Ben Glass, a friend and personal injury lawyer in Virginia, recently had a frustrating experience in court. Ben had to travel a distance to attend a useless case management meeting at which he was asked some more or less irrelevant questions by a junior judge, which could have been answered by telephone without the need to travel. At the end, Ben had a question for the judge: Why did you make us come all this distance to answer three questions which could have been answered over the telephone?
The judge answered that he agreed that it was all a waste of time, but he was a junior judge, and he didn’t want the senior judge to get upset with him for not going through the formalities.
The message that Ben drew from this experience applies to many areas of life for anyone who wants to live a life of significance:
Stand up for what you know is right. Do not succumb to the negative influence of other people. Think for yourself. When you see a broken system, fix it or get out. Life it too short to be doing something stupid, wasteful and so disrespectful of other people’s time just because they told me to do it or because that’s the way we’ve always done it.
Lawyers and judges are rule-bound people, and the fall-backs “they told me to do it” or “that’s the way we’ve always done it” probably govern more of our behavior than in many other walks of life. And those who resist or renounce these time-wasting fall-backs are apt to get labelled as renegades.
If you get labelled a renegade, what that really means is you are thinking for yourself and acting with integrity. Keep doing it.