What's going right? The surprising strategic potential of positive thinking

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When The Atlantic publishes an article titled "The Death Spiral of America's Big Law Firms," and daily news reports from the industry's front lines seem to confirm that grim perspective, it's easy for pessimism to become your default mood. Years of irrational exuberance have given way to equally deep gloom in many law firms; that calls for a strong dose of counter-intuitive thinking on your part.

A good illustration can be found in a recent article by Debevoise & Plimpton counsel V. Mary Abraham about legal technology (equally applicable to law firm strategy) titled "What's going right?" She reminds us that lawyers are geared by nature and training to be negatively critical, an approach shown to promote "disproportionate and destructive discontent."

Abraham suggests an alternative approach: "Asking about what's going right can help the anxious stop obsessing about the impossible goal of perfection and start focusing on what's necessary and possible." You should consider how this sort of attitude adjustment could help your firm in these difficult times.

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