By Oyango A. Snell,
CEO & Executive Director, CLA
"Winning isn’t always championships."
What if I told you that our health and wellness as attorneys begin with our mindset approach to what we define as success? Would you do anything different than the way you are doing it today?
As lawyers, sometimes we forget that we are human. We work to win the big case, sign a new client, earn a prominent position, or negotiate a big deal. We define success by our wins and losses of championship moments. We spend much energy working to solve complex problems under demanding and challenging circumstances. But “winning isn’t always championships,” as the GOAT, Michael Jeffrey Jordan, once said.
Our profession challenges us mentally and physically. Our roles as counselors, advocates, advisors, mediators, diplomats, fiduciaries, and public servants demand excellence in our performance and zealous representation of our clients. And then it hits us like a ton of bricks—oh, we are not superhuman after all—just good ol’ fashion…human. We have good days, we have bad days, and some days are a little good and a little bad. Sometimes the good days are unforgettable. The bad days are sometimes easy to shrug off. However, the days that we face are all rooted in our perspective. In other words, our mindset is the defining factor in our ability to face the good, the bad, and the in-between as we pursue excellence in our craft.
Mindset is not unique to us as attorneys—the greatest athletes, executives, and top performers utilize their mindset to frame their performance and the manner in which they show up. They visualize their plays, practice their strategies, and prepare their stamina to endure the difficulties they may face. As attorneys, we memorize precedence, visualize making our opening and closing statements, craft alternative positions, create new theories, challenge the status quo, promote diversity, and fight for equity, justice, and equality. However, our mindset is the deciding factor for how we recognize the opportunities that are before us or a client, and how we will seize the moment and achieve the metric that we define as success.
I recently came across an article from Forbes Magazine that focused on the power of mindset. The author, Amy Blaschka, shared a beautiful example of a question posed by a traveler to three bricklayers. Here’s how the story goes:
Once upon a time, a traveler came upon three bricklayers.
When asked by the traveler, “What are you doing?” the first bricklayer replied, “I’m laying bricks.”
Asked the same question, the second bricklayer answered, “I’m putting up a wall.”
The third bricklayer considered the query and responded with pride in his voice, “I’m building a cathedral.”
Now we may not be laying bricks, but as attorneys and through the work of our sections and committees at the California Lawyers Association (CLA), coupled with our charitable efforts through the California Lawyers Foundation (CLF), we are certainly changing lives. The mindset that we bring to the communities we represent, the clients and members that we serve, and our role as volunteer leaders, can lead to building a wall or paving the road to a new tomorrow for those who come after us. A mindset that dispels the myths about the role of attorneys, redefines success in a holistic, meaningful way, and that uses our power as attorney influencers to increase access to justice and promote the rule of law.
We have always had the power of mindset in our hands—but how we choose to bring our mindset to the table is the deciding factor of the level of success that we will achieve. Not as an individual, but as a unified profession that utilizes our ability to affect change for the better. As I tell my team at CLA, “we are all individually great, but together we can achieve greatness!”
Will you bring the best version of yourself to the table? Will you see opportunities instead of limitations? Will you inspire others that the mindset is the deciding factor in redefining our success that helps to enhance our well-being as humans?
The power is yours. It has always been yours. Now go use it for the better by joining our movement right here at CLA!