Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's OK to look Stupid, in Fact it's Encouraged

You can’t be afraid to look stupid, just get used to it.

No one would have imagined, especially after graduating from law school and passing the bar, that on a daily basis that I would feel stupid and lost.  But guess what? That is exactly how I feel most days.  This is a new experience and no matter how comfortable I feel in court, or calling new clients, or filing out court forms, not a day goes by that something or someone does not seem to get the best of me.  I’ll sit in my cave of an office and twiddle my thumbs until a lifesaver comes my way.

I cannot stress enough the importance of having great friends in the industry that you feel comfortable enough with to talk to and ask the “stupid” questions.  On at least three occasions per week I will call one of my “phone a friends” and state, first and foremost, “I know this is probably a stupid question but…” and then proceed with my question.  Sometimes they are in fact the dumbest questions in the world and I already know the answer, but I need reaffirmation, or sometimes they are pretty good questions that make my friend and I think. 

The law and practicing are tricky things.  No two cases are going to be the same, rarely are two hearings in the same case going to be the same, so you’ve got to be quick on your toes and when you think the walls are caving in on you, you’ve got to pick up the phone and find an answer.  It is out there, and you’d be pleasantly surprised how easy it is to find it, once you swallow your pride and ask for help.  And most likely the person you ask for help won’t even think twice about your competence, they’ll just be glad to help out.  They’ve been there, or down the road they will need the favor returned.

And one thing about returning favors, actually do it or your “phone a friend” realm will start to dwindle.  Don’t burn the bridges you’ve made because you think a question is in fact “stupid” or because you think you’re above answering a question like that.  Talk through it with them, because when you’re in a bind, they’ll do the same.