If I die today, I want you to be happy. If I’ve lived my life the right way, I will be with God and nothing could make me happier. Know that I am at peace.
You can honor my life by living your life with enthusiasm and passion. Do not worry about me--I am in a better place. Make your life amazing.
17 Steps for Living a Better Life
These are the principles that have served me. Take them for what they are worth, and perhaps re-read them from time when you are feeling down.
#1: Live for the Moment: There is no magical destination, where life will be perfect. That is a myth. The beauty of life is in the journey. Savor the journey. Treat every moment as if it is precious, because it is.
#2: Dream without Limitation: Nothing is impossible. Write down your wildest, craziest dreams in a journal and re-read the journal from time to time. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t achieve your dreams.
#3: Make Mistakes—Lots of Them: Those who make mistakes are the most successful. Do not be afraid of mistakes—embrace them.
#4: Become the Best Version of Yourself: Whenever you have a decision to make throughout the course of a day, ask, “Will this make me a better version of myself?” If so, do it. Asking this question is a fulcrum for all of life’s decisions.
#5: Your Word is Everything: Without integrity and honesty, you have no chance. Your word is your most precious asset. Live a life of uncompromising integrity.
#6: Everyone is Your Equal: Regardless of who they are, everyone is a child of God and should be treated as your equal.
#7: Hangout with the Winners: Make friends with those who are the highest achievers. You will be the average of the 5 persons you spend the most time with. Don’t waste time with the lazy and unmotivated.
#8: Out-Work Your Peers: Hard work beats talent. The smartest and most intelligent never beat the hard workers. Work harder than your peers and you will beat them every time. Work like your life depends on it, because it does.
#9: Work on Your Relationships: The value of life comes from your relationships. Spend time every day nurturing your friendships and relationships and you will be rich.
#10: Possessions Mean Nothing: Do not spend your time obsessed over possessions. Possessions will not make you happy. Happiness is derived from incredible experiences and serving others.
#11: Find Your Passion: Find a field of work that you love. When you are passionate about what you do, work becomes fun.
#12: Don’t Quit: Failure is impossible for those who refuse to quit. When you are focused on a goal and refuse to quit, success is inevitable.
#13: Spend Time with God: Nurture your relationship with God through prayer. Spend time every day in the classroom of silence with God. God wants nothing more than your time.
#14: Do Not Dwell on the Past: Everyone makes mistakes and has done things that you’re not proud about. Forget about the past and focus on making small incremental improvements in your life every day.
#15: Forgive without Limitation: Forgive without reservation and do not hold grudges. Your resentment and grudges will only hurt you.
#16: Never Stop Learning: Be a continual learner. Read every day and strive to learn something new. Reading is the greatest skill a person can have.
#17: Exercise Every Day: Never let a day go by without exercise, even if it is 25 push-ups or a ½ mile jog. Treat your body like you will live forever. Your body will reward you when you get older.
The life you create is in your hands—I only ask that you do your best.
Words of Wisdom from Dad
When I was a junior in high school, my father, James H. Fisher, Esq., wrote an 11-page letter intended as a roadmap for my future. The words written with a pen and paper, but they might as well have been written in granite.
I cherish my dad’s letter and re-read it whenever I need reinforcement of the most important principles to living a successful life. I hope these words help you.
“Life Itself is a Lesson”: “There’s never a day that goes by, no matter how old we are, that we don’t learn something new and draw some lesson from just plain daily living. I’m talking of the lessons of life—not formal education.”
“Those who accept and benefit from the lessons of life are the people we call ‘mature’…Even bad things and disappointments can be good things if we learn from them.”
Hard, Unrelenting Work is the Most Important Thing: “Please don’t get the idea that I am asking you to be a high achiever for me and your mother. I’m not. I’m asking you to do it for you, and to be mindful of its importance.”
“It means hard, unrelenting work, but it will pay great dividends. By striving to achieve now, you will develop a pattern and personality that will become part of your adult life. It is the single, important thing that other people, and especially prospective employers, will look for and respect.”
Failure is Part of Life: “You must be mindful that failures and disappointments are part of life. Everyone has them in varying degrees. But it is the strong, mature person who copes with setbacks, puts them behind and uses them as a motivation to overcome—to strive harder.”
