Why It Takes More Than Talent

I have previously written about how I became a lawyer. What I failed to include were the bumps in the road along the way.

I was reminded of those bumps when recently reading a column in The Wall Street Journal by Aaron Kuriloff. The writer recalled his own collegiate sailing career, inspired by a 43 year old who was competing for the 2016 Brazilian Olympic sailing team. He wondered if he could have somehow made the U.S. sailing team. On considering this, the writer concluded that while talent matters, persistence also matters. “In fact, it is often the factor that decides which of the most talented make the Olympic team, and which of them win medals.”

This reminded me of my own decision to become a lawyer. I first had to take the LSAT; in fact, I took it twice. My scores were not very good; I was disappointed and wondered if was making the right career decision. I sought the counsel of a Furman University political science professor, also a lawyer. He cited my excellent academic record at Furman and told me that if I really wanted to be a lawyer, that I could do it, that there was a law school out there to which I could be admitted. He encouraged me to keep at it and I did. I was ultimately accepted by three of the four law schools to which I applied, and I graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law. No, I did not get to attend my first choice law school. But I became a lawyer and continue to practice 29 years later at the same law firm I started with in 1987.

Persistence matters.

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