“I hope you’ll become partner one day”

One of my supervisors said this to me. He was one of the named partners of the firm. I’d been wanting to work with him.

He called my communication skills a gift. Another partner told me about how he (the named partner) takes no BS but was impressed with my work.

Wow! He values me! He really really values me!

It was specific praise about something I prided myself in. I felt the aliveness at those moments. My self-esteem is tied to achievements.

Then I thought about it later while heating hamburger patties for lunch. I love the fact that I work from home because my commute is the time it takes for me to get out of bed (same as a typical commute) and I can walk to the kitchen in the middle of the workday. I don’t have to leave the house or brush my teeth or wear business casual.

While mesmerized by the sizzling of the patties, I thought about what making partner means:

  • I’d have to do even more work. Sometimes I notice that a partner attorney has the green active checkmark next to their name in Outlook at midnight. Wait, what I was doing up that late?
  • Or maybe I’d get better at my job, so I’d just become more efficient.
  • I’d probably have to do more business development.
  • BUT I could make more money!!!
  • I’d be pulled in multiple directions—from work, from my hypothetical wife and kids, from my phone, from my own happiness. The usual suspects would tug at me from different directions wanting a piece of my attention.
  • I have other side projects I want to do. Would this create a conflict? Legally and time-wise?
  • I don’t want to trade money for time all my life. I think my time is worth more than my billing rate.
  • I spend 10% of my time on my side business for almost the same earnings as my job. What if I quit my job and spent 20% of my time there and 80% on literally anything else I wanted to do?
  • Maybe I could hire help to run my business. But I found out hiring is difficult. I tried it when an ex and I conflicted over my lack of time, attention, and energy. The side business is my only biggest source of aliveness, so I’d rather do it myself anyway.
  • My hypothetical wife is totally going to be proud of me if I became partner.
  • Maybe I’d finally even be in the top 1% in income…

Talk about torture.

It reminded me of the saying about making partner at a law firm (or any industry where you’re at risk of golden handcuffs): a pie-eating contest where the prize for winning is more pie.

An Internet comment reads, “All my lawyer friends are broke or soulless or both. Truly the lost amongst us.

Khe Hy asks about the golden handcuffs, Do you want to own the successful version of career?

Is the point of working simply to make money? Buy back your time? Live a life that makes you happy? Live a life that makes others happy?

What makes me happy as a high achiever who feels he has nowhere to go but up?

Do I really need a lot of money? The devil on my shoulder says yes. Why? So I can spend it someday? The devil ghosts me when I ask.

A stoic philosopher once said, “It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.” I don’t know what the rate of inflation was during Seneca’s time.

The concept of Dying With Zero seems appealing. But I’ll probably die with hundreds of thousands in the bank, just in case.

Getting high praise from the partner was a moment of joy that I’m sure I’d call “happiness” if it happened consistently. Words of affirmation are also golden handcuffs for a people pleaser.

Would I disappoint him if I decided not to pursue partnership?







One response to ““I hope you’ll become partner one day””

  1. […] What’s stopping me from walking away? Is it my attachment to my identity as a patent attorney? My sense of responsibility? Wanting a “safe” stable job in this uncertain economy? Disappointing the partners? […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *