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Roger Hayse and Andrew Jillson, Directors of Hayse LLC — a consultancy to law firms in transition — regularly share insignt for leaders of firms in transition. Formation, growth, restructuring, compensation and succession are among the topics on their blog — Managing Law Firm Transition. If you lead or aspire to lead a professional service firm, this blog should be on your reading list. You can subscribe on the blog’s home page.

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Through his life-long work, Heartbeat, Landon Saunders always delivers a perspective rooted in hope and joy. His weekly email is a welcome bright spot in our in-box. You can find Landon’s most recent contributions here, or use the Contact information on our site, mention Landon’s weekly email, and we’ll send you information on how to subscribe.

Recognizing Beauty
My friend, Dr. Richard Beck, poses the question, “Do you want to have a beautiful life?” An inability to see beauty in a human life costs us something precious to a good life, a flourishing life.
In 1962 I met a deeply troubled boy, thirteen, who had already been in a number of juvenile lockups. When something went wrong in the community, James Garner was the first suspected and accused. I will not describe here what he looked like the day I met him. I will only say I had never met anyone like what I saw…and visited with. His was a “throw-away” life in the eyes of most.This lad soon came to live in my home during his teen years.
And, slowly, something buried from sight, began to appear—traces of something beautiful. He would never have known how to say it and would never have thought to use the word “beautiful,” yet, in spite of all his failures, he wanted a beautiful life.
Traces of something beautiful began to appear in an infectious laugh; in some drawings and small sculptures he created; in his instant forgiveness for any slight, any wrong, however unjust that was inflicted on him; the absence of grudges, resentments, blame, or feeling sorry for himself; no expectations for anything given to him but everything received with a bit of twinkle in his eye. 
Without my knowing it at the time (the years were often trying, difficult), I was witness to something I have come to recognize as beauty in a life to which no one would have assigned the word. 
Slowly, through the years and to this day, a sense of life that is wrapped up in the question Richard Beck raises and that I witnessed in the life of James Garner, has informed what I look for and treasure in the lives of those I meet—something called beauty.
Last fall, I received a call telling me James had died. At his wake and memorial, I listened to the stories told by his wife, his son and his daughter, the people he had known through the years— stories told with quaking voices and tear-filled eyes of how James had affected their lives. It was a time of beauty.
At the beginning I was to have been his teacher. What I didn’t know then was that he would be my teacher, one of the most powerful of my entire life. And so, I said “Farewell” with heart running over with emotions for which I have no words.
“Do you want a beautiful life?” Do we recognize beauty in a life?
— Landon Saunders
I See You
In 1967 a doctor told me I needed to take some time off. I bought a pup tent and set off on a journey through “The Great American West.” Every day, I saw something new to me.
In 1969 I set off on a world journey. Every day, for an entire year, I saw something new to me. Every day.
In Africa I found that Africans have a beautiful saying: “I see you.”
Sensing the power of seeing something new, I made it central to my life: every day I will see something new to me. That commitment has had a profound impact on who I am.
Seeing the new is especially important in long-term relationships. In my own relationships, I make it a point to see something new in each encounter. Otherwise, it is so easy to take for granted, to experience boredom, to fail to respect—to “re-spect,” literally “to look at again”—to see the other person in a whole new light.
So many relationships suffer from this failure—not to see a spouse, a child, a parent, a friend, an enemy, even everyday experiences in a new way.
In times of strain and crisis, of suffering, of injustice, of feeling “stuck,” of feeling overwhelmed. To see something new, something I hadn’t seen before, opens the way for authentic life to keep emerging and for the best in us to grow. It changes us. It helps prevent the growth of prejudice, fear, unhealthy attitudes toward others, and trends toward polarizations.
Our humanness, our growth, is so dependent on opening our eyes each day to see the new.
“I see you.” Do you see?
How We Sit In This Crisis
 I am sitting by the bedside of a thirteen-year-old boy who has been mercilessly beaten by his father. His eyes are black, one swollen shut, his lips are bloody, his back and legs bleeding. And this was not the first time it had happened—not by far.
I do not sit by his bed and launch into a discussion of how most fathers are good. That would be inappropriate and would reveal a moral insensitivity to the wrong he has suffered.
I do not sit by his bed and point out his own mistakes. That would be heard as justification for his father’s criminal behavior.
I do not sit by his bed and treat him to a discussion of how far we’ve come from child labor and other mistreatment of children.
Any of these approaches would deflect from indefensible and criminal behavior. And worse, they would reveal something terribly wrong in my own heart—a glaring moral immaturity or callousness.
I would be part of the problem.
Instead, I sit by the bedside of the beaten boy, and hold his hand—I look at him, I say quiet words to him. What he feels in my touch, what he sees in my eyes, what he hears in the tone of my voice will either fully acknowledge his sense of worth and dignity as a human being…or in his heart he will wish I would just leave.
Today, each of us sits, in one way or another, by the bedside of the deeply wounded among us. How we are present with those in pain either creates solidarity or deepens alienation. How we sit with one another can be healing, or the wounded might simply wish we would leave. 
We want no one to be mistaken about with whom we sit. Only then is healing possible…for a beaten boy…or a wounded people.
The Work of a Human Being
I had a cup of tea and then walked to the auditorium. The people I would address a few minutes later were gathering. My topic would be “What to Do When Nothing Works.” Following my talk, I led a question and answer session. The comments from the group were stimulating; the questions were good ones. At one point, the discussion moved toward the subject of work. Several in the audience had lost their jobs. A young man stood up and, with some intensity, said, “Would you please tell me, sir, what the work of a human being is?” 
