“Is someone shooting at you?” Last week I mentioned, in passing, that my mentor often asked me that question. John was my friend, my guide, and he taught me how to try cases. He was also an ex-DEA agent. That meant he approached our trials like sting operations. And it also meant that when he asked “is someone shooting at you?” he actually knew what it felt like to answer “Yes.”

Questions are the best way to learn, and I learned more from that question than almost anything John shared. Here are the three lessons I learned. We can call them the 3Ps of NOT Being Shot. 

1-Perspective. When John asked that question, it was often because I was in a tizzy about something at work. Opposing counsel hadn’t answered my discovery, my expert had gone missing and her report was due, or I’d had a bad day at trial. Often, I thought it was the end of the world. John’s question reminded me of what the real “end” could look like. If someone was shooting at you, your life was in danger. Anything less was probably not worth all the drama. 

2-Personal. We take things personally, and we create stories about those things. Opposing counsel didn’t respond, and that felt like disrespect. An expert went missing, and that meant she didn’t care about me or my client. And the bad day at trial meant the jury hated me. I created stories, and then lived in them. When someone is shooting at you, there’s no time for stories. It may be personal, it may not, but you it doesn’t matter.  Shoot back or run. But don’t waste present moments creating a personal saga about it. 

3-Preparation. When you are being shot at, you’d better be ready. You need to have trained your reflexes to react, your body to run, and your mind to respond. These things can’t be done well if you haven’t spent endless hours readying yourself for this moment. With respect to our trials, John often told me to “over prepare and under try”. Preparation wins combat and trials. 

You can use the 3Ps of NOT Being Shot in your business and life as well. Put things in perspective–how much and what kind of energy does the situation call for? Don’t make it personal. Get your ego out of the equation and your answers are clearer. And prepare. Be ready, so that your body can react and your mind can respond.

“Is someone shooting at you?” Likely the answer is no. Now you get to have some fun. 

4 thoughts on ““Is Someone Shooting at You?” The 3Ps of NOT Being Shot

  1. Thank you Heather, for all the great professional advice you give. Your advice is always relevant and relatable to all persons careers. Glad to see you will do a follow up to this post. Thank you again for everything you do: )

    1. Thank YOU! I love when we start a conversation on here, and not just in my in box. I appreciate you took the time to comment.

  2. Haha Heather – a flip on the ‘Is someone shooting at you’ is that ‘no-one has died’ Obviously in some walks of life, that is probably true but for the rest of us, it most certainly isn’t. Perspective is the right P in all situations.

    1. It’s even more important than empathy–something I’m going to address in a future post. Thanks for taking the time to comment Michael!

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