SAMUEL LEIBOWITZ : The meaning of being “Grateful”

This is the story of Samuel Leibowitz (August 14, 1893 – January 11, 1978), a famous criminal lawyer who never lost any murder case.
While he won many cases in the court room, he is widely known for “THE SCOTTSBORO TRIAL”.

In this case, nine young blacks were convicted of raping two white women in a moving train in Alabama, in 1931. The case prosecutes did not bother to go in depth about the case, and the verdict was highly influenced by the racism which existed in society.

All nine were sentenced to death by an Alambama state court in 1933. Leibowitz took the case and worked on it for years without accepting any payment or fees. Finally, he helped them get the justice. Along with this famous case he won, he saved seventy-eight men from going to electric chair. Or you can say that he saved seventy-eight men from death sentence.

What would you do if someone helped you live couple of more years on this earth to see your beautiful family, and this world? You would be forever beholden to him, right?

How many people do you think stopped to thank Samuel Leibowitz, or expressed gratitude in return of what he did? None. No one took the trouble to thank him for all he had done for them. The bitter truth truth about human nature is that it is full of ingratitude.

That’s how it goes. Almost always we do not bother to count nine things which go well and crib around just one thing which goes wrong. Human nature has always been human nature- and it probably won’t change in a lifetime.

Therefore, let’s not expect gratitude. Take joy in doing favour for others without expecting anything in return. That’s the only way to live happily, and to die peacefully.

I am going to meet people today, who talk too much, people who are selfish, egoistical, ungrateful. But I won’t be surprised of disturbed, for I couldn’t imagine a world without such people. – Marcus Aurelius

Here is something I learned today, ‘Beholden’ which means ‘Grateful’ or ‘Obligated’,


One day, if someone gets up on the right side of the bed and calls me and says, “You are the greatest person on earth. You are doing a great job and i want you to know I am honoured to call you a friend, ” I know he is sincere. How does it make me feel? Great. But the next day, he gets up on the wrong side of the bed, picks up the phone and says, “You rascal, you cheat, you crook! You are the biggest fraud in town. ” How does it make me feel? Terrible.

So the first day when he says “you are the greatest guy,” I feel great and the next day when he says” you cheat,” i feel terrible. Who is controlling my life?Obviously, he is. Is that the way I want to go through life? Not at all. That is being externally driven.

I want to be internally driven. When he calls me and says I am the greatest guy, it is good to hear those words. But even if he doesn’t say those words, in my own estimation, I am still a good human being. And the next day when he rips me apart, while his words may initially sting, he can’t bring me down, because in my own estimation, I am having the same mindset like the previous day. When a person makes statements like, “You make me angry,” the focus of control is external. But if he says, “I am angry” or “I choose to be angry”, the focus is internal.

No one can make you feel inferior without your permission – Eleanor Roosevelt

So long as we blame outside sources, our miseries will continue and we will feel helpless. Unless we accept responsibility for our feelings and behaviour, we cannot change. The first step is to ask:

  • Why did i get upset?
  • Why am i angry ?
  • Why am i depressed?

Then we start getting clues to overcome them. Happiness is a result of positive self-esteem. If you ask people what makes them happy, you will get all kinds of answers. Most of them would include material things but that is not really true. Happiness comes from being and not having. One can have everything in life and yet not be happy. The reverse is also true.

Happiness is internal. Happiness is like a butterfly. If you run after it, it keeps flying away. If you stand still, it comes and sits on your shoulder.

“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” ―Vivian Greene


What would happen if you drove your car with the brakes on? You’d never go full speed because the brakes would offer resistance. Your car would overheat and break down. If it didn’t break down, the resistance would strain the engine. To get to your destination, you would have to make one of two choices: You could either press the accelerator harder and risk damage, or release the brakes to make the car go faster.

