Do you consider yourself someone who welcomes new challenges? And are you willing to take on the commensurate risks? Even if you nodded affirmatively to both these questions, you nevertheless may be in need of a larger glass.
We all know that attorneys are trained to be risk-averse. And, of course, a degree of risk aversion is frequently a necessary element of being a good attorney. Your clients want to be able to describe a business deal or other opportunity to you and be able to count on you to be the one person who says, “But have you thought about this?”
Yet, there’s another side to that propensity for risk aversion – simply put, it gets in your way when you think about taking risks.
In his entertaining and thought-provoking book, Marketing the Legal Mind, Henry Dahut suggests that it’s not just whether your glass is half full or half empty, but that the size of the glass itself is equally important. For it’s the size of the glass that determines how much opportunity there can be in a given situation. And the size of the glass therefore determines the amount of risk that you’re willing to take.
If we choose to take on small challenges, the risks will be small, but so will the rewards. As Dahut says, this is the proverbial dilemma of wanting big things, but thinking too small to get them. Which is a fundamentally inconsistent type of thinking. And that doesn’t sound very lawyer-like, does it?
Yet, how many of us do this? We choose the safety and comfort of success – even on a relatively small scale – rather than taking risks and exposing ourselves to defeat. But these days, there are much greater risks in not taking risks. Those who choose to stay where they are because it is easy and comfortable are those most likely to be carried off by the fast-moving current to someplace hard and uncomfortable.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” Now, more than ever, her words resound with the truth. We must move outside our comfort zones. What does this mean to you? Only you know. But you’ve probably been thinking about it for some time. Is it finally putting together a marketing and business development plan that works for you? Is it becoming a rainmaker and a leader in your firm? Maybe it’s taking the firm you manage to the next level – or in a new direction? Or could it be venturing out on your own?
Whatever it is, don’t limit yourself. Get a bigger glass. And choose a challenge worthy of your ambitions.