Don’t Ask “Why”


On the eve of the Beijing Olympics, my local public radio station interviewed a sports psychologist, JoAnn Dahlkoetter, on the subject of achievement. Dahlkoetter, who won the San Francisco marathon in 1980, had numerous interesting things to say about achievement. Most of what she said has relevance to being a successful lawyer–whether you are striving to develop a high level of competence in your practice niche or trying to build your own practice through effective marketing . You can catch it on the WBUR website at your leisure.

She was particularly insightful on the subject of overcoming adversity. One strategy that she suggested struck a chord with me. She indicated that in the face of failure, don’t ask yourself “why” it happened. You can always come up with reasons to blame yourself (and being a lawyer where you are paid to identify how things that might go wrong, this is particularly true.) Instead, she suggests that after a set back, ask yourself, “what” should I do next or “how” can I get past this. I guess this is another way of saying focus on the present or on your future actions rather than dwelling. Now I just have to figure out “why” this has been hard for me in the past!

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