Resilience represents a powerful tool in overcoming difficult situations. When we encounter personal or professional catastrophe, two possible reactions exist: dwelling on the negativity, or briefly analyzing what went wrong and moving forward. One of the reasons I chose transactional law rather than litigation is that I prefer focusing on future possibilities and helping clients reach their goals to spending a lot of time enmeshed in conflict. I believe a proactive, optimistic approach can get us much further than one that is woeful and resentful. I try to counsel my clients to achieve this mindset, but it does not always work.
Recently, a potential client approached me about representation in a compliance matter. A federal agency presented his company with a punch list of items to either correct within a certain timeframe, or risk the imposition of more serious penalties. I would have been happy to advise him on correcting the perceived errors, but it turns out he did not really want that kind of assistance. Rather, he wondered: “Why me?” He obsessed about who had tipped the agency off about what he saw as minor infractions, and why they would go after his company, which is not the biggest player in the market. He dwelled on his tough luck and the cost to put things back on track. In short, he was stuck in a cycle of negativity.
Just as it does us no good to dwell on failed personal situations, neither does focusing on what motivated an individual, business, or government agency to “target” us. We all know some miserable divorcee who constantly dwells on how wrongly he or she was treated by the ex, while other people happily enter into a second or third marriage without a backward glance. The fact is, a lot of things happen behind the scenes, and we may never truly know the “why” to many unanswered questions. When deadlines are involved and serious penalties loom in the future, we must move forward to address the issues so we can once again start with a clean slate. Aren’t shining success and happiness the best revenge?