Forbes Coaches Council Member Spotlight: Shauna C. Bryce, Founder and Principal at Bryce Legal Career Counsel

Forbes Coaches Council members come from a wide range of backgrounds. And with their wide range of experiences, they have a lot to share with clients and fellow members of the community. To help them share with an even greater audience, we’re profiling Forbes Coaches Council members here on the blog. This week: Shauna C. Bryce.

Shauna C. Bryce is the founder and principal of Bryce Legal Career Counsel. Follow her @brycelegal.

What inspired you to become a coach?

When I was an attorney in Manhattan and the NYC metro area, results were often a long time coming and ultimately measured in money. Commercial litigation was impersonal and (for me) unsatisfying. There was a lot of paperwork and posturing, and the end result of my efforts was that a check was pushed from one side of the table to the other. Although I was good at it and on partnership track, I knew that wasn’t the path for me.

Because I had been heavily involved in law firm hiring and mentoring, working with lawyers on career transitions and development was a natural fit. It enabled me to do what I went to law school to do: help individuals change their lives. As a researcher, writer and trainer, I get to be a professor teaching career success theory and how to apply that theory to real world scenarios. As a one-on-one coach, I’m privileged to be a partner and confidante with lawyers across the U.S. It’s wonderful to be a part of immediate change, like for the client who secures a job offer in a week, or the client who negotiates a raise. But it’s also wonderful to be a part of longer term success, like helping a lawyer develop into a sought-after leader in a growing area of law.

That kind of impact has me up at 4:30 a.m. in the morning, eager to start the day.

What one piece of advice do you find yourself relying on most? Why?

A lot of my clients come to me with clear career goals. They know what they want to do; they just need help getting there. But even if we have a path forward, they sometimes have difficulty pulling the trigger. Why? Most lawyers are risk adverse both by nature and by training. And they worry what other people will think of them. I often ask them to consider this fundament truth: You don’t owe your supervisors or colleagues a justification for your career decisions.

For example, fear of being labelled a quitter traps people. Understand and embrace the difference between quitting and walking away from a path that doesn’t work for you. Walking away from a job, a career path, a practice area, or a geographical region is brave and gives you freedom to move toward a better trajectory.

Be true to your own definition of success. Your law partner might define success as being able to own a Tesla, and that’s great! But if your idea of success is a 9-to-5 job that gives you flexibility to spend time at your kid’s piano recitals, then that’s wonderful. Don’t apologize for it. You can be happy for her getting that Tesla without committing yourself to the same definition of success.

And always remember that some of the same people who discouraged you from following your path will be the same ones who envy you once you do it.

What is the biggest hurdle your clients face? What advice would you give others struggling with this issue?

It’s a struggle to find time to work on career development and professional development. A recurring challenge for clients is simply to carve some time out of their day, week, or month to do something for themselves. They know they need to do it, but they’re so caught up in the pace and demands of day-to-day life that they feel they don’t have time or energy to look at longer-term planning.

We all feel the challenges of finding more hours in the day, of being more productive than busy, and of being pulled among many different commitments. Often, we start with just finding an hour a week that can be devoted to job search, networking, and professional development. Baby steps are fine. The only sure way to fail is not to start at all.