Leading with Empathy - Step #20
Purpose must be communicated, but we need a receptive audience for it to be impactful in your case.
We must work on building a connection with the power brokers in the case including the police department, prosecutor, judge and the probation department.
We must connect these folks to our purpose, which will drive the results; if we can achieve this connection, we will facilitate transformational change. If purpose is not clear then purpose is ineffective in impacting your case; we cannot simply create goals and make promises, we must show our purpose through meaningful and an organized series of proactive steps.
Think of your purpose in pictures rather than mere words; envision your case behind you, and you are now on the path to deep change; what are you doing in your career, family life and personal life in order to use your case as a valuable life lesson.
Are you back to your old habits and not working on yourself, or are you focused on a daily transformation to your ultimate purpose?
Your higher purpose can only be maximized when the power brokers are aligned, and we must act deliberately to convey this purpose.
This means concrete progress that is documented and presented for review and inquiry; to be prepared to take feedback and respond to follow-up questions.
As clients become purpose-driven their level of vulnerability must increase; personal stories convey a higher level of purpose and authenticity which allows the prosecutor and judge to pay closer attention and move away from the transactional mindset and into embracing the human-being in the case.
Revealing yourself to those in power can feel like a risk, but the real risk is in not revealing yourself and remaining a name and a charge to be part of a busy series of transactions. When clients become more authentic and personal, they inspire others and make discoveries about themselves in the process.
Driving purpose from a bottom-up approach cannot be a single leap; meaning we should not try to move every single person in the case at the same time; the goal is to go to party by party.
We must begin with the police department who then helps get the prosecutor aligned, who then gets the judge onboard who then engages the probation department.
As each power broker becomes motivated and aligned with our purpose, we can engage network effects to build momentum.
We go from having no formal power to engaging folks with power to help us leverage our purpose and influence the next person in the power chain.
A client who owns the process of reflecting purpose and doesn't run from adversity will be able to continue moving forward. A client must own their development and convert challenges into opportunity.
Real life example of bringing it all together with purpose
Difficult cases come with challenges, and it's near impossible to move all the power brokers as a group; it is easier for them to remain in status quo, especially with a challenging case. The goal is to go one by one and work your way up the chain.
When a client is faced with a truly unique circumstance, such as a person in the military, and certain convictions would remove them from the military, you need to convey this fact quickly and efficiently.
A very common response from a prosecutor will be "they should know better" or "they can't get any special treatment". Those make sense with a transactional mindset and focusing on problem solving, but if we focus on purpose finding, there is a different path to create.
The difficult task with such a request is getting the power brokers onboard. I have received the above response from prosecutors all the time; in this situation I might say "would you be willing to the talk to the police officer about our request?"
This is an effective approach because you are not getting mad or fighting the prosecutor, it is instead shifting the burden to another power broker.
A police officer has already done their job and at this point probably will say something like "I don’t have an issue with that" (this assumes the client was respectful during the arrest). Now as the attorney I can say, "well the police officer doesn't object to this request". I have now leveraged the police officer's formal power for my client's case and gained support for my request.
During this downtime as we reach out to the police officer, my client is engaging in a proactive plan to further their purpose and growth; we want to support our request with currency.
The prosecutor now has the police department backing the idea, and my client justifying consideration; it takes the heat off the prosecutor in two different ways. If we can get the prosecutor onboard, I can now go to the judge with the formal support of the police and prosecutor.
We have now leveraged the formal power of two power brokers, and it will be easier for the judge to become aligned because others are backing the idea. This is a way to combine minimal support for an idea of multiple people, which grows enough to get the job done. Nobody is going to be head over heels on supporting my idea, but if enough people don't object, it empowers the next person to follow suit.
Leading with Empathy - Step #19
Once we find purpose, it is time to deploy it, both for your case, and as a guiding light for your life. This purpose will establish a new culture around your case, transitioning from a name and a charge on paper to a real human going through the ups and downs of life.
