Embrace Who You Are and What You Want To Be
Too often, women accept business and societal norms as the goals they should strive for. That is a mistake. Do not – DO NOT – let others define what success looks like for you. Instead, embrace who you are and what you want to be, and identify metrics of success that are unique to you and your life. I have seen too many colleagues chase what others consider to be success only to find a personal and professional hollowness when they achieve it. I encourage the lawyers I mentor to consider not only what kind of skills they want to develop or what type of role they want to take on, but also to be mindful of what kind of person they will be in the process.
Over the course of my career, I have come to realize that people are the most important key to success in anyone’s career – strong relationships with colleagues, mentors, clients, assistants, and others will matter in ways that you can’t even imagine. Surround yourself with people you admire and who share your values, and nurture those relationships. That means not only identifying how they can potentially help you, but how you can support them. Having a transactional view of relationships will undercut one of the most important keys to professional success. And remember that relationships beget relationships. You will quickly find yourself with a disappointing network if you align yourself with people who lack integrity or cut corners. Developing a reputation for integrity, honesty and trust makes for a much more rewarding career and life. It can take years to earn that – but mere seconds to lose it.
I also encourage my mentees to be brave and to seek out things that make them uncomfortable. Bravery can take many forms, but the sheer act of confronting what makes you uncomfortable or nervous builds character and confidence. I have found that much of success is less about talent and more about having the strength and willingness to power through difficult moments. Bravery also means honestly assessing your strengths and weaknesses. Acknowledging your weaknesses doesn’t always come naturally or easily, but doing so allows you to identify solutions – working to improve them or letting other team members shine in those areas, for example.
Finally, I encourage people to be kind and remember that everyone out there is dealing with something you don’t know about. Kindness and compassion are values that go a long way. Some will view that as weakness. Avoid those people. True strength is having the courage to think and care about things bigger than yourself.