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IndyBar: Building More Than Muscle: Mottos Applied To Practice

June 14, 2017

By Scott Oliver, Lewis & Kappes PC

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In virtually all aspects of life, positive reinforcement of healthy behaviors can be transformative and help build a foundation for success. My outlet has always been weight training. In fact, lifting weights has developed more than just my physique – it has transformed the way I think, work, and approach nearly every situation.

As members of the Indiana Bar, we can all use the following fitness-related mottos to guide how we shape our practice, represent our clients, and tackle difficult situations on a daily basis.

One More Rep

I am sure you have heard someone say this in the gym. It might have been you or the loud guy standing next to you as he screams to his buddy to finish a set. The idea of “one more rep” translates seamlessly into the practice of law. It doesn’t matter if you are writing a brief, advocating for your client in court, or negotiating a settlement–one more rep means you exceed expectations.

As a teenager, one more rep was a means to get bigger, stronger, or to impress my friends. Now, as I represent clients, interact with coworkers, and build upon my relationships, the idea of one more rep has taken on an entirely different meaning. When you think the job is done, go one step further. As attorneys, we should never settle (no pun intended) for “just enough” when representing our clients. Do you want to see results? Go one step further and exceed expectations.

Results Take Time

Picture yourself or someone you know when they first joined a gym. Unless they were blessed with a perfect physique, there were probably aspects that they wanted to improve. It is common for individuals to set goals and quit prematurely because they are not seeing results. This is especially true when it comes to exercising. At the turn of the New Year, people across the world flock to gyms to start their resolutions. Unfortunately, the hordes of hopefuls diminish within the coming months, partly because they do not see results.

Whether it is losing weight, gaining muscle, closing a case, or striving to make partner, success does not come in a day. In fact, success might not come for a week, month, or even years! The key is understanding that building yourself, developing your relationships, and cultivating a positive mindset takes time. In short, success is not built overnight. However, if you recognize this concept and work each day to improve yourself and your surroundings, results will follow.

Balance Your Routine

We all know someone who skips leg day. The person has a huge chest, boulder-like shoulders, and pumped arms. Essentially, nobody notices your quads and hamstrings, but your arms are always on display. Therefore, you focus on what others see and neglect the muscles behind the scenes.

Life is about balance – you can’t only focus on one aspect and expect others not to suffer. For example, you could work 18 hours a day and keep your eyes glued to your phone for the next e-mail. However, it is likely that your relationships, hobbies, and overall enjoyment of life will diminish. The truth is, a balanced life is not only a happier life, but it also breeds success. You should always be a great worker/professional (do one more rep), but don’t forget to train legs (spend time with family, get involved with the community, help a friend, etc.).

Never Be Afraid To Ask For A Spot

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Can I get a spot? In all seriousness, there are times during your workout routine when you need a spot. The weight might be too heavy, you might be going for that extra rep, or perhaps you simply need someone to motivate you to keep going. Whatever the reason, a spotter can serve many purposes and help take your workout routine to the next level. If you have spent any time in the gym, you know that there is never a shortage of people willing to give you advice or lend you a hand.

In life, you have different “spotters” to guide you through various situations. Some spotters are more obvious than others, such as your parents, friends, mentors, and family members. However, it is important to appreciate the new spotters who enter your life as you build your legal career.

In my opinion, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to not ask for help. Although we all like to believe that we know everything, the truth is that we know very little. Fortunately, there are peers and mentors who are eager to pass on their knowledge and help develop your knowledge and skills. Whether you are attempting a new maximum lift, writing your first brief, dealing with a difficult case, or looking for ways to improve and build your practice – books and education can only get you so far. Reach out to someone, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and perhaps most importantly . . . say thank you.

Raise The Bar

Your back is flat on the bench and you might have overestimated yourself in terms of the amount of weight on the bar. You lift off, bring the bar down to your chest, and quickly realize that the weight is heavier than you anticipated. Your face is red from the pressure and you start to sweat. Can you push it up? You focus your eyes, plant your heels into the ground, and push. Fortunately, the bar slowly raises from your chest and you are able to rack the weight.

To me, raising the bar means setting high expectations and holding yourself and others to those standards. Whether you are looking to increase the weight on the bench, nail your opening statement, or draft the perfect contract – raise the bar and perform. This motto sums up the previous sections because it ultimately means to do better in every aspect of life. You should set high goals and refuse to limit yourself. When you reach those goals, set the bar a little higher and repeat. We only have a limited amount of time in this world. It is important to always keep pushing and challenging ourselves to reach the next level.

Although it might sound cliché, weight lifting has changed my life. As a teenager, lifting weights kept me away from negative influences and allowed me to grow as an athlete. In college, the persistence and dedication I developed for working out translated into my studies and community involvement.

Now, all of these benefits continue, but I am also able to reflect on the profound lessons my hobby has taught me. Always do one more rep, recognize that results take time, strive for balance in all aspects of life, don’t be afraid to ask for a spot, and continually raise the bar to new heights.•

Scott Oliver is an associate attorney in the commercial lending and litigation practice groups at Lewis & Kappes PC.

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