This blog is inspired by a wise friend of mine, Ajita Robinson, a therapist who owns a successful therapy practice. I quite often have the good fortune of running across her pearls of wisdom on social media at the right time, as I usually find them to be inspiring in my day-to-day life and my practice.
Recently she posted a picture of herself with another therapist on Instagram. She captioned it: “If you let go of the falsehood of competition, you will reap the rewards of community and collaboration.” This resonated with me deeply. Just an hour or two earlier, I found myself in a telephone conversation with an attorney whom I have known for years, who also practices family law. In that conversation the attorney referred to me as her “competitor” at least three times. I was really shocked at being called that; I didn’t know why at the time. I think of her as a colleague, even though she’s at another firm — a “lawyer friend.” I had never once thought of her or referred to her as my competitor.
I texted my friend Ajita about it after I saw her Instagram post. She responded immediately, off the cuff and without hesitation, the following: “It’s scarcity mentality. There are enough clients for everyone. It is icky but don’t let it change how you show up. That feeling of lack and competition doesn’t belong to you.”
She is right. I never thought that if one of my colleagues got a client that meant one less for me. There is enough for everyone. If I can’t take a case, someone else can take it. Not every client will be right for me, or vice versa. As a judge said to me recently, you have to think of cases “like a No. 6 bus — there will be another one along in five minutes.” We need clients, and they need us, but if we think of each case or client as critical to our very existence, we will end up being greedy with them and take cases that aren’t a good match for us.
So with that, I ask you to examine how you think of the other practitioners in your practice and geographical areas. Are they a resource; can you bounce ideas off them? Are they friends and colleagues? Or do you view them as the competition? If you see them as competition, I challenge you to change your scarcity mindset and to ask yourself how you’d treat them if you weren’t afraid of having too few clients.
Jessica Markham is the owner of Markham Law Firm, a family law firm in Bethesda.