Taking Your Game to a Bigger Arena


I am just back from a trip to New York to pitch my old law firm, Davis Polk & Wardwell, on the value of coaching and try to persuade them to include coaching in their associate development and retention program. I’ll cut to the chase: I was unsuccessful. My lack of track record in a firm setting, management’s structural concerns, and the current economic climate all conspired to make my proposal a non-starter. And while I feel disappointed, I’m not crushed. I don’t feel like a failure. I actually feel proud of myself. So what’s that about?

It’s about having taken a risk, stretched myself, and learned from the experience. Instead of playing small, I challenged myself to do something bigger, something outside my range and beyond my grasp. It was scary and generated anxiety over everything from what I would say to what I would wear. But ultimately, it was an invigorating experience. I went in determined to be myself – confident in the value of coaching and eager to identify and serve the firm’s needs – and to ask questions, listen, and learn. And guess what? In all of these, I succeeded. I learned a ton, both about what will ultimately drive a firm’s decision about engaging a coach, and about my own strengths and weaknesses. In addition, having taken a swim in the ocean, I returned more confident in my own pond. So, though disappointed, I am celebrating my “failure.” What about you – where are you playing small and avoiding risk in order to insulate yourself from failure? I invite you to challenge yourself and expand your range. I stand ready to celebrate your successes and failures.