What is the worst four letter word most attorneys can hear as it relates to their career? No, it isn’t on George Carlin’s list of words they don’t say on TV - the word is “risk”.
During a recent event “Risk Taking Strategies to Excel in Your Career,” a room full of attorneys was challenged to identify risks that could benefit their careers. The presenter challenged the audience to identify risks that could benefit their careers. She then laid out a game plan to tackle the changes we identified.
Many people in the room were uncomfortable with the idea that they needed to take risks to excel in their careers. One participant even challenged the presenter, seeking affirmation that it was okay to have a good job and satisfying career without taking risks. The response? Anyone who goes through their career without ever being uncomfortable probably isn’t realizing their full potential. Wow! A bold statement – one that I like a lot.
My recruiting philosophy might not be that bold, but it’s not that dissimilar. What I espouse is a simple philosophy – it’s fine if an attorney retires from the firm or company where they started or transferred to early in their career. However, if the person only stayed because they were “happy enough” or didn’t have time or inclination to look around, then they are doing a disservice to themselves, their career, and their family. It is critical we evaluate our options at different career points to ensure we’re at the best place, receiving fair compensation, and most importantly, growing personally and professionally.
I understand that speaking these words to legal professionals is an uphill battle. If we liked risk, we probably wouldn’t have opted for a profession that requires constant hard work to achieve and maintain success, and is slow to change its model (how many of you have escaped the billable hour either for yourself or your law firm service providers?).
The fact remains. We need to explore and take risks to be the best we can be. And in the end, if you decide to stay where you are, it’s okay. Probably.