Monday, August 18, 2008

The REAL Secret to Winning

A lot of people weighed in about the secret to winning, which was raised by Gerry Spence (who wrote about it here and here) and forwarded by Gideon of A Public Defender. I added my own thoughts here, but thought of something else, after thinking back on a book I read last year, Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness.

The blog on the book summarizes it:

Most of us spend our lives steering ourselves toward the best of all possible futures, only to find that tomorrow rarely turns out as we had presumed. Why? As Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert explains, when people try to imagine what the future will hold, they make some basic and consistent mistakes. Just as memory plays tricks on us when we try to look backward in time, so does imagination play tricks when we try to look forward.

But what does the quest for happiness have to do with the secret to winning? Well, we all imagine ourselves holding the secret to winning, whether we’ve won as many jury trials as Gerry Spence or, um, me.

But what’s the simple secret that no one else has touched on yet?

Let’s go back to Gilbert’s book. Wikipedia summarizes its thesis like this:

Gilbert's central thesis is that people imagine the future poorly, in particular what will make them happy. He argues that imagination fails in three ways:[1]
1. Imagination tends to add and remove details, but people do not realize that key details may be fabricated or missing from the imagined scenario.
2. Imagined futures (and pasts) are more like the present than they actually will be (or were).
3. Imagination fails to realize that things will feel differently once they actually happen -- most notably, the psychological immune system will make bad things feel not so bad as they are imagined to feel.

The advice Gilbert offers is to use other people's experiences to predict the future, instead of imagining it. It is surprising how similar people are in much of their experiences, he says. He does not expect too many people to heed this advice, as our culture, accompanied by various thinking tendencies, is against this method of decision making.

Did you catch that? Gilbert believes that we should use other people’s experiences to predict the future, concentrating on what we have in common and admitting that our experiences are likely going to mirror theirs in significantly. But he also believes that most of us won’t heed this advice as our culture “is against this method of decision making.”
So what’s the secret to winning? Stop imagining how great you’ll be one day and start talking to people who have been down the path you’re taking. Talk to people who’ve been there rather than imagining how great you’ll be once you get up to the plate.

It’s the secret to both happiness and winning.

It’s what Gerry Spence has put together at TLC and at seminars across the country. It’s what they teach at NCDC and what Terry and Terry MacCarthy will talk about next month at the NCDAA seminar in Omaha.

And it’s what we can do as criminal defense lawyers and blawgers, by sharing what’s worked for us and what we learned the hard way, but learned from nonetheless. Some of us hold the secrets but all of us need them if we are to truly win. The secret to winning as criminal defense lawyers is talking and sharing.

Got any good ideas?


Glen Graham said...

Well said, Mr. Tarrell. Bravo! We need to learn to share what’s worked for us and what we learned the hard way. "Some of us hold the secrets [to winning a criminal case] but all of us need them if we are to truly win. The secret to winning as criminal defense lawyers is talking and sharing." I agree with you. Good work. However, humble, I have posted my personal experiences to share and talk about on my blog: Keep on fighting the good fight and posting about it.
Yours in the Defense of Fellow Human Beings,
Glen R. Graham, Tulsa Criminal Defense Attorney, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I appreciate it and will check out your blog.