A judge and prosecutor see your case as a transaction, and it’s easier to label you a bad seed, and a criminal; it is difficult for them to even consider a client's purpose or enrichment gained from their case. The culture of the court is not favorable to each client having a platform to receive the attention and support necessary for deep change.
When a client finds their purpose and deploys it, they have activated the golden opportunity to be a transformational client. As an attorney, I help clients find that higher purpose, and empower my clients to create culture and vision around their meaningful life experience.
A client should take away more than the outcome from a criminal case; a criminal case should develop new meaning and guidance for the rest of their life. When a client is empowered to take control of their case, they create real change in all aspects of their life.
Handling a criminal case is not a mere isolated task for a client; a client must see a criminal case as part of their entire life. If we treat a criminal case as outside of our world and define it as something that has nothing to do with your life, then we are missing out on a huge opportunity. We must deeply understand why the case happened and go under the hood; if we try to isolate the case, we will not make the changes necessary.
Once we embrace that our case is part of our fabric, we can make the changes to avoid future harm. We need to be proactive and understand that without real change, there is no way to prevent future problems. We cannot settle to be reactive and say "won't happen again" because you don’t even understand why it happened the first time around. If we adopt a proactive approach instead of reactive, we open a transformational path to a new future.
Most people believe that it's up to the judge and prosecutor to empower a client to achieve an outstanding result; this is a top-down mindset and not accurate when it comes to a criminal case. The power brokers in the case take a top-down approach and treat the case like an assembly line; hit go at 8 am, hit stop at 5 pm then onto the next day.
If we embrace a bottom-up approach, we can create change from the client's perspective and share up to the prosecutor and judge. We must work to capture the power broker's imagination and share our purpose with them.
As a client, we cannot be problem solvers, because we don't embrace that a problem exists. A client breaks the law not because they are a problem creator, but rather they were lacking the right purpose at the time of the offense. The client knows what they did was against the law, yet still broke the law; they didn't want to break the law but ignored all the warning signs and better judgment that could have prevented the offense.
A transformational client is not about problem solving, it's about purpose finding and to capture the imagination of growth in new ways; growth does not happen in a person when you send them to jail or brand them as a criminal.
When our purpose is clarified, we can attract the attention and consideration of the police department, judge, prosecutor and probation.
Real life example of finding purpose and deploying it for good
I once worked with a doctor who went to a grocery store every single day for lunch; he would go to the food court, sit down, eat food, read a newspaper for sale, then leave with the newspaper without paying for the food.
He did this for months without anyone noticing and being caught. One day for whatever reason someone noticed this activity and paid enough attention to catch him breaking the law.
This story presented to the average person in our community would wonder why a doctor would be acting this way and has the money to pay for the food and newspaper. It just doesn't make sense to them.
If you asked this doctor if they were breaking the law, they would say yes. Then why is a doctor risking their career over food court lunch, which they could afford.
This is a clear example of problem-solving vs purpose finding. There isn't a problem to solve here; everyone agrees that this is against the law, but it still happens. The doctor can pay for the food, yet they decide not to do so. This is a purpose finding case.
When I asked this client why they didn’t pay for the food, they paused and said, "I didn't think it would matter, there's plenty of food that gets thrown away, and I am helping people at the hospital all day and I am underpaid, so I didn't think it was a big deal" - "plus the hospital makes me pay for the food". It felt justified.
You can see from this example that the doctor was not stealing because they couldn't afford the item, they weren't stealing out of anger to the store, and they really weren't stealing something that was hurting anyone else, because yes, the amount of food they ate probably would have been thrown away.
But this example is exactly where 99 percent of my clients find themselves. This doctor didn't have a shoplifting issue, they had a purpose issue. They felt undervalued and overworked at their job and viewed this lunch setting as a meaningless extension of their emotional and mental state. They took it upon themselves to fill an empty void created by dissatisfaction at work.
If the court and prosecutor treat this case on a transactional level, they would never fully understand who the client was, and why they were doing this. Our community would likely lose a good doctor who could have helped thousands of people each year in our community.
