I hate this question in an interview. Why?
- the question is disingenuous – if they wanted to know my greatest weakness, I would tell them it was my right knee from over-running;
- no one gives an honest answer – there are articles galore on how to respond to this question in a way that pivots an alleged weakness into a strength; and
- it associates weakness with characteristics / behaviours that are not weak.
I’m hardly going to say: “I’m not very functional when I don’t have enough sleep”. Although true, that isn’t going to land me a job in the legal world that expects so much of my time.
Is being dysfunctional after 24 hours in the office a weakness? Absolutely not! Is it considered weak in the legal world? Unfortunately, yes. Why would we need to reframe things otherwise?
Perfectionism – whether expressed or not – is still promoted in the legal world.
Think of all the superlatives: the best, the biggest, the most accessible etc. Ideals and standards that are then adopted by lawyers. I must be available 24/7; I must be seen to be working hard. I must… I must … I must…
Is it any surprise that so many lawyers become perfectionists?
So, having spent the week looking at the dangers of perfectionism, how do you stay resilient in a world that promotes perfection?
Stay healthy – Build hydration, good nutrition, sleep and exercise into your life to reduce the impact of stress on your physical and mental health.
Nurture your tribe – They keep your grounded, supported and in touch with the real world.
Have this mantra on repeat: “You don’t have to be perfect to be successful”: Our flaws, our differences, our quirks are what make us unique. It is in our differences that we find success.
Tell me, what do you do to build your resilience in the legal world?
If you are struggling with perfectionism
If perfectionism is something with which you struggle and which is causing uncomfortable levels of stress for you, please know that these behaviour patterns can be changed. It takes time and effort – but it is achievable. And life is a lot less stressful on the other side.
Through coaching, we can address the underlying fears and insecurities which the perfectionistic behaviour is masking. Together, we can identify ways to reduce the self-criticism and increase your self-esteem, so that you can be confident in who you are, in everything you do and in how you are seen in the world.
You are enough!