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November 23, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - The Importance of Perspective


There once was a Taoist farmer. One day the Taoist farmer’s only horse broke out of the corral and ran away. The farmer’s neighbors, all hearing of the horse running away, came to the Taoist farmer's house to view the corral. As they stood there, the neighbors all said, "Oh what bad luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

About a week later, the horse returned, bringing with it a whole herd of wild horses, which the Taoist farmer and his son quickly corralled. The neighbors, hearing of the corralling of the horses, came to see for themselves. As they stood there looking at the corral filled with horses, the neighbors said, "Oh what good luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

A couple of weeks later, the Taoist farmer's son's leg was badly broken when he was thrown from a horse he was trying to break. A few days later the broken leg became infected and the son became delirious with fever. The neighbors, all hearing of the incident, came to see the son. As they stood there, the neighbors said, "Oh what bad luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

At that same time in China, there was a war going on between two rival warlords. The warlord of the Taoist farmer's village was involved in this war. In need of more soldiers, he sent one of his captains to the village to conscript young men to fight in the war. When the captain came to take the Taoist farmer's son he found a young man with a broken leg who was delirious with fever. Knowing there was no way the son could fight, the captain left him there. A few days later, the son's fever broke. The neighbors, hearing of the son's not being taken to fight in the war and of his return to good health, all came to see him. As they stood there, each one said, "Oh what good luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

According to Taoism, the true significance of events can never be understood as they are occurring, for in every event there are elements of both good and bad. Furthermore, each event has no specific beginning or end and may influence events for years to come.

Life is all about perspective. Expectations, I have found, do more harm then good.  If our expectations are too high we will always be disappointed because we don't allow for unplanned opportunities.  If our expectations are too low, we may never strive for greater things.
What's rocking our world today and the worlds of those we love, family and friends, are just current circumstances.  And circumstances change by the minute.  What impacts ever-changing circumstances is how we view them and how we act in the moment and going forward.  Do we roll with the punches, go with the flow?  Or do we absorb every punch and kick until we are knocked out, fight the tide until we are exhausted and drown or simply live our lives dodging bullets?  Or a combination of the three?
It's all about perspective.  What perspective do you bring to this adventure called 'solo practice'? And this adventure called 'life'?

Happy Thanksgiving. Hug your families and appreciate them.  Give thanks for whatever situation, no matter how dire, because with the proper perspective it may very well be the birth of opportunity.

I'll be back with new posts after the holiday.

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

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WOW! You did it, again, with the most timely of posts.

Vickie Pynchon

Thanks for this Susan. For me, perspective is mainly a matter of continually shoving my ego off the stage and remembering that my primary role is to be of service to others. That is my highest & best use in every interaction with others. Do I succeed? Probably not even half the time but the goal makes the difference between being completely self-consumed and being useful to my family, my friends, my community, my state, my country and our planet.


Great, thought-provoking post! Always loved that particular parable.

Best of Thanksgivings to you!

Omar Ha-Redeye

Be sure to check out Simon Chester's recent post on Buddhism, the Law and Legal Practice, and one of mine from last year, The Daoist Prosecutor - a New Model.


How do you do it? Just when I'm ready to take the roller coaster into the big dip you right a post which helps me to see it as an adventure not a disaster.

I don't know if this is a good or bad thing, but it certainly made me feel better today.

Thanks for the continued honest and supportive role you play in the blogosphere.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Susan Cartier Liebel

@Jim @Sherrie - Been told today I should start on blog on psychology for the solo lawyer (lol). Actually, this is as therapeutic for the author as the reader :-)

@Omar - those are great posts.

@Vickie - I couldn't agree more.


I agree. I have come to believe that cognitive reframing is one of the most valuable tools we have. I blog about it fairly frequently because I think it is such a great skill. E.g.,


BTW, what do those @ signs mean?

Susan Cartier Liebel

@Stephanie - the @ is Twitter-speak for directing the comment to the appropriate individual. I could just put Stephanie...but with so many of my readers on Twitter and getting used to the '@'..it started to become a habit :-)

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