Leading with Empathy - Step #18
When charged with a crime you feel powerless; the walls are closing in on you; why would anyone listen to someone who committed a crime? To have a voice is to be heard, and to be heard is to have influence. Being a transformative client is about finding your voice and influencing the direction of your case.
We cannot be satisfied to believe that nobody wants to hear our voice. It will feel that way at first, because it is mostly true, but over time, it is very possible to have a meaningful impact on the direction of your case.
This impact comes from finding your higher purpose for yourself during the case; it must provide meaning to your life, and how you want to change yourself and those around you for the common good. Being charged with a crime can bring out a new person, and potential great self-discovery; no better time to learn about yourself and make changes than when you believe you have hit rock bottom.
The underlying issue that brought you on the wrong side of the law was ignored for too long; it is finally on the surface, and it is time to take advantage of this opportunity. Having the ability to influence others and bring them into your purpose and vision is a function of your motivation to do so.
When you make the decision to change it must be led by your purpose, vision and true motivation; you will achieve a lesser outcome if your actions are not motivated by the right reasons; clients who truly care about change can achieve greatness. Remember, this is about the process; if you focus only on outcome, you will not gain the real benefit of transformative change.
When we act with courage in our case, we engage both our head and our heart. We can speak with influence and the power brokers take notice and treat you like a human being. We transition from a transaction mindset, but more importantly we take the prosecutor and judge out of this mindset.
Do not be embarrassed of where you stand today; despite being charged with a crime, know that millions of people have come before you, and millions will come after you; good, hard-working folks who respect the law, but due to underlying circumstances allowed their best judgment to slip, which created an isolated moment in time.
Once we understand that we are not a bad person, and not a criminal, we can be empowered to tell our story, be vulnerable and demonstrate our true self.
We have a powerful bank account of positive and impressive accomplishments; we have people who trust and believe in us; we have employers who value us, and family members who love us; how can we leverage this account to be our true self?
We must tell our stories; the good and the bad, but most importantly speak up, smile, be yourself. Show you are there, and you should be valued.
Real life example of using your voice
A client who has never had legal issues, held a good job and had a family to support feels like a fish out of water when charged with a crime. It is easy to allow the weight of the case to overcome your world; it feels like who you were before the case no longer matters, and it's all about the incident.
This is usually true for a criminal case; the prosecutor and judge will view your case as a name and a charge and treat it like a transaction.
If a client is charged with leaving the scene of an accident, they face a criminal record, points on license, jail time, and their ability to drive could be impacted. This client may have a perfect driving record, no criminal history, and otherwise be a responsible member of society, and a safe driver.
What if this client drove over a few mailboxes because they were distracted while driving, panicked and drove away? The police show up at her house, because there was footage from security and neighborhood cameras in the area.
On paper this client looks like a jerk; damaged others property and drove away without any care in the world. Applying a transaction mindset, it would make sense to punish this person, maybe even send them to jail for a weekend and tell them they can't drive for a few months. Is this really the best outcome?
What if we use our voice and educate the prosecutor and judge about the underlying issues in this case? What if this client had a sick child at home who was progressively getting worse, and they kept receiving calls and texts from their spouse to hurry up?
This person's mind is in 10 other places, they are doing their best to rush home. It's not a defense or an excuse for crashing into mailboxes and driving away, but it does provide context for the incident.
If we use our voice and lead with both our head and heart, we can turn a transactional case into a humanized set of facts, which when you apply common sense makes a lot more sense. We must still acknowledge the wrong-doing and learn from what happened.
This would be a perfect case to put a few proactive steps into place, show remorse, understanding and work to make things right, but this person should not go to jail, lose their license or have a criminal record.
Leading with Empathy - Step #17
When charged with a crime, we must acknowledge that the prosecutor has the power over the charges, and the judge has power over the process, and ultimately will determine your sentence. Most come to court and view this as a battle of us vs them; you lose that battle every time, because you don't have any formal power.
