The idea for the photo came in response to my recent success as a Cleveland medical malpractice attorney in resolving two groups of mass pharmaceutical tort claims: one for $50 million and another for $42.5 million.
It was taken by the very talented Jeff Downie. The photo shows me holding a stack of $100 dollar bills in one hand, while a cascade of money floats down upon me.
Over the last month, I was interviewed on four separate occasions by Jennifer Keirn for her feature story about me in the January issue of Cleveland Magazine.
The article is currently online at clevelandmagazine.com, titled, “Welcome to Misnyland.”
In addition to the in depth face-to-face interview of me, Jennifer painstakingly talked with over two dozen members of my family, friends, business associates, and acquaintances.
I have to admit I was holding my breath.
Although I’ve been the subject of many newspaper and magazine articles over the years, you never really know what to expect. Reading Jennifer’s story for the first time, I was very impressed with her overall knowledge of my life and her precise attention to detail.
The reaction I got from those who read the story was a revelation. One person, who knows me very well, emailed me and said, “I knew you were a success, but I didn’t realize you were that big of a success.”
Well, those are kind words, but this statement prompted me to think about the real meaning of the word success. I don’t think that money is the definition of success, but what is?
Everyone has their own personal idea of what success is. My mother and father considered themselves successful because they raised a good family. My 3-year-old son considers his 11-day-streak without a potty-training accident to be a success.
Others might point to a particular achievement, whether it is playing in the National Football League, holding a prestigious political office, or simply getting a good grade on an exam.
I have my own definition. A successful man or woman is the person who is at peace with their god, their fellow man, and themselves.
Think about that.
It really, truly has nothing to do with the accumulation of wealth, status, or the accolades that our society deems significant. It has everything to do with one’s essence and his or her moral fiber.
Over the years, as a former police prosecutor, attorney for the Cleveland Police Patrolman Association, and as a personal injury attorney for the injured victim and their families for 32 years, I have encountered virtually every type of person you can imagine.
Believe it or not, only a fraction of those were, in my eyes, “a success.” Real success is rare.
I have recently been lucky enough to get to know two people that I think completely embody my definition of success – Richard Osborne, the President of Villa Angela St. Joseph High School and Sister Corita Ambro, CSJ, from St. Augustine Parish, both in Cleveland, Ohio.
Success gives back
Richard Osborne, a 1969 graduate from then St. Joe’s High School, returned to his alma mater to pursue his passion and take over as president of the Cleveland high school, after a very long, successful career in publishing.
He was quoted saying, “I’ve had a lot of wonderful jobs over the years, but this one at VASJ is special…I have no intention of ever taking another job.”
When Richard became President, Villa Angela in Cleveland was backsliding. Enrollment had been steadily decreasing and rumors were rampant that this proud, private Catholic institution may close its doors.
Under this guidance, enrollment at VASJ has increased 25% in each of the last two years, and 100% of last year’s graduating class went on to college.
Although these facts are truly impressive, what is most amazing is the man himself. In every conversation I have with Richard, it is abundantly clear each student, faculty member, and member of the support staff is precious to him in their own way. And the icing on the cake – he constantly reminds me how lucky he is to be somewhere that he loves so dearly.
Richard Osbourne is a success.
Success is selfless and humble.
Sister Corita is Cleveland’s version of Mother Teresa. Boy, I know that must sound like a big overstatement, but it’s not.
She is selfless. She is humble. And, as the Director of the Hunger Center and an advocate for the deaf and poor for 35 years, she has dedicated her entire existence to helping people who are overwhelmed by problems we can’t even begin to comprehend.
St. Augustine Church’s Ministries to the Disabled includes a long list of programs and services, such as a Hunger Center, the Summer Garden which grows food for the poor, the Beatitude Ministry which serves children with disabilities, the Rainbow Camp to provide activities for disabled children, as well as helping the homeless and fundraising.
Sister Corita’s dedication to St. Augustine, these wonderful programs, and the people she serves is astonishing and humbling.
Sr. Corita is a success story.
Instant success or life’s work?
Becoming a success cannot be achieved overnight. Life often times moves at its own pace and in its own direction, but if we never lose sight of the ultimate goal of being peaceful with our god, our fellow man, and ourselves, we have a real chance of being a success.