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…
If you’re looking to change your career, and your life, you need to figure out just what your instrinsic movitators are. You may know; but usually lawyers, with their decades-long reliance on grades and salary as motivators, are completely out of touch with what truly motivates them. You might try one of these ideas to reconnect with your true self.
So it is actually true that as a lawyer, you are often dealing with crazy, dysfunctional behavior, whether or not your colleague has a drug or drinking problem. If they are motivated chiefly by money, they behave like an addict.
Law firms use the carrot of big bonuses and salary increases to motivate higher billable hours numbers. Yet billable hours are not really what law firms sell—they’ve just fooled themselves into thinking that their measurement system is their product. What law firms sell is legal expertise and problem-solving. But Motivation 2.0 creates pressure to bill, to produce a tangible product to bill for—like a letter, brief, or memo—and means that time to engage in creative problem-solving for the client is about nil.
One of the most surprising areas of workplace motivation research is how de-motivating those extrinsic rewards can be. Researchers have showed that paying people to complete tasks they were already intrinsically interested in produced poorer performance and less engagement in the task. Whoa.
Many lawyers, if not most, harbor the belief that the only thing motivating people to work are carrots and sticks. The carrot of big-ass, ridiculous salaries and bonuses, and the sticks of failure, fear, ridicule, shame and disbarment. Most lawyers, maybe even you, don’t really believe in intrinsic motivation. Probably because the last time you experienced it was in grade school, before the credential-accumulating, resume-building lifestyle began in earnest. Yet according to Daniel Pink, author of Drive, intrinsic motivation is completely where it’s at for your career and life.
You don’t need to be a star to use your gifts as part of a job that makes you happy. Worrying that you’re not going to be a rich star by using your gifts confuses two very different things: process and product. Or, maybe daily practice v. a performance. Lawyers, with their emphasis on performance, have a particular need to separate the two.