In each new city, I would become anxious to play music with others, anyone, that I would take any opportunity to play, no matter who they were, whatever combination of instruments, wherever they wanted to play. I thought that, at worst, it helped me get my name out there. And, in the process, I would gain more playing experience. That was my rationale for taking whatever chance to play that came along.
But an odd thing happened after several sessions. I started to notice that when I played with other musicians that were below my skill level, I didn’t play as well. My playing was uninspired and listless. I was just going through the motions and not really engaged. It became painful and was destroying my love of playing.
It was not the same when I played with people better than I am. Somehow, my playing would elevate. I somehow rose to the occasion and drew on skills and subtleties in my playing that often surprised me. I was more inspired and it showed.
Legal projects and clients can have the same affect. They can sap your inspiration and motivation. Sometimes you have to do this work to pay the bills. But don’t let it consume your practice. Always keep room in your schedule to do the work that inspires you. Focus on the work you want to do, not the work you have to do. You’ll be a much happier and, it also happens to follow, a much more successful lawyer when you can keep a large portion of your practice working on the types of issues that challenge you and bring out your best work.