This analogy is a good parallel to life because many of us go through life with emotional brakes on. What are the brakes? They are the factors that prevent you from achieving success – fear, laziness, lack of pride, addictions and so forth. The way to release your emotional brakes is by building a positive attitude and high self-esteem and by accepting responsibility.

” Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.” – Charles Schultz

Success involves taking calculated risks. Risk-taking does not mean gambling foolishly and behaving irresponsibly. People sometimes mistake irresponsible and rash behaviour as risk-taking. They end up with negative results and blame it on bad luck. Risk-taking is relative. The concept of risk varies from person to person and can be a result of training. Consider a case of 2 persons, A trained mountain climber and a novice, mountain climbing is risky, but to the trained person it is not irresponsible risk taking. Responsible risk taking is based on knowledge, training, careful study, confidence and competence- factors that give you the courage to act while facing fear. The person who never attempts anything risky makes no mistakes. However, not making the attempt is often a bigger mistake than making the attempt and failing. Indecision is habit forming and contagious. Many opportunities are lost because of indecision. Take risks, but don’t gamble. Risk-takers move ahead with their eyes open. Gamblers shoot in the dark.

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt



On the brightest sunny day, the most powerful magnifying glass will not set a piece of paper on fire if you keep moving the glass. But if you focus the light and hold it on one spot, the paper will burn. This is the power of concentration.


On July 4, 1952, Florence Chadwick was on her way to becoming the first woman to swim the Catalina Channel. She had already conquered the English Channel, The world was watching. Florence fought the dense fog, the bone-chilling cold and the sharks. She was striving to reach the shore but every time she looked through her goggles, all she could see was the dense fog. Unable to see the shore, she gave up. Florence was disappointed when she found out that she was only half a mile from the coast. She quit, not because she was a quitter , but her goal was not in sight anywhere. The elements didn’t stop her. She said, “I’am not making excuses. If only I had seen the land, I could have made it.” Two months later, she went back and swam the Catalina Channel. This time, in spite of the bad weather, she had her goal in mind and not only accomplished it , but beat the men’s record by two hours.

Suppose a soccer team is all charged up, enthusiastically ready to play a game, when someone takes the goalposts and goal line away. What would happen to the game? There is nothing left. How do you keep score? How do you know you have arrived? Enthusiasm without direction is like wildfire and leads to frustration. Goals give a sense of direction. Would you board a train or plane without knowing where it was going? Of course not. Then why do people go through life without having any goals?

The men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. -Lloyd Jones


Education teaches us what we can do and also teaches us what we cannot do. To make the things simple about Intelligent Ignorance, let’s learn from nature , According to scientists, the bumblebee’s body is too heavy and its wingspan too small for it to be able to fly. But the bumblebee doesn’t know that and it keeps flying.

When you don’t know your limitations, you go out and surprise yourself. In hindsight, you wonder if you had any limitations to begin with. The only limitations a person has are those that are self-imposed. Don’t let education put limitations on you.

Henry Ford gave this world the V8 engine. He did not have much formal education. In fact, he did not go to school beyond the age of 14. He was intelligent enough to know that a V8 engine would be of great value to his company but he didn’t know how to build it. So he asked all his highly educated or qualified people to build one. According to them, a V8 was impossible to build. But Henry Ford insisted on having his V8. A few months later he asked his people if they had the V8 and they replied, “We know what can be done and we also know what cannot be done. The V8 is an impossibility.” This went on for many months and still Henry Ford said, “I want my V8.” And shortly thereafter the same people who said it was impossible produced his V8 engine.

Why? They let their imagination run beyond academic limitation. Education teaches us what can be done and sometimes also teaches us false limitations.

( For those who are wondering , what is a V8 engine? – The V stands for the shape of the engine. The 8 stands for the number of cylinders in the engine. So, a V8 engine means a V-shaped engine with a total of 8 cylinders.

So, Let’s develop a nature like the bumblebee, ignoring our self made limitations and keep working towards the target.

