Faith is one of the hardest things for attorneys, and lack of it is one of the biggest reasons they have crappy jobs.
No, I’m not talking about religious faith, but faith
- that there is a better life and work for you;
- that the thing you want most to do is possible;
- that though you lack all the evidence you’d like, things will turn out basically OK;
- that it’s OK to trust other people;
- that it’s OK to trust yourself.
That last one is a bugger. Yet it’s the foundational faith that most attorneys lack.
I could go on—for a really, really long time—about why that is. I’m not doing that, at least not today. The bottom line, though, is that
- Law tends to attract people who feel powerless in some way; and
- Law school, and then law practice, hammers into you the belief that relying on anything except tangible, sterling proof is foolish and wrong.
I’m not saying that when you’re litigating a case, or conducting due diligence on a deal, you shouldn’t demand proof. Of course you should.
The problem erupts when you transfer this need for proof to every other aspect of your life, rather than keeping it where it belongs.
Faith and Looking for a Job
In a job search context, lack of faith in yourself often shows up in the resume-writing process. You see a really cool-looking job, and get excited for roughly .85 seconds: THAT WOULD BE AMAZING AND FUN TO DO!
Then, your inner critic revs up: “Yeah, but it’s not like you’ve done exactly the kind of work they’re looking for. They want corporate experience, but you’ve only litigated corporate cases and negotiated settlements. That’s totally not the same.”
Are there companies out there that will use this type of reasoning? Sure. But not all of them will. Likely, not even half of them will. You certainly won’t know unless you send out your resume. But many of you lack enough faith in yourself to give even that a try.
More importantly, it doesn’t matter if potential employers think that way. The problem is that YOU think that way. Because if you don’t have the precise experience listed, you lack faith that you are nonetheless qualified, or that you can develop a skill or knowledge base on the job.
Or maybe, you know you could do whatever the ad specifies, but you’re sure that no one will believe you. That, my friends, is lack of faith in yourself.
The No-Faith Effect
If you had faith in yourself, you would feel more relaxed about the whole thing. You’d be much more willing to accept that you’re not going to convince everyone, but that it was OK. Because seriously, you wouldn’t want to work with people who demanded precise proof of Every. Single. Thing. Those company cultures are mentally and emotionally exhausting, not to mention inefficient as hell.
(Why, yes, that does sound like most law firms, doesn’t it?)
When lack of faith spreads inappropriately into other areas of your life, it robs you of good relationships and a rich life. Who wants to be friends with someone who constantly demands proof when you say you were mistreated by a colleague, for example? Who want to be with, or stay with, someone who constantly doubts their word? Intellectually, you know the answer.
If you can’t seem to dial back your Doubting Thomas habits, despite your best efforts for a few weeks, it may be time to dig deeper.
If you think you’re ready to find some faith in yourself, and your purpose in the world, I can help. Just drop me a line.
Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer who spent far too long without faith in herself, despite her nice law credentials. When she decided to pursue an uncertain path out of law, her life and career got a lot better. You can contact Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org.