Law firms are filled, top-to-bottom, with workaholics.
Most of them will say they have no choice, but we all know that some are way better than others at separating work from life and making sure they have a proper balance of both.
But no matter who is and isn’t one, it turns out workaholism might go hand-in-hand with a not exactly great trait (perfectionism) and a really ugly one (narcissism).
A new study looked into the relationship between narcissism and workaholism, which happened to also involve a lot of perfectionism. “That grandiose sense of self-importance that seems to be present in epidemic proportions in our society is related to the worst aspects of workaholism, so was perfectionism,” Psychology Today’s Don’t Delay blog reported. (We aren’t the only ones to see “workaholic” and think lawyers —@thejuryexpert pointed out the article.)
Don’t Delay author Timothy A. Pychyl ran down some of the study’s findings. Though he only mentioned lawyers when discussing their TV counterparts who seem to have “no life other than work,” reading the breakdown of characteristics relating to workaholism will be like reading their own personality description for most attorneys.
- Narcissism was heavily related to workaholism and compulsion (“It’s hard for me to relax when I’m not working,” was the example Pychl provided.)
- Perfectionism is very closely related to workaholism — the “perceived gap between one’s performance expectations and self-evaluation of current performance” was “a significant predictor of all components of workaholism.”
So maybe, dear lawyer, you are a workaholic, perfectionist and narcissist. So, what! It’s hard work that makes the world go ’round, right? Pychyl does not see it that way. He’ll hit you right in the heart with this doozy:
…I think we see these relations between perfectionism, narcissism and workaholism because they are all related to a third underlying variable – a weak sense of self that is plagued with many irrational thoughts (e.g., “I must be perfect to have worth,” “I must work to have worth.”) and an overcompensation for this low self-esteem with a paradoxical narcissism (individuals protect their weak sense of self with an overcompensation that portrays the self in a grandiose fashion). (Emphasis his.)
Most lawyers already know that they are surrounded by workaholics, and that that often travels along with perfectionism and narcissism will not be news, either. (It takes two minutes in a BigLaw office to spot these characters.) Of course, I say “surrounded by” because, while this study will ring true, it’ll just ring true for everyone else.
Because of course you, [insert lawyer name here], are not a workaholic! It’s them — the perfectionist/narcissist partners! They are making you do it! Without them you’d be on a beach! Except how would that look to your friends and parents? And how would you make money? And what are the liability concerns if someone gets severely sunburned eating at the beach side fish shack you open? And what are the franchising laws in Mexico if your little restaurant hits it big?
Read Pychyl’s full post, which provides the study results with great scientific specificity, here.
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