Do you want to be a lawyer or do you want to practice law?

canstockphoto11137969Throughout my teaching career I’ve seen (and experienced personally) this phenomena. We tend to get caught up with the idea of being something, but don’t often consider the lifestyle or effort it takes to be that thing.

Every August we see over 100 new students in the Department of Aviation and Aerospace Science at our New Student Orientation. When I ask for a raise of hands for everyone that wants to be a pilot, as opposed to an aviation management, air traffic control or aerospace operations major, nearly 100-percent of the hands go up.

The reality however, is that by their junior year, nearly 1/3 to 1/2 of those same students will have made the decision to change to a non-flying major, or leave the program entirely, pursuing other degrees or just moving on without a degree.

Many are called, few are chosen

While many students liked the idea of being a pilot, many didn’t like the work that went along with it.

“The managing partner from a large and prestigious law firm once told me that there are intelligent and gifted law-school graduates who come to him every year and want to be lawyer. Then there are those modestly talented, hardworking law-school graduates who really want to practice law. “I first look for those in the latter category,” he told me, “then I sort through these few to find those who have it within them to win cases in favor of their clients – no matter what it takes or how long it takes. Then I hire ‘em.” Author Dick Couch, from the book Always Faithful, Always Forward: the forging of a Special Operations Marine.  

The other day while watching the Broncos game, I heard one of the announcers talking about how much Peyton Manning loves practice. How much he loves being a student of the game, breaking it down, watching game film, being on the practice field and of course that all translates to success on the field (in many cases). While there are always those marquis players who love BEING a marquis player, behind the scenes they may shun practice rely more on natural ability (which only takes you so far), and disdain the work involved in being a marquis player. Give me the first guy every time.

I made this mistake in life as well. For my entire life I wanted to be a pilot. But I found I was more in love with the idea of being a pilot, than I did with the work involved – actually flying the plane and putting in the time to do it masterfully. Thankfully, there are people out there like Captain Chesley Sullenberger who loved flying, so much so that he had his glider rating – something that would come in handy over the Hudson river one day.

How do you know if you like the idea of the thing rather than the process of the thing?

Oprah Winfrey once said that what you do must be as natural to you as breathing. For me, that’s writing, golfing and teaching (somewhere in that order). I like flying, I like doing some other things, but I LOVE those three things. How do I know I love them – they pull me. I’m not pushed to them, I’m pulled to them. I’m compelled to do them. I MUST do them to be fulfilled and have that happy elated feeling about me.


What is it in your life that you are pulled towards? What is it in your life that you enjoy the process of? It’s okay to enjoy the status of it as well, but you’ll be much more effective, possibly even dominating at that job or career or role, and you’ll have far more happiness in life when you identify what it is that you love, versus what it is that you like being. Match those two and you’ll achieve levels of success and happiness beyond belief.

Although it flies in the face of conventional wisdom when colleges see people leaving a major or even a school to pursue other dreams, who would you rather have flying your plane when a flock of geese smack into it – the pilot who enjoys the status of being a pilot but doesn’t like the work, or the pilot who loves flying? Who would you rather have as your doctor, your lawyer, your plumber? The person who loves the title or the person who loves the job?

Do you think prison has a different value system

Okay, I’ve never been to prison, nor jail so I can’t say for certain, but you watch enough of those locked up scared straight shows on A&E and I guess you can get a pretty good idea that things in prison operate a bit differently than the world outside. In prison things actions and thoughts…

Raising the level of initiative

The late great Dr. Stephen Covey once said that courage is raising the level of initiative. Dr. Covey of course is a far more eloquent speaker than I am. Being the godly man that he was I doubt he would ever put it the way I heard it: “raising the level of initiative,” means getting…

Do I need a coach?

I’m reading Rob Lowe’s book, Love Life, where he talks about a point in his career where his wife suggested he should seek out an acting coach. Throughout Lowe’s life he had never really taken formal acting classes, pretty much learning on the job and growing up with the likes of the Penn brothers and…

Why am I here?

One of the most often asked questions by humanity is the ultimate question, why am I here? Considering that nobody handed us a manual nor any sort of instructions about why we are here I guess it is left up to us to decide. P90 X fitness guru Tony Horton thinks that your purpose to…

Do your best and forget the rest

Any one who has followed my work knows that there are two Tony’s that have significantly affected my life. Tony Robbins and Tony Horton. Tony Horton is the developer of best-selling workout program P90X, and its various spinoffs P90X2, P90X3, 10-minute trainer and so forth. Several years ago when I was looking for a good workout program that I could do…

This one time, at band camp…

If you want an audience to stop and listen with rapt attention, tell them a story. But not just any story. Remember the character Michelle, played by Alyson Hannigan, in the American Pie movies and her signature line, “this one time, at band camp..?” Out of all the stories that she told “Jim,” played by Jason Biggs,…

Twitter Length 50 Book Wisdom

In my efforts to still have a blog posted on the B&N Book Blog, I re-wrote the requested submission, but was told it still doesn’t meet their standards. No worries. But, as to not lose the efforts involved and to provide you with the benefit, I’m posting the submission here. What I learned from reading…

Eat your supper, kids in Africa are starving?

Anyone remember being told that by your parents? Eat your supper, kids in Africa are starving? Really? Name one. Turns out if you can name one, that kids gets a meal. “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will,” Mother Theresa. Having an emotional appeal,…

Your resumé doesn’t suck, you suck!

Typical conversation in my campus office goes like this: “Uh, Mr. Price my resume sucks, can you help me with it?” “Let me take a look at it.” Resume is reluctantly handed over like its got anthrax on it. “I did it for another class, but it just needs work. I suppose.” “Hmm. . ….