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Dave Shearon
Knowledgeable, passionate, and sometimes too serious, I like ideas, family, friends, and pets.
Interests: The Five Challenges of Law, positive psychololgy, thriving, lawyering, continuing legal education, k-12 education, leadership, technology, mind mapping, business management and strategy, archery, science fiction, baseball
Recent Activity
I've come to think of gratitude, strengths, optimism, Appreciative Inquiry, high quality connections and more as parts of what seems to be an appreciative stance toward life. The practice on regularly noting these moments goes by many names. The Army calls it "Hunt the Good Stuff". Marty Seligman used "Count Your Blessings". With lawyers, I call it "Right-Spotting" (to contrast to "issue spotting") Rich Gardner, Jr. in his column "Count Your Blessings" in today's Wall Street Journal, talks about this. (BTW, getting to sit and read the complimentary copy of the WSJ at my Fairfield Inn's free breakfast while I'm stranded in NYC until tomorrow after my flight home yesterday was cancelled could be on my list tonight!) He describes his family's habit of going around the car after a trip away and talking about the best part of the trip. Sometimes, they even take multiple turns. He notes that this habit attunes one to notice and store up the good times, an effect others of us have noticed when we follow a regular pattern of recording what goes right in our lives. Enjoy the article! Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2014 at DaveShearon
I've been experimenting with Springpad and Evernote. I've actually used Springpad in a limited way for several years. I especially like using it for products - I have a folder for books and another for wines that is shared with family members. I love the ability to scan a bar code and (90% of the time) add the product, with reviews, links to purchases, price comparisons, etc. Very nice. I've also used it for a travel checklist and a few other items. But, not a major effort with it. I've looked at Evernote several times, but never been hooked. However, due to my colleague Larry Richard's recommendation, I've taken another look. And, over the holidays, I've played with both and done some looking at reviews and blogposts about each. Springpad's Promise I started off leaning to Springpad, partly because I was already familiar with it, partly because Evernote just didn't make as much sense to me intuitively, and partly just because I like to try out the newer and less-used product. As I dug in, I thought I was really going to like Springpad. First, you can look at items within a folder - notes, products, etc. - in a number of views and sorted different ways. And this includes a free-form "pinboard" sort of view that lets you move things around. LOVE this for organizing ideas! Also, Springpad claimed the ability to sync with Google Calendar, so I could handle appointments, engagements, events, and so forth as items within... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2014 at DaveShearon
In a post at Law21, Jordan Furlong claims that no one wants to ask whether Mandatory Continuing Legal Education programs work, i.e, that they improve attorney competence. He suggests there is no evidence. There is. But MCLE organizations do need to pay more attention to the evidence. Evidence for the effectiveness of MCLE: New York Study of CPE for Accountants New York implemented mandatory CPE for accountants in the mid-90s and the state legislature required a study of effectiveness as part of that implementation. The study was run by Arden Grotelueschen, PhD, University of Illinois who was, at the time, the leading exert in the world on continuing adult professional education. They spent a half million dollars and concluded: Mandatory programs increase partcipation in continuing education, and Increased participation in continuing education correlates with increased knowledge. So, what those of us who have been involved in MCLE for decades have always assumed - that attending CLE programs would increase lawyer knowledge levels - turns out to be validated. Who wants to argue some state or province should repeat this study just to show the same in law? (As far as I can tell, the technical reports from this work aren't online anywhere, but I've got a scanned copy. Email me, dave.shearon at, and I'll send you the file.) Evidence for the effectiveness of MCLE: Lawyer Response Jordan also suggests asking lawyers about MCLE. Again, it's been done. Repeatedly. In multiple states. Over more than a decade. And the results... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2013 at DaveShearon
I recently read Steve Jobs biography. Very interesting in many ways. He was a huge Bob Dylan fan. Which made it interesting when Pandora served up "Forever Young", apparently written as a blessing for a child after Dylan became a father.I can imagine thinking that in my 30s with young children. Not so much today as they are young adults. Glad to see what they have become and more aware of my own mortality. And, yet, there's Bob Seeger singing this song with a children's choir at 91. Anyway, Karen Reivich hooked me on videos of versions of great songs by great artists. Here's Bob, and The Band (who recorded with him), and Bob Seeger. So, enjoy. Which is your favorite? Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2013 at DaveShearon
Does any of this happen to you (or to an attorney you manage) - especially when you are tired or under pressure? You're not really happy doing what you do, but you're stuck. Talk of setting goals leaves you cold; you're not being pulled into the future by things that... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2013 at Thriving Lawyers
First, give yourself a pat on the back - you clicked through to this page! That shows you are ready to try some things - and knowing what to do and being willing to try is all it takes to get moving toward more of what you want! We're ready... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2013 at Thriving Lawyers