There is a different approach to take; if we are practicing reflection, and finding out true purpose during a case, we can change the music on the case. This applies even a prosecutor and judge appear to be uninterested in getting to know you and treating your case like a transaction. Do not get discouraged.
Do not keep your head down, do not accept your fate; if we believe in our purpose and real growth, our mindful and contagious hard work will pay off during the case. We must push through the default "bad energy" that comes from a criminal case; by continuing to focus on you as a human with needs, goals and motivations, we can slowly flip the script.
Showing vulnerability and demonstrating your sincere motivation to learn and grow from your case can repair this negative energy relationship. If you act like a victim of circumstances, you will hit a wall; if you put up your sword in reaction to the negative energy, you will not be able to break through and create your own path. By embracing a process and journey mindset vs immediate focus on outcome, you will be able to swim with the current and get to your destination safely.
The only way to change the music and flip the script in your case is to demonstrate self-change; we cannot ask a judge and prosecutor to shift their mindset if we haven't done the same. A client should not be treated like an object during a case, but that will be the default outcome if you do not put in the hard work to humanize yourself.
If we choose to demonize a prosecutor and judge, and treat them as an enemy, they will return the favor; you cannot storm the front door and make demands; you must work yourself through a side door and change the dynamics.
Changing the negative energy takes a transformative client to trust themselves, abilities and your purpose. If you really believe in your higher purpose and it aligns with your identity, you will have a major impact on your case.
Real life example of flipping the script
There are some cranky prosecutors out in this world who see themselves as an extension of the police department. They view the police report as gospel and are close minded to other possibilities and usually uninterested in why the incident happened, and how to best address it other than applying a transaction mindset.
Most other attorneys respond to this by putting up their own sword, shutting down conversation and lining up their own troops for a battle. The problem with this approach is 99.9 percent of the time, the police report is accurate enough, meaning while there may be some inaccuracies, the material facts are accurate, and the client indeed committed the crime.
Attorneys believe their job is to change this, but that’s impossible to do; we can't go back in time and change what happened. Attorneys need to be more honest with their clients and stop selling a magic trick to make their case go away. For the most part, you are stuck with what has already happened, and the most fruitful time is the present and the future rather than focusing on the past.
Instead of preparing for battle, it's time to be vulnerable, smile, and have a good conversation with the prosecutor. Share the story of the client and humanize the case; share the client's purpose and vision for how to best approach what happened and take control of the conversation.
Leading with Empathy - Step #16
When charged with a crime in Michigan, it is easy to internalize the case, and focus on your own prospective. We fail to acknowledge that the judge, prosecutor, police, probation and any victims or witnesses likely have a different view of the case.
Becoming externally aware of different perspectives means taking feedback from others and creating an environment where that feedback is used for further progress. It means perceiving and identifying opportunities and experiences outside of our own mind. We don't have all the answers, and to think any different closes our mind off to growth. We must embrace the input, feedback and wisdom of others; it is easy to deny and close your mind when in a challenging situation, but that limits our opportunity for growth.
Most would view a criminal charge as a negative moment in life, but if the case is manageable, it can be viewed as a positive intervention before something worse happens.
Being externally open allows us to see our case from a fresh view; to move away from the victim mindset, and into a growth mindset. If you fail to be externally open, your mind becomes stale and other around you become nonbelievers; you remain a criminal charge and a name; if you're willing to wake up every morning and brake fresh bread and serve it with enthusiasm, you’re going to create deep change.
We must wake up every morning and maximize our impact; leave yesterday behind, and not rest on our prior day success. When charged with a crime, a small step of progress is not enough; you must demonstrate deep change and commitment every single day.
Once we embrace the daily progress mindset, we can share this fresh mind and daily growth with the power brokers in the case; being a transformative client means a fresh take on conflict and leaving the comfort mindset.
When a client goes to court, there are going to bumps and bruises; a judge and prosecutor are going to resist change, and still treat you "like a criminal", especially early in the case. They are going to have strong opinions, order you to do things that may seem unreasonable, inconvenient and unnecessary; you have no formal power to deny these orders; only over time can you earn consideration of reversal and benefit of the doubt.
