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Reaching our full potential requires being in full touch with our potential greatness as we handle our mis-steps and pain

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Amadeus includes a great scene where Mozart mocks Salieri’s limited musicianship to his face, by running circles around him by inventing and playing, on the spot, much more complex variations of the composition that Mozart has just heard for the first time. The world is replete with highly skilled people who needlessly ridicule others who are far from reaching such heights, and those who feel too inadequate to reach any heights. We are all connected and from the same source, and, therefore, are all capable of achieving great heights when we apply ourselves to doing so. We must help others rise as we rise.

Too many people do not get on the path of success out of fear of failing. Reaching our full potential requires being in full touch with our potential greatness as we handle our mis-steps and pain. Certainly, my criminal defense clients who have committed the crimes for which they have been charged, or who are innocent but made the mis-step of exposing themselves to prosecution, need to get back on track not only to help me and them obtain as much justice as we can for them, but also for them to pick themselves back up to fully live the rest of their lives.

I have written many times about reaching our full potential, including last month.

Today, I add or re-underline the following thoughts on this theme:

– We succeed more by focusing on serving and being generous to others with our time and caring while enjoying doing so, and truly reveling in others’ successes, rather than being self centered on how we alone will succeed. Doing so gives us the limitless energy of abundance that helps bring ourselves abundance. Doing the opposite bring us the downwardly spiraling energy of scarcity. Thanks to my amazing wife for always encouraging me on this path of abundance.

– Beware those who try to urinate on the fire of your dreams. When I was a college senior struggling to figure out whether to go to law school or business school (I preferred saving the world with a law degree, but saw a business career as a safer way to financial achievement), and what to do with my life in either discipline —- rather than taking a t’ai chi harmonious approach, not having learned t’ai chi yet — a close relative panned my consideration of possibly being a trial lawyer. This relative, not a lawyer himself, viewed successful trial lawyers as being successful actors, and said I had not proven myself as an actor. I had barely acted, except for small rolls in a few elementary-school-age plays. By the way, since being real and honest is a key ingredient to being a great trial lawyer, that does differ from when an actor is part of an effort to create a fantasy setting.

Fortunately, being driven to reach my goals of making the world a better place through the courtroom, despite the naysayers, I chose law school and became not only a trial lawyer, but a trial lawyer doing the cases I most love to defend. Along the path have been great teachers who have taught me that one need not be born a trial lawyer to be an excellent trial lawyer. Two of my strongest inspirations on that path are Steve Rench and Sunwolf.

– Truly love and care for yourself and others, and do not harm yourself as you care for others. On that note:

— When we have discontent or pain, we must be in touch with and address it. Once we know and embrace the pain, we can release it and send it on its way. Pema Chodron has a great approach on this.

— As my teacher Jun Yasuda says, “All humans are beautiful. Somehow society is upside down.” Jun-san bows to everyone, including those at the prison where she dry-fasted for days for Mumia Abu Jamal. She knows at minimum that everyone has healing that they seek, and I must remember that this extends to the judges and prosecutors I deal with.

— When Jun-san goes to the supermarket, “Yasuda bows to the people at the cash registers. ‘And some people say, “How come you’re bowing?”… I say, “You are very beautiful and you are very sacred.” They say, “Oh, thank you very much.” And they become happy, you know.'”

— As Lama Zopa Rinpoche says:  Each…living…being…is…so…precious. If…you…really…see…living…beings…as…precious, there…will…be…no…wars…or…problems!…What…pleases…the…buddhas…most…is…benefiting…others!”

Essential to persuasion is an open and engaged heart. Without an open, engaged and compassionate heart — one that risks being wounded — one is a less persuasive trial lawyer. That approach wisely is heavily emphasized at the Trial Lawyers College, to center oneself on one’s heart zone rather than mainly on one’s head zone, even if that means unlearning the knee-jerk intellectual-speak taught in law schools and colleges, and even when that means getting in touch with the years of deep pain that so many people (including opposing lawyers, witnesses, judges and jurors) lug around and try to cover up even to themselves. As also emphasized at the TLC, including by the great John Johnson of Friday Harbor, Washington, who believed strongly in people’s ability to derive great power from being real, feeling and expressing love, and finding inner peace. To deal with our pain, John said, we first must embrace the pain before sending it on its way; this sounds similar to the t’ai chi approach of embrace tiger, return to mountain. John much preferred having a bucket of cow dung to a bucket of beautiful fake flowers, for at least the cow dung bucket holds something real. For John, the necessity and power of realness was underlined by the Velveteen Rabbit.

— Thanks to such an advanced human as Robert Thurman — a former monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, which shows that current and former monks can find a role for violence when needed to harmonize situations — who acknowledges that we need to carry bows and arrows in case we need them, but with compassion: “The psychology of Love Your Enemies does not just mean ‘Come and trample on us, come kill me, my enemy, oh, yes, I want you to shoot me or something.’ It means I want you to be happy. I’m gonna be happy no matter what… On that basis, I might take your weapon away… I try not to kill you, but I might be forced to do something forceful.”

— As the late, great Jack Kerouac reminded us: “Be in love with your life. Every minute of it.” (Thanks to Lynn Beha for digging further than my cursory effort for the source of the foregoing Kerouac quote. The closest she came was Jack’s “Be in love with yr life” from “Belief and Technique for Modern Prose.”)

Thanks deeply and always to my wife and son, who daily encourage me on the path of helping others rise as I rise.