If I Had a Mission Statement, It Would Be This
Sometimes, less is more.
It is said that, when comparing business cards, having only a few words on a business card signals that the person is mighty important. For example, the business card of the old Cuban dictator Fidel Castro just says “Fidel Castro Ruz. Primer Secretario Del Partido Cumunista De Cuba”. That’s it. No phone number. No email. No fax line. No web address. No “find me on Facebook”. No Instagram. No Snapchat. Definitely no Snapchat. My card, on the other hand, gives away the fact that I’m not that important of a guy. I list twenty ways to contact me. My office number. Another office number. My fax number. My web address. My email. You name it, I list it. I’m an attorney–and I’m just not as important as other folks. But, this brief moment of humility reminds me of a recent news story.
I don’t live near the beach, unless living an hour away from the closest beach qualifies as living “near the beach”. I grew up in St. Louis and to a Midwestern kid, driving one hour to the beach is, like, walking-distance to the beach (remember that song, “All the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey…”, St. Louis is kinda like that song).
Anyway, if you watch the news, you’ll notice a “Live Report” every week or so involving a mass of sea creatures washing up onto the beach for some unknown reason. One day its jellyfish. The next week its whales, or just dead fish. In this particular news report, it was starfish.
Starfish everywhere, as far as the eye could see. Thousands of them. And, they’re all going to die.
The news likes to tell you how “mysterious” this event is. What could possibly cause all these starfish to wash ashore? After probing the mystery a bit, the live news camera pans over to a cute little girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, and she’s scrambling to throw these starfish back into the water. She determined to save them. One by one. I’m no mathematician, but I estimated it would take her 426.8 years to throw each of these starfish back into the ocean at the rate she was going. The news reporter was amused by this and approached the girl, who continued on her starfish rescue mission as she spoke to the camera.
Reporter: “There’s so many starfish out here, surely you can’t save them all?” To which the girl responded, as she showed the camera the starfish in her right hand, “Yea, but I can save this one.”
To this day, that little girl on the beach inspires me. No, she wasn’t going to ever save them all. I can’t either. I can’t help everyone who needs my help, there just isn’t enough time in the day.
Recently in court, a prosecutor approached me after the judge took a break, and teased me that the judge wasn’t in a good mood. Everyone was going to jail that morning. He looked around at all the defendants waiting for the judge to return, and boasted that “they’re all going down today.” This courtroom has wooden benches, like what you would find in an old church. Pretty hard wood, but surprisingly comfortable. My client was sitting in the very back bench of the courtroom. I pointed him out to the prosecutor, and stole that little girl’s wisdom: “Yea, but I can save this one.”
(No, my client didn’t go to jail that day. Would I tell you this story if he did?)