I recently had the pleasure of hearing a keynote speech from Robert Grey, a partner with Hunton & Williams LLP in Richmond, Va., and a board member of the Legal Services Corp., which administers grants to indigent legal service organizations throughout the country. He is also a former president of the American Bar Association, one of only a few African Americans to hold that position.
Clearly, he is a man of much success. But the words he had that night for an audience of young (and not-so-young) attorneys was that such success did not come without a willingness to take chances and to strive to achieve more.
Inevitably, when you take risks you will have some failures, but in trying you learn for the next time and you also serve as an example and steppingstone for someone else.
Mr. Grey was in that position when, after running and losing an election for mayor of Richmond, he was asked to speak at a local middle school. It was enough for the school and its children that here was a man that had accomplished much and yet still strove for more. It was of no consequence that he had not succeeded; he was a positive example nonetheless.
I think part of the lesson is that success begins with one’s attitude, and Grey reminded me of the following “Ten Commandments of Attitudes” I found somewhere as a kid:
(1) It is attitude, not aptitude, that governs success.
(2) The purpose of existence is not to make a living, but to make a life.
(3) A negative thought is the first step to failure.
(4) You will seldom experience regret for anything you’ve done; it’s what you don’t do that will torment you.
(5) Complaining is the refuge of those who have no self-reliance.
(6) The ultimate cost of something is that amount of life that you will exchange for it.
(7) Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve.
(8) A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
(9) The worst bankruptcy is the person who has lost enthusiasm.
(10) Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.