latent potential
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This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO, and Kashish Khattar, Team LawSikho.

Hi, have you heard of this concept called latent potential? 

James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, explains the latent potential in a really interesting manner which can be very useful. 

Come to think of it, people are always hoping or wishing to do better. They want to lose weight, develop a skill, meditate, network. Everyone wants something better than what they already have, or at least if not for themselves then for those they love and care about. 

Most people are only hoping, wishing and thinking. But at times, they even try to take some actions. While thoughts can’t move a needle, actions over time can cause major changes.

However, here is the big stumbling block. Most people try to change everything at once, and take some now or never kind of approach, trying to change everything that they do not like about themselves at once, in one gigantic clean sweep.

That is very hard to achieve, and almost impossible. There is only so much you can stretch your willpower before you give up.

Soon they all fatigue, begin to go back to their old ways, one slip up at a time. Then they say that they do not see results and just give up. 

Everyone is looking for instant gratification. If they do not get it, they either blame themselves, and sometimes even the entire concept of self-improvement.

If you try to change your life wholesale like this a few times and fail, then you turn into a cynic quite inevitably. 

This is why most people find any meaningful change or self-improvement in their lives totally elusive.

So how can we make long lasting, real changes in our lives that produce massive results?

The way to succeed is quite the opposite – instead of trying to change too many things about yourself at once, you need to make small, almost invisible or seemingly invisible tweaks in your life. The habits you develop must be so small that it is not at all difficult to practice them and make them a part of your daily life almost effortlessly.

Success does not require humongous effort for a short time as most people think, it requires consistency. So the idea is to make a very small change and persist with it long enough till it becomes second nature – something that consumes no effort or willpower. 

Once you develop one habit and make it bulletproof, you can always add one more. And then one more. However, always one small tweak at a time. If you take a very challenging task, you will likely exhaust yourself and fail.

To make a meaningful difference, habits need to persist long enough to break through the ‘plateau of latent potential’. 

What is this plateau?

We expect results when we put in the work. Unfortunately, results take time to show. Just like if you plant a seed and water it, you need to wait for a while for it to germinate, you need to keep working while waiting for your results.

You can’t stop watering the soil. You can’t keep digging up to see if the seed is germinating. You need to let nature take its course.

It is the same with habits. You need to keep doing what you have to do. You will be on the plateau and you will not see results. Do, not, stop! You have to keep going. 

I repeat, there will be a point in time where you would expect results on your hard work, on the new habits that you have inculcated in your life. And you will find no proof that anything positive is happening. 

This is the point where you do not give in if you don’t see the results just yet. This plateau is the part of the process. 

James Clear provides a great diagram of this phenomenon in his book:

(source:https://www.samuelthomasdavies.com/book-summaries/self-help/atomic-habits/)

The fun part is that when you finally break through this plateau, people will call you an overnight success. 

Today, let us borrow this concept of latent potential from a fabulous book called Atomic Habits by James Clear. 

We can’t tell you how many times we see this phenomenon play out with our own students.

They start some new habits. Attending online classes, drafting legal documents, writing articles, networking, building up their social media presence. They consult our placement office on what to do to get that dream job or find their own client. 

We share many opportunities every single day, and they apply for a few of them.

They expect immediate results.

Then they fail to see a tangible result in a week or two. They get rejected a few times. Someone says something negative to them. They get low marks on a weekly assignment.

Then many of them stop. 

We know this will happen, so then we have processes to catch them at this point. We have coaches and course anchors who call them up, and try to bring them back to the grind. It would take more time, you need to hold on! You can’t give up when you hit the plateau!

To be honest, some people still refuse at this point because they can’t see success ahead of them. There are people who drop out. 

We knew if they continued, they would get the results they wanted. But they do not have the same faith. The ones who persist, reap the benefits. 

I can understand why people give up. If you have never experienced the transformative nature of habits and long term sustained effort, it is very hard to imagine the power of it. The results you can get are definitely beyond your imagination. You just need to stay with the good habits!

This is why it is so important to enjoy the process itself.

People love the end result. But those who love the process are unstoppable. 

Learning to love the process has been the biggest learning and biggest reward of my life.

But more about loving the process another day. Let’s stick to habits for now.

In order to make a difference, habits have to persist long enough to break through a plateau of latent potential. 

You will have to learn to make good habits. You have to make it obvious. You have to make it attractive. You will have to make the task easy. You will have to make the habit satisfying. 

How can you break bad habits? You can make it invisible. Make the bad habit unattractive. Make it difficult. Make it unsatisfying. 

It is aptly clear that when many people think that they lack motivation is when they really lack a workable plan of action. 

It may be hard to believe but disciplined people are not people with more willpower than you.  They are just better at structuring their lives in a way that does not require a lot of effort and willpower. 

They manage to design their life and environment in such a way that they spend less time in situations where they are tempted to break their habits. 

Writing 

Writing is the one habit that is highly encouraged within the legal circles. Writing makes your thoughts clear. Superior writing skills are the traits of a great lawyer.

Writing has dozens of career-enhancing benefits. This is a habit that takes time to inculcate. The plateau is rather stretched. But writing can change your life. Even at LawSikho, we encourage our learners to write more and write well. The idea is to make writing a habit. 

