The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step
Lao Tzu knew what he was talking about here.
Let’s take a look at the principle and see how we can apply it to legal practice.
Your Legal Career is a Long Journey
It probably already feels like you have been on the journey for a long time. You finished school, went to university, completed your practical legal training, and now you’re a lawyer. In fact, most of your life so far has been taken up by school and study.
But, I’m afraid to tell you, you haven’t yet started your legal journey. Rather you’ve finished the last one.
The practice of law is so different to the study of law, that although they are connected, we really can’t think of them as the same thing. You have completed the first, and reached your destination – becoming a lawyer.
But really that destination is just a stop-off. It’s the end of a long journey to be sure, but in reality it is also the beginning of a new one.
Your legal career is a new journey.
Are you on a Journey, or Standing Still?
The difficulty with careers is this: they kind of happen around you.
So it can seem like you’re on the path to a successful legal career, but in reality the legal career is just occurring to you. In reality, you are not moving anywhere.
You turn up to work – that’s nice. That’s what everyone does.
You do your job – also pretty common.
You work hard and diligently, ticking the boxes. Again – these are all things that you MUST do to stay employed, but are you consciously going anywhere, or is your career just happening to you?
Are you devoted towards constant improvement? Are you emotionally invested? Are you actively building your network? Are you looking for opportunities where you can and acting on them? Or is your desire to get to the weekend as fast as possible, and delay the oncoming Monday as long as you can?
Think of it this way: the person who runs on a treadmill expends the same effort as one who runs on the road. But the person on the road reaches a destination. The person on the treadmill remains exactly where they started.
I’ve mentioned it many times, but lawyers are excellent planners. We plan everything – budgets, marketing, performance, careers, events.
But while we excel at planning, we are poor at implementation.
It’s not because of a lack of desire. It’s because, by planning so comprehensively, our brains tell us that we’ve basically done the job. The planning has engaged us so much in the process that it feels like we’re there already.
Whereas in reality, we have yet to take the first step.
In a journey of a thousand miles, the preparation might be needed – you might know your destination, understand what is required, be packed and ready to go.
But you’re no closer to your destination until you take a step. And then another. And then another.
And that is my question for you today – what is your next step? NOT turning up to work tomorrow and doing what you’re told. What is YOUR next step, devoted to the building of YOUR career, with YOUR destination in mind?