Enthusiasm and Perseverance

A climber on the summit represents determination

My satisfaction with my progress fluctuates wildly depending on my temporal perspective. I pack as much work as possible into every minute, but there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Despite every day going by in a busy blur, at the end of each week I never feel that I’ve done enough. A month isn’t nearly enough time to accomplish everything I want, but when I look back on the past month I realize how much I’ve grown.

It’s frustrating and stressful. It’s fulfilling and wonderful. In the past two weeks I’ve learned how to channel my frustration and stress into positive energy and productivity. I only realized the change after feeling a zen-like calm before my opening statement—instead of the usual anxiety attack. My recipe for enlightenment requires only two ingredients: enthusiasm and perseverance.

Both ingredients are necessary. Perseverance without enthusiasm is drudgery. Enthusiasm without perseverance is hysteria. The proper ratio of ingredients depends on the individual and the situation, but both should be applied generously. The following case study should serve as an inspiration for your own experimentation, not as a formula for success.

I really like to sleep. I think the fountain of youth is found in the dream world. That’s why babies sleep so much and retired people wake up at such an ungodly hour. I take my beauty rest very seriously. But lately, I’ve been so wired on my legal career that I don’t even need caffeine to pull all-nighters. I’m so immersed in studies and work that I’m not interested in anything else.

I’m not planning to live this way in the long-term, but the lifestyle does have interesting side effects. I think I experienced “lawyer’s high.” It’s kind of like “runner’s high,” except with more paper cuts and less sweating. So how did I achieve this state of brief bliss? Well, until I recreate it I can’t be sure, but I think it has to do with focused effort and genuine interest. Here’s how it happened.

Week after week I fully prepared for cases that never went to trial. In the meantime, I also maintained my studies for the MPRE and Bar exam. My trial preparation was thorough the first time, but it even got better with repetition. Every time I prepared my notes for another case I refined my approach. Every time I practiced what I would say I said it with more authority.

Practice is necessary, but it’s not sufficient—you still have to perform. In the past I’ve never reached my ideal level of performance. I’ve always relied too much on notes, left out something I practiced, or mispronounced something. While I’m not saying I achieved perfection, I can at least say I was completely happy with my performance.

The most unusual part of the whole experience was being “in the zone” before the trial. Then again, it could all just be a delusion caused by sleep deprivation. I got great feedback from everyone, but I never really trust that. I won’t know whether I have “the magic” until I have indisputable results: Epic wins that no one thought possible, million dollar judgements, and my name on a statue or two. Until then, I’m just going to keep refining my recipe for success. With these ingredients, I can’t go wrong.

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