When you find something you love, do more of it. I love training the skills that help folks bounce back and bounce forward, whether it's with the Army, with teachers using Smart Strengths, or with my fellow lawyers. This week, I get two opportunities! First focusing on strengths in a CLE program sponsored by the Memphis Bar Association on Thursday, then in a joint program with Candice Reed that we are putting on here in Nashville on Friday! Even with the pressure of finishing up materials and the anxiety of trying out some new approaches, I am excited. I love it. which tells me I need to do more of this in the new year. Roger. Wilco! Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2012 at DaveShearon
I've just finished reading Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy: It Works for Me - It Can Work for You by Albert Ellis, one of the founders (he'd say THE founder) of cognitive behavioral therapy. Dr. Ellis is recognized as one of the sources for the work on resilience I'm involved in and I wanted to know a bit more about him and his work. Wow! Interesting guy! The book's an easy read and engaging read even if you know nothing about REBT, cognitive psychology, etc. The stories of Dr. Ellis' life were intriguing and engagingly told, and the book does open a window, at least, into the power of deep patterns in our thinking - the beliefs about the world and our place in it - the shoulds and musts. Anyway, I know it is a bit weird to connect a Christmas song with a man who was a practicing Jew as a child and a "probalistic atheist" from 13 on, but this song (1) seems to capture some of REBT, (2) was written by a great guy whom I used to go to church with, Kyle Matthews, and (3) is one of my very favorites. Hope you enjoy: Continue reading
Posted Dec 2, 2012 at DaveShearon
I'm starting to dip my toe into the market for a new laptop (tablet?). I use several programs that are best available on Windows (Mindmanager for one). So, I'm reading reviews. Love great language. This from Wired: "Microsoft has stuck to the Windows Way. For over a decade, it’s been serving scoops of vanilla to compete with Apple’s waffle cones of mint chocolate chip with rainbow sprinkles." Photo by ElizabethHudy, Flickr Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2012 at DaveShearon
"Navigating a No-Phone Zone" by Jason Gay in the Wall Street Journal for Friday, April 6, ( provides a great window into the experience of the gallery at the Masters with its "no phones" policy. That's as in no phones. They'll escort you out if you use one. Wow. And, cool! Mr. Gay describes the experience as "oddly satisfying." He says that fans "look at things - with their eyes. They solve questions - by asking nearby human beings. They come up with clever comments and somehow survive without offering them to the world in 140 characters." Love that last bit! He goes on to talk about having to make plans (meet under the big tree at 2 pm) and then having to stick to them! And he points out that, because they weren't looking at their phones, spectators got to watch, really watch, the event. They didn't miss key moments, or fail to make interesting observations from seemingly mundane moments, because they were too busy texting, tweeting, typing, or touching (the screen - not a person!). This strikes me as a policy that promotes mindfulness. Right now, my personal working definition of mindfulness is: sustained, continuously re-focused non-judgmental attention to what is. In other words, it involves paying attention to some aspect of reality (one's breath is a frequent focus, but the Masters should work!) and continuously re-focusing on that reality when the mind wanders. Some Masters fans may be more non-judgmental than others: noticing the heat of the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2012 at DaveShearon
What a great story. "Pocket Hercules" turns 100! Values: Thrown in prison for protesting oppression in India. Resilience: Trained so hard in prison, the guards gave him a special diet to build stamina. Happiness: "I never allow any sort of tension to grip me. I had to struggle to earn money since my young days, but whatever the situation, I remained happy." Continue reading
Posted Mar 28, 2012 at DaveShearon
For many, meaning is a critical component of a good life. We want to feel that we matter and that we are connected in some way to something greater or bigger than we are. I've run across two pieces recently that speak to this, one in the course of commenting on how the social structure and role of government in the developed world is and must change, the second in a piece on global warming. Here they are, with links. The pieces are well worth your time, but the quotes can stand on their own: "Many Americans became (and remain) stuff-rich and meaning-poor. Many people classified as “poor” in American society have an historically unprecedented abundance of consumer goods—anything, essentially, that a Fordist factory here or abroad can turn out. But far too many Americans still have lives that are poor in meaning, in part because the blue social model separates production and consumption in ways that are ultimately dehumanizing and demeaning. A rich and rewarding human life neither comes from nor depends on consumption, even lots of consumption; it comes from producing goods and services of value through the integration of technique with a vision of social and personal meaning. Being fully human is about doing good work that means something." Walter Russell Mead, "The Once and Future Liberalism" Powerful. The second piece is an account of a lecture by Lord Christopher Monckton on the issue of global warming at Union College, Schenectady, NY. After the lecture, in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2012 at DaveShearon
Thought about you when I wrote this, Louis! Yep, SoMo!
