Executive Summary: Good, right, and true
by Sebrina A. Barrett, Executive Director of The Missouri Bar
“Alright, I’ll go in there for Dorothy. Wicked Witch or no Wicked Witch. Guards or no guards, I’ll tear ‘em apart. There’s just one thing I want you guys to do . . . Talk me out of it.”
– The Cowardly Lion
As I reflect on nearly a decade of service to The Missouri Bar, I am reminded of a phrase often used by my predecessor, Keith Birkes. When faced with a difficult decision, he would urge bar leaders to “do the right thing, for the right reason.” I’ve yet to find a situation where this simple but wise litmus test didn’t apply. It has served me well throughout my time as executive director of The Missouri Bar, as I knew that our organization, its members, and staff would be best served by leadership that, in all things, based decisions on what was right and best for The Missouri Bar and the people of Missouri.
This guiding principle is shared by my good friend and past president of The Missouri Bar Lynn Ann Vogel, as well as my “Missouri girls” (as we call ourselves) – Zoe Linza, Crista Hogan, and Vickie Mauck. These ladies are passionate bar leaders with a selfless collaborative spirit. All our organizations have been well-served by their willingness to give their talents to Missouri’s legal profession. I have found their counsel invaluable over the past nine years and, in particular, this mantra we live by: “good, right, and true.” In everything, we seek to do what is good and right for the organization, staying true to ourselves and our mission, while encouraging those around us to do the same.
Unfortunately, doing what is right and good isn’t always easy. In fact, it can sometimes be quite difficult. This can be due to a variety of reasons. Doing what is right isn’t always what is popular or politically advantageous. Doing what is right can be lonely. At times, doing what is right may require one to stand up to colleagues or even friends. Doing what is right can be costly – you might lose friendships, financial gain, or positions of leadership. But that’s what leadership is – having the courage to do the right thing, not just when it is easy, but especially when it’s hard. Throughout the past 75 years, The Missouri Bar has benefitted from thoughtful leaders who, though with diverse perspectives and backgrounds, were guided by the common goal of ensuring their service left the organization in an even better place.
Maya Angelou said that “courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” As lawyers, we swear an oath to support the state and federal constitutions; to conduct ourselves with dignity; and to practice law with consideration for the defenseless and oppressed. To fulfill that oath, virtues such as integrity, kindness, humility, mercy, and justice are required. However, without the courage to do what is right and good, one will never be able to continually pursue the virtues of our profession. Courage is the key to consistently practicing what is good, right, and true.
The Missouri Bar’s vision is “Justice First.” Its mission is to improve the lives of Missourians “by providing for, protecting and promoting justice for all.” This is a high calling. It is a mission that cannot be accomplished without the courage needed to constantly pursue doing what is good, right and true. As I close this chapter of my career, incredibly humbled and honored to have had the opportunity to be the executive director of The Missouri Bar, I am exceedingly grateful to the bar leaders and staff with whom I have worked who have not only embodied true courage, but who also have inspired others to be brave and always do the right thing.