Who needs to give lawyers confidence? Aren’t they all cocky, full of themselves, and shooting for the moon?
This article is for all the great lawyers out there who haven’t hit their stride, the ones who have the skills but worry they lack them, the ones who could be Atticus Finch but have the shyness of Boo Radley.
The legal world doesn’t help these lawyers grow. Lawyers who lack confidence can often feel like fortune favours the brash – leading to a sense of disillusionment with legal practice. How much talent has been lost to the profession in this way?
If you are a lawyer with low confidence, you do not have to accept. You can make a change. The truth is you will have to if you wish to be happy in life working as a lawyer.
Let this article inspire you to take those first steps:
Let’s start with the fundamentals. The whole point of confidence, in a professional sense, is to be recognised for the skills and qualities you have. You want your competence to shine through rather than be clouded by indecision and worry.
But ultimately, you won’t be able to convince other people to believe in you if you cannot believe in yourself. You need to back yourself.
Before you can genuinely, you need to know more about who you are backing. You have to be assured on some level that you can do it – that you have the qualities deep down.
For example, if a man can’t fly a plane, in that he lacks the necessary skills, there is no good reason for him to climb into a cockpit and try a flight across the Atlantic. No matter how confident he is, it’s not going to end well.
So what if he has the skills? Knowledge and training don’t necessarily breed confidence. Perhaps he can fly but doesn’t because he worries about what’s going to happen when he gets into the air. That’s where he needs confidence. If his goal is to make his transatlantic flight, he has to devote himself to fighting those fears. But he needs those skills in the first place.
Ask yourself – do you have the underlying skills to be a great lawyer? No false modesty now!
You might feel you have some but not others. Remember – skills can be learned given time and inclination. So then it becomes a question of motivation. You need to assess things – clearly and honestly.
- Is being a lawyer that important to you?
- Do you lack any underlying skills?
- Are you willing to learn any skills you lack?
- Is it just a lack of confidence holding you back?
Asking yourself these questions can help to focus your efforts. Maybe it isn’t confidence that’s the problem. Maybe it’s motivation. In which case, maybe law isn’t for you. There’s no shame in that. Get out there and look for a job you are passionate about.
Up your discomfort threshold
If you aren’t used to a particular situation, a lack of confidence increases the discomfort you feel. This is one of the main lawyers need confidence. The job can throw all sorts of things at you. People rely on you to solve their problems, to take the right steps, and to give them reassurance while you do it.
If that makes you uncomfortable – good! Embrace it. Get used to it. Feel uncomfortable, but go through with it anyway. The more you do it, the more you will realise you can and the world isn’t going to collapse around you for stretching yourself.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes – everyone makes them
You will make mistakes. Everyone does. But have you noticed how a confident person recovers from one? They move on from it.
Learn from the mistakes you make, think about what you could have done differently, but most importantly, don’t keep blaming yourself for them. It’s happened: fix what you can, take away the positives, and get the hell out of Dodge.
No one is 100% confident 100% of the time. But some people have a way of acting which convinces the world around them they have everything under control. If you can project that, who’s to say you aren’t a confident person? Try faking it until you make it. And, by make it, read: when faking it becomes natural!
Worry that people don’t take you seriously? That when you speak, the words all come tumbling out taking away your credibility? Slow it down. If you are nervous, the natural reaction is to speak quickly (presumably to get it over with as soon as possible!). But this just ramps up the stress. You have to think quicker to avoid tumbling over your words. It’s easier to make mistakes.
People who speak slower are generally taken more seriously. They make fewer mistakes, they can articulate themselves much more effectively, and they can add expression into what they are saying, which makes what they say a lot more memorable.
Consistent effort to change
A lack of confidence is simply a habit you have developed, one where you do not believe in yourself or think you are worse than other people. Nothing more, nothing less. Habits are hard to break, but if you put in consistent effort to reshape your habits you will start to feel the benefits.
Hopefully, reading this article makes you feel energised: pumped up and ready to build your confidence. You’ll make some mental changes and hit the ground running. But unless you keep consistently revisiting these ideas and enforcing the changes, the initial euphoria and positive actions will wear off. You have to fight a habit by making a new one to replace it. That habit should be believing in yourself.
Try displaying key messages that will help you to remember that impetus for change. Put them somewhere you will see them every day. Look back at them when you need a boost.
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