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The Power of Gratitude: Getting and Keeping a Job by Being Thankful

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The power of gratitude by A. Harrison Barnes with the benefits of getting and keeping a job by being thankful explaining the dangers of negative thinking in attorneys during their searches for new employment without appreciating their jobs.

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The Power of Gratitude: Getting and Keeping a Job by Being Thankful

  1. 1. RECRUITER Q & A www.lawcrossing.com 1. 800.973.1177SPONSORED BY BCG ATTORNEY SEARCH The Power of Gratitude: Getting and Keeping a Job by Being Thankful [By A. Harrison Barnes] Many people who order their lives rightly in all other ways are kept in poverty by their lack of gratitude. - Wallace WattlesAfter years of counseling attorneys during attorneys are taught to think and the ways What all of this says to me is that thetheir searches for new employment, I have their arguments are consequently attacked practice of law does create some problemsrealized that most attorneys do not appreciate and critiqued. A constant awareness for attorneys. It is not my role to judgewhat they have and are, for the most part, of weakness, a constant need to be on the veracity of all of the reasons for theseungrateful. I think there really is an epidemic guard, and a constant need to cover all problems; however, what I will say is that Iof sorts of ungratefulness among attorneys. shortcomings do not necessarily make for a believe that they exist. I also feel that a lot ofMost do not appreciate their jobs and are happy person. these problems exist because attorneys areenormously critical of themselves and others- simply too hard on themselves. Attorneysregardless of whether they are earning In order for attorneys to be effective in their often inflict their critical views of the world$30,000 or $2 million per year. This lack of existing positions and successfully get new (which they need in order to be good at theirappreciation for what they have achieved and positions, they need to have gratitude and jobs) upon themselves. It is when this occurswhat they have holds most attorneys back put themselves in states where they are that the problems begin.from reaching their full potential and results appreciating what they have achieved andin a great deal of dissatisfaction with the what they are becoming. In this profession, Negative thinking does little good. Therepractice of law. there is very little time spent on learning is a quote from Buddha that says, “All we to appreciate the good and a great deal of are is a result of what we have thought.”Most attorneys are extremely aware of time spent on comparing and cutting down. This is so true in the practice of law. Bywhat they do not have and what other This article will discuss how attorneys can constantly focusing on what is negative aboutattorneys have. They are aware of where use the power of gratitude to become more their jobs, most attorneys end up attractingthey are working and what their employers effective in their current jobs, job searches, more negativity to their lives and careers.pay compared to other employers. They and careers. The constant and never-ending focus mostare aware of what other attorneys in their attorneys place on what is not right aboutoffices are working on and what they are The Dangers of Negative Thinking and Not their jobs, what is not right about theirnot working on. They are aware of how Being Grateful careers, and what needs to change servesmany hours they billed and how many hours only to attract more negativity to them.many other attorneys in their offices billed. As part of my job, I often find myself havingThey are aware of what sorts of cars they conversations with colleagues regarding When you focus on the negative in yourare driving and what sorts of cars other the states of mind of attorneys. Invariably, career, you are serving to attract moreattorneys are driving. Because attorneys much of this conversation tends to turn to negativity to you because this is whatcontinually obsess over these sorts of things, issues having to do with how depressed you are looking for. For example, if youvery few attorneys are able to find happiness many attorneys are, the prevalence of believe there are no opportunities in yourin their careers. suicide in law compared to its prevalence in law firm, you will constantly see your other professions, the fact that the average working environment as a place with limitedIn my life, I have had more than one career. litigator dies in his or her 50s, and the higher opportunities. When you see your world thisCompared to most professionals out there, incidence of divorce among attorneys. This way, you will look at everything happeningattorneys are more aware of what they list of supposed maladies continues almost around you as something that supports yourare lacking. This awareness about what is indefinitely, and I learn about new problems particular belief system. If you do not getlacking probably has its roots in the ways quite often. a good assignment, you will believe therePAGE continued on back
  2. 2. RECRUITER Q A www.lawcrossing.com 1. 800.973.1177SPONSORED BY BCG ATTORNEY SEARCHare no opportunities. If you see someone An example used by Festinger (1957) solid career options. I saw many enormouslyleave your firm, you will believe there are may assist in elucidating the theory. capable attorneys give up the practice of lawno opportunities. If you hear something A habitual smoker who learns that completely.negative about your firm from someone smoking is bad for health will experienceworking there, you will believe there are no dissonance because the knowledge that In terms of cognitive dissonance, theseopportunities. smoking is bad for health is dissonant attorneys were simply looking for what with the cognition that he continues to supported their belief system, whichIn 1957, Leon Festinger wrote A Theory smoke. He can reduce the dissonance asserted that the market was bad.of Cognitive Dissonance. This book has by changing his behavior; that is, he Everywhere they turned, they were seeinggenerated thousands of studies and has could stop smoking, which would be evidence to support their belief that theoffered an extremely influential theory of consonant with the cognition that market was horrible. This ultimately ledsocial psychology. According to Festinger, if smoking is bad for health. Alternatively, many of them to leave the practice of law.two cognitions are relevant to one another, the smoker could reduce