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I am a lawyer. I am married to a lawyer. I am the friend of hundreds of lawyers and hold thousands more in great regard. If you're a lawyer (or love them), welcome. I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas in this space.

Ambition Redux

In a conversation about competition vs. cooperation, an extremely successful friend of mine shared what his mentor had taught him about ambition. My friend’s mentor instructed, “Ambition is not knowing what you want and how to get it. Ambition is knowing what you have and how to share it.” Putting just that sort of ambition to work, my friend took over a successful domestic company and turned it into an international world class company. Fortune came his way and he shared some of his success with others.

Lawyers often overlook one of the most important tools they have to offer. I don’t mean anything about their knowledge of “law”; I mean the other skills they have learned in a career of bringing careful analysis to bear on solving problems.

There are uncommon simple tools many lawyers have that others don’t. With just a small shift in consciousness, these tools can be used to benefit, and attract, others. Most importantly perhaps, lawyers are trained to listen carefully.

Today, just by really listening, I was able to answer a client’s question about resolving a bill collecting issue. I knew nothing other than what I had been told, but my client stated, perhaps without knowing it, that he does not enjoy working with his client and would like to minimize the work he does for the client. The bill collecting conflict had muddied the waters. That conflict had become a challenge, and holding on seemed important to winning the battle. It took someone really listening to him to hear what he was saying: beyond the fear and anger of not collecting a fee he had earned, he had no other desire to remain engaged with this client.

We started to discuss others for whom he can do similar work, both his current and potential clients. We were then able to plan ways to pitch those preferred clients.

Lawyers who help people pick through the details and distractions to really understand what they feel, believe and think, get a reputation for intelligence. What those lawyers do to get through the muck is listen and filter. They have understood what they have and shared it. Such reputations make careers.

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