When we tend to think of revolutionary thinkers who changed the world with their big ideas, we often recall people like Henry Ford or Steve Jobs. I would agree that these people did change the world with their big ideas.
However, I also believe that every one of us is capable of revolutionary thinking and big ideas. I believe every big idea stems from self-awareness. When we stop to look around with self-awareness—first at ourselves, and then at others—we will likely notice emotionally based needs that exist. These same needs may exist in others we know. If we keep thinking from a place of compassion and caring for ourselves and others, we can start envisioning a solution to these needs and wants and desires. This seed of compassion and care then gives birth to a potentially big idea.
But what is a big idea? Does it have to be big, as Jobs’ idea was when he set to work out of his parents’ garage? I would argue not at all. Any idea can make an impact on society if we set our intentions on thinking differently and come from a place of service. If we think that others are the ones with the big ideas, we limit ourselves, and we rob society of our potential brilliance. What do you think Jobs envisioned when he had his big ideas? Do you think he could foresee how big these ideas would really be?
When I decided to change careers after 14 years of successfully practicing securities law, I was scared. I thought I was crazy, as did others. After all, no lawyer was reinventing him- or herself two years before the Great Recession. We didn’t have to reinvent ourselves. Personally, my practice was going well, and I was in demand. But I wasn’t happy, and I wasn’t serving humanity in the way I had envisioned doing so as a lawyer. It was a very personal decision, as it should have been.
I chose to envision my life and thoughts differently when I decided to stop practicing. I focused with self-awareness on who I was, what my purpose was and the need that I wanted to fill in myself and in others. Those thought patterns led to my big ideas and led me to where I am in my consulting career 12 years later.
Five years into my new career, people started calling me a pioneer instead of crazy. I was flattered, and I chuckled. What a difference five years and a seedling idea can make.
Every one of us truly has the capacity to think big if we choose to see our life experiences and our thoughts differently. As lawyers we are blessed to be in a position of being trusted advisor to so many we serve. Our clients rely on us for wise counsel and for support. We can make a difference. We just need to believe that we can make a difference and that we are creative beings full of possible big ideas.
What does that mean for you? Stop and consider:
- Where do you have the capacity to stop and see your life and practice differently?
- What’s one idea you have to help yourself? How can this idea also serve your client base and put you possibly on the map with the brand of a pioneer/visionary/revolutionary thinker?
- If you don’t think you are up to the task, why not?
- How can we, at the ABA Law Practice Division, support you to think differently, to see your life and career differently, and to nurture your own big ideas?
This issue of Law Practice is full of big ideas. My hope is that it motivates you to choose to see things differently for yourself and open yourself up to your own brilliance and possible big ideas. You are an asset to our legal profession, and we are all lucky to have you and your big ideas.
Katy Goshtasbi, Law Practice Division Chair