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).

The young lawyer’s question caused me to remember that about 20 years ago David Maister wrote a chapter about dynamos, cruisers and losers in his book True Professionalism.

Bman Bwoman Working SS 2134913

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:

  1. Become content with their achievement
  2. Focus on what they already know rather than what they don’t know
  3. Quit doing the things that got them to $1 Million a year in business
  4. Take clients for granted
  5. Quit trying to attract new clients
  6. Become cautious, like a sports team with a lead playing not to lose
  7. Refuse to share credit with their colleagues
  8. Do not look for opportunities to add value for their clients with work the firm does outside their practice area.
  9. Let any disappointment or setback cripple them
  10. 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.