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By: Rob Schwarz, Jr.

Life is hard.  I know this simple phrase can be depressing at times. These words can describe anyone’s life during certain moments. Sometimes we struggle and have a horrible day. Maybe you receive a speeding ticket, maybe you develop the flu, or maybe you just woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. Sometimes those days can turn into weeks, months, or even years. To keep your head up and stay positive can be very difficult for many people. You feel like the walls are closing in around you and there is never a light at the end of the tunnel.

So what do we do in this situation? How do we stop reliving the negative aspects in our life? What helps to get us from one great moment to the next? Moments like our wedding days or the birth of a child. Yes, I know the day of labor can be painful for you women, and I would never claim to know how it feels. However, watching my wife’s face when the doctor handed her my son was one of the best moments in my life. All the pain and tiredness immediately eradicated off her face and filled instead with joy. That day was one of the best days of her life, just as it was mine. Nonetheless, how do we keep from being pulled down during the not so exciting moments, or maybe even the terrible, stressful moments in between?

Face your problems head on.  I think one of the hardest things we must remember is to face our problems head on. Too often we like to blame others or ignore a problem. This can cause the problem to linger and continue to wear you down. One thing that bugs me personally is when someone needs a rush response and they send an e-mail. I do not know about you, but I cannot check my e-mail every second of every day. If you need something done quickly, pick up the phone! Talk to a person directly. Too often we lean on e-mail or text messages to communicate with others. Many people are losing the ability to communicate effectively.

Sending an e-mail is just a way to ignore the problem and push it aside. If you need to make multiple phone calls or stay on hold for a long period of time, do it! Do not delay. Do not pawn the problem onto someone else either. If it is your problem, handle it! What I tend to do at work is stop and reprioritize my desk a few times a day.  Any work that is a pressing matter will be pushed to the front. I will not leave the office until I know I have done all that I can to defuse the problem. I do not want a problem from Monday to carry over into Tuesday or any other day of the week. To stay a little late a couple nights a week is not as bad as allowing a problem to fester throughout the entire week.  I might spend a little less amount of time with my family this way, but the time I do spend with them is of higher quality. I am not stressed out over a problem that I could have taken care of if I faced it head on. We need to do this with all of our problems. Face them head on and do not let them linger; no matter how uncomfortable the situation may be.

Constantly move forward.  There is no reason for any of us to live in the past. Learn from your mistakes and move forward. You hear it in sports all the time. A quarterback throws an interception; a pitcher lets up a homerun. They always say the same thing – you cannot think about it. You have to maintain a short memory where shortcomings are concerned. You cannot do anything about the plays that are behind you. You must learn from it and move forward. The same can be said about any profession. We are human beings; we are going to make mistakes.  Maybe you miss a typo on one of your legal briefs. Perhaps you forget to call a client back as promised. There is no reason for us to let this pull our positive spirits down.  Dwelling in the past will only cause a ripple effect of undue stress and make our lives feel worse in the moment than they are in reality. Keep a short memory with regard to your own temporary shortcomings, learn from your past, and constantly move forward!

Shoo fly, don’t bother me.  One of the hardest things to ignore is a pesky fly that will not leave you alone. As that fly buzzes around your head you can shoo it or swat at it, but it never seems to go away. Not getting upset over the little things is similar. Many annoying and irritating occurrences happen to us, and we must not allow them to ruin our day. How upset should we get if we are cut off while driving to work in the morning? Do you engage in road rage and throw up hand gestures as you honk? Do you let one little incident like this wreck your entire day?  Situations like this add up over a 24 hour period. Before you know it, six “flies” have caused that negative ripple effect to exist once more.

Ignoring these so-called “flies” can be difficult, but we must do it. Instead of getting so upset, take a deep breath and think. If you need to, speak aloud to yourself. “Is it really worth my time and energy to get so upset over this situation?” I would bet the answer is no more often than not.

Know your personnel.  Yes, I said it!  I know this phrase can be a little strange. The phrase is not referring to just the people you work with or those that work for you.  I heard this phrase while listening to ESPN Radio one morning. Herman Edwards used it on the Mike and Mike morning show. Apparently the phrase “know your personnel” is one he uses quite often. He said this phrase works in multiple ways.  For one, as a football coach, it is important to understand who your players are and what each player is capable of achieving. You would not call a play that your personnel could not execute. The same could be said about any profession. You would not want a brand new paralegal to do lead research for the most important case at the law firm; just as you would not want a first year lawyer to handle the litigation. Instead, the right people need to be put in a position to work together and succeed.

The second way this phrase works is about the company we keep in life. Do you surround yourself with people who continue to pull you down? Do you tend to spend time with others who continuously give up or do you look for others who keep trying to succeed? What if those people who try continue to fail? The ability to select the right type of people to be an integral part of your life can be harder than it should be. The key is to figure out who makes you a better person. Who can you count on to support you and help guide you onto a better path in life?  What type of person do you want to be? Make sure to find others who have a similar work ethic or drive to succeed.

Failure can be good for success.  This has to be the most difficult concept for me to remember. When anyone ever asks me what my greatest fear in life is; I never respond with heights, spiders, or death. My greatest fear in life is failure. I fear that when I look back on my life, I will view it as a failure.  I fear that I will fail as a husband. I fear that I will fail as a father. I fear that I will fail as a professional. What I, and many others, need to realize is that failure can be good for success.

The trials and tribulations we go through make us better and stronger people. The way we respond to defeat is what sets successful people apart from the rest. I have made many mistakes in life. I should have gone away to school and finished my degree immediately after high school. However, if I did that, I would have received a business degree and I never would have found my passion for the law. Instead, I chose to try and climb the corporate ladder with Gap Inc. I made the mistake of letting my emotions get in the way and decided to take the easy way out. I left that profession for my family business. I never wanted my last name to define me in my new career path, so I rarely used it when talking with customers. I wanted to achieve my own success. That being said, I now have a passion for law. I do not have a passion for selling power transmission parts. Thus, I am currently in a paralegal certificate program. It was a good thing that I dealt with failure as I journeyed through two different careers. Overcoming that failure is what makes me a stronger leader, a more dedicated employee, and even a better father and husband.

My new quest is to continue to work full-time while going to school and helping raise a family. I refuse to fail, but I am sure I will encounter many hiccups along the way. These hiccups may be viewed as failure to some, but I have a new outlook on life as I approach the ripe old age of 30. I now view these failures as the stepping stones to my inevitable success. I will attempt to not sweat the small stuff. I will surround myself with positive people who do not pull me down. I will stop procrastinating and attack my problems head on.  I will make an effort to not live in the past and dwell on what could have been. Most of all, I will look failure in the eyes and smile. I find that being aware of these simple steps has changed my attitude in just the last two weeks!

I encourage you to do the same in life. You will immediately start to view the world in a different way. I like to believe that a positive outlook on life brings positive results.  Follow these rules and you will see what I mean. Do not let life keep you down. Stand up and fight! No one can change your outlook but you. I do not have to tell you that as paralegals, our jobs can be stressful. It is important to keep our heads up and stay positive; even during the worst of times. If you do not take my advice then take Kobe Bryant’s advice who once said, ““I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”

Rob Schwarz Jr. is an aspiring paralegal student. He has a love-hate relationship with the law that makes him want to change it for the better. His focus is on corporate law and he has hopes to one day become a lawyer.


Wishing you a fabulous day in the land of legal, TPS Nation! Don’t get so busy with diffusing deadlines, pounding out pleadings, organizing papers, fielding endless phone calls, and saving the esquires that you forget to carpe di-weekend. Embrace it.  

We’ll see you Monday!

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