dissonance bythey are constant when one follows from changing his cognition about the effect What also sticks out for me about this time isthe other, and they are dissonant when the of smoking on health and believe that that I saw many attorneys keep going despiteobverse (opposite) of one cognition follows smoking does not have a harmful effect the slow market. In fact, these sorts offrom the other. Because dissonance is on health (eliminating the dissonant attorneys actually seemed grateful that theyuncomfortable for people on a cognitive cognition). He might look for positive had a chance to look at new opportunities inlevel, people are motivated to reduce effects of smoking and believe that the market. Some of these attorneys saiddissonance and avoid information likely smoking reduces tension and keeps him things like “Well, I am not sure if I want toto increase the dissonance. The more from gaining weight (adding consonant work in Hong Kong or in New York. I’m goingdissonance there is, the more pressure there cognitions). Or he might believe that the to have to think about this.” I rememberis to reduce the dissonance. risk to health from smoking is negligible thinking to myself while listening to these compared with the danger of automobile attorneys, “Are these people insane? TheyIn Eddie Harmon-Jones’ and Judson Mills’ accidents (reducing the importance of think they have a choice?”Cognitive Dissonance: Progress on a Pivotal the dissonant cognition). In addition, heTheory in Social Psychology, the authors write: might consider the enjoyment he gets Looking back, though, I realize that from smoking to be a very important part there was something very powerful in Dissonance can be reduced by removing of his life (increasing the importance of the psychology of these attorneys. They dissonant cognitions, adding new consonant cognitions). believed they would consistently have consonant cognitions, reducing the good and exciting careers, and they looked importance of dissonant cognitions, In the case of an attorney practicing law- for information in their environments or increasing the importance of or looking for a position-when you are to support this belief at all times. What consonant cognitions. The likelihood not grateful and continually looking for ended up happening, of course, is that they that a particular cognition will change to negativity, you will find it. In fact, you will consistently did find good positions, and reduce dissonance is determined by the almost always find it. in a horrible time, their careers actually resistance to change of the cognition. improved. Cognitions that are less resistant to In the years 2001 and 2002, there was a change will change more readily than catastrophically bad market for corporate The Benefits of Being Grateful cognitions that are more resistant to attorneys (especially junior corporate change. Resistance to change is based attorneys in the United States). During In order to be happier and do better in your on the responsiveness of the cognition this time, most corporate attorneys current position and find new positions to reality and on the extent to which the knew just how bad the market was and effectively, it is essential that you be grateful. cognition is consonant with many other were very, very aware of the complete Gratitude has to do with the sort of energy cognitions. Resistance to change of a dearth of opportunities. Most corporate you are focusing on. People who focus on behavioral cognitive element depends attorneys faced with such dire prospects negative emotions and are ungrateful will on the extent of pain or loss that must and knowledge about the market simply likely attract more of the same to them. be endured and the satisfaction obtained “gave up” when they realized that the lack Whether you feel you do not make enough from the behavior. of opportunities meant there were no more money, resent others, or are dissatisfiedPAGE continued
  3. 3. RECRUITER Q A www.lawcrossing.com 1. 800.973.1177SPONSORED BY BCG ATTORNEY SEARCHwith your work, negative emotions will not ending. Being happy with what you have and By focusing on the positive, you will drawtake you forward to where you want to go. In who you are is a powerful, powerful thing more of the positive to you. In addition,fact, these sorts of emotions will simply build that will enable you to consistently improve. focusing on the positive will improve yourupon themselves as they attract more of the outlook and how you feel about the world andsame sorts of emotions over and over again. When you view the world and your job your life. positively, others will feel good when theyCognitive dissonance theory says that if you are around you. Your employer and/or While I have always been interested in theare upset with the world and your job, you potential employers will feel appreciated. studies focusing on the reasons attorneyswill tend to look for evidence that supports You will be more excited about your work and supposedly have so many difficulties, I alsoyour views. Is this what you are doing? If looking to make a difference. Clients will know that most of these difficulties wouldyou are doing this, you should immediately pick up on your enthusiasm and gratitude for not be present if the attorneys kept theirbegin focusing on something positive. Like working for them and will want to give you focuses on being grateful for what they have.attracts like. more work. The more you focus on being Being grateful for what you have will bring excited and charged up about your work, the you more to be grateful for in your careerPeople who do well and excel cannot help better your work will look to you. and life.focusing on positive emotions and beinggrateful all the time. As you begin to think Conclusionsabout and focus on what you are gratefulfor, you will be amazed at how much there Instead of focusing on what you do notis for you to continue to be grateful for. As have, focus on what you do have and what isan attorney, you should be grateful that you positive about your career. Your career hashave come as far as you have. You should be tons of potential, and so do you. Make listsgrateful for opportunities to work on other of what is right about your career and whatpeoples’ problems. If employed, you should you are doing well. Make lists of what isbe grateful that you have been hired to work good about your legal employer and why it ison others’ problems. The process of being good. Make lists of colleagues you like andgrateful and looking for the positive is never- why you like them.PAGE

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