President's Page: Supporting Others in 2023

2023-01 Pres Page Banner

It’s the new year, time to turn over a new leaf, start fresh, and move forward. But before we do that, let’s take time to look back over the last year, and everything we’ve accomplished. Let me just say, you are impressive. You have accomplished so much in your life. Maybe you wish for more, or have some regrets, but where you are at right now is amazing.

When we look around at all of the truly amazing and successful individuals in our world, we see one thing in common. Whether it’s a rags-to-riches story, generational wealth that just keeps growing, one thing is the same in every situation: It’s not tenacity, perseverance, or gumption. It’s not genius, wisdom, or a sharp intellectual mind. It’s not even luck. What we find in every single story is support.

I want to recognize and thank my spouse, Mara, for the vast amount of support she provides every single day for all my excessive endeavors, volunteering, community outreach, outlandish life goals, and advocating for access to justice. Along with her, I thank my friends, family, professors, mentors, coaches, and supervisors for everything they have given me. I recognize that my parents have always been a rock in my life. No matter how bad things have gotten, in the back of my mind I have always felt like I could turn to them to weather any storm. As an adult, I recognize that they can’t fix everything, and none of us have the solution to life, but that emotional support remains to this day.

To put it simply, none of us have gotten to where we are on their own. Somewhere along the way, we were all helped by those around us.

To put it simply, none of us have gotten to where we are on their own. Somewhere along the way, we were all helped by those around us. A few examples: A pair of college kids helping each other develop a computer program while using Lego bricks just to house their server, and an investor stepping forward to support them with $100,000. A young woman given the chance to join a TV talk show after starting as a radio news anchor, and then further persuaded by a mentor to sign a TV syndication deal.

Another story that I find truly inspiring is about the young immigrant that came to this country with $20 in his pocket. With the help of his mentors, friends, coaches, and many other people he became one of the most well-known people in the world.

 I think Arnold Schwarzenegger explains it best:

“I didn’t make it [this] far on my own. I mean, to accept that credit or that medal, would discount every single person that has helped me get here today, that gave me advice, that made an effort, that lifted me up when I fell. The whole concept of the self‑made man or woman is a myth.”

After we reflect on this for a while, I hope we can all appreciate the many, many people that helped us get to where we are today. Now we need to look forward to the coming years, and our role going forward.

Schwarzenegger concluded his speech with this call to action:

“As soon as you understand that you are here because of a lot of help, then you also understand that now is time to help others. Make sure that it is not about me. That it is about ‘we.’ Turn the ‘me’ into ‘we,’ and I guarantee you that you can change the world.”

So what is our next step? What do we do to turn ‘me’ into ‘we.’? How do we give back and become one of those people that helps everyone else achieve their potential? How do we rise to the call to action?

There are many ways to help others, both inside and outside of the bar. You could interview students for the HCBA 1L Diversity Clerkship Program, or serve as judge for the MSBA Mock Trial Program. Or you could volunteer as a mentor through Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, or any of our local law schools. Maybe consider coaching a sport, or volunteering with Big Brothers, Big Sisters. While it helps, you don’t even need a formal program or organization to be a mentor, just reach out and give back when and where you can.

Here is my call to action. Look back and recognize those that helped you get to where you are, let them know the impact they made on your life, then look for ways to do the same for others.

Headshot of man in suitLandon Ascheman

Landon Ascheman is the president of the Hennepin County Bar Association. He is a solo practitioner with Ascheman Law focusing primarily on criminal law.
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