Think you are the only one who has ever experienced this? Well, you haven’t. It has happened to all of us. You are sitting with a client, you come up with the right strategy, the best course of action, and what does the client say? “What does your boss/senior partner/manager think?”
Seriously, how debilitating is that?? You want to scream to the world, look at me, I am a professional and I know what is right! Don’t you trust me? I went to law school, I passed the CPA exam, I have my license! I know the answer!!
Trust me, it has happened to all of us. It will continue to happen until we are all replaced by robots, in which case the clients will ask the robot to check with their programmers… It’s gonna happen, there is nothing that any of us can do to prevent it. Put your head down, work hard, gain that experience… because with that experience comes the privilege of becoming that senior partner whose opinion is so valuable.
And while we are on the path, accumulating that experience, keep this in mind. One of the greatest creations in all of literature sat in the exact same shoes as we do. Yep, I was doing some reading this week and something in the passage I read just resonated.
Now, I have done a lot of reading and I have felt a wide range of emotions during my fictional travels. Excitement, sadness, nervousness, triumph and even pity. But I cannot say that I have ever actually identified with a character as much as I did with Dr. John H. Watson in “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Sherlock Holmes isn’t just Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law.
I think that anyone who has ever read the Sherlock Holmes stories has tried to picture themselves as Holmes, the intelligent and glamorous consulting detective. I think that even Dr. Watson even dreamed of being Holmes, solving the mystery and being the hero. And in “The Hound of the Baskervilles” he finally gets his chance.
In case you have never read it the important thing to know is that Holmes is unavailable to investigate the mystery. When the new client hires Holmes to investigate a murder and the hound from hell, he confesses that he has other matters to attend to and sends Dr. Watson in his place to investigate. Finally, Dr. Watson’s chance to shine. His opportunity to take all that he has learned by watching and working with the great Sherlock Holmes and solve a mystery of his own. We have all been there, right? A chance to shed our training wheels and actually do, instead of sit on the sidelines watching.
So how does it go? Let’s just say that Dr. Watson’s credibility is questioned by those with whom he comes into contact.
Consider this exchange between Dr. Watson and a character named Mr. Stapleton:
Watson: “You think, then, that some dog pursued Sir Charles, and that he died of fright in consequence?”
Stapleton: “Have you any better explanation?”
Watson: “I have not come to any conclusion.”
Stapleton: “Has Mr. Sherlock Holmes?”
Really? This was my initial reaction– “Who cares what Mr. Sherlock Holmes thinks? He isn’t here, is he? I am and if I tell you that I haven’t solved the mystery yet, then I haven’t solved the mystery yet!”
But of course, after thinking it through, it was so easy to identify with Dr. Watson and the way he must have felt, the sense of the winds coming out of his sails, the deflation of his spirits. He thought he finally had his first case, a chance to make a name for himself separate and apart from being “The Great Sherlock Holmes'” sidekick… but alas, his lack of experience and the legend and shadow of Holmes was too much to rise above without having proved himself first.
And after I felt that, I just had to laugh. Even in 1901, the challenge of an underling to escape from the shadow of the legend… Seems like that sometimes, right?