Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Drive

I'm an incredibly driven person.  I only say this because I got asked about this on a job interview recently, and it's been rolling around in my head.  Because here's what I said, when they asked me about my drive. 

"I'm driven to work hard for my clients, to help them reach whatever goals they had in mind.  I'm driven to help them achieve what they were hoping to achieve when they walked into my office, and if I can't help them achieve that, I'm driven to find them answers and get as far as I can go on a case.  I'm not driven to make partner at a big law firm downtown." 

Essentially, I think in this profession, drive is a good thing and a bad thing.  Drive can push us to work hard for our clients, or it can push us to work hard for ourselves.  I want to be in the first category.  I'm pretty okay if I'm never a household name as an attorney.  I want to be the kind of lawyer my clients trust and other attorneys respect.  I'm driven to be that kind of professional.  I'm not driven to make partner.

Here's the thing about drive that nobody seems to want to admit though: there are all kinds of ways to be driven.  I'm ambitious about taking on projects, but I also genuinely believe the best way to avoid burnout and feed your drive is to spread it across a lot of goals, without making any of them too lofty.  My athletic goals of finishing particular types of races will probably never include winning that race.  My crafting goals will probably never progress past making things for myself and my friends that we like and find useful.  My professional goals?  I have no idea what they ultimately are, except to go to work every day and feel like I am doing good things while working with good people.  I'm still trying to decide how exactly I want my career to progress and how much work I'm willing or able to do to get there. 

I think being driven and pushing yourself is good.  I think pushing yourself to success on the backs of your clients, especially if you forget their end goals, isn't so good.   I think pushing yourself to success by taking advantage of the kindness of others, isn't so good.  I think pushing yourself to achieve goals of other people and calling it drive, isn't so good. 

If nothing else, let's all be driven to be happy, okay?  Most of us don't even know what that looks like, but we can all at least push ourselves that far, right? 

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