I was recently at a conference when I met a friendly young lady and we started talking about our careers, she told me she was an attorney, as well and that she was getting ready to do the Bar Exam in a few months. We continued chatting for a while, exchanging pleasantries, when another young lady came over to us and joined in on our conversation. Since the conference could also be considered a networking event it wasn’t strange that the other young lady had randomly joined in on our conversation.
Turns out that young lady #2 was also an attorney, an entertainment lawyer, she said. She posed the question to me and my first conversationalist about our areas of practice and how long had we both been practicing. I told her. Young Lady #1 explained that she was getting ready to study for the Bar Exam and that she was currently employed as a patent attorney.
“You haven’t taken the Bar yet?” Young Lady #2 said incredulously to Young Lady #1.
“No, but I’m studying for it now, I take the exam in…” Young Lady #1 was interrupted by Young Lady #2. “Well that means you’re really not an attorney then, if you haven’t taken the Bar yet, I mean you have to be licensed first before you can call yourself a lawyer.”
The two women kept going back and forth for a minute. The first young lady explaining that since she already graduated law school and was currently employed as an attorney with a law firm that she was, in fact, a lawyer, while the other young lady kept telling her in a somewhat condescending tone that she was not, in fact, a lawyer until she had passed the Bar Exam and received her law license.
I really don’t know what the proper protocol is in order to call one’s self an attorney. However, what I got from the conversation or should I say debate between the two women was that it seemed that Young Lady #2 was somewhat threatened by the prospect of another young female attorney coming aboard the legal train and was determined to let her know, in no uncertain terms, that she is not “one of us” until she had gone through certain rigorous training, which Young Lady #1, might not even be able to complete. Young Lady #2’s conduct was uncalled for and unkind and, in my opinion, just plain boorish.
My Light Does Not Dim Yours
Here’s the thing – My light, no matter how bright it shines, does not diminish yours. There is room enough for all of us to succeed and be great without anyone feeling threatened. Your success does not affect mine, nor does it happen the other way around either, my success certainly does not affect yours, even if we are in the same industry. We could even be interviewing for the same job and the fact that you may get that job does not mean that I won’t get another job, equally as good. How I see it is that particular job wasn’t really meant for me if I wasn’t the selected candidate.
There is no over saturation in any field or profession, where they won’t be room for another success story. People die, unfortunately, or retire every day, therefore there will always be room for others. Always!
Years ago when I first decided to start my own law practice I was still wet behind the ears, only a few years out of law school, but it was something I wanted to do. I remember speaking to a successful solo practitioner, someone who was somewhat of a mentor to me, telling him I wanted to go out on my own and asked for some advice about what I should expect initially. I was surprised when he advised me not to start my own practice. He asked why I would want to give up the security of a salary to work for myself? He told me that it would take years and years and years to build my practice to the point where I would be comfortable enough to turn over a profit.
My response to him was, “I better get started then since it’s gonna take so long.”
Honestly, I was shocked at the lack of encouragement. Here I was thinking that he’d be gung-ho at his protegé trying to go out there and make a name for herself, sort of following in his footsteps, but instead, he was trying to talk me out of it. It seemed as if he thought little ole me was going to be some kind of competition to his already thriving practice. I took his words with a grain of salt and still went out on my own because I knew that if I never tried it I would spend my life wondering, “What if?”
A few years after I had started my own practice and was doing okay for myself when my mentor and I were having lunch and he admitted to me that “new, young fresh blood and brains” is always a threat to the older folks who had been “grinding for all these years”. Wow! My first thought was what about the opportunity to teach? What about the opportunity to impart your knowledge upon these “new, young, fresh blood and brains” coming into the industry? The older generation will always have more expertise than the new kids on the block. Why not seize the opportunity to impart your knowledge and expertise in a positive way? Lead, by example. Encourage! There is enough happiness and blessings to go around for everyone to partake and be content. Always!
Personally, I don’t like competition. There is a theory that a little healthy competition never hurts. That might very well be true but the only person I am in competition with is myself in an effort to be better today than I was yesterday. I admire those who inspire and motivate but competition only pits one person against the other and builds misplaced resentment. We each move at our own pace as individuals and what might work for you today might not work for you tomorrow and that goes for all of us so getting cutthroat and competitive, in my humble opinion, is a waste of time. Have that healthy competition with yourself, not with others, and become the best you can possibly be.
We have to get rid of this scarcity mindset, that there isn’t enough of a good thing to go around, because there truly is. We should be happy for others when they elevate themselves, especially when well-deserved through hard work. We should promote, encourage and cheer each other. I truly believe that when we uplift others it does something for our psyche that allows us to grow as individuals and make us better people. Someone else’s gain is not your loss, the successes of others, if anything, should be evidence that we can all be successful too. Believe me when I tell you there is enough to go around for everyone.