I have heard from several lawyers that I am a “motivational” speaker. A few years ago, the ABA Young Lawyers Division asked me to speak at their spring meeting. Specifically I was told that my task was to “motivate” the young lawyers attending the meeting. They chose the title of my presentation:

COME ON BABY LIGHT MY FIRE:HOW TO REIGNITE YOUR FLAME FOR LEGAL WORK

If you are struggling right now at the beginning of 2011 to “light your fire,” click on the title above and you will find my handout materials.

I began the presentation by playing 20 seconds of the Doors singing on the Ed Sullivan show in September of 1967. Those of you my age remember the stir caused by Jim Morrison not changing the lyrics: “Girl we couldn’t get much higher.” Ed Sullivan refused to shake Morrison’s hand and The Doors were never invited back.

Then, I told the young lawyers that if I did a really outstanding job, I could probably motivate some of them for a short time. But, when they got back to the office on Monday, my motivation would have worn off. As Stephen Covey has said:
Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.
When you find your inner motivation, it will burn forever. That comes from doing work you love to do and focusing on the journey more than the destination. I have always loved the journey that practicing construction law gave me. Each and every day, I found joy in helping my construction clients achieve their goals and build some of the most magnificent projects in the world. I have walked out on incredible bridges under construction and have been in tunnels under mountains and under cities. I also loved to challenge myself to become a better lawyer and advisor. Those things motivated me.
So, what is the best way for you to find your inner motivation? Zig Zigler has a good starting point:
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
Here are my ideas:
  • Focus on the journey each day, not the destination.
  • Do not compare how you are doing with others,
  • Focus on your clients and think about how the work you are doing is helping your clients and maybe helping your community.
  • Finally, work each and every day to become the best lawyer you can be. At the end of your day ask yourself if you gave it your best effort that day.

If you get a chance, take a moment and let me know how you are doing.