Find Your Rally Point

The official account by the United States Congress goes something like this:

On September 8, 2009. Marine Corporal Dakota Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal, Afghanistan, for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders.

Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate his fellow Marines along with the Afghan soldiers.

Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on his lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine gun and his rifle, some at near point-blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area to assist and save the Afghan soldiers.

During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members.

Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer’s daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy’s attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Marine Corporal Meyer is by all accounts a hero.  He acted with incredible courage in the face of insurmountable odds, and he always remembered his rally point.

A “Rally Point” is used in military planning as an identified point on a map that will serve as a geographical location to regroup and come together to evaluate, adjust, and proceed.  We all need a Rally Point.  We need that place to retreat to that helps us to regroup, clear our head, and evaluate next steps when the distractions of life get in the way and cause our creativity, productivity, and motivation to wane.

In no way am I comparing the day-to-day struggles of the lawyer life, with what some consider the most extraordinary battle of the Afghan War, but each of us need to take a page from the military and set our own rally point.  We should take a page from what hundreds of years of military experience has taught our heroes in uniform as it relates to engraining in the fighting men and women the value of a rally point.

Where is your rally point?

My rally point is that place that allows me to settle my mind, focus on the important tasks at hand, and provides balance to my day.  My current rally point is my home office.  At other times it has been a coffee shop, a Starbucks, or a Panera Bread.  I started making a coffee shop of some kind my rally point very early in my life.  When I was in college I wouldn’t study at the library or in my dorm room.  I studied at the local Barnes and Noble coffee shop.  I liked being surrounded by books and people and the energy of intellect.

I went to law school about 20 miles away from that particular Barnes and Noble, but when I was distracted by law school, and life, I would sometimes return to that same Barnes and Noble and study.  It centered me and reminded me where I came from and where I wanted to go.  Sure, there was another Barnes and Noble in the town where I attended law school, but it wasn’t the one I was accustomed to.  I hadn’t made that my rally point yet.  I eventually did, however, i still enjoy returning to that original Barnes & Noble coffee shop to read and write.

Later in life, as I was trying to build my own law practice and was a solo practitioner, I would spend a lot of time at my local Panera Bread.  It was a great atmosphere with energy, movement, and coffee, yet I could concentrate and use their free wi-fi.  When my business grew and the distractions of the office, or life, began to get to me, I would retreat back to that Panera Bread and take a day to work from there.  It was my rally point when I began to feel defeated by what life was throwing at me; and every time I left after spending some time there, I felt more energized and optimistic.  The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter if you are an Army Ranger battalion, or a solo lawyer with nothing but a laptop, you need to identify a rally point, and return to that place to regroup and reorganize.  It will prove to be a balancing factor that will only help in your effort to succeed at the lawyer life.