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Suicidal Tendencies

June 10, 2011
Imitation is Suicide. Insist on yourself; never imitate.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Photo by Luuk Eerens

When I first read this line I thought about Hollywood and the continuous stream of films and television shows that imitate the successful predecessor.  With films, the successful original either has multiple sequels (Rocky, Jurassic Park, The Fast and the Furious) or several copycats (The Hangover followed by Bridesmaids or Friends followed by Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place or every superhero film to be released in the last ten years).  Some are good, but most aren’t worth the time.

Having worked in the entertainment industry for several years, I always bemoaned the fact that studios did everything they could to minimize their risk and release such mediocrity.  The few people who do appreciate such lackluster products are those collecting the paycheck.  The interesting thing is that from one vantage point, this imitation is far from suicide.  At least far from career suicide.  Because the challenging game played by most Hollywood executives is “avoid risk and hold on to that job for one more week.”  And the best way to do that is pick something that has succeeded before.

But maybe, just maybe, this approach is a suicide of a different form.  Maybe it’s a spiritual or emotional suicide.  Maybe being a part of the machine is slowly killing every human cog.

What I had not really thought about before reading Emerson’s quote was how I might be settling for imitation in my work.  Am I slowly attacking myself?  Have I been settling for less?  From a writing stand point, I’m sure I can do better.  That’s just part of daily practice.  But from a work stand point, I feel I have a lot to do to improve.  I have a lot to do to become the attorney I want to be and need to be for my clients and the attorneys I work with.

This is where I need to avoid settling for being the same old attorney that is already out there.  I need to be the attorney I was created to be and defeat the (figurative) suicidal tendency to be just like everyone else.

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