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.