The American Comedy Awards recently honored Bill Cosby with the Johnny Carson Lifetime Achievement Award. He shared a story describing his early efforts to make it into comedy (you can watch his speech here. As he described struggling to set aside his own uncertainty and to convince others of his comedy skills (despite several less-than-stellar performances) I got a glimpse into the path that is Collaborative Law.
Growing a practice in this arena isn't for the faint of heart!
Maybe this is unique to developing a market share here in NH where the practice is still in the "early adopter" phase; but Dr. Cosby's points about sticking through the hard times to honor one's skill and to "keep showing up" resonate well when I think about the current state of collaborative practice.
Here are some of the lessons we can draw from Dr. Cosby's example.
1) Start working where you can work. It might not be the fancy club with the $5,000 per night booking, but it will get you audience and experience. Any chance to practice the craft of collaborative is a worthwhile one. Trainings, practice group meetings, Rotary club presentations; these all make for time to build connections with future team members and to develop comfort and trust with those you will later need to rely upon.
2) Enter the room certain of your contribution. Whether you are headlining a 5 city tour or facilitating a 5 way team meeting, clarity of purpose, outcome, and directive goes a long way to success. Collaborative clients already juggle their own emotions and responses to the process. Getting through to settlement is no easy feat so the professionals involved must convey confidence in themselves and the process to assist the parties productively.
3) Play off your partner. Dr. Cosby describes asking to be introduced as "one of the fastest up and coming comics...". When the club MC did not use this intro Dr. Cosby called him on it. To which he replied "Hey, I saw the first show.". Ouch! Despite the slam, the back-and-forth ended up becoming part of his act that night, and the attention to the obvious, that he was under-performing, was the motivation he needed to step outside of his fear. Collaborative practice can be a terrifying prospect; engaging your client in the process, working with the other attorney or team member; trusting the skill and roles of each team member are all scary but necessary steps in adopting collaborative practice. Getting to the next level even requires being open to feedback about your performance, feedback that may not be tender but that can improve your skill if you allow it.
4) As Dr. Cosby signed off he left the dais with a message to "keep showing up". In collaborative practice the process of working as part of the team is a long one. The process only happens by building relationships with other team members, mastering the mechanics of the process, and working in teams. Experienced professionals and relative newcomers working and learning from each other give even the newest professional a chance at success. As Dr. Cosby's example reveals, working the process alone isn't as much fun as working with others to create something that last longer than individual efforts allow.
Loretta L.C. Brady, Ph.D., APA-CP is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Professor, Entrepreneur, and Diversity Columnist.
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Loretta L.C. Brady, Ph.D., APA-CP, 2011-2014