I’m looking for a lot of men with an infinite capacity for not knowing what cannot be done. Henry Ford

Get Rid Of The Cargo You Don’t Need

Amid all the hoopla of the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, one tragic casualty was generally overlooked. Boomer, a bald eagle, didn’t make it. In the extravagant opening ceremonies Boomer was scheduled to soar into the Coliseum to the strains of “America The Beautiful.” Unfortunately, Boomer was unable to show up for his performance. Three days before the Olympics opened, Boomer died-of stress, they said. Just guess even an eagle can tell when things are out of hand. People-pressure was just too much for the old bird. He knew how to survive the dangers of the wilderness but not the stress of civilization. We can relate with poor Boomer. We all have those crushing moments when we feel as if we’re dying of stress. Recent medical research tells us that many people are literally killed by stress. How do we handle the rest of the mess-the circumstances beyond our control?

Imagine the Plight of the Sailors who during their voyage are got caught in the midst of a raging and fierce storm, there are important answers in their lifestyle.

A Navigating officer from one of the Voyage describes one of the disaster that threatened the ship, which was transporting Cargos. They lost all control of their circumstances-yet they survived. And locked inside this storm-tossed story are the basic skills we need to survive the storms of stress.

Imagine in such a way, that during the beginning of voyage. “If someone had suggested to the captain of the ship upon departure, that the cargo, the ship’s tackle, and maybe even his favourite chair were going overboard, and they were not needed for the travel, he probably would have burned their ears with his reply. Yet when the storm hit, they decided they could do without some items they once were sure they needed.

If we are going to handle our own personal matters ourselves, we will have to get rid of the cargo we do not need. Of course, it sometimes takes a storm to make us even consider letting go.

Some of our “extra cargo” may be bad things we have accumulated like barnacles: a compromising relationship, deepening debt, a growing obsession with money, an addiction, inferiority complex, a critical attitude, an entangling sinful habit- things we hang on to, until a storm exposes how they are sinking us.

A Storm is our chance to change, when the rough weather subsides, we tend to return to the same overloaded or wrongly loaded lifestyle. That in turn could set the stage for an even bigger storm. If you want to survive your personal “hurricane”, evaluate your extra cargo and get rid of it before it sinks you-one way or another,

There is one more survival skill for a storm, which reminds us that, ‘the ship doesn’t matter. Only the people do, with all the pressure to achieve and accomplish, the people we love can slowly get pushed to the corners of our lives.

Neglect is not intentional – Weeds grow in our garden, not because we plant them, but we forget them. In the same way , many a times a man may neglect his wife or a child in his dust as he speeds towards his career goals. Sometimes a woman slowly vanishes from the most important moments of her loved ones as she loses herself in a job. Co-workers or employees can become functions instead of people with needs,

In the pursuit of peace, the “ship” – the project , the schedule, the deadline, the organization, the budget-may be lost on the rocks. That is costly, but it’s okay. It is our people we cannot afford to lose. If the storm blows you back to them, you have all you really need. You can always find another ship. “It usually takes a storm to restore our values.”


“Three peoples were laying bricks. A passerby asked them what they were doing. The first one replied, “Don’t you see I am making a living?” The second one said, “Don’t you see I am laying bricks?” The third one said, “I am building a beautiful monument.” Here were three people doing the same thing who had totally different perspectives on what they were doing. They had three very different attitudes about their work. And would their attitude affect their performance? The answer is clearly yes.

Keeping the above story in mind , you can relate to those three characters in your life and work, In today’s world, pride in performance has fallen down drastically, because it requires a lot of effort and hard work. However, nothing happens unless it is made to happen. When one is discouraged, it is easy to look for shortcuts and other cheap ways to get the work done. However these should be avoided no matter how great the temptation. Pride comes from within- it is what gives the winning edge. Pride of performance does not represent ego. It represents pleasure with humility. The quality of the work and the quality of the worker are inseparable. Half-hearted effort does not produce half results; it produces no results.

