Monday, December 12, 2005

Where arrogance can get you.

I enjoy following the Miami Dolphins professional football team. I don't have season tickets, but I try to catch them on TV and on the radio when I can, and then I listen to the sportstalk shows, which are just about the lowest form of mass communication thus far invented. You may be surprised to know that I find the Dolphins much more interesting to follow now than they were during the Marino years. The team's struggles create a lot of drama, and how the players and coaches deal with adversity is worth the attention. With Nick Saban as their new coach this year, they have become particularly fun to follow. Saban is a thoroughly competent, no-nonsense guy, and he really doesn't seem to care much what the various sports "journalists" think, and I definitely like that. And he is doing a great job.

The Dolphins beat San Diego Sunday and I got to watch the first half and about 4 minutes of the second half before "life" interrupted. San Diego was a two touchdown favorite, after a slow start they had become one of the NFL's "hot" teams, and everyone was looking forward not to the Dolphins game but the game with the undefeated Colts, the game the week following the game with the Fins. As I began watching the Dolphins game, I could see the arrogance in the San Diego players as they roughed up the dolphins pretty well that first quarter. Perhaps the most obvious acts of contempt that the Chargers committed were the two fourth down plays that they ran instead of punting. The first time they made the first down. As San Diego got ready to run a fourth down play a second time, the TV commentators, who had talked about the Dolphins with a sort of gentle disdain, said that calling such play again on fourth down was an insult to the Dolphins. And it turned out to be a "down too far". When San Diego failed to make the first down, I thought that it could be the game's turning point, and I believe it was. The Dolphins went on to win, an "improbable victory" as I heard the talking heads say. I also thought it a lesson in what arrogance can do to talent. What hard work and staying focused can do for the underdog. What a few small stones can do to a giant.

I see arrogance all the time. All the time. I don't talk about my cases often on the blog, for obvious reasons, but we have a recent case in our office where a lawyer's arrogance led his client into years of expensive litigation that is still ongoing. The lawyer was excellent in one area of the law, but not so good in the area where we practice, and the outcome was inevitable.

Regarding the work you are doing, do you feel like you are just hanging on by your fingernails? That's my usual mode of self-evaluation. I have just no idea how I manage year after year to practice law well enough to pay the mortgage. (Well, I do have an idea: the grace of God.) The "hanging by one's fingernails" point of view is probably not a bad working image to carry around in one's head most of the time. I'm not depressed by that image - it probably works for me. Not only does it "work", its probably the right image.

Our Friday morning breakfast group has been in the midst of the Book of Job for about 16 years. (Well, it seems like 16 years. Our leader, Austin, finds it so fascinating that he won't let go of it.) We have concluded (we are hardly the first so to conclude) that Job's problem, finally, was pride. He was proud to be righteous. He was crafting a life that approached perfection - his own life. That pursuit was the focus of his attention. But God is a jealous God, and so he deals with Job as he does.

Go Dolphins!

No comments: