Lawyer Monthly - June 2022

EXPERT INSIGHT 78 WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM | JUN 2022 Some emotions are helpful in achieving our goals, such as confidence and enthusiasm. Other emotions can hold us back, such as fear, guilt and self-doubt. The key is to learn how to manage our emotions so they work for us, not against us. Emotional fitness also covers those tasks that are not “hard skills”, such as systematic and software-assisted work. These are the skills that cannot be replaced by software. With a lot of work in law moving towards more AI and software assistance, the competitive advantage for lawyers and firms is not going to reside in who has the best software but in how emotionally fit their lawyers are. Software cannot replace empathy, creativity and authenticity. Software cannot replace the leadership, vision setting and motivation of a team. Emotional fitness is what is going to guide lawyers through uncertain times and allow them to manage stress and build resilience effectively. Emotional fitness might not be the new, bright and shiny piece of software that will revolutionise profitability, but learning to optimise our emotions is essential for asymmetrical upside in performance and wellbeing. Building upon that idea of “soft skills”, how can firms encourage creativity and tactical thinking in topperforming lawyers? Creativity and tactical thinking are skills that can be trained. Through repetition of their work, most lawyers become experts in logical thinking, which is no wonder since it is the foundation of law. In neuroscience, this would be convergent dominant thinking. Lawyers rarely spend much time using their creativity, which is their divergent mode of thinking. To expect a lawyer to go from a lifetime of logical thinking to creative thinking at a switch of a button is unrealistic. This type of cognitive demand can put excessive mental pressure on lawyers. Going back to a sports analogy, if creative thinking is desired, deliberate practice is needed. For example, an athlete who wants to optimise a specific skill may choose to alter their training schedule to practise a particular skill. They may dedicate a small or large portion of their training time to focus on that one skill and then measure and track how it improves over time. Lawyers can do this for creative and tactical thinking. Prioritise time to practise thinking creatively. There are simple and powerful exercises that can be done that only take one to five minutes. They work by getting you to mentally and physically engage your creative thinking. The more practice they put in, the more fluid lawyers will become in creative thinking and start to recognise the ease at which original thoughts come to them. Emotional fitness is the single most significant predictor of performance in the workplace and the most vital driver of leadership and personal excellence.

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