What do I want for lawyers? And how does coaching help with that?

I was having a conversation with a friend yesterday, and she asked why I’m coaching and what I want for lawyers. Ok, actually, she asked if I want lawyers to leave the profession and seek happiness in some other field! No, that isn’t what I want for lawers — unless, of course, that’s what some lawyer wants for him- or herself. I also don’t want to turn lawyers into a group of navel-gazing serenity gurus who disengage from the struggle and basic needs of law.

What I want is for every lawyer to lead a life that works. I want lawyers to win. I believe that law is a wonderful field, full of possibilities and opportunities, and I believe that just about everyone who wants to practice can find a niche that’s suitable for them. I believe everyone can win in their practice — and I don’t mean that in the litigation sense. I mean to get the personal win, whatever that signifies for each person.

To win, we first have to define the game. Do you want to make partner within the next 2 years? Do you want to develop a $1M book of business? Do you want to be home for dinner with your family every night, almost every night, three times a week? Do you want to be the “go to” expert in your field? If we want to win a game, the first key step is to know what game you’re playing and to know how we’ll be able to tell we’ve won. That’s an exciting phase, because that’s where we get to dream big, to envision the practice and the life you want to lead, or to envision some smaller component that’s important to you and one that’s measurable. Maybe you know right now what you want. If not, if you’ve been working to keep moving forward on a path you didn’t consciously choose, then there’s a little extra work to do. When you’re playing a game you decided to play, it feels right — even the hard times — and you know you’re heading in the right direction.

After you know what game you’re playing, it’s time to refine your skills and develop strategies for that game. After all, if you’re the greatest 3-point shooter in history but your game is football, you need to be working on kicking that extra point, not on your 3-point skills. You need to identify and develop the skills that will allow you to win your game. You need a game plan and a practice routine. And then, it’s time to play the game!

So what is it that I do? I help people identify the game they want to play (not the game their spouse or a parent expects or the game everybody else was playing in law school), I help them develop the skills and strategies they’ll need to win the game, and then I encourage, push, and support them as they play their hearts out. We’ll evaluate, we’ll see whether we need to adjust the strategy or get additional skills, and at the end of the game (a point we’ll define) we’ll celebrate their wins and learn from your losses. And then it’s time to define the next game and go through the cycle again.

NOTE:  The Life at the Bar blog has MOVED!  To find the latest posts about time management and productivity, business development, communications skills, leadership development, and much more relevant to lawyers and the practice of law, please visit www.lifeatthebar.com/blog.

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