You must be open to feedback and accept it with a firm demeanor and a humble mindset. You cannot be disinterested in feedback; you can certainly not be unwilling, because you will end up in jail. In order to grow and create deep change, we must open ourselves to feedback from others. Many people send out a very strong message "we don’t want feedback" - feedback is the breakfast of champions we need it.
The best approach for a criminal case is to lead with empathy and values; to share purpose and confidence from the very beginning and ask for a runway to be authentic and show integrity in our commitment to deep change. To hold ourselves accountable to a higher standard and ask those involved in the case to hold us to the same, above and beyond the requirements of the court.
Real life example of keeping an open mind to the world
It’s very common for a client to appear in court for the first time, and the judge to drop a bunch of inconvenience bombs on a client. Judges have denied clients ability to travel out of state, tested them for alcohol and drugs even though a case doesn't have any substances in the facts. Once I had a client who went to college in a different state, and the judge refused to allow my client to leave Michigan to go back to school in a different state.
The judge decided this in court and would not budge. My client could have reacted in shock, anger or disgust and responded as such to the judge; this would not have done them any good, because the judge has the formal power to do adopt this ruling. Asking the same thing repeatedly only makes things worse when one person has formal power, and the other does not.
I told my client to keep their cool, say "yes your honor" then we worked on an alternative route to leaving the State; within a few hours of the hearing, my client was granted permission to go back to school; if my client had reacted in a different way, they may have sunk their chances of going back to school, but the client having respect for the judge and allowing me to go the legwork away from the heat of the courtroom was the solution to a stressful and anxious time for the client.
Leading with Empathy - Step #15
When a client is charged with a crime and makes the decision to lead with empathy, they must establish trust with those involved in the case. By creating an environment of trust, it creates energy and passion in a prosecutor and judge.
For a power broker (judge and prosecutor) to adopt something outside of the status quo, they must trust the path of the client, and the best way to do this is to build trust. Trust is created by creating currency in the case by being proactive; think alcohol test compliance and documentation of counseling and other great proactive steps.
A transformational client helps a judge and prosecutor do the unfamiliar, sometimes the impossible. Trust is built by acting with integrity and never promising what you can't deliver; most importantly never taking a short cut or deceiving the court. When a power broker steps outside of their comfort zone, they are taking a personal and potentially professional risk, and trusting you as a client.
Real change only happens for a client when they have complete integrity and there is a foundation of trust. Therefore, I ask my clients challenging questions and truly listen to their answers; these challenging questions force a client to become self-empowered because they hear their own thoughts and answers out loud and can't deny the hard truth of change.
I can't tell a client what to do, and most of the time a judge and prosecutor's true message doesn't fully register with a client, because telling someone to do something is not effective. By instead asking challenging questions, it allows the client to grow via their own words and thoughts; a client should lead their own change journey, but it takes someone to lead them to the desired outcome.
Many people in positions of leadership (like judges and prosecutors) don't like to listen, particularly to people they have already judged as not worth listening to such as clients. If those in power would listen, they would discover the potential in every client that appears in court.
The best way to overcome people who don’t listen is to be vulnerable and speak with authenticity which builds trust and commitment from those in power. Telling your authentic story is your source of power when charged with a crime despite the overwhelming opposite happening in court rooms around the country.
It’s very natural for a case to start off as us vs them, because formally that is how a case is designed. The People of the State vs the Defendant. This means there is going to be bumps and bruises during the case, and that's ok; conflict in relationships can build trust; disruption stimulates growth and movement on issues.
The collective intelligence of those involved in the conflict can overcome the individual parts by filling in the social cracks of the case. In the end, the prosecutor, judge, client and attorneys are just trying to get from A to Z, but we must be process focused, not outcome obsessed.
