Unknown to me was that Chief Justice John Roberts’ son has been attending, and just graduated (9th grade) from Cardigan Mountain School in New Hampshire. Dad delivered the commencement address.
Now the commencement speakers will typically also wish you good luck and extend good wishes to you. I will not do that, and I’ll tell you why. From time to time in the years to come, I hope you will be treated unfairly, so that you will come to know the value of justice. I hope that you will suffer betrayal because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. Sorry to say, but I hope you will be lonely from time to time so that you don’t take friends for granted. I wish you bad luck, again, from time to time so that you will be conscious of the role of chance in life and understand that your success is not completely deserved and that the failure of others is not completely deserved either. And when you lose, as you will from time to time, I hope every now and then, your opponent will gloat over your failure. It is a way for you to understand the importance of sportsmanship. I hope you’ll be ignored so you know the importance of listening to others, and I hope you will have just enough pain to learn compassion.
Whether I wish these things or not, they’re going to happen. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the message in your misfortunes.
Notwithstanding that it was our Chief Justice delivering these words, what on earth might it have to do with Law Land and why are you reading about it here?
Feel free to form your own hypotheses, but:
- The most successful Managing Partners we know come from many backgrounds and walks of life, are in charge of a vast array of firms from new and small to pedigreed and globe-spanning, and have homes in places ranging from rural backwaters to the world’s leading global metropolises of capital and commerce. One thing the best all have in common is humbleness, an embedded attitude of self-deprecation, deep emotional sympathy, and a heart and soul.
- Human beings instinctively hate someone who wants to prove he’s the smartest guy in the room; they are right to do so.
- If you’re in the habit of telling clients, “I have the answer” before you have truly listened to their problem (and let them know you’re listening to their problem), they will soon resent all of your answers.
- And if you have convinced yourself all your achievements are the result of what you’ve done on your own as an autonomous actor untethered to the massive sociocultural matrix that surrounds you, then let us all hope the Cardigan Mountain ninth graders take these words more deeply to heart than you could have.