Excellence comes when the performer takes pride in doing his best. Every job is a self-portrait of the person who does it, regardless of what the job is. Most people forget how fast you did a job, but they remember how well it was done.

If a man is called to be street sweeper , he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The feeling of a job well done is a reward in itself. It is better to do small things well than do many things poorly.


This is a story about two boys who loved history, but hated tours , In fact , they have managed to make the word tour into two very long syllables. “Daddy,” they moan pitifully, ” are we going on a toooooooo-ur?” When their dad assured them that they were going to see an early-American town, not just costumed ladies telling about old buildings, they agreed .Cautiously

On reaching the planned spot, they saw the peoples going on with their own regular job, The craftsmen made the place come alive. The blacksmith worked his magic with fire and iron. The miller showed them how a water wheel and some wheat equals flour. And the potter made them forget any leftover impressions of a “toooooooo-ur.” His skill was almost hypnotic. He sat at his wheel, rhythmically turning the shaft with his feet. In a nearby corner were shapeless, seemingly worthless gray blobs of clay. One of those former blobs was now the focus of all their attention. With practiced fingers the potter was working that clay upwards into a smooth and shapely vase.

The potter’s shack was cramped, too small for all the people crowded in to watch on that hot day. Eventually, the crowd left. But these two boys wanted to stay. They had noticed two shelves of finished vases, one on either side of the potter. With childlike innocence one of the boys reached out to touch. “Careful!” the craftsmen exclaimed. “Please don’t touch the pottery on that shelf. You’ll ruin it. “Then he surprised them when he said, “Why don’t you touch the ones on the other shelf?” Needless to say, they were curious why some vases could be touched and not others.

Glancing at the “do-not-touch” shelf, he explained, ” These haven’t been fired yet. ” The potter told them that , there was more to making masterpieces than just making the blobs into beautiful shapes. If he stopped at that point, they would quickly be marred and misshapen. Without the fire, the potter’s work is still beautiful, but too fragile.

The other vases could be touched because they had twice been baked in his kiln at temperatures of more than 2000 degrees. “The fire makes the clay firm and strong,” finally the potter concluded. ” “Fire makes the beauty last.” That was the trigger.

The Potter was talking to them about a fire that increases the value of something precious. Having spent most of his adult years in an oven-a pressure cooker, to be exact- He knew about Fire. Much of it could be traced to his overheated schedule and over committed lifestyle. That heat was his own fault. Further , the potter clarified ,But there is another fire that comes not from me but from the Master Potter inside me. There is, to be sure , a heat that burns, and another heat that beautifies.

Now, comparing the Pot to our life , and the Potter to our circumstances , we should be able to identify the fire which we are dealing with , the fire from outside , or the fire from within , The outside fire may burn , but the fire from inside us will beautify our life. Both are needed for our life .


Have you ever heard the story about the farmer who told his wife one morning that he was going to plough the southern side of his farm ?He got off to an early start so he could oil the tractor . He needed more oil, so he went to the shop to get it. On the way to the shop, he noticed his cows weren’t fed . So he proceeded to the cattle feed , where he found some sacks of feed. The sacks reminded him that his potatoes were sprouting. When he started for the potato pit , he passed the woodpile and remembered that his daughter wanted wood in the house. As he picked up a few sticks , an ailing goat passed by. He dropped the wood and reached for the goat. When evening arrived , the frustrated farmer had not even gotten to the tractor, let alone the field!

How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation? You intended to do something you knew was important, but were distracted and never accomplished what you set out to do.

Or perhaps you can think of something that you have always wanted to do but can never find time for.

By the same question, are you aware of something that you do often that is a waste of time ?

If you are a normal person, you answered “Yes” to both questions and thought of something specific in each case. Isn’t it strange that we can want to do one thing for a long time and never get to it, and yet at the same time we freely admit that we are wasting time on other activities ?