For what is too long of a story to tell here, my father does not have a picture of his mother. I realized earlier this year that I am partially to blame for that and I went on a mission to find a picture of this woman who has been dead for 30 years. I knew it would most likely be impossible, but I decided to give it my best shot. My grandmother had no siblings and my father was an only child. My grandparents had divorced when my dad was very young, and my grandmother’s second husband died more than 20 years ago.

But I was determined to not let the seemingly impossible hold me back.

Against the odds I started taking actions. I checked the historical archives to see if there was a photo of her in an old high school year book. Nothing. She was an actress in the 40s, so I called SAG. They couldn’t find anything. I started calling some of my dad’s cousins to see if there might be a photo of her in their family albums. Still no luck. I called others whom I didn’t even realize were still alive. Still nothing. But, I didn’t stop trying. I kept putting it out there. And then I got back to work.

So what does this have to do with the business law?

We so often focus on the “low hanging fruit” that we ignore or put off the seemingly impossible.

How often we are confronted with the challenge of a partner whose practice has dried up? Or a firm culture or compensation system that doesn’t support cross-selling? I know I’m not the only one who has received an RFP request on a Friday night that’s due on Monday.

In many ways this links back to Liz Pava’s article and my CMOs – Tactical v. Strategy post from last week. I hear the complaints from marketers about our job being too tactical and not focused enough on strategy. But, rather than move forward, acting as if we had a seat at the table, we update our resumes and move on for “a better opportunity.”

On Friday afternoon our managing partner sent me an e-mail about ALM’s Best Litigation Boutique. He wants to go for it. Ugh. I took one look at the questionnaire and thought: We’ll never pull this together by September 1st. We don’t have the data at our fingertips. Half the partners will be on vacation at some point over the next three weeks. What about my vacation? This is impossible. I can’t do it. Why even try?

Why try indeed. Because. If we do not try to accomplish the seemingly impossible we are guaranteed to accomplish nothing.

So, I’ve printed out The Best Litigation Boutique Questionnaire. I’ve sent an e-mail out to the litigation attorneys. I’ve met with the managing partner. I’ve got a plan. I’m going to take this challenge straight on. I don’t know how complete our submission will be. While we might not win ALM’s Best Litigation Boutique for 2008, it won’t be because we didn’t give it our best shot.

As for my grandmother. Some cousin I didn’t even know we had in Charlotte, SC sent along a batch of photos on Friday. Tucked in amongst the pictures of my dad as a kid was one of my grandmother, Darl (on left) with my great-aunt Alice.

The seemingly impossible was indeed accomplished.