Lawyer misery is depriving us of a lot of talent and energy that would be much better used to improve the world instead. Many bright, creative people are lawyers, and their gifts are not used in a typical BigLaw or Lawyerland setting. We as a nation and a planet have a whole heaping pile of problems in desperate need of innovative, creative solutions, and some of the people who could contribute ideas and energy are locked in the airless, pessimistic environment of law.
Much of what is wrong with law firms and lawyers generally is the maniacal focus on money as a motivator. As I’ve discussed at (much) greater length and am reposting in a one-stop-shopping format below, using money as the main motivator results in poorer performance and ethically shaky behavior.
So other than change law firm culture—a long-term project for sure—what can you do? It’s deceptively simple: Do what lights you up, as often as possible.
Dan Pink in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us gives a nice list of tools you can try that will help you achieve a flow/autonomy/mastery state. Try some of them.
I particularly love his idea for using “brain bomb” cards for getting mentally unstuck when you’re unmotivated, panicked, or otherwise not connecting with your best self. These cards, called Oblique cards, contain a single, often bizzarre question or statement to jar you out of a rut. Like, “Your mistake was a hidden intention,” or “Don’t avoid what is easy.”
The cards were designed in 1975 by famed produced Brian Eno and artist Peter Schmidt, specifically to overcome the pressure-packed moments that go with deadlines. Sounds perfect for lawyers.
If you’re reading this blog on posting day, join me at 1:30 pm ET to discuss all these lawyer motivation issues–and probably lots more–at the Unhappy Lawyers Book Club. Here’s the skinny on that:
Unhappy Lawyers Book Club, Drive edition Details
Date: September 15, 2011
Time: 1:30 pm—2:00 pm ET
Format: Conference call
Call-in info: (209) 647-1000. The access code is 535240# (yes you need to enter the # sign).
Now, on to the one-stop-shopping collection of my posts about Drive and what it means for lawyers. Continue reading