Real life example of leading with empathy and trust
The status quo/typical conversation between a client's lawyer and the prosecutor begins with the prosecutor citing all the bad parts of the case and setting a negative tone. This creates an outcome obsessed dynamic where the prosecutor is saying "your client did all these bad things" and putting up his/her sword.
I reject this approach and instead lead with trust building; I acknowledge what is in the report, but have the prosecutor agree that neither of us were present when this happened, and there is more to this case than what is in the report.
Being informed about the case requires a look under the hood on why it happened, and what can be done in the present and future to create the best outcome for all parties involved. This is where my client can lead with empathy and embrace the process vs obsession with the outcome alone.
We work to have the prosecutor look beyond the police report and he/she is educated on what my client has learned from the incident via reflection and proactive steps and has an opportunity to review progress. We work to turn the prosecutor into an advocate and build an alliance before moving on to the judge; it is easier to build consensus with a judge if both sides are supportive of the proposed case journey. We look to expand the pie vs fight over the pie.
Leading with Empathy - Step #14
When charged with a crime, your case is going to viewed as a name and a charge with little thought about the human being behind the data. To lead with empathy and purpose is the goal but being authentic and pushing forward with integrity is the true foundation of change.
To approach a criminal case in an authentic way is to behave in a consistent manner driven by your true values. The goal is for the criminal case not to define you; it is a mere impression, not a true impression, which means as soon as the incident is complete, and you're ticketed or released from jail, it's time to make the next impression which is more representative of who you are.
Creating a transformational change in your life is about stepping outside of your comfort zone and challenging the status quo of a name and a charge. A client must show their true colors; failure to speak up, and more importantly to put tangible actionable change in place will produce more status quo; you will be treated and labeled a criminal.
Clients orbit around fear of the outcome of their case; transformative change is about overcoming that fear and controlling your future. To adopt a positive lens allows a client to see their case differently; this is the first step before a judge or prosecutor will follow this same approach.
We must invite the judge and prosecutor to see the potential in transformative change vs resisting change. They simply don't know better or are not willing to risk the status quo; if the same people continue to appear before them in court, the problem isn't with the client, it's with the system. The criminal justice system is too focused on outcome, and not the process.
When we embrace the process, we move beyond our fear of outcome and can more clearly act on our true values. It is difficult to be ourselves when we are anchored by the fear of being judged as a name and charge. Having courage does not mean you ignore fear but rather as we clarify our deepest values and choose to act with integrity, we find the courage to do what we fear.
A court case is going to be feel dark and cold at times, but that does not change your own values and your decision to embrace the process. Choose integrity, find the courage to overcome fear and clarify values and choose to live with integrity. There are going to be challenging moments in a case, but the decision to constantly be mindful of how others perceive you will guide you in the right direction.
The goal is not to be perfect; you do not need to create new values because they sound good; a gap between values and how you act is being human, but the more you close this gap, the better you will feel about yourself. Focus on less shortcuts, excuses, easy outs and lean into conflict, and challenging moments. The more you embrace putting aside the easy way and go the challenging way, the more real growth you will experience during your case and beyond.
Integrity is at the heart of culture change; power hungry judges and prosecutors will resist change because it is not the status quo. As a client faced with a crime, you must consciously choose to courageously model the changes in the culture that you want to see. A judge and prosecutor will see 1000's of cases a month that look the same; you must fight hard to stand out; speak up and shine.
Real life example of the importance of authenticity and integrity
A very common part of any criminal case is conducting a plea with a judge. When a great deal has been worked out for a client, and they have led with empathy and purpose, we are in a great position to close out the case in a very favorable way. Despite these great shifts in the case, there will still come a time where the client does need to answer questions of a judge, and the judge is seeking authenticity and integrity; this is not the time to minimize or avoid difficult questions.
A good example would be on a drunk driving case; a judge at some point is going to ask about the amount of alcohol and what type of alcohol was consumed.
