February 21, 2014
Many people cannot see themselves accurately. The number for whom this is true is jaw-dropping. At times, it appears we are on an expedition to Big Law, a previously unexplored planet populated by intelligent, educated, relatively successful (six-figure salary but not the CEO of Microsoft), alarmingly unaware attorneys.
There likely is an evolutionary reason for our tendency to see ourselves as more often in the right than we actually are. However, this biologically based rationale is no longer germane. Our talent for self-deception is the neurological equivalent of a ruptured appendix.
Instances of lawyers reporting on wrongs committed by others upon their innocent selves, baseless fabrications spun by colleagues, and moments of “not getting it” by those who are surrounding them abound. These tales of obtuse practice group leaders, egocentric peers, and uninformed clients are not only unmoving and tiresome, they are also disheartening.
Experience and research show that by adopting this attitude of self-denial we do ourselves a disservice and limit our ability to reach the highest levels of professional excellence. The fact is that change truly does begin with you, the only person you can control is yourself, and you are the master solely of your own destiny.
The truth, hard as it may be, is that none of us is perfect. In many of these flawed interpersonal interactions the disrespectful, selfish, misguided actor is you. The sooner you take responsibility and cease subscribing blame, the more likely it is that you will become the inspirational leader, bang-up rainmaker, and legal groundbreaker to which you aspire.
A recent newspaper article reported that no matter how bad a person thinks he look in the mirror, how others see him actually is worse. This scientific tidbit naturally can be extended to apply to behavior as well. In other words, no matter how reasonable, altruistic, or dead-on of a lawyer you think you are, you have ample room for improvement.