Sitting in a crowded airport with a constant buzz all around - announcements, departing flights, excited adults and kids all pumped up on chocolate for Easter - everyone is off on a fabulous adventure. It's not a long trip away for me, just over 24 hours which may seem crazy to some but enough time to create memories, have an adventure and luxuriate in a fabulous friendship.
And it is saying Yes that made all this happen at the last minute, and I’m thanking myself for saying yes. Of course there is always plenty to do, plenty you can rely on to say that you can’t make it or you are plain too busy. But it is when the best opportunities present themselves.
We get caught up in the elements of our own life - an overflowing inbox, massive to do lists and selfish wants. The splendour of saying yes, putting yourself out there, meeting new people and actively listening to others stories and experiences is when you learn more about the world, about others, and about yourself. However in this fast paced world, only some see the yes moments as opportunities to learn.
In a work situation, it is often at the most inopportune times that the fabulous experiences present themselves. For those early career lawyers that say yes, you do get noticed. You get chosen first for things, you are relied upon, you are trusted by others and respected for all you seem to manage. Others call upon you because of your enthusiastic nature, always ready to help. And people love working with others like that ! You grow, you develop and at times, you are stretched. Sometimes it may feel quite outside your comfort zone, but it is then that progression occurs. And the next time, it is a whole lot easier. But it is like doing anything for the first time, no-one began as an expert... it was refined over time. Repetition, practice, experimenting, learning and evolving that is the journey for every talented and successful lawyer, right through to sports star and artist.
But it is not about saying yes to the point of exhaustion or a crazy busy overload burden. This is the piece that you need to manage yourself as no-one else can manage for you. You need to really understand what ‘your capacity’ is. Can you really take on more? Can you sacrifice more? Can you do something in the short-term to meet a deadline? Can you squeeze something more in and be more efficient with the remainder of your day? Ultimately it comes down to what you value and what brand you wish to create.
The opportunity to learn from others is key as a junior lawyer in a law firm. It is seeing how others approach, define, articulate and influence that is so key to watch, learn from and be part of. My own influencing skills come from watching so many experts that have surrounded me through the last 20 years in law. Each one took a different approach, but you personally take a little from one scenario, and a little from another until you build up a style that is truly yours alone. A style you are proud of and continually evolving. You don’t ever want to be a replica of someone, or be hiding in someone else’s shadow. You have to speak up when appropriate, and not hide in the corners of the room. As a junior lawyer, your contribution is often from a different angle with a different lens. It is that lens that law firms are asking you to bring right now which contributes to innovative thinking. But innovation is not just tech, it is about doing things and thinking in a way that is different, efficient, effective and unique. It is understanding the previously navigated approach, but considering how it can be delivered in a more evolved way.
So by saying Yes I mean more than just literally saying Yes. Be present, contribute broadly to life in a law firm, speak up and think differently. Not just in your practice group but add to the fabric and culture of the firm. Be the person that others want to choose due to your enthusiasm, passion, and ability to read a situation. Develop EQ.
So when the next moment arises, be it you are asked, chosen or recognise the opportunity for yourself, stop and say yes with vigour!