If you’ve already broken your New Year’s Resolutions, take heart: your failure might be the first step to even greater success.
That concept can be hard to stomach in the legal profession, where mistakes can be costly. And yet, psychologists, sports coaches and leadership experts all agree that a temporary setback is often just what’s needed to propel ourselves forward.
“If you can shift your perspective and look at failure not as something to be ashamed of but something valuable, you can begin to understand that it’s through failure that we truly learn to succeed,” writes Lolly Daskall, CEO of Lead From Within, in this Inc. article.
There are two keys to turning lemons into lemonade: (1) changing your thinking so that you view setbacks as opportunities for growth; and (2) coming up with a strategy to turn things around.
The following are some tips for creating a can-do culture in your law firm.
Change Your Thinking
Say you’re kicking yourself for not following through on your promise to go to the gym more often in 2020. One option is to continue kicking yourself. Another is to recalibrate your brain. Start by eliminating all negative self-talk, which will keep you mired in the ditch.
“Self-talk can be incredibly damaging, especially after a failure,” writes Daskall. “Don’t allow it to make you feel worthless – especially in the aftermath of a failure. Let it sting for a moment, and then do everything you can to stay positive and get back on track.”
Another tip: don’t let the perfect get in the way of the possible. Yeah, sure, it’s a cliché. But it’s also true. If you don’t get up and do something – anything – you will remain stuck in neutral.
6 Strategies for Success
Strategy #1. Temptation bundling. This approach, coined by Wharton School of Business professor Katy Milkman, pairs a healthy habit you dread with an activity you love. For Milkman, it meant bundling a trip to the gym, which she often loathed, with Harry Potter audiobooks, which she loved. Without even realizing it, she found herself looking forward to her next treadmill session so she could find out what’s happening at Hogwarts.
Strategy #2. Have a built-in failure system. This might mean scheduling a skip day or two in your weekly exercise regimen, writes Carol Ritchie in this NPR piece. Or it could mean calling Lawyers Mutual the moment you realize something might have gone sideways in a case.
Strategy #3. Start fresh. “If there is a new year or a new week, you are more likely to initiate your new goal — even the next day,” says Wharton professor Marissa Sharif in the NPR article. “You can say, ‘What happened today is the old me, and it doesn’t affect what happens tomorrow, which is the new me.’”
Strategy #4. Learn to fail well. “In every mistake there is a potential for growth,” says Daskall. Turn this into a mantra in your firm. Not only will it empower your team to be bold and creative, but it will make them unafraid to speak up when something goes wrong. The last thing you want is a staff that feels a need to cover up mistakes.
Strategy #5. Be consistent. Use forms and checklists for repetitive tasks. Double-check each other’s work. Implement redundancies in your processes so things don’t get overlooked.
Strategy #6. Ask for help. Sometimes a failure is a call for help. “Find a coach, a mentor, or a friend who supports you in your efforts and has the experience to get you pointed toward your own success,” says Daskall.
Lawyers Mutual has lots of resources to turn failures into success – or at least to mitigate the fallout. Contact the Claims Department if you have a problem in a case. Call the Underwriting Department with questions about your policy. Reach out to Client Services for expert risk management assistance.
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