Grit versus Get ‘er Done: What Lawyers Need to Know

Patrick Krill’s spot-on article in today’s about the “just make it happen/just do it/get ‘er done” mentality in the legal industry caught my attention. First, because of the much-needed encouragement to lawyers to set and hold boundaries, and second because it made me stop and question the difference between grit and “get ‘er done.”

Grit has received a lot of good attention in recent years. Angela Duckworth’s bestselling book, GRIT, is even on my recommended reading list. We think of grit as tenacity and perseverance, the ability to push past our discomfort. And, yes, those are key ingredients. Duckworth reminds us, however, that perseverance is only half of the recipe for grit. The other half is passion. Passion is the vision we have for ourselves and what we seek to contribute to the world. Passion comes from within. It is the ultimate internal motivator.

Which brings me back to “get ‘er done.” This just-make-it-happen mentality is not derived from internal passion at all. It is the external client/partner/practice group leader/overall culture enforcing a behavior, often with punitive consequences for falling short. As Krill warns, it sends the clear message that “you don’t matter.” Adherence to a culture with little to no boundaries can be done for a while, but at a great cost. We see this cost in the rise of burnout, depression, anxiety and addiction in the legal profession.

Strengthening boundaries and cultivating a culture of resilience not only keeps lawyers and those who work with them healthier, but it fosters success and growth for the entire firm.

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