What happens when opportunity knocks but you can’t quite get the door open all the way?  You’ve had those situations where you said nothing then 10 minutes later thought of the perfect thing to say, right?  I had one of those recently that was huge. My purpose is to teach so I don’t mind sharing my mistakes with the hope we’ll both learn from them

Opportunity Knocked

Any solo or small firm lawyer knows the name Carolyn Elefant. She is an advocate for solo lawyers who teaches how to build and own your niche as well as create a 7 Figure Ebook.  You probably read her blog, MyShingle regularly. I know I do.

So you can imagine how honored I was when she notified me that she selected me to be part of a group of women lawyers featured on her blog. She wanted to highlight women lawyers who were offering business coaching programs.  Hello, outsourcing and delegation are my JAMS!

I was very touched and excited to be included because using outsourcing as a business growth tool is a new concept for many lawyers who were raised to do everything themselves. It felt wonderful that Carolyn saw the value of my work and wanted to share it.

Then I locked the door

Lawyers hate to admit mistakes. Happily, I’ve never been the typical lawyer. I see myself as more of a guide/teacher for being a different kind of lawyer. You’ll frequently see me write about emotional intelligence and client experience and how each one impacts your law practice, bottom-line, and happiness.  Not the usual law blog fare. So it makes sense that I would share this moment with you.  

I sent Carolyn the content for the article that outlined my coaching program, Outsourcing Strategy Rounds, initially. Clients were loving it and I wanted to give it more exposure.  Then, there was a deadline change and I had more time…oh no. Doubt set in.  Should I share my big program? Would that be too much or seem pushy?  What would Carolyn and the other lawyers think?

See the irony? These are the very questions I help my clients face when redesigning their law practice.  They wonder,

  • Should I do this?
  • What will others think of me?
  • Who am I to be so bold?
  • Do I deserve to want more and get it?

I submitted content for my ‘top of funnel’ webinar with the thought that people had to get to know me before purchasing my high-end coaching program.  And I submitted the briefest bio of the bunch (thinking, I don’t want to take up too much space).

The article came out. Yippee! But I was crushed.  The others had presented full pictures of their experiences and capabilities. They were going to be seen for the experts they truly are.  Me, not so much.

This is why high EQ matters

Shit was my first thought.  I totally screwed that up. I could feel the tears welling up when I remembered something important. I don’t let my clients talk bad about themselves. You have to be your own best friend and talk to yourself with kindness and encouragement in a profession where people get punished for errors and praise isn’t a priority.

Then, I walked myself through the process I walk clients through all the time.

  • Debrief.  What happened?
  • Emotions. How do you feel about that?
  • Framing. Is there another way to see it?
  • Action. What do you want to do now about it?

I worked pretty hard to cultivate a high level of emotional intelligence to deal with stuff just like this.  This was a mistake, but it doesn’t have to define me or change my self-confidence if I don’t let it.  I’m human and it’s my job to learn to do better.  That’s what I want you to take away from this discussion.

Things are what you say they are. You own a belief then the belief motivates you.

Dina Eisenberg

Let’s walk through DEFA together…

Debrief– What went wrong?  I didn’t ask enough questions about what the format or bio could be like. Why? I didn’t think it was appropriate to ask.  It’s always appropriate to ask and I forgot that.

Emotions– I feel disappointed and angry with myself, but also proud that I could quickly rebound and turn this mistake into something useful. I am happy and proud to be included on the list. Don’t let mistakes steal your joy or blind you to the good.

Frame– I reframed this mistake into a lesson for you (and me) and a practice session for the next big thing that is bound to come along. Remember, things are what you say they are and nobody has to agree with that but you.

Action– I decided to take action and write this blog post.  I didn’t stay stuck in ruminating or rewinds. It’s winter and snowing on the East coast, which made me think of this analogy. 

Sometimes when driving you can get stuck in a snow bank.  It used to happen to me all the time when parking.  You lose traction.  You can either quickly try to get yourself out or wait for someone to push you out. Waiting is risky because the soft snow can ice over and then you’re really stuck.  Take a quick action after reframing so you don’t get permanently stuck in your mistake.

Why Talk about this at all?

Why bring this up?  Gabrielle Union. She’s had a battle with infertility and is a rape survivor. Her first daughter just arrived via surrogate after Gabrielle endured many, many IVF cycles. She told Oprah that talking about difficult things gives others permission to do the same and take action to move ahead. 

My story isn’t that dramatic. But I felt like many women lawyers struggle with the fear of making a mistake and bouncing back from it strong, especially women of color who need to be damned near perfect to survive in the legal profession.  Perfection is an illusion. Persistence and self-love are real and last a lifetime.

Of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And, if you’re ready to design the law practice that lights up your heart, let’s talk


Dina Lynch Eisenberg, JD, is the CEO of OutsourceEasier.com, an outsourcing training/consulting firm for successful lawyers and entrepreneurs based in Oakland, CA.

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