This past week I had the pleasure of meeting immediate-past American Bar Association (ABA) President Jim Silkenat twice thanks to one of my mentors and close friends Crista Hogan, current Executive Director of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association (SMBA),

A text on Tuesday morning let me know that Mr. Silkenat would be speaking at Drury that afternoon and solicited my help in covering his visit for the SMBA. I nervously waited along Benton Avenue, in the suit I luckily always stow in my car, to welcome Mr. Silkenat to Drury as he rushed to campus in a cab from his delayed flight into Springfield.

Mr. Silkenat spoke to around a hundred students, Drury faculty, and area attorneys in Lay Auditorium about gun violence and the ABA’s role in changing the statistics.

The following day Mr. Silkenat would speak again in Springfield, this time directly to members of the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association during a Bar luncheon held at The Tower Club. His topic Wednesday was on the need for better access to legal aid in the United States.

He would present what I considered shocking statistics show that the United States was the lowest among developed countries for access to legal aid, in some instances ranking even below what we would consider poverty-ridden countries.

Mr. Silkenat led discussion on several possible solutions, one of which centered around a system similar to the fellowships and training medical students must complete.

Part of my reason for sharing this experience, other than to express my fascination of hearing Mr. Silkenat speak on these two subjects, is to relate his presentations to the ideas presented in StrengthsQuest: Discover and develop your strengths in academics, career, and beyond. 

In the chapter “Relationships From The Strengths Perspective” the author discusses “cleaning your glasses” to help potential leaders better connect and utilize their own strengths and those of the people around them.

I connected several of these ideas to not only how Mr. Silkenat spoke to the two groups but also in the methods he used to try to foster change or accomplish goals.

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