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TCL > January 1998 Issue > A New Year's Resolution

January 1998       Vol. 27, No. 1       Page  19
CBA President's Message to Members

A New Year's Resolution
by Rebecca Koppes Conway

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Class is invisible to the eye.

I'm not talking about social class, but about class--the kind a person either has or hasn't got.

You know, class. It's a combination of elegance, flair, panache, refinement, truth, generosity, style, patience, poise, respect, grace, and compassion. It's a potpourri.

Class is real. You can't fake it. It bespeaks an aristocracy unrelated to ancestors or money. Some extremely wealthy people have no class at all, while others who struggle to make ends meet are loaded with class.

Class never runs scared. It is sure-footed and confident. People who have it play the hand they're dealt without complaining.

You have seen class. It is the person with the head up and eyes forward when most of the rest of us are wondering which way to run.

Class never tries to build itself up by tearing others down. Class is already up and need not attempt to look better by tcl-1998january-rebeccamaking others look worse.

You have seen a person with class, although you'd be hard- pressed to describe the actual, visual image. It isn't what you see with your eyes.

If you have class, you have it made. If you don't, no matter what else you have, it won't make up for it.

People with class, no matter what they wear or where they work, can serve as guides for the rest of us.

Especially those of us who are attorneys. We are, as a rule, smart people. But talented people can manage to act like fools. There is no one single explanation, but I suspect it has to do with the power that we can have as attorneys. Smart people tend to gather power. Attorneys are no exception. Power corrupts. Smart people plus power equals problems.

As we start this New Year, we might want to reflect on this. Are we so impressed by ourselves that we run the risk of acting like fools? Can we realize that despite our abilities in some areas, we are--however smart--woefully lacking in others?

It never hurts to be reminded that success is far more dangerous than failure. The internal changes cause the biggest problems--ego, arrogance, overreaching, narcissism, an insatiable need for applause, delusions of grandeur and invulnerability, dismissal of our critics, and "above the rules" attitudes that get stuffed into our heads.

What's the cure?


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