Envision Something Better

My heroes are Mother Teresa; a few authors, poets, and cherished colleagues; and my grandma—especially Grandma. Why? These are people whose lives tell a story. They not only believe in something greater than themselves, but they do something about it. What good is it to have high ideals and sit on the sidelines? Part of our calling as leaders is to recognize the dignity and hope in others, to feel their pain, loss, and humanity. Then, together, envision something better and start anew.

My grandma did not believe in sitting on the sidelines. When she saw a need, she went straight to work (maybe whether you liked it or not). All her young employees knew her motto: “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.” But a lot of good, clean lives were launched there, steeped in those humble ideals. No one doubted that she cared.

I am blessed to work with a lot of nonprofits and businesses whose day-to-day work and ideals are one and the same. Thousands of people feel their lives have meaning because they work for these companies. I do, too. That is one of my great joys in life.

When I chose a law firm, I sought one thing: opportunity. I wanted to know that if I worked hard, I would have the same chance as any man—no more, no less. I was not looking for a handout. A handout implies that I am less able, less intelligent, or less hard-working than my colleagues. I was given that chance and more—teaching, compassion, friendship, challenge, mercy, advocacy, and occasionally a good, hard shove in the right direction. I will always be grateful for that. Now, it is my turn to give.

In 2016, I was in a serious car accident. Immediately one thought crystallized in my mind: Not one thing I own or have earned matters. It is all worthless. But my relationships with God and people are priceless. What we believe, who we love, and how we invest our lives in others does matter.

Mother Theresa said, “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” I will never change the world or create lasting world peace. But today, I will listen to someone’s problem and invite them to see how we can make it better, together.