LAWYERS HELPING LAWYERS Prudence, Perfectionism, Procrastination: Where Can a lawyer Find Some Peace of Mind, 0914 SCBJ, SC Lawyer, September 2014, #7

Author:Beth Padgett, Lawyers Helping Lawyers Assistant Director.
 
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LAWYERS HELPING LAWYERS Prudence, Perfectionism, Procrastination: Where Can a lawyer Find Some Peace of Mind?

Vol. 26 Issue 2 Pg. 7

South Carolina BAR Journal

September, 2014

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0 Beth Padgett, Lawyers Helping Lawyers Assistant Director.

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0The New Mexico Bar Bulletin, July 16, 2014, included an article on positive psychology for lawyers by Hallie N. Love. In the article Ms. Love pondered why so many lawyers are unhappy. Her discussion included the idea that the world view that makes lawyers successful in their careers can wreak havoc in other parts of their lives. She quoted Dr. Martin Seligman, a leading positive psychology researcher, as saying that a prudent lawyer strives to uncover "every conceivable trap or disaster that might occur in a legal situation." While this prudence is good and necessary to the practice of law, Seligman's research suggested that same trait to be maladaptive elsewhere. Love, who is a lawyer, stated that in the non-legal world, that same degree of prudence would be called pessimism.

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Love suggested that perfectionism is another trait that causes many lawyers distress. She stated that "when rigidly applied, the propensity to be a perfectionist can impede happiness." Dr. Tal Ben-Sharar, another positive psychologist, advanced the idea of "optimal-ism" and suggested it as a reasonable replacement for perfectionism. Ben-Sharar defined optimal-ism as the capacity to know when "good enough" is appropriate and the capacity to embrace it when in those times.

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0Colleen Williams wrote an essay that was included in a recent Archetypes e-newsletter. The Archetypes website was founded within the past year, seeking to help its users live with more authenticity and joy. Williams made a compelling point. She stated that people often say they are a perfectionist and mean it as a boast; a humblebrag, maybe. She pointed out that it is so often the go-to answer to "what's your weakness" in job interviews. Think about this. How often have you told others that you are a perfectionist? What are some of your other less than admirable traits? Would you offer that description of yourself in a business or social setting?

\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0\xA0What are the problems with being a perfectionist?

• Anxiety often accompanies perfectionism.

• Self doubt is a hallmark of...

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