We personally recommend writing 50 articles, of around 1500-2000 words each in any area of law that interests you. Writing 50 articles may teach you quite a bit about a subject but it surely also makes you a better writer and helps you to develop a powerful habit.

This is also the number, on an average, around which you will begin to see undeniable effects on your legal career from this habit of writing and publishing.  

You have to imagine that your writing skills are young saplings, which you will have to keep watering to let them grow day by day to help grow an enormous tree. It takes time for a plant to grow into a tree, it will take time for you to become a better writer. But you will have to keep at it. 

Blogging, for instance, can change your professional life. Think about a blogger who knows what they are talking about and keep writing about it over a sustained period of time. You should read about this 28-year-old blogger who is now a must-read on economics in the United States. He does not hold any diploma in Economics. 

Think that through. What if you consistently wrote about just one practice area for 5 years? Could that help you to become the go to expert in that area of law? I have known mentees and students who have achieved exactly that. 

Upskilling

Continuous upskilling is another habit that is incredibly powerful for you to grow in your professional life.

A few exceptional law schools have been able to teach skills like legal research, advocacy, legal reasoning and analysis but nobody imparts practical legal skills to my knowledge, making transition from student life to being a lawyer quite hard. This problem also plagues mature lawyers trying to learn new areas of law.

Apart from hard legal skills like drafting, negotiating and legal strategy, lawyers desperately need to develop a commercial acumen for breakthrough success.

Every lawyer needs to understand how businesses are run, what drives them, what are their common sticking points, common reasons for dispute resolution, the trajectory for various sectors and the overall well being of the economy. 

These are some skills that you need to pick up in order to become successful as a legal professional. But this will take time. You will have to understand that the latent potential in you will get fired up when you give it the time to grow and keep working hard. 

If you are a young lawyer or a law student who is reading this, you should check out these different courses where we handhold you to develop these skills.  

Networking 

We are all worth our networks. 

You can make your own professional network. You can find your own mentors and create your own circle of influence. But you will have to work on it. You will not be able to see results immediately but they do come. And believe me, the results are worth the effort and all the time it takes. 

Persuasion and Negotiation

Some people are amazingly persuasive while others are not. However, it is a skill that can be learned, cultivated and improved systematically. It is a very important skill that every young lawyer needs to possess to win in the game. 

Whether you write or speak, you must do it to persuade, as opposed to just narrate or assert. You have to subtly make your point by being persuasive. 

Persuasion requires a deep understanding of the psychology of the target audience and customizing your message according to that. Persuasion often requires thinking on your feet because you constantly fine-tune your message according to the response or live feedback you see, hear, feel and even perceive.

Negotiation is another skill that should be picked by lawyers in the early stages of their careers. The art of negotiation comes with time. You learn how to listen more. Asset and express your needs in a manner in a non-aggressive manner. Learning how to not take everything personally is another subset of these skills. And as a lawyer, you should definitely know how to build trust, be it with your peers, your boss or your clients. It really does matter a lot in the long term. 

There are amazing books out there on the subject of persuasion and negotiation. 

As long as you take this skill which is very important to every lawyer seriously and try to learn it, you will find ways to excel and become a very persuasive lawyer.

How does LawSikho help in all of this? 

How can you learn of all these skills without fail, if you ask me? You would need a systematic approach to break your bad habits and inculcate good habits. Sometimes it helps to have a guide to see you through the plateau. This is where LawSikho can help. 

Our courses provide the learners with mentorship and guidance every step of the way. We make sure that all our learners are habituated to write at least one good article a month as a writing assignment in most of our courses, for instance.

We make sure all our learners know how to network and get the internships and jobs of their choice. 

We even have a placement and mentorship coach for that! 

There is the whole LawSikho community that we have developed and we let our learners tap opportunities coming from this network. 

When it comes to skills, we are sure that each and every one of our learners who do our courses diligently will be skilled in whatever course they choose. Whatever line they choose. 

Check out the courses that are open for enrollment: 

  1. If you are interested in corporate governance, you should check out the diploma in Companies Act, Corporate Governance and SEBI Regulations;
  2. If you want to get that in-house counsel job, go check out the diploma in Business Laws for In-House Counsels;
  3. If Industrial and Labour Laws interest you, go take a look at that diploma course;
  4. The Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws will be booming in the coming times, if you’re inclined towards that career, check out that diploma course;
  5. If you’re sure that your niche lies in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE & VC transactions), go check out that course;
  6. The Cyber Law, Fintech Regulations and Technology Contracts is in dire need of good young talent if that is what ticks for you, go check out that course; and
  7. Every young lawyer should check out our diploma course in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution

Check out our other executive courses which can be helpful: 

  1. We have a certificate course in Advance Corporate Taxation
  2. You can also check out this course for Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code
  3. If Trademark, Licensing; Prosecution and Litigation interest you, we have a course for that;
  4. LawSikho also teaches Competition Law, Practice and Enforcement in a course;
  5. Technology Contracts will be essential to every business in the future, you can check out that certificate course; and
  6. Knowledge about Banking & Finance Practice: Contracts, Disputes & Recovery is essential for every BigLaw layer, you can check that out too.

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