Although I practice this with my client and remind them of the need to be transparent, some clients turtle into a defensive mindset and "try to make it sound better" with the judge. I've had clients with extremely high blood alcohol levels who privately tell me how much they drank, but when a judge asks, the entire answer is coated in passive aggressive signs of non-accountability. Nothing will annoy a judge quicker and break up positive momentum than this type of approach by a client.
I tell clients that the best thing to do with a judge is to be so honest it hurts; a judge will appreciate a fully detailed account of all the alcohol you drank because it screams honesty and accountability.
There is no credit for making a judge think you drank less than you did, but potential opportunity to make a further strong positive aggression by leading with authenticity and integrity. Better to tell the judge you were so drunk that you honestly do not recall the amount than to minimize or guess.
Leading with Empathy - Step #13
When charged with a crime in Michigan, it feels like the end of the world; your life is on pause, and you now await the hammer coming down.
While this is the default mindset, I work with my clients to turn their criminal case into a calling; an opportunity to find purpose and demonstrate through positive mindset that magic can happen from one of the worst moments in your life.
Your case does not need to go like 99.9 percent of people charged with crimes; turn this moment into a strength and opportunity by finding your purpose; find your mission in life from your darkest moment and turn this incident into a calling.
A client who clarifies their purpose turns a criminal case into a life changing moment; don't run from conflict, but rather embrace it. This case is about YOU, not the prosecutor or judge; real change only happens through conflict; it gets your attention; use that conflict to change your life.
A comfort-centered mindset maintains the status quo; this mindset means "surviving" a case and not making any real changes in your world. Conflict is part of growth, and it's not supposed to be easy. A comfort-centered approach is not going to help a client in the long-term; they will never understand how they ended up on the wrong side of the law, and likely return in a worse situation.
A purpose driven client is willing to endure conflict to create a better world for themselves and their family; this client sees things differently and they don’t run from conflict.
Such amazing outcomes are not facilitated by the court system; the court is NOT going to help you change; they may say that punishing you in a default/what everyone else gets way is helpful to you, but it is not. You already knew right from wrong before you committed a crime; being punished and knocked over the head is not going to change your life for the better.
Just because this doesn’t already exist, it doesn’t mean we cannot create it. A contributive desire to make your world and those around you better which leads with purpose is more effective than ego goals of "I want the best result". The problem with the ego goals is the best result is likely not available depending on what you believe that is, and it’s not going to be listed on a menu to select. A client must create the best outcome for themselves; this is not a system curated toward the person charged with a crime.
We must inspire those with formal power to embrace our journey and focus on the process rather than the outcome. The outcome on many cases can look similar, but the process is where the magic happens. Once we find purpose and shift to a long-term mindset, the true outcome of the case means less, and we understand that the journey is where the change happens.
A court likes to focus on problem solving, because a person charged with a crime is a "problem"; my clients shift to purpose finding from day one. Clarification of purpose can be integrated across our entire life through our career, family and future goals.
Real life example of finding your purpose
I work with a lot of clients with multiple drunk driving convictions in their history. When this client returns to a court with a new drunk driving case, the default approach for the judge and prosecutor is to treat this person as a problem, because drunk driving is a major issue in every community.
I do not fault this mindset, because all would agree that driving drunk is problematic, but when we zoom in on an individual case, is this the right approach?
To treat each person as the same problem. My goal for a client in this position is to help them find purpose and understand why they keep coming back to court for the same issue. Some would say being tough and rough with drunk drivers is the best approach; has that worked? Not really.
This repeat offender will endure many of the same outcomes no matter if we treat it as a problem vs purpose, but if we have empathy for the client, and make purpose part of the equation, it is likely to create better result for both sides and stand a better chance of stopping this behavior. A client who finds purpose from this challenging case and takes on conflict vs seeking comfort will benefit greatly from the process and journey of changing their life and finding purpose.
Leading with Empathy - Step #12
When a client is charged with a crime in Michigan, it’s a sinking feeling filled with uncertainly and dread; a client doesn't feel in control, and they want to lash out in frustration and play the role of victim. This is not the best approach to being charged with a crime.
