The title for this blog is plucked from a recent Huron Valley networking meeting education moment presented by well-known local realtor Norm Werner. He referred to a blog by Travis Bradberry who wrote, “Real success is about who you are and how far you’ve come. If you ever worry that you’re not as successful as you should be, you may be evaluating yourself against the wrong criteria. Sometimes you just need a reminder as to what you’ve really accomplished in life” in an Entrepreneur blog, “Signs you’re successful – even if it doesn’t feel like it.”
The blog goes on to outline nine success standards that encourage personal re-evaluation and reflection.
The same indicators used to examine personal success can also be applied to legal success.
“Sometimes clients come into my office for their free consultation with a black-and-white definition of what winning their case looks like,” said Hartland family law attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler. “As the case goes on, they may feel discouraged by the lack of straight-forward progress toward that initial goal. I encourage them to change their definition of success.”
Below we share three of the nine signs of success and how they may apply to legal successes.
You may be more successful than you think if…You realize that life isn’t a zero-sum game.
“Just because somebody else achieves a big success, doesn’t mean you suffer a loss in equal proportion,” according to “9 Signs you’re successful – even if it doesn’t feel like it.”
This is especially true in family law cases. A true “win” may be hard to come by. Some divorce clients may be looking for legal revenge against a cheating spouse. Some probate clients want to argue a will because a sibling didn’t do his/her share of taking care of mom.
“We see cases where family members will only feel satisfied if they feel vindicated and the other party suffers,” said Wayne-Spindler.
This type of win-lose attitude may result in disillusionment and bitterness. Know ahead of time that a legal settlement does not allow opportunities for emotional vindication. A judge cannot make a decision about asset division based on who’s feelings were hurt.
The take-away – Ignore the other person’s end of the deal. A judge cannot order a divorce ruling that is punitive. Even with extreme cases of proven fault, like abuse or serial infidelity, the greatest inequity of division of assets may be 60/40. The sooner clients give away fantasies of taking spouses for everything they’ve got and leaving them destitute, the better they will feel about taking what’s fair within legal constraints and moving on.
You may be more successful than you think if…You keep things in perspective
During legal events, it’s easy for participants to imagine that the case is the only thing going on in the world. After all, it may be the most important, life-changing matter he or she has ever encountered. Participants spend inordinate amounts of time analyzing and comparing until some may come to believe that their entire future hangs on the outcome. But success comes when clients realize that life goes on regardless of the courtroom ruling.
The take-away – Even if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your case, success comes when you realize there are much bigger problems in the world. “For most of us, however, our very worst day would seem like a vacation to somebody who has real problems – like not having enough to eat or trying to survive a civil war,” wrote Bradberry in “Signs you’re successful – even if it doesn’t feel like it.”
Sometimes the courthouse is the very place to make that realization. Sit in on an arson trial and you will see what it looks like to literally lose everything. Observe a guilty murder verdict and see two families torn apart by loss of a loved one. Suddenly, paying a little extra a month in alimony doesn’t seem like the end of the world.
You may be more successful than you think if…You stay positive
“If you dwell on the things that go wrong, you become bitter and resentful. When that happens, you fail – no matter what you may have achieved,” according to “Signs you’re successful – even if it doesn’t feel like it.” That is true for legal actions as well. Negatively fixating on loss compounds the real hurt of the loss itself. Obsessing about righting a wrong can be a bad habit that drains energy needed to move forward. The combined weight makes it doubly tough to pick up the pieces and start a new life.
The take-away – It may sound pithy but “let it go.” We see people ready to spend $500 in attorney’s fees arguing over a $100 item. Some people revisit the same issue repeatedly looking for a judgment that goes their way. It’s at that point that we encourage clients to let it go and focus on what they won. Legal battles take a huge emotional toll. When they’re done, focus forward on forgiving, forgetting and recovering. As the saying goes, you can’t change others you can only change yourself. “So save yourself some frustration today and try to learn to stop trying to change others. Focus instead on changing your own faults and you may find yourself living a happier and more peaceful life,” according to By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. in “You can only change yourself.”
The other six signs that you are successful are that you:
- Are no longer the center of the universe
- Know that failure isn’t forever
- Ask for help
- Can tell the difference between drama and excitement
- No longer care what other people think and
- Accept what you can’t change and change what you can.
The experienced Oakland County attorneys at the law firm of Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates help clients achieve successful legal outcomes. Contact our Milford, Michigan law office at 248-676-1000 for help with all family law and estate planning matters. The firm helps clients throughout Southeastern Michigan including Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw, Genesee and Livingston counties. They handle cases in Milford; Highland; Hartland; White Lake; Commerce; Walled Lake; Waterford; West Bloomfield; Howell; South Lyon; New Hudson; Grand Blanc; Linden; Holly and many more local communities.
Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long, Communications’ Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates