Last week over at Above The Law, I wrote a post entitled Grit and a Growth Mindset:
It’s the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is intimidated by obstacles, sees effort as fruitless, and takes criticism poorly. A growth mindset embraces challenges, sees effort as a means to achievement, and integrates criticism to improve performance.
Things are difficult now for new lawyers. All lawyers really. Adopting a growth mindset is a step in the direction towards success. But even when you have grit and a growth mindset, they are going to be downtimes. There are going to be periods when you are bored. But keep this in mind:
“Boredom is a mask frustration wears.”
— Neal Stephenson (Anathem)
There will be times as a lawyer where you will wait.
You’ll wait on the judge. You’ll waiting on opposing counsel. You’ll wait on the client.
You’ll wait on the senior partner of your firm. You’ll wait on your IT guy. You’ll wait on the copier.
Waiting becomes part of your life. Down time, sitting around, seemingly nothing to do. The ball is in the other person’s court. You wait your turn. And while you’re waiting, you’ll want something to do.
Throughout this process you will seemingly be bored. You’ll turn to the Net. Twitter. Facebook. Email. You’ll turn to other people in your office. Gossip. Last night’s game. New iPhone. You’ll do it because you think you’re bored.
But you’re not bored, you’re frustrated. Not at having to wait, everyone has to wait. You’re frustrated because you’re not being challenged. Nothing is pushing you to your limits. You’re not being stretched thin, pushed through the ringer, and questioning if you’ll make it out the other side. You don’t feel your self growing, you might even feel like your stagnating. But why are you waiting on someone else to challenge you?
Your growth, your engagement and challenges are largely your responsibility. Don’t be lazy and try to outsource it to someone else. Own your own growth, push yourself in new directions, and develop your own goals.
Don’t settle for boredom.
Don’t settle for complacency.
Challenge yourself. Change your schedule. Change your habits. Find one little thing in your day that you can do different and begin to build on it. Work for small successes. Don’t try and completely alter your life in a single day. Initially, work for little victories. Soon you’ll discover that momentum builds motivation. Once you begin lining up small victories, then you’ll realize that larger victories are no longer so intimidating.
Momentum will push to new, larger challenges. Momentum can be the driving force that pushes you towards success.
So keep pushing yourself until you look forward to challenges. Until you recognize boredom for frustration. And until you don’t want it to be in your life anymore.