When a client plays victim, they ignore the challenge of personal change and look to blame outside influences. The goal is to look within and reflect on what matters in life; who are you, and where do you want to go? We certainly don't want to be in jail or branded a criminal for the rest of our life. So where do we want to go, and how do we get there?
When we discover our strengths, goals and purpose, we become centered, and we learn to reflect. We can overcome crisis with confidence and survive the storm of a criminal case. More importantly we can move beyond the case and continue our growth and progress.
We can tackle the uncertainly of a criminal case through our adaptive confidence; my clients are people of both reflection and action. One of the most likely reasons why a client ends up on the wrong side of the law is due to their busy life where they don’t take time to work on themselves, and to address their mental and emotional needs.
There is no better time to take a timeout and assess when charged with a crime; to value reflection is to value your future; once you reflect, you are ready to act.
Disciplined reflection over time leads to deep learning for a client. When a client makes deep change it challenges the status quo, and it takes courage to push for change in the criminal justice system.
When a client practice disciplined reflection and writes out their life goals, success is more likely, and confidence is contagious. When the judge and prosecutor believe in a client, anything is possible.
Real life example of disciplined reflection
It's natural for a client to focus on what went wrong, and what they may lose because of a criminal case, but I always focus clients on what they can gain. The reality is a client has already lost parts of the case that cannot be recovered; those are sunk costs and can't distract us from our true progress.
A client charged with a crime must focus on more than themselves; when a client expands their focus to their family, friends and community, it builds momentum for deep change. What is important enough to push through the difficult days when change isn’t easy?
A recent client was facing serious charges, and they lost their job after the arrest; the job was not coming back no matter the outcome of the case. It would have been easy for the client to sulk and feel defeated.
We focused on deep reflection, and what was important to them. The client soon realized that their stressful job led to not caring for themselves and making poor choices with alcohol.
The job was slowly killing them, and it almost actually killed them driving drunk. Without the criminal case they may never have left their job until it was too late.
With disciplined reflection the client soon saw the blessing of the case and the opportunity to make major changes in their life.
Leading with Empathy - Step #11
Folks don't like change, and this certainly applies to the criminal justice system where status quo is king. Charged with a crime? Well, you're going to be put through the ringer and pay the price; it’s a black and white straight forward transaction to the prosecutor, judge and probation.
If you try to break the status quo, you're going to be yelled at to get back in the box and comply. This puts the client in an impossible situation, but without deep change, comes slow death for the client. A criminal case can impact the rest of your life; as a leader for my clients, we choose deep change over slow death.
A judge and prosecutor deny the need for deep change; the pressure to change or come off the status quo means extra work and taking a chance; we must confront this and support our call for deep change.
In order to create deep change in a case, a client must commit to a plan. It is not enough to say you'll change or promise it won't happen again. Most people are not willing to do the hard work, because they see the problem as outside of them.
The client drove drunk, but its suddenly not fair they might go to jail, lose their job, license and future. This mindset will not create deep change and will not sway the prosecutor or judge to support our goals.
Challenging the status quo means revolutionizing the criminal justice system; to move away from the transactional mindset and make the choice to humanize the case.
Most clients won't have the courage or motivation to make deep change, but those that do can create their own path
Real life example of deep change
I work with a lot of clients that are back in the criminal justice system as a repeat offender; they have a track record of breaking the law. They are not a first offender, and do not get the benefit of the doubt; a prosecutor and judge will think about all the times the client was not caught breaking the law and the case is in the trash from day one.
A repeat offender needs sincere deep change; to acknowledge both the history and the present case; to embrace poor choices and poor attitude and approach. To acknowledge change is hard and there is a long road ahead, but to show signs and progress to the judge and prosecutor. To approach the case with a humble attitude and be deeply committed to changing their life in all aspects.
A repeat offender must isolate the reason for their track record and develop a plan to make difficult changes in their life; it may be moving away from bad influences, avoiding all future use of alcohol or drugs. It certainly means embracing reflection of their mental and emotional well-being and having honest conversations.