Firm Blog

Uncomfortable? Good.

Posted by: Victoria Santoro

In the past couple of weeks, I have gone from one uncomfortable situation to the next…and I couldn’t be happier about it.  Professional discomfort, in my opinion, is the single greatest indicator of whether or not you are achieving, growing and taking important risks.  To be clear, I’m referring to the type of discomfort that results in butterflies in your stomach, the type of pressure that makes you want to perform.  If your discomfort level makes you feel nauseous and panicky and leaves you searching for a room to hide in, that’s a problem.  A humdrum professional existence, though, will lead to the death of your ambition, stunt your professional growth and foster boredom.  This professional suffocation, at least in the legal field, could also result in diminished representation of your client.

I’m lucky at MBBB to be encouraged to stretch my comfort zone to its outer limits.  Finding the line between feeling discomfort and being entirely out of your strike zone is important as you grow into your field.  If you push too far beyond your boundaries, it becomes much more likely that a mistake could happen.  But there is a sweet spot, just beyond what you already know but just shy of something completely foreign.  My greatest achievements have come not from the moments where things feel easy, but from the moments where things feel decidedly uneasy.  Those moments foster confidence and, sometimes, produce unexpected and amazing results.

This month in particular I am feeling proud of having taken advantage of the opportunities that have come my way in the past two years.  Super Lawyers released their list of the best lawyers in Massachusetts and their “Rising Stars,” for attorneys practicing less than ten years.  All of the eight attorneys in our firm were selected for inclusion on these lists.  Needless to say, I was surprised and happy to be included as a Rising Star, with such a distinguished group of attorneys.  Three of our attorneys were included in the Top 100 lawyers in the state.  And Leo Boyle was even ranked Number One in the state, across all disciplines.

These tremendous accomplishments are in no way an accident.  My co-workers are risk takers and creative thinkers, passionate in their compassion, and willing to stretch and maneuver for the things they believe in.  Without a doubt, this has been passed on to me through their mentorship and the atmosphere they cultivate at MBBB.

So how do you get uncomfortable?  Pick the most daunting professional goal you have and break it up into five component parts.  For example, you might want to try your first case.  The five component parts might be: writing and responding to discovery, conducting depositions, writing and arguing non-dispositive motions, writing and arguing summary judgment motions and then conducting a trial.  Depending on where you are in your practice, once you are comfortable with a particular step, keep reaching for the next piece of the puzzle.  Once you feel comfortable taking and defending depositions and recording your objections in front of an opposing attorney, move on to arguing motions in court.  This keeps you engaged in your cases and your practice, encourages constant learning and maintains excitement.

Before you get carried away, remember the 80-20 rule.  I try to keep this in mind in all things that I do: that 80% of your successes will come from 20% of your efforts.  So while you’re busy reaching for the stars, make sure most of your tasks are within your abilities so you can effectively and smoothly move your cases forward.  Discomfort, if used appropriately, can be one of your greatest allies.


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