Reading Minds editor Stephanie West Allen, JD is a writer, speaker and mediator who presents seminars on harnessing brain power for improved networking, business development and conflict resolution. Her blogs are at idealawg.net and BrainsOnPurpose.com.