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Just be yourself

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 8/10/2015 Peter Aceto
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Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest.

I'm open to all kinds of learning, but in law school I refused to use Latin. No mens rea. No mea culpa. I never retained most of the terms despite being a "certified" lawyer because I refused to put them in my brain in the first place. I wondered: Why does the legal profession, so full of intelligent people, use Latin? Even the Church stopped using Latin because it wanted the people to understand its messages. The Church wanted to be part of common vernacular because it would help it reach its ends: to connect with people. The Church did it, so why can't lawyers?
I don't know when I finally put the pieces together, but the answer is the exact opposite of why the Church moved away from Latin. The legal world wants to bedazzle people, to blind them with brilliance. It's how lawyers can keep charging high hourly fees: by following a cryptic code (having learned that code by heart at enormous expense). It's not just lawyers: it is any group of people who have created a special vocabulary they don't want ordinary people to understand. It's control. Control for accountants, engineers, doctors and, yes, bankers.
Yet, when I use the word transparency to describe the same thing--control--to those groups, they interpret it as a loss of control.
Transparency, to them, is inviting others to see what they shouldn't see: your mistakes, how you made a decision. Which is actually what makes transparency good--it keeps you on your toes. Everything is out in the open, the whole process. It's an open-source business methodology.
We use transparency as its own means of control. I'll tell you exactly how. If you truly are transparent, if you truly treat your people this way, if you truly make decisions that balance what's in the best interests of your business and your customers, and in addition if your competitors don't and can't replicate it, then transparency can be a sword. You become stronger collectively by showing your vulnerability.
Not just any business can adopt this model. Because if you're truly transparent people will find things that you haven't seen; they will find the mistakes. Empowering clients makes us better service providers and gives them more incentive. (But only if you are willing and able to adapt when your transparency surprises you.)
So why do lawyers use Latin? It must be to justify charging someone $600 an hour. My view is people will still pay $600 for a good lawyer--for other reasons. They don't have to make it so that no one understands what they are saying.
I didn't decide when I was a lawyer that I was going to become dedicated to transparency; I gained this outlook over time. My feelings turned into clear images: direction, a place to go, a North Star, a vision.
So what do the words of Paracelsus, Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest, mean? "Let no man be another's who can be his own," or more simply, just be yourself.
The enemy of ambiguity is clarity. Be clear whenever you can.

An excerpt from Weology: How Everybody Wins When We Comes Before Me - a Globe and Mailbestseller. For more information, visit
Peter Aceto's proceeds from the sale of Weology and related speaking engagements will be donated to charitable organizations supported through Tangerine's #BrightWayForward program.

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