When people think of coaching for lawyers, they think of charts depicting market trends and detailed financial reviews. They think of taking a fine-toothed comb to their firm’s performance and assessing key indicators of success. They think numbers and planning…and they are right. These are all cornerstones of law firm coaching, and yet they overlook something crucial: mindset. Even with all of the data on your side, if you are not facing your responsibilities with a productive mindset, your days are counted because even the most well-oiled machines need clean energy on which to run.
I work with a lot of high performing attorneys and yet day in and day out, in Zoom meetings, over text, via Slack, and through email I hear the same complaint: “I feel like I’m totally responsible…” To which I respond, “Yes, you are. And so what?”
There is nothing wrong with carrying responsibility. On the contrary, responsibility is empowering but it takes a shift in paradigm to see this. Being burdened with responsibility also means having earned the chance to make a difference. Responsibility is just another word for opportunity, after all, but only if you choose to see it this way. Any time you are assigned a responsibility, you are given a chance to decide how you’ll respond. Will it be with action? With non-action? With energy? In a resigned tone or driven one?
Learn to shake the victim complex and all of a sudden responsibility becomes a gateway to freedom. Why? Because it means you get to meet your life on your terms, to hold your head high, to run your own show. Responsibility is an honor, not a burden, but only if you stop complaining and change your angle.
Of course, this isn’t to say that carrying responsibility isn’t hard. It is. But embedded in this difficulty is yet another responsibility: the responsibility to institute systems that make your task bearable, that hold resentment at bay, and that help you get your shi*t done. For law firms, this is where coaching for lawyers comes into play. You were trained to practice law, after all, not keep a business running and in today’s competitive environment if you try to do that latter without proper know-how, you won’t get far.
Law firm coaching is not a silver bullet, though. While a specialist can orient your efforts in the right direction, they cannot shift your attitude. This is where growing a spine comes in. Build self-esteem, slam the door on the victim complex (however comforting it may be), and take responsibility for your responsibilities. Ownership is energy. How you do a thing is everything. You don’t need to be told this, though, because you already know it.
Think back on the last time an employee failed to deliver. Did they own their shortcoming and explain what held them back? Probably not. And did your estimation of them dip? Probably. Now think back on one of those rare times that a team member missed a task but anticipated doing so, told you well ahead of time, and backed up their action with deliberate reason. Did you look down on their behavior? Of course not. Instead, your trust in them grew.
The same applies to your relationship to yourself. Owning your responsibility is the only path to enduring empowerment. And in the competitive world of law, showing up empowered means showing up with an edge because trust me, most attorneys aren’t buoyed by responsibility but dragged down and eventually undone by it.
To learn more about coaching for lawyers and the power of subtle shifts in mindset, don’t hesitate to schedule a call with me, Molly McGrath.