Failing to do so conjures up, for me, lines from W. H. Auden's "The Age of Anxiety": "We would rather be ruined than changed/We would rather die in our dread/than climb the cross of the moment/and let our illusions die." Change course. It's the smart play.
7. Another pair of eyes on the project? You're joking, right? What a waste." True, projects are overlawyered and overanalyzed. But active resistance to advice is a telling sign that something maybe seriously amiss. Take it as a warning to press all the more for that other set of eyes.
An ostrich-like attitude of self-delusion can lead to disaster. Listen to Proverbs 1:30-31: "They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices."
8. "We've always thought about it this way, and we always will." I can do no better than Justice Felix Frankfurter, who decided a legal issue one way in 1943 and then completely reversed course in 1949. He gave this explanation in his opinion in Henslee v. Union Planters Bank: "Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late." Genius.
9. "It is what it is." Huh? This phrase now is used principally by those who want to sound insightful and wise but who are just dazed and confused. Only Buddhist monks are allowed to talk like Buddhist monks.
10. "You are the most wonderful person I have ever met. We were meant to start this business/do this deal/win this suit." Beware flattery without facts, especially when it comes too fast, too soon. It is a sign of a sociopath. They target their victims (people they can use), compromise their targets' integrity, exploit them and toss them aside when finished. The whole cycle starts with false flattery.
For more information read "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout and "Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us" by Robert D. Hare. Or, sit down with "Othello." Shakespeare identified the prototype sociopath, Iago, who remarks, "When devils will the blackest sins put on/They do suggest at first with heavenly shows. . . ."
Speaking of the devil, watch this scene from "The Devil's Advocate" (a truly horrible movie). Al Pacino stars as Satan, with his day job being the managing partner of an international firm. He counsels a colleague who knows Pacino is Satan: "Don't get too cocky. No matter how good you are. Don't let them see you coming. That's the gaff, my friend make yourself small. Be the hick. The cripple. The nerd. The leper. The freak. Look at me I've been underestimated from day one."
Here is the title card in the great fight: private investigator Flippo in the white trunks v. Satan in the red. I'm in Flippo's corner, hoping and praying to see it coming. The devil be damned.
More from Michael Maslanka:
"When Is Termination the Right Step to Take?"
"Hot Employment Law Issues at the High Court"
"Courts Weigh in on FMLA Limits"
"Beach Blanket Lingo: The 2012 Summer Reading List"
"Asking for a Facebook Password Can Be Risky"
"How to Handle the New ADA Landscape"
"10 Lessons from 30 Years in the Law"
"Lesser-Known Speeches Hold Lessons for GCs"
"The Power of Influence: Insight Into Persuasion Is Key to Helping Others Find Wisdom"
"Identity and Meaning in and Outside Law"
"When Legal Sense Trumps Practical Sense"
"Litigation Lessons from the Battles of History"
"Summertime Beach Reads for In-Housers"
"Reminders About Right and Wrong"
"Train Managers Now in ADA Amendments"
"Ditch New Year's Resolutions and Reprioritize for 2011"
"What to Do and Not Do in Voir Dire and Opening Statements"
"What Cognitive Theory Can Teach Corporate Counsel"
"High Courts to Weigh Noncompete, Retaliation Cases"
"Commentary: Ask and You Shall Receive"
"ADA Amendments Mean Seismic Shift for Employers"
"Lessons of Letterman: The Top Reasons Bosses Should Be Concerned About Workplace Relationships"
"Beware of Employees' Conduct-Based Suits"
"Commentary The Reptile Brain: Develop a Cognitive Sixth Sense"
"Have You Come a Long Way, Baby?"
Michael P. Maslanka is the managing partner of the Dallas office of Constangy, Brooks & Smith. He is board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. His podcasts and "Work Matters" blog can be found at www.texaslawyer.com. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.