September/October 2018

Perspectives

Choosing to See Things Differently

Katy Goshtasbi

It’s a new bar year at the ABA and the Law Practice Division. This presents yet another opportunity to step back and take a holistic look at our careers and our lives personally.

I don’t know about you, but for me, just taking the time to step back is very challenging. I find it’s often easier to just keep moving forward, almost on autopilot. Stepping back requires me to be self-aware, to exercise a critical eye in observing my career and personal life, and then being courageous enough to want to make a change for the better—and then doing it.

Yikes! Isn’t it easier to just maintain and keep on keeping on? I suppose so, but to what end?

Anytime I’ve chosen to step back and be honest with myself, my life has gotten better. My client base increases, clients are happier with our firm’s work, colleagues refer us out more, and I’m more content. That’s well worth the effort, I think.

I have consulted with many lawyers who are brave yet don’t feel satisfied with their careers and lives anymore. This doesn’t mean they need to change careers and stop practicing law. My goal is to get all lawyers to stay in the law and create a career and life that lets them flourish. My goal is for lawyers across North America to provide excellent service, improve our brand as lawyers and do so with ease and grace.

Many lawyers are way too stressed—and aren’t having much fun in business. That’s very unfair. After all, we spent a lot of time and money getting through law school, and each of us had a good reason to do so. And practicing law isn’t easy. Even lawyer haters acknowledge our jobs require deep intellect, wisdom and stamina.

So what does it mean to step back and take a holistic look at our careers and lives? You’ll be happy to know it doesn’t mean “doing” more. It just means being willing to have self-awareness about (1) what you’re currently doing in your practice and personal life and (2) whether it’s working for you.

By the latter I don’t just mean are you making money and bringing in clients/billables. I mean, Do you feel satisfied with your life and your life purpose? Does it make you happy to get out of bed in the morning? Stepping back with self-awareness allows us to recall why we became lawyers and how we want to keep contributing to the practice of law.

Once we step back and look at our careers and lives, we have a choice in how we respond. The Dalai Lama said, “There is freedom in responding instead of reacting.” I love this quote. Its reality hits me hard.

It’s not a very attractive brand to be seen as a reactionary lawyer or person. Not only do others think we’re out of control but, deep down, we feel we are. So the goal is to always respond instead of react.

How do we do so? First, we need to choose to see things differently. This requires less “doing” and more “being.”

Choosing to see things differently, as I teach it, is when we shift perspective and take a different view of the same events in our lives and our usual responses. It’s simple but not easy. It takes time, patience and a willingness to want to change, grow and prosper more easily.

What does this mean for you? Step back and consider:

  • How self-aware are you of your practice and personal life?
  • How can you choose to see a new perspective on your career and practice?
  • How will you make your contribution to the practice of aw count?
For more practice at this and an opportunity to network, consider attending the ABA Lawyer Retreat; information is available at abalawyerretreat.org.

Katy Goshtasbi

Founder, Puris Consulting

 Katy Goshtasbi is a change and branding expert. She works with law firms, lawyers and organizations on growing, in size and profits, by mastering change and developing brands that get their message out effectively. The results include happier, more productive lawyers, reduced stress, attracting better clients and more revenues. Katy practiced securities law for almost 14 years. E-mail her.