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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
• 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
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
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.