“You may have heard it said that God operates in mysterious ways and that things happen for the best, or out of bad things and disappointments always come something good. We should look at it that way.”
Set Your Goals High: “A teacher once said to me in words or substance: we don’t expect you to accomplish the impossible. You should not fall apart over failure provided you gave it your best shot.”
“Picture a bullseye (target) and you are holding the bow and arrow. If you aim for the center of the target (bullseye), you may miss, but it’s more likely you’ll come close to it. On the other hand, if you just aim to hit the overall, rather than the center of it, you may miss the entire thing.”
“The obvious point is that if you strive for perfection, the more likely it is that you will achieve it or come close. If you don’t set your aims high, the greater chance for failure.”
Be a Leader: “Be as friendly as you can and be humble. Never try to act like a wise guy or hot shot. It never pays.”
“But at the same time, be your own man. Stand on your own two feet. Strive to be a leader, and not a follower. Don’t look up to people, but at the same time, don’t look down on them.”
Treat Everyone as Your Equal: “Remember that everyone is a human being and has emotions. Everyone wants to be liked and well thought of even if they don’t show it.”
“Never treat anyone like a lesser human being because he or she has no education, a lowly job, a handicap or an abrasive personality—they usually can’t help it.”
Stick with the Winners: “A key thing to remember throughout your life is to stick with the winners.”
“Your close associations with people should be with the achievers—never with the goof off’s, drinkers, drug users, lazy people, etc. Avoid those people as your associates, but always be pleasant to them, even if you don’t approve of their lifestyle.”
Take Care of Your Body and Mind: “Always work hard to control your temper, even in the worst of situations.”
“Always be truthful and strive to be strong in character in body. A tired mind and body can’t achieve—nor can a sick mind and body. Good rest, good sleep habits and good diet are essential.”
Hard Work Beats Talent: “You may know a person who does well academically in spite of the fact that he stays up late, drinks, etc. The fact is that he could do much better if he didn’t.”
“These are the people who have more native intelligence than others and who get by with a minimum amount of work—they are the losers, because in spite of their native intelligence, they are working against themselves by doing the minimum necessary. They are developing a very bad habit that will follow them through life—laziness.”
“People with lesser native intelligence who are ambitious and reach their goal through hard work are the winners. These are the people employers want. I found that to be very true in law school. Those blessed with outstanding native legal ability never really made it in the practice of law—the hard workers did.”
Read Shakespeare with a Vengeance: “Some good lessons can be taken from great poets of the past—Shakespeare in particular. If you study Shakespeare in college, do it with a vengeance.”
“I recall a Shakespearian soliloquy in his play, Hamlet, where a father (Polonious) in seeing his son (Laertes) off, offered him advice based on Polonius’s mature experiences—a father’s attempt to mold good character in his son. As his son was leaving Polonius said:
“Don’t Speak or Act Without Careful Thought: “Give thy thoughts no tongue [don’t run off at the mouth or speak without thinking], nor any unproportioned thought his act [don’t act without careful thought].”
“Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar [be friendly, but not overbearing or rude].”
Cherish Your True Friendships: “The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel [cherish your true friendships and hold onto them]. But do not dull thy palm with entertainment of each new hatched, unfledged comrade [don’t dirty your hands or waste your time being overly friendly and generous with every person you meet. Even if they appear to be friends, don’t accept them as true friends until their friendship is tried and established].”
When You Have to Fight, Be Brave: “Beware of entrance into a quarrel [avoid fights and arguments], but being in, bear’d that the opposed may beware of thee [if you can’t avoid a fight or quarrel, then stand strong and don’t be fearful].”
Be Careful with Your Words: “Give each man thine ear, but few they voice [listen to everyone, but speak your mind only when it has meaning and importance].”
“Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment [if someone is critical of you, just listen and don’t form a quick judgment. Give it consideration].”
Be Frugal with Money: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be [avoid borrowing or lending money] for loan oft loses both itself and friend [if you lend money you will often lose it and the friction will cause the loss of a friend] and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry [the habit of borrowing will make you less frugal, less thrifty and adversely affect your ability to manage money.”
