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ormer Chicago Bears tight end Des-

mond Clark overcame an extremely

difficult childhood in Lakeland,

Florida, to become a star athlete at Wake

Forest University, where he was the first

member of his family to attend college. He

later enjoyed a successful 13-year career in

the National Football League, including

being a member of the 2006 Bears team

that won the NFC Championship and

played in the Super Bowl.

Clark, who currently works for a finan-

cial advisor and serves as president of the

Chicago Chapter of the NFL Alumni

Association, has continued to excel since

retiring from professional football. He

has written a book about his life journey,

entitled “Before and Beyond the Game,”

and frequently speaks to groups about the

lessons he has learned on his path to success

both on and off the playing field.

Clark recently spoke at the CBA as part

of its new "Signature Series" about his life

story and the “Six Principles of Winning”

he believes are essential to overcoming

obstacles and achieving success. According

to Clark, the six biggest keys to success are:

• Understanding that your reputation

for honesty and reliability is your most

important character trait. According

to Clark, if you tell someone you are

going to do something, you better do

it because your name and word will

ultimately determine whether you will

be successful.

• Embracing the power of relationships

by always making a concerted effort to

broaden your network of friends and

“extended family members.”

• Mastering the small, mundane details of

a project better than your competition.

• Practicing hard. In fact, Clark believes

that in any competition, you should

practice harder than you than you “play”

because perfect practice leads to perfect


• Being self-motivated; Clark urges

people to ask themselves how good they

want to be at something, set a bar for

their success, and then focus on how to

get better and reach the bar.

• Igniting your passion or purpose by tap-

ping into what is fulfilling. For Clark,

that means faith, family, fun, finances,

charity, and how to make a difference

brighten up people.

Finally, as a bonus principle, Clark urges

people to follow their dreams even at the

risk of failing. He believes that a person can

fail at something without being a failure,

and it is essential that people allow them-

selves the opportunity to fail rather than

not pursuing their dreams.

In addition to his work and public

speaking engagements, Clark actively sup-

ports the American Cancer Society’s “Real

Men Wear Pink” campaign in honor of

his mother.

Desmond Clark addressed CBA Members and guests at the CBA's Signature Series.

Photo by Bill Richert.

Desmond Clark Speaks at CBA

By William A. Zolla

CBA Record Editorial Board

#FBF #CBAHistory

The Chicago Bar Association

Myra Colby Bradwell was one of our nation’s leading advocates

for women’s rights and played an important role in breaking

through the barriers that restricted women from practicing law.

As founder and owner of the Chicago Legal News she wrote

many editorials about equality for women, and

about the need for an association of lawyers in Chicago.

Her December 1873 editorial was instrumental in

The Chicago Bar Association’s formation in March 1874.