When you were growing up, did you play a sport, play an instrument or sing, or act in your school plays? If so, I bet you learned several things about discipline, commitment and practice that have helped you practicing law. I know I did.
On my birthday last week, a friend from high school posted this photo from the local newspaper from way back when. It made me think what I learned from playing football. Here are two important points:
- When this photo was taken I actually played tailback not quarterback.
- Yes, my nickname was “Corky.” I hate to let that secret slip out. I had to lose that name when I became a lawyer. I always wished my parents had decided on Dell rather than Corky, but…
Here is what I learned playing football in high school that applied to my work as a lawyer:
- I was not good enough to play at a major college. It was a good thing I had a plan B.(While practicing law, I lost my largest client twice. I always had a plan B.)
- Success during the season was directly related to the work done in the off-season. (Success helping clients was directly related to how I spent my non-billable time.)
- It takes a team: The line, and the fullback in the case of the photo, were extremely important. (I got to a point where I had to rely on delegating work.)
- As Vince Lombardi said: To be successful I had to keep my eyes open and run for the daylight. (As a lawyer, I looked to my clients’ potential future problems or opportunities.)
- You begin each season with a detailed playbook.(I had a plan for each year.)
- The playbook should be designed around the strength of the players. (My plan focused on talents and my interests.)
- No matter how good the playbook, you have to be willing to change the game plan to be successful against a specific defense. (I constantly changed my plan during the year as new opportunities arose.)
- During a play you have to be able to adapt to the circumstances you confront. (I frequently was first to try new technology-like video cameras.)
- You cannot win with a one dimensional offense. (I focused on both building my profile and building relationships.)
- Learning how to respond from a disappointing loss is very important. (I lost some trials and was turned down by some potential clients. It was challenging, but important to get up and try again.)