Martha McIntire Newman 2017-09-24 21:28:19
Move Out of Your Own Way Don’t let self-imposed barriers block your path to success. You may be getting in your own way if you are allowing negative assumptions about your capabilities to rule your thinking and wreck your self-confidence about succeeding in your law practice. What are your goals? To build a big book of business? To get lawyers to refer business to you? To make partner in your firm? You keep trying to achieve those goals, but something is slowing you down. It may be hard to admit, but the obstacle is often you. We sabotage our own success by letting negative thoughts and bad habits hold us back. Let’s take a look at two of the most common, self-imposed barriers that stop us from getting the success we want as soon as we want it. Negative Self-Beliefs Your thoughts about your own capabilities and your odds of success largely determine whether you achieve your goals or not. How successful you are depends not only on your legal knowledge and experience but also on what you believe you can accomplish. How often have you thought? • I don’t know if I can make it in private practice. • I may fail. • I am no good at getting business. • I am a fake. I am not really a good lawyer. If those are not your specific thoughts, fill in the blanks with your own negative beliefs. We all have them. Those thoughts produce feelings of low self-esteem, stymie new ideas, and squash creativity. They kill your motivation to persevere until success comes. To change those feelings, you must change your thoughts. Every time negative recordings start playing in your head, you can either continue listening to them or “re-tape” your self-talk. How? By being keenly aware when those sabotaging words come into your head and deliberately replacing them with positive thoughts— whether you believe them or not. Sound crazy? It is not. Many negative assumptions we have about ourselves are not based on evidence of past failures but on a negativity bias that we have allowed to capture our thinking. We do not allow the irrefutable evidence of our past successes to predict our future success. Instead, we ignore those positive facts about our past and continue thinking and expecting the worst. If you want to stop the thinking that is hindering your progress and dragging your confidence down, come up with your own affirming words to repeat every time you notice those negative thoughts creeping into your head again: • “I’m a good lawyer!” • “My business development produces results!” • “Clients trust me and like me!” • “I have the guts to stick with it and succeed!” If you say the words out loud with enthusiasm, you will feel a surge of adrenaline and optimism that will fuel your confidence. With constant repetition of positive truths, your feelings will fall in line with your new thoughts. That conclusion is based on current brain science backed by countless studies on the power of the brain to rewire itself for our benefit. Perfectionism Setting high standards is what good lawyers do. But setting standards that are too high cause you to waste time trying to do a perfect job and add unnecessary charges to your clients’ bills. Believing that small imperfections are unacceptable can cause you to be continually disappointed in yourself and eventually lose confidence in your own capabilities. You may be letting perfectionism get in your way if you: • Habitually procrastinate (You know you can’t be perfect, so why try?). • Have trouble completing tasks. • Check your work excessively. • Agonize over minor details. • Avoid trying new things. If you want to rid yourself of unrealistic expectations, replace your perfectionist thinking with thoughts such as: • Making a mistake does not mean I’m stupid or a failure. • I do my very best and that’s good. • I can succeed without being perfect. Even if you do not believe those new thoughts right away, repeating statements that are fundamentally true will eventually loosen perfectionism’s grip on your thinking. Your fear of failure will wane because you no longer believe perfection determines your success. Conclusion Negative self-beliefs and perfectionism are barriers we impose on ourselves. We can choose whether to keep those barriers (to the detriment of our careers and our happiness) or purposefully build new ways of thinking and doing that place us in the best possible position to succeed. The choice is yours. MARTHA MCINTIRE NEWMAN is a former oil and gas litigator and owner of Top Lawyer Coach. Newman has been awarded the Professional Certified Coach credential by the International Coach Federation in recognition of her coaching excellence. She specializes in lawyer coaching, training, facilitating, and speaking in the areas of business development, career advancement, and law firm management. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published by State Bar of Texas. View All Articles.
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