Be Truthful to Yourself: “This above all, to thine own self be true and it must follow, as the night [follows] the day, thou cannot then be false to any man [if you are truthful to yourself, it follows necessarily that you will be truthful with everyone—you will not be a phony].”
Show the World Your Abilities: “Aside from Shakespeare, I often think of the lines written by Thomas Gray, who, while strolling through an ancient church yard (cemetery) wrote, “Eulogy Written in a Country Churchyard”. Thomas Gray looked at the old tombstones and thought of the people buried there—and he wrote:
“Full many a gem of purest ray serene, the dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear” [he thought of the graves as dark, bottomless caves at the bottom of the ocean, many of which may contain beautiful gems, diamonds, etc.]
“Full many a flower is born to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air” (he thought to himself that many beautiful flowers—like the bodies buried there—are born and die—never to be noticed and never to have had a chance to show the world their sweetness and ability].
“What Thomas Gray was saying was that those people buried there may have been real gems—people of beauty and ability—who were born and died without ever having the opportunity to show the world their abilities.”
Dad’s Final Words: “If nothing else, you have the chance to do and to be whatever you will and as long as your mother and me are alive , we will always be there to help.”
“But you can never count on us being there—not even for tomorrow. You must be prepared to stand on your own feet, and to make your success in life without anyone’s help. You must start now.”
Begin with the End in Mind
Stephen R. Covey’s classic advice was to “begin with the end in mind”. Covey urged us to think of the vision for your life before you live it. Without a vision for your life—personal and professional—you have no chance of achieving your dreams.
When you die, what goals and dreams do you want to achieve? You won’t achieve your dreams without writing them down. Writing your own obituary is a way to document the vision for your life. Here’s my shot.
The Obituary of John H. Fisher
My life has been blessed by the sacrifices made by my family, friends and mentors.
John’s Final Positive Focus
Every work day, I began the team meetings at our law firm with a statement of gratitude. When you are grateful, nothing bad can happen. As my final positive focus, I pay tribute to those who made sacrifices to give me a better life.
My Mother, Sally A. Fisher: For always making me feel like the most important person in the world. You only saw the good in me.
My Father, James H. Fisher, Esq.: For being the best role model a lawyer could have. You worked harder than anyone and passed along the most invaluable lesson: hard work beats talent.
My Mentors in the Pratice of Law: To John W. Tabner, Esq., John K. Powers, Esq. and Daniel R. Santola, Esq., for being the best mentors a lawyer could have. You taught me the skills to run a catastrophic injury law firm. Nothing that I achieved would have been possible without you.
John’s Wife: Lisa M. Fisher: For always believing in me.
John’s Children: Tim, Lily & Alek Fisher: For making life worth living. You are t the joy of my life.
Why John Practiced Law
John loved the practice of law. There is nothing John enjoyed doing more than helping the seriously disabled in medical malpractice and catastrophic injury cases. John was grateful for the opportunity to have a profound impact on the lives of the seriously disabled. That is why John practiced law.
The focus of John’s career was helping plaintiff’s lawyers own and operate their own law firm. John’s mission was to give plaintiff’s lawyers the resources, knowledge and practical skills to own and operate their own law firm. To the extent that John helped even one fellow plaintiff’s lawyer become more successful, he died with a smile on his face.
John was the author of best-selling books about law firm marketing and management, including The Power of a System and The Law Firm of Your Dreams. John’s book, The Power of a System, has been named the #1 Law Firm Book of All Time. John’s books have given lawyers—young and old—the knowledge and resources in marketing and management to create the law firm of their dreams.
John was the founder of two of the leading masterminds for lawyers, Mastermind Experience and Plaintiffs Elite, where lawyers across the country collaborate, brainstorm and share best practice tips to make their law firms better. John’s singular purpose in his professional life was to have the nation’s top mastermind for lawyers.
My Final Wish
You can pay tribute to John’s life by paying forward everything you’ve learned to someone who is less fortunate. By paying forward your gifts, you honor those who have sacrificed for you. When you give, without any expectation of getting anything in return, you pave the road for others to succeed. And that is the greatest gift of all.