OK, I admit it—my name is Andrew and I am the world’s biggest perfectionist. If you think this adjective applies to you, you should keep reading. If you don’t think this applies to you, you DEFINITELY need to keep reading…
Most lawyers I know have very similar personality traits. They are driven to succeed in their professional and extra-curricular activities. They are intensely focused (most of the time in a good way). And, yes, they are perfectionists who strive to always be the best in everything they do. I know these qualities make us great lawyers, but I think they also have a tendency to cause a ton of unnecessary stress.
A brief example from my own life. As an appellate lawyer, I spend pretty close to 99.5% of my time researching the law and drafting briefs. Recently, I was working on a brief and just could not get beyond the blank page. For me, the struggle to draft the perfect sentence the first time around is very real and it is tough to move on to the next sentence until the preceding one is complete. And the more I ponder about finding a different way to do things, the struggle just becomes that much more difficult.
I lamented to my law partner that I wish I could be more like her. She is an excellent writer that lets the thoughts flow initially and then tidies them up later. She quickly responded that I needed to relax, have confidence in my process, and just do me! Perhaps I was spending far too much time stressing about how I was writing, instead of embracing the process that has worked for me. What a concept!
Do any of us do things the perfect way? Of course, not! Is there room for improvement? Always! But this experience taught me that once we stop giving ourselves a hard time about what is working for us, the work just becomes that much easier.
Andrew Manko is board certified in appellate practice and is a shareholder at The Mills Firm, P.A., in Tallahassee, Florida, graduating from Emory Law School in 2004. He is a Second Circuit Representative on The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors and a Past President of the Tallahassee Bar Association Young Lawyers Section.