Professional Models and the Examined Life

My partner, Jim Williams tells of consciously identifying models early in his career. He kept a journal in which he identified lawyers whom he admired.

I may have this wrong, but I believe that each model got a different page in the journal; and Jim recorded what he admired about each lawyer and wanted to emulate. Then he gave himself objectives calculated to reach those goals and he somehow accounted for, or chronicled his progress.

This puts me in mind of Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, by Gerald M. Weinberg, which is a book about how to write a book. The core of it is its suggestion that – as a basis for writing – you should keep a kind of journal. Well, not really a journal, but a collection of notes to be compiled later and organized into something bigger. (This is said to be like fieldstones collected to build a rock wall.) Weinberg’s key point, is that your notes should record, thoughts, observations or experiences that have energy for you . The test for what you record is only whether there is energy or emotion or some spark for you in what you observe, or the thought that occurs to you. If there is, write it down. Gather, evaluate and organize later.

First, cultivate awareness of what has energy for you from moment to moment. Then, capture it; you’ll forget it if you don’t.

“The examined life.” This is a good thing to do, even if you never write a book.

Williams took the same ideas several steps further and harnessed them to his professional development. The method:

  1. consciously identify professional models;
  2. note what it is about those models that causes you to choose them;
  3. ask yourself what steps you might take to become more like your models; and
  4. keep track.

Call it The Williams Method.

A terrific idea. Wish I had known about this back then. Wait a minute. I know about it now . . .. There is energy here.

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