Monday Morning Message 1.13.20 Your Grades Don’t Define You. You Define You.

Posted 2020-01-13 8:46am

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” –Maya Angelou

 “If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.” – Steve Jobs

“Keep in mind that self-awareness isn’t just navel-gazing. It’s the presence of mind to actually be flexible in how you respond.”- Daniel Goleman

Today is the first day of classes of the spring semester, and it’s a pivotal point in the legal education of our talented first year students. This message is for them.

Whether you did better, as well, or not as well as you had hoped during your first semester, this is a moment to reflect, re-evaluate, reset, and reboot.

If you did well, don’t be overconfident and don’t be satisfied. If you did not do as well as you had hoped, you should be disappointed-but you should not be discouraged.

This is halftime. As we see every week in sports, lots can change in the second half.

Now is the time to examine what worked and what didn’t and adjust accordingly.

I teach a leadership course at Cleveland-Marshall every year, The Habits of Highly Effective Lawyer-Leaders; although there are many important leadership traits, I’ve come to believe that the single most important leadership skill is self-awareness.

In the rush of our daily lives, we leave little or no time for self-exploration and self-assessment. Too often, we live in self-denial and self-deception.

Authentic leaders know what they don’t know and have the courage and honesty to pursue continuous self-improvement. When you do, you become more vulnerable, but you also become more human.

Your ability to understand your strengths and weaknesses, to learn from your mistakes, setbacks, and failures, and to adapt, change, and improve, will determine not only how well you do this semester; it will determine how well you do in life.

Last year, a current 2L student sent this email to one of our professors:

“I just wanted to take a minute and thank you for all the support you have provided me this year. It was your words and encouragement that motivated me to continue this rigorous process despite the struggles of balancing home responsibilities, school, and receiving the disappointing grades of first semester. I am happy to inform you that this semester I received a 3.78 (all As). I really cannot stress enough how much you believing in me pushed me forward.”

Your grades don’t define you. You define you.

 This Week’s Monday Moment:  Bill George on Authentic Leadership

 Have a great day. Have a great week. Have a great new year.

 For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages

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 My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.

My best,


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