What It Means To Be Happy

An interesting article by Heidi Grant Halvorson in Forbes on the way that your definition of happiness changes with age.

Does this have relevance to law firm management? There is the general point that people look for different things at different stages of their career and at different ages. It is easy to forget that what gives job (or life) satisfaction to the middle-aged is not always what excites the young. It is often preferable to forget your youthful indiscretions, but it is dangerous to forget that you had them.

However, there is a further and more dangerous issue for law firms, when there is a spread of ages within the partnership. Ms Halvorson makes the point that we change with age from looking at what we can gain, to looking at what we want to preserve. Older partners will naturally have that view, which can be interact with impending retirement and the need to maximise retirement income. This may make them understandably averse to taking the risk of leaving the well-worn path of what the firm has always done. Perversely, it may be that not changing carries the greater risk. Yet they may also prevent the Young Turks from being foolhardy.

As so often, self-awareness is they key. Knowing that older partners are likely to be risk averse (and that younger partners can be foolhardy) limits the possible damage. Unselfishness helps. I have, for example worked with a partner a year or two from retirement who embraced a strategy which left him financially worse off. His view was that he wanted to leave behind a thriving firm, and this was the way to do it.

 

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