The audience stirred a bit uneasily sensing, I think, the emotion behind the question. The young man’s eyes and voice carried passion in them: passion born of hurt, conflict, confusion and, maybe, some fear. His question was more than a question about professions, careers or bread and butter. The question had little to do with workweeks, paychecks, vacation time, benefits and retirement. It went beyond youth and age, beyond ethnicity, beyond gender, beyond disability…The young man’s question is the question of every human being on this planet. It is a question that goes to the heart of life’s meaning. It touches every part of our existence.
The answer I gave him then is maddening, but it is the place to begin. The work of a human being is to fulfill your own unique life. This means your work includes all facets of your life: job, home, play, leisure…everything! Your job, alone, cannot satisfy you because your capacity as a human being is greater than any job. Your life within your home, alone, cannot satisfy you. Neither can play or leisure or anything else on its own. If you allow any one area to occupy undue space in your life, you will never know certain parts of yourself. You will miss part of your own life. 
This week begin the work of a human being by looking at your own unique life with curiosity, acceptance and joy, asking yourself if there are areas of your life that are taking up too much space? Are there neglected areas where you can explore unknown parts of your unique life? When you invest your time and energy into this real work of a human being, you will finally begin to fulfill the fullness of your own unique blend of creativity, talent, experiences and capacity for joy—the fullness of your unique humanity.
The Well
Once there was a well. Four stones were gathered around the mouth of the well to mark its location. These stones were courage, honor, loyalty, and knowledge. And hanging down into the well was the bucket of faith.
One day, the land was infected with a raging thirst that led human beings to shed the blood of their neighbors. The thirst in the land became so great that the stones of courage, honor, loyalty, and knowledge were removed and used as weapons. Even the bucket of faith was taken from its place to be another part of the arsenal to injure and destroy.
With the stone markers and bucket removed, the people could no longer find the well or reach the one thing within it that could quench this raging thirst that had led them to hurt one another: the waters of compassion.
Courage without compassion is a killing force. Honor without compassion creates rigidity. Loyalty without compassion is blind allegiance. Knowledge without compassion turns stones and buckets into weapons. Faith without compassion is cruel.
Friends, as we search for how to respond to the pain around us and within us, I hope you will first spend time cultivating your compassion. Because it is only a deep well of compassion at the center of human beings that protects us from using our courage, honor, loyalty, knowledge, and even faith to hurt our neighbor.
— Landon Saunders
Joy All The Way Down
I was walking through a subway station one day when I saw where someone had painted across a wall, “Get a Grip, What a Trip.” I don’t know what the person who spray painted the words meant by them, but I found myself thinking about time: how to carry time and how to carry my day. “Get a grip. What a trip.” Get the right grip, and you can carry time. Get the right grip, and you can carry the burden of your life no matter what it is.
And this gets to the very heart of things. What is the right grip? What is the best way to take hold of the whole of our lives? In my life I have found the answer to be joy. Not a shallow, greeting card type of joy, but a joy that is rooted in acceptance: acceptance of self, acceptance of others, and acceptance of life.
To get the right grip, we must learn to be filled with this kind joy, right now, with the people we love. Nobody can carry the weight of a marriage without joy. It’s too heavy. Take a vow to be joyful. Take a vow to live with your children in joy. Take a vow to be joyful with your work.
Consider the little boy who said, “Dad, what holds up the world?” And his dad said, “Son, the world is carried on the back of a giant turtle.” The little boy went away, thought about that for a while, and then came back and said, “Well Dad, what does that turtle sit on?” His father replied, “On the back of another giant turtle.” And before the little boy could get the words out to ask his next question, the father said, “Son, it’s turtles all the way down!”
To get a good grip on our lives we must understand that it’s joy all the way down.
— Landon Saunders
The Far Side of Pain
I’ve spent a lot of time trying to avoid pain.
Sometimes this meant I had to avoid people, including my friends. I was afraid to get too close to them. Any relationship that can bring a lot of pleasure can also bring a lot of pain. But the cost of this kind of life was too great.
Norman Cousins said, “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies within us while we live.” In trying so hard to avoid pain, something was dying inside me.
I had to become more vulnerable. I could either avoid the possibility of pain and suffer a kind of death inside me, or I could open myself to others, knowing it would mean some pain and struggle.
I made my decision, and I found that facing pain, working with it, making my way to the far side of it, is to find great joy. I know it’s a paradox. The most truthful things always are. Yet, the joy that comes from being with others is finally all we have.
— Landon Saunders
A Good Question
I have a young friend who applied to five universities, and they all accepted him. He needed some help deciding which to attend, so he turned to his dad. But his dad raised more questions than he answered:
“Son, when you graduate from college, what then?”  
“Well, I’ll get a job.”  
“And then what?”  
“Well, I’ll get married and have some kids.”  
“And then?”  
“Well, I guess I’d live a long and happy life.”  
“And then?”  
Finally the boy was frustrated and blurted out: “Then I’ll die!”  
“And what then?”  
Quietly the boy answered, “Good question, dad.”
The big questions of life are also questions about death. The brevity of life puts things in perspective like nothing else can. Take some time this week to think about the things that will be most important to you on your last day on this planet. Those are the things that are important today.
— Landon Saunders