In my last post, I shared comments from great champions about training. Each commenter emphasized effort, drive and commitment. All admitted to training's pain, and some acknowledged not liking it at all. Muhammad Ali went so far as to say,

"I hated every minute of training, but I said 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'" 

A number of readers responded that anything that we're likely to hate every minute of stands little chance of being embraced. Fair point, in the abstract. However, remember that these elite champions differ from you in two important respects:

  • They were referring to their primary endeavor

  • They're professionals competing against other professionals to be #1 in the world

Only a few of you will choose to make rainmaking your primary endeavor. Most lawyers' primary endeavor is practicing law. Each of you has already paid the price to be a great lawyer. Think of the weekends and all-nighters to honor a client's deadline, the missed vacations and family events, etc. You did all that in service to excellence. 

You're professionals competing against other professionals in the practice of law, but not in the business of law.

Good news: You’re competing against other amateurs

When it comes to rainmaking, the good news is that you're competing against other amateurs, i.e., part-time rainmaking apprentices competing against other part-time rainmaking apprentices. 

As a rainmaker apprentice, your first goal is to become a journeyman, i.e., a practitioner who's skilled enough and effective enough to be paid for her work. In our apprenticeship metaphor, that means generating economic results, however inefficiently. Efficiency, and becoming a master rainmaker, is an ambitious aspiration, but that's a later-stage goal. For the foreseeable future, journeymen rainmakers will do very, very well. 

Just as how you became an effective lawyer, you must progress through the Four Stages of Learning:

  • Unconscious Incompetence: Individuals are initially unaware of how little they know, or are unconscious of their incompetence. This is true of most lawyers today.

  • Conscious Incompetence: As they recognize their incompetence, they consciously acquire a skill, leading to

  • Conscious Competence: They consciously use that acquired skill.

  • Unconscious Competence: Eventually, the skill can be performed without consciously being thought through.

Rainmaking is a critical component of modern law practice, but nobody's trying to be #1 in the world at it (even if such a thing could somehow be measured and proved).

Mike O'Horo

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