Attorneys are a weird breed, sometimes having to wear two hats, the hat of the lawyer and the hat of the counselor. It is a fine line to walk, alternating between advocating and advising, arguing and guiding. In fact, we as professionals, whatever the industry, have the same struggle. While we want to act for our clients and adopt their passions to better serve them, we must sometimes step back and “talk them off the ledge,” to counsel them as to the more advisable tactic, whether it be a less aggressive investment strategy or a more cost-effective insurance policy.
And it is a struggle, one that creates a tightrope walk which can easily result in disaster. Push your client too hard in attempting to guide them on the right path and you risk losing the client; push too softly and you risk being ineffective.
So what makes us as professionals qualified to act as counselors? It is a level of dispassion, a modicum of rationality that can only be perceived when you are not intimately entwined with the circumstances and the outcome. Sitting in a mediation and trying to advise a client to take a settlement which is less than what they believe the case is worth requires a separation of emotion from clear thought. Our clients who are emotionally involved in their case can become unreasonable. And rational thought is a must if you are going to serve your clients’ needs best.
A lawyer, as a counselor, must be rational. My friends, I have a confession… sometimes I doubt my ability to be rational. I can sometimes be totally irrational… it is embarrassing.
Legend has it that a college student taking a U.S. History course to impress a girl once wrote a final exam on the rivalry between the Dodgers and Giants. Somehow he passed the class and won the girl. She absolutely had to have been a Dodgers fan.
It is irrational, I know, to hate a team with as much revulsion and disgust as I hold the baseball team that plays in San Francisco and wears that ugly orange color. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate San Francisco. In fact, it is one of my favorite cities. Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square, Ghirardelli Square and Rice a Roni… I love going there, I really do.
But that team needs to be obliterated from the face of the earth. What did they ever do to you, you may ask? Shall I mention the Shot Heard Round the World? Or Joe Morgan? Or Juan Marichal using a baseball bat to try to attach Sandy Koufax?
Consider this… Jackie Robinson was not just a Dodger. He was a trailblazer, an activist and a humanitarian. He has to be tops on many lists of the most influential and well-respected people who ever lived. And he retired because the Dodgers traded him to the Giants. He actually refused to play for the Giants and opted to retire instead. Doesn’t that speak volumes???
So you can imagine my pain, my agony, when the Giants won the World Series this past week. For me, I don’t want anyone to suffer. I know what it is like to root for a team which fails to succeed. For the long-suffering Cubs fans, I empathize and wish them success sometime soon. But the Giants, it would not have bothered me if they never won another game.
It is irrational and I know it. These are just baseball players. They didn’t choose to be on that team, they were signed there or they were drafted there or they were traded there. They haven’t caused me any personal harm. I haven’t lost money because of them or suffered the loss of family members. Whether the Giants win or lose, it won’t affect my family, my kids will still be healthy, and my career will still be what I make of it.
So my feelings and my intensities about the Giants are irrational. And I wonder if that makes me ineffective as a counselor. I guess the first step in fixing your problem is identifying that it is a problem. So for me, step one will be to acknowledge the Giants and their success. For me to be more effective, I need to turn that page.
So to the Giants, I say CONGRATUL… oh, who the hell do I think I am kidding? Wait Til Next Year!!