I have been blessed with mentors who shared their wisdom freely, patiently turned my mistakes into teaching moments, and provided me with countless opportunities to grow. These mentors helped me build the flourishing legal career that I enjoy today. Below are some lessons I learned along the way:
Embrace growth opportunities: One mentor routinely provided amazing opportunities to develop new skills. Once, though, he asked me to handle a task that seemed way beyond my capabilities. I told him, “This doesn’t exactly fall within my comfort zone.” He pulled himself up to his full height and thundered, “I don’t pay you to live within your comfort zone!” I’ll never forget the way he pushed me to grow. If I had remained in my comfort zone, how many lessons would have gone unlearned?
Seek shoulders to stand on, and become the shoulders for others: Following law school, I worked for a former Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust. Early on, we made a deal: If I devoted 100 percent of my time, talent, and energy to his practice, he would teach me everything he knew before turning me over to another mentor. For five years, I devoted myself to the success of his practice. And when our mutual colleague was nominated as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, the former AAG encouraged him to select me as his chief of staff. In that role, I grew as an antitrust lawyer and a leader. Without support from these mentors, I would not be where I am today. But to whom much is given, much is expected. Thus, I seek to invest in the next generation just as my mentors have invested in me.
Enjoy the current season: During a two-year sabbatical from the practice of law, I relished spending time with my family but missed aspects of my professional career. After all, the mother of young children can grow weary of nonlinear conversations and the lack of appreciation for her hard work. (You probably never said to your mom, “Wow! I just love the way you folded that load of laundry!”) Today, I’m thrilled to be practicing law. Not surprisingly, though, I remember fondly the days of unlimited time with my family. The lesson? You can have it all, just not necessarily at the same time. Focus on the benefits of each season, not the costs. The next season in your life may provide what you think you lack today.