In the legal profession, we might feel lucky to be where we are at. After all, so many would-be-lawyers are working as paralegals, if not pizza-men.

In the legal profession, we might feel lucky to be where we are at. After all, so many would-be-lawyers are working as paralegals, if not pizza-men. Getting your JD might give you a shiver of trepidation nowadays: there is no promise you will make it in this profession. So you, as an established lawyer, may feel the best strategy is to hold to the familiar, to keep on the familiar track, and not take an unnecessary risks.

If you prefer comfort and will not risk the adventure of new jobs, new assignments, making the lateral move that will challenge you, you will not grow. Maturity is perpetual growing, perpetual improvement. We don't quit growing until we die. And the brain keeps learning all our lives: the brain is plastic, and you can teach old dogs new tricks.

What matters is having the courage to keep challenging yourself, to throw yourself into situations and arenas where you could fail. Go ahead and fail: so what! Is failure so bad? Worse is it to have never tried in the first place.

If you are psyched out about the new position, if you are wondering, "can I really handle this? Will I just sink like a rock," then be certain that this is the move you should make. Always do what you are afraid to do. Be confronting those fears, by doing what may even seem foolish or unlikely, we grow more bold and also surprise ourselves: we are stronger than we imagined. You never know how strong you are until you actually try your best, and take on challenges that are just a little too big for you, that require you to go back to the books, to educate yourself, to adjust your skills to meet the new demands.

At first, the old habits will resist and try to talk you out of it. They will quite reasonably remind you that you could greatly fail, you could lose so much. Old habits always have a reason to resist change. Nevermind them. Fan the flame of  the new habit, the new boldness, taking the job you think will make you sink. When you fan this small flame, when you feed it small successes, and give it more and more fuel, it will grow, and soon enough you will have built a boldness to try new and new challenges, to seek out adversity for the relish of the fight, for the sheer chance to expand and grow.

Of course you will fail along the way. Success is paved with countless failures. Use your failures as stepping stones. The stumbling block becomes a stepping stone. When you adjust your assessment of what failure means, what it says about you, when you realize that great people fail more precisely because they try harder and try new things, then you can relax and not be defeated when you lose, not give up when others laugh at you, or pity you. Hold to that inner spark, the inner voice that tells you to keep striving, to raise your head to face bolder challenges.

Take the new position, even if you think you might drown. Dare to seek the promotion, dare to ascend. This is the way to grow as a lawyer, this the way to grow as a human being, and though you might be afraid at first, you will be proud of yourself in the end.

When you force yourself to grow, force yourself into bold new situations, you will summon powers within you that you never suspected existed. You will realize you were more capable than you had suspected, you will have found that there is more to you as a lawyer, as a man or woman, than you previously believed.

 

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