Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Profiles in Passion: October 2010, Judge Jason Brown

The small things we do impact the lives and future of generations to come. Jason Brown recognized this from a young age. Growing up with a father who treated everyone, regardless of background and social standing, with the same fairness led Jason to aspire for the same. Jason Brown has been an associate circuit judge for the 31st Judicial Circuit since 2006.

Though it wasn’t apparent at first he wanted to pursue a life in law, Judge Brown always knew he had a passion for listening. “I often found myself in a position where people found it easy to talk to me, to open up and ask for my take on their issues,” he says. “I had a sense I would be involved in assessing peoples’ interactions. Deciding what is right and fair could have landed me as a counselor, judge, or another walk of life where I would offer feedback.”

Another walk of life wasn’t in the cards for Judge Brown. He attended law school after college. He knew a legal background would give him opportunities he otherwise wouldn’t have. When he began doing trial training, his interest and passion was seeded.

He practiced for 16 years as an attorney where he witnessed on various occasions victims being treated unfairly or without respect. With the encouragement of peers, Judge Brown took the risk of losing his practice and ran for election. This is a risk many lawyers who would otherwise make great judges opt not to take. The risks outweighed the benefits and he was elected to the bench in 2006.

His impact in the Greene County community is substantial. “I can’t say I’m changing the world, but hopefully I’m contributing to society by giving people faith that civil and criminal cases are handled fairly, that people can come in and have a fair hearing where their rights will be enforced and crimes punished.”

Daily headaches come and go, but Judge Brown enjoys the opportunities being a judge present. The best part of living his passion as a judge is feeling a daily sense of accomplishment. Even though there are always people who will question decisions, Judge Brown hopes people understand and respect his decisions whether they agree or not. He firmly believes in deciding on facts and law, not for artificial reasons like status or relationships.

Judge Brown encourages others to share their professional goals so that they, too, can feel a sense of accomplishment within their lives. “If it’s something you consider a goal and think about often, let others know. When there is an opening, people will think of you first as a possible solution to their need.”

Judge Brown he hopes his lasting legacy is that of a fair judge:  someone who listened, treated people with respect they deserved, and gave everyone fair shake and equal opportunity.

We find these truths self-evident

This line from the Declaration of Independence is one of the most powerful ever penned.

Truth, real truth, can stand on its own. It needs no defense.

People have an innate ability to ferret out truth. Like cream on fresh milk, truth has a way of naturally coming to the top. If you give people enough space and room they will consistently spot truth and do the right thing.

I frequently talk to business owners who don't think their employees will make the right decision if they don't make it for them. Let me frame this in another light, in the United States legal system we literally make life-and-death decisions based on the ability of 12 random people to ferret out truth and make a quality decision. While it's not perfect, the system is highly accurate and effective.

If you give employees the opportunity to ferret out truth, do you really think they won’t make the right decision? Of course they will, and if they don't, and it is their decision, they will more than likely do everything they can to make it work. Isn’t that what you really want from your people -- for them to be all in emotionally and mentally?

A highly committed and fully engaged workforce with a good idea will outperform an apathetic team with a great idea virtually every time.

So let’s revisit the idea that your people might make a bad decision.
If they are fully vested in the process of making the decision and they have to live with the results, they will be the first ones to tell you they made a mistake. Without being told, they will regroup and move in the right direction.


Because people tend to take responsibility for what they own.
We tend to not take responsibility for things we don’t own. If your people are not taking responsibility, I can almost guarantee you they don’t own what is going on in your business.

Let me give you a quick example.
I live on the east side of Springfield. While I may be intrigued by crime stories in Kansas City or St Louis, they are of little concern to me. When I start hearing about crime in Springfield, then I become concerned. When the crime happens in my neighborhood, I am alarmed. When the crime happens at my house, I am outraged. In this process I have moved from passive spectator to fully engaged participant. Everything changes when it involves what I personally own.

If you want your employees to be more responsible, let them completely own both the decision making process and the results. And remember, it is hard to argue with the truth.