Everyone could benefit from a legal mentor: a trusted generalist with some knowledge of the law.
During all of my years in life and business, two of the most important things I’ve learned are: 1 – every choice you make has a consequence; and 2 – you best know where your thumb is when using the paper-cutter. Let’s examine the latter. What a great analogy this is! The moral of the paper-cutter analogy is personal responsibility. When I was a high school Junior ROTC cadet, the Commandant gave me a card which outlined about eight rules of leadership. One of them I have never forgotten:
Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions.
Can you just imagine how much more affordable, honest and efficient our country would be if almost everyone embraced this simply principle? Unfortunately, after severing a thumb, the reaction of some might be to sue the device manufacturer. A plaintiff might allege, let’s say, a duty to warn the user via an adequate warning label. But what’s “adequate” depends on the actor. The cutter I used to almost sever my thumb had a bright yellow label – to wit: “!CAUTION Sharp Blade!” Heck, I expected the blade to be sharp. Otherwise it wouldn’t slice through several thicknesses of paper. The pertinent issue is really that I was paying little attention to where my left thumb was when I vigorously applied downward torque upon the device with my right hand. I’m reluctant to sue because I don’t want the whole world to know what a stupid thing I did. And, of course, I believe in taking responsibility for my actions.
To make matters worse, I dropped typing—I still peck with two fingers to this very day—to take ROTC which led to my joining the Army during the Vietnam War to which I was fortunate not to be sent. I didn’t even wait to be drafted as I didn’t have a clue where my thumb was then either. But the Army, to its great credit, kept telling me where my head was and that I’d better get it out of the “the dark regions” if I wanted to survive. I must have learned some personal responsibility because when I left active duty two years later I was basically in tact and a tad bit brighter for the experience, which brings me to the former wisdom: the choices we make in life have consequences. A hard fact of life is that it is often not in our best interest to make solo choices. My Mother who raised three boys by herself laments that her boys raised themselves. That’s not altogether true but the argument has merit. Today I spend a fair amount of time writing. Perhaps if someone had properly mentored me back then, I’d be a much better typist today and know where my thumb is at all times. But I’m not sure my mentoring would be nearly as cutting edge.
Jeff Barganier spent 2.5 years in a bank trust department, 2 years as associate general counsel to a real estate securities firm and 17 years as a financial adviser. Today, he makes his living as an attorney, writer and entrepreneur. Click here to read his full biography.
This is the 18th post in a 20 part series. If you missed the last post in this series, please click here to retrieve it.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Red Oak Legal, PC.