A valuable lesson from last week’s Leave Law Behind event

 October 8, 2012

By  Casey Berman

Last week, we had a great Leave Law Behind event, and I want to sincerely thank everyone who made it.  The event was hugely inspiring for me personally, and I promise it will be the first of many engaging, fun, interesting and productive live events to help our community grow, get to know each other and assist each other in exploring and finding meaningful professional pursuits, within the law and out of it.  I will soon be posting the presentation online for everyone to review and comment on.

We spoke a lot about our Unique Genius – what this really means, how it helps in leaving the law, and some ideas on how to really explore what it is, for each of us.  As you likely know, one tenet of Leave Law Behind is to identify your strengths and skill sets that you are so good at, that come so naturally to you, and use these as a foundation for exploring opportunities and channels to leave the law.  In other words, be conscious of incorporating into your job those skills that you are good at, that you are strong at, and that are in alignment with what you enjoy.  This pairing can make life and work easier, more enjoyable, and you happier, more confident and satisfied.

That’s all nice and fine, but in reality our Unique Genius can still be very elusive.  We all get the idea of finding what we are good at, but we still find it difficult to identify.  We don’t know what questions to ask.  We don’t know where to look.  We don’t know who else to involve.  And we can get overwhelmed by all of the self development resources out there.

I myself have personally tried to answer a lot of the well-meaning (but often vague and not very helpful) questions.  You may have heard some of them before:  What is your passion? What did you want to be when you were 8 years old?  Assume you have plenty of money already – how would you fill your time?  If you could help one kind of person, who would you help?  What are your hobbies?  If you could make a difference in someone’s life, what would you want to accomplish?  What is important to you?  What were you born to do?

Instead of providing a whole slew of questions to find one’s Unique Genius, we discussed asking just three main questions.  While this limits the scope, the goal of this exercise is to (i) focus just on what you are good at and (ii) ask questions in such a way that result in some tangible answers that you can actually work with, have come control over and allow you to deploy into real results to help in leaving the law:

1. What are you already doing (or would you do) for free to help people? This points to what you enjoy.  I put on a free event last Tuesday in San Francisco.  Why?  Because I love to public speak, I love to help people and I love to connect people together to help and support themselves.  Yup, you better believe I’m going to put on more events.  I love them.  And one day . . . I will begin charging (a business is born).

How about you?  Are you posting pictures of your food on Instagram? Do you write reviews on Yelp?  Do you volunteer at a community center? Or coach a team?  Are you the manager of a group?  Where or how are you the “glue†of some volunteering activity?  These activities can shed light on what your Unique Genius is.  You are doing them for free – you likely enjoy them and are fairly proficient (if not great) at them.

2.  For what type of advice do people come to you? This speaks to what comes naturally to you.  Think about right now, about back in high school, college, law school, professionally.  What do people come to you for?

People come to me about a number of things, but one area I’m really good at, be it in business, career searches or otherwise, is issue spotting.  I’m able to assess the story I’m being told and strip away the emotions and other issues and help the person get right to the issue that needs to be solved.

Think about what people come to you for. This can provide insight into the value people think you bring to them when they have a problem to solve.

3. What do people compliment you on? This points to your strengths.  What do people say positively about you?  Do you dress well?  Are you full of good energy?  Do you have a great smile?  Are you the life of the party?  Are you dependable?  Are you a self starter?  Disciplined?  Good listener?  Detail oriented?  Ambitious?  Creative?  Studious?  Are you good at strategy?  Can you work a room?  Are you insightful?  Can you speak well?  Can you solve puzzles?

If you don’t know, meet with some close friends or family and tell them that you are not fishing for compliments, but rather that you’re very interested in having them list and explain some of your positive traits . . . so that you can actually internalize what it is you are good at and act upon this.  Then reply to this email and send this list to me and we can discuss what these really mean (and what jobs and ventures may be a good outgrowth of these traits).

I left the event on Tuesday night fully realizing that there is a movement growing.  Who better than unhappy, disgruntled, potential-unrealized, not-totally-satisfied-with-themselves attorneys to understand themselves better, to change course (altogether or just slightly) in order to help change the world.  To change their world and that of others.

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