The ABA (American Bar Association) Journal picked up the story about me from the Washington Post. This is my response to some of the reader comments. One of the reasons I am passionate about coaching attorneys is that it seems a shame to have so many well-educated, brilliant, hard-working people putting all their energy into jobs that don’t inspire them. Recently, a client said to me “I know you think happiness is important, but I just don’t have time for that right now.” At times, I have felt that way too. It’s natural. Sometimes in life we are just trying to cope. Especially in the legal profession, I think people are so accustomed to putting aside their own needs, wants, and interests that they lose track of what is really important to them. I’m not suggesting that we all lie around on the beach all day – that might be nice for a week or two or three – but it would get old pretty quickly. I am talking about allowing ourselves to go out and pursue that thing that we are passionate about. One person wants to fix the tax code; another wants to help poor women get micro loans; another wants to make the world prettier. If more people (especially powerful, smart, influential people) were taking on challenges that inspired them, the world would be a much happier, healthier place.
Almost every attorney I have ever spoken to in depth about their career has some insecurity about where they went to law school, their grades, their intelligence relative to colleagues, that job they got fired from twenty years ago, etc. These are very successful people I’m taking about, including judges, managing partners of big law firms, political appointees, etc. No one’s life is as bright and shiny and perfect as it looks from the outside. Everyone occasionally makes mistakes or finds themselves in lousy situations. Our quality of life is not determined by the things that happen to us; is determined by how we react and how we interpret those situations.
Particularly, in a more challenging job market, conventional approaches and interpretations may not serve you. This is where coaching comes in. I don’t tell my clients what to do. I help them get clarity about what they want and then I help them achieve that goal. There will always be reasons not to take a risk. It’s a lot more rewarding, not to mention more fun, to put your energy into achieving your goals, rather than focusing on all the reasons that you can’t.
One of my current clients is so inspiring that it almost makes me want to practice law, too. He was only recently admitted to the bar and already has become like an attorney super hero. I have an image of him in my mind wearing a cape and swooping down to help people. When he is at the courthouse he inevitably comes across people who are in trouble, wounded veterans who are being evicted from their houses, mothers trying to get custody from an abusive spouse, people who have been victimized by illegal lending practices, etc. He really has taken a “helping the helpless” approach to his law practice – and it’s working. He is making money, learning a lot, and developing a terrific reputation for himself in his community – not to mention feeling great about helping people. Everyone has their own path. There are many ways to achieve any goal, and we always have a choice.