Leadership. What's it made of? Suppose your task was to get a crowd of Americans at a sporting event to really sing the Star Spangled Banner. How would you do it? Think about it. Got your answer? Now watch these two videos - your day will be better for the few minutes, and you might have a new thought about leadership. I'll give a few thoughts below the videos, but feel free to add yours in the comments. Sometimes leaders are out front singing, and success doesn't always come from perfection. It can come from letting our imperfections show. Sometimes leaders are on the sidelines, ready to step in and stand by us when we falter. And sometimes, we are all - the whole crowd of us in the endeavor - leaders. That's when magic happens. Who are you going to pick up today? Continue reading
Posted Mar 18, 2012 at DaveShearon
This post is actually a response to John Merrow's Huffington Post column on value-added. Recommended - it's quite good! First, I appreciate Mr. Merrow going to the source. I've known and worked with Bill for years and his work inspired my passion for education, leading ultimately to serving on the school board here in Nashville. His work is solid but the policy recommendations drawn from it are often wrong. Part of that is Tennessee's fault - we've had almost 20 years to learn how to help teachers add more value, and we've failed because we spent most of those 20 years fighting the data rather than working with it. Based on years of working with that data from a policy perspective and my work in positive psychology, here are my policy recommendations: 1. Recruit great teacher candidates. TFA has found that high grades and test scores from top colleges are not enough. We need better data on the qualities of character and outlook that make for great teachers, and how to select for them (I suspect there will be multiple patterns), but, in the meantime, look to resilience - especially optimism and a growth mindset - plus a passion for teaching. 2. Help teachers develop personally to become more resilient, more growth-minded, better at relationships, more focused on strengths - and show them proven ways to help develop these same qualities in students while teaching academic content. The Army is doing this for sergeants to help soldiers; why can't we... Continue reading
Posted Jan 20, 2012 at DaveShearon
Should you try to be more optimistic, hopeful, and positive because it could make you live longer? CBS News has a story out entitled "Just how powerful IS positive thinking?" (OK, "positive thinking" is a poor term for the constructs referenced in the research. It's journalism - take what you get!) The story questions - based on research - whether optimists, for example, experience better recovery results when faced with things like cardiovascular disease or cancer. The article leaves the impression that science clearly says no. Leading researcher Marty Seligman in his new book Flourish, disputes that conclusion, pointing to a recent review of 83 studies of optimism and physical health that indicate some significant effects. Dr. Seligman suggests the cancer question is unsettled but also predicts that work coming out of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program is going to give us much better answers to these questions in the next few years. So what? None of us is getting out of this alive. The question is, how are you going to live? In my (still mostly hypothetical) course Positive Psychology through Country Music, I'd probably use Tim McGraw's "Live Like You Were Dying." (Video below!) It's the message of man who thought he had a short time to live and started doing what he knew was important and meaningful to him. Think bucket list. I am reminded of the story in The Resilience Factor by Reivich and Shatte of the man diagnosed with a terminal but manageable illness... Continue reading
Posted Nov 30, 2011 at DaveShearon
Teresa & I are fans of the acapella group Straight No Chaser. They began at Indiana University about a decade ago, and their "signature" song is a crazy rendition/mashup based on "The Twelve Days of Christmas." They are also a great example of Chris Peterson's shorthand for the key findings of positive psychology to date, "Other people matter." SNC got their big break because a fan posted a video of them to Youtube. They have not forgotten. They welcome recordings at their performances (I hope to get a clip of them in Nashville doing "Rocky Top" later this week!), and they have gone beyond that to celebrate with their fans. I find a lot to like in this - and it gets me in the holdiay spirit. Hope you enjoy! Continue reading
Posted Nov 28, 2011 at DaveShearon
Happy to say that Kentucky has accredited the two currently-available distance learning courses from Thriving Lawyers Institute! Ky joins TN, RI, and IL, in accrediting both courses. NY lawyers may claim credit under NY's Approved Jurisdicition regulation. TX accredits "Law's Five Challenges to Thriving" only. In celebration, the $49 offer for the combined courses - 3+ hours of credit - is in effect: These courses are highly interactive with custom-developed interactivity features not found in other distance learning MCLE courses. Law’s Five Challenges to Thriving: Many law students start to lose their thriving edge in the first few months of law school. This trend continues in practice where the well-being of lawyers is strikingly low compared to other professions. Why? This course pulls from multiple sources of cutting edge research to both explain a unique set of challenges faced by lawyers and give practical steps lawyers can implement immediately to get more of what they want out of life and the practice of law. We’re talking the foundation of professionalism here! Flexible & Accurate Thinking for Lawyers: A foundational skill for a more resilient, thriving oriented approach to practice and life – and one that may be uniquely valuable to lawyers – is flexible and accurate thinking. In many cases, for lawyers this will mean more realistic optimism, but the focus is always on flexibility and accuracy. Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2011 at DaveShearon
What do you think? Can the application of positive psychology on a broad scale create more positive cultures - habitual, common patterns of interaction that facilitate getting more of what's really important in life for more people? I've run across several items recently that have made me think about this. (I include excerpts and links below.) Assuming that cultures really are significantly different from place to place in ways that make a real difference in how likely an individual is to get what's really important in life, and that we can call this a "positive culture": 1. What are the mechanisms of a positive culture? How can a non-positive culture establish the necessary set of such mechanisms? Are there mechanisms in a non-positive culture that must be actively destroyed in order to allow positive mechanisms to take hold? 2. What is the smallest area that can establish and maintain a stable, self-reinforcing positive culture? 3. What role does the legal structure play, and how does this affect the smallest area question. For example, in the US, could a city located in a state with complex legal requirements that make it difficult to operate a business succeed in creating a positive culture? 4. What research points the way forward in this area? Here are the items that have stimulated my thinking: An article in Der Speigel ( focused on the cultural differences that make it much easier for a business to succeed in Estonia than in Greece. It begins with the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2011 at DaveShearon
Hmmm... CMT, I would respond, except I really do not know what you are talking about. Feel free to contact me by email. You can use the "Email Me" link on the right side of the page.
Toggle Commented Oct 24, 2011 on At the NEA! at DaveShearon
What if you encountered your worst fear - for your career, your current endeavor, whatever - and got through it? Sara Hoyt, one of my favorite writers, has a great post today that covers that - and more! She demonstrates how to challenge counter-productive thinking (a skill I teach) and has a couple of great resilience quotes, including one from an Army guy! Check it out - maybe you'll find some traction for your own challenges! Continue reading
Posted Sep 14, 2011 at DaveShearon
Brian Leiter's Law School Reports has a post about ten "transformative" law school deans in the last decade. Wow. Talk about detached from reality. Not one word about Job 1 for a law school: helping law students become successful as lawyers, citizens, community members, leaders, and human beings. And, even more than that, not one word about the absolute disaster law school is personally for a large percentage of law students; that it generates exceptionally high depression, cynicism, out-of-control aggression, hostility, poor sociability, drinking as a coping response and other counter-productive patterns of thinking, feeling, and acting. No, it's all about "intellectual identity" and "scholarly profile." Really. I sometimes wonder how many law professors care what's happening to students in their school. Some clearly don't. Yes, law schools teach law students to "think like lawyers" (a necessary but insufficient part of actually practicing law!)- and that "think like a lawyer" training is devastating to many of those students. Come on deans, focus! We desparately need lawyers who are in touch with their values, engaged, collaborative, able to find emotionally intelligent pathways forward in situations beset by the unique challenges to thriving present in many legal matters. and . Not to mention who can help create legal and regulatory approaches that work better for society. You're really not doing a very good job of that (and that includes you, Tier 1!). So how about a little evidence you have some clue what is important? If nothing else, you could at least... Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2011 at DaveShearon
I'm a Braves fan. My older son started playing baseball in '91, the first of the Braves' record 14-in-a-row division titles. Between Tyler and the Braves, I went from a baseball hater to baseball as, perhaps, my favorite sport. So, it's fun to talk about a Brave player who is exemplifying resilience: Dan Uggla. Uggla signed with the Braves this year for big money (5 years, $62 million). And promptly hit .173 through the 4th of July. That's pitiful. There are pitchers hitting better than that. Go home, right? Not Dan. Not only did he not quit, he kept a resilient attitude that motivated his teammates: “You’ve got to stay humble, stay positive and keep going in the right direction. And stick with your routine. I think more times than not if you stay strong mentally, you’re going to be able to battle back and help your team out.” Dan was right. Today, his average is still only .232 - nothing to write home about, but he leads the team with 29 home runs and 65 RBI. And he is likely to become the first second baseman ever to hit 30 or more homers in 5 seasons. Oh, and what about the team? Well, they're doing ok also. The Braves have the second-best record in the National League and look to have a good chance to make the playoffs. So is Dan's resilience important only to him? Nope. The article that inspired this post and provided the quotes says: "[H]e’s... Continue reading
Posted Aug 22, 2011 at DaveShearon