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Babe Ruth, milestone birthdays, and a thousand little dots

“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.” – Babe Ruth

A picture of Babe Ruth and this quote adorns a wall of my managing partner’s office right next to the light switch, so any person that leaves his office will have an opportunity to see it. I am probably in his office a couple of times a day, whether to discuss a work-related matter or last night’s ballgame. And, every time I leave his office, my eyes wander to the quote and picture of Babe Ruth.

The quote is even more poignant for me for two reasons. First, I just had a milestone birthday, which included a celebration with friends from different stations in life: law school, high school, college, work colleagues, and Bar association friends. As I grow older, both in age and my practice, I can reflect on the journey that has gotten me from being the son of two immigrants to college and law school and a commercial law practice in Towson.

Then, last week, the Homeless Persons Representation Project awarded me with their Outstanding Volunteer of the Year award. As a recipient, they provided me with a framed picture by a local Baltimore artist, which consisted of thousands of little dots forming a picture, a style known as pointillism. This artist, for a period of almost three months, applied small dots to form a distinct image.

All of which brings me back to Babe Ruth, yesterday’s home runs and today’s games. It is important to look back on your past accomplishments and take a moment to enjoy the fruits of your labor. We each should look back and evaluate our progress, both professionally and personally. But the key difference to looking back at one’s progress and resting on your laurels is the message Babe was conveying.

Professionally, it is easy to look at your latest legal victory and pat yourself on the back. But building a practice is more than your last victory. It’s building a reputation. It’s building a list of long-term clients by helping them with their latest issues (or looking around corners and navigating them before they have any problems).

As for me, while I am honored to be a recipient of HPRP’s award, the need for pro bono work is not yielding and I feel as if I need to renew my pro bono efforts (much like the artist working painstakingly to create a picture from thousands of little dots). And, as I march on to my next milestone birthday, I want to be able to look back and see what progress I have made.

So, if you are about to turn a round number (whether it is 25, 30, 40, or 50), take a moment to reflect on how far you have come but understand what’s next.