Benjamin Scott Wright, U.W. 2014, is an attorney editor at the State Bar of Wisconsin. Before beginning his work with the State Bar, he was in private solo practice in Janesville. He writes, “I had been practicing solo for about one year – a year filled with ups and downs, triumph and defeat, stress and uncertainty. In late June the State Bar hired me as a new attorney editor – proof positive that you don’t have to be perfect to make an impression!”
Paula Davis-Laack wrote about perfectionism in the March 2016 issue of Wisconsin Lawyer, highlighting seven negative traits. Her article’s purpose is to convince us that perfectionism is a real problem, not a humble-brag. In my view, it is especially a problem for young lawyers.
In thinking about my own perfectionism, I realized it’s driven by fear. I’m afraid each day’s work might bring mistakes, criticism, misunderstanding, and failure. That fear, however, is irrational. It can be countered with the truth.
So here are four fears that drive my own perfectionism, along with four truths that counter them. I hope my introspection will encourage others to view each day’s work as a step forward (even if imperfect), instead of as another chance for failure.