Greetings from West Palm Beach, Florida, where the weather is pretty awesome. I’m here for the last coaching sessions with a group of lawyers I have coached this year. One thing we’ll talk about is what separates the superstar lawyers from the stars.
Several years ago, I spoke to first year associates during their law firm orientation. Right before the conclusion of my presentation, I asked for questions. A very astute first year lawyer who had listened intently asked:
What is the difference between lawyers who are stars and lawyers who are superstars? (My paraphrase of the question).
I went back to the chapter and read what he said about cruisers. First he indicated that we all cruise at sometime in our career. Then, he said:
Cruising means working at what you are already good at, and in consequence usually means a low-stress comfortable work life.
Finally he wrote:
The difference between Dynamos and Cruisers is rarely one of ability. Rather, it is one of attitude.
Here is what I have seen when successful lawyers are not getting better. They do some or all of the following:
- Become content with their achievement
- Focus on what they already know rather than what they don’t know
- Quit doing the things that got them to $1 Million a year in business
- Take clients for granted
- Quit trying to attract new clients
- Become cautious, like a sports team with a lead playing not to lose
- Refuse to share credit with their colleagues
- Do not look for opportunities to add value for their clients with work the firm does outside their practice area.
- Let any disappointment or setback cripple them
- Fail to keep up with changes in the legal profession
In essence, they simply begin their retirement on the job. They are cruising.
Superstar lawyers I know view a great year to be an event not an achievement. The achievement comes from continuing to strive to get better.