Mental Block II

By Joryn Jenkins

(How Do I Sign That First Collaborative Client?)

So, okay, we all suffer from a mental block at one time or another. When we admit that we do, we take a crucial step in the right direction. That is, a step toward overcoming that mental block.

A quick Google search on the likelihood of suffering from a mental block might suggest, as it did for me, that collaborative professionals are especially prone to this type of angst. In addition to biological, environmental, and lifestyle factors, Verywell Mind reports that social factors induced by stress and conflict, particularly in the workplace, have been found to increase mental blockage.

As collaborative professionals, we know all-too-well the conflict and stress that divorce imposes, not only on our clients, but also on us. Perhaps you felt something inside your head that obstructed your ability to sign your first collaborative client. During this or any other situation when you suffer a mental block, what can you do to successfully overcome it?

Well, like many mental blocks, getting over that creative impasse requires igniting your belief in your ability to do it, inspiring your trust in yourself, and rejuvenating your creative juices.

Let’s identify what’s likely causing you to be stalled by your own mindset, i.e., your inner-saboteur. In my experience, it’s usually one of three possibilities. Is it self-doubt? You know, the kind that most often manifests as imposter syndrome, a fear of being exposed as a fraud?

Or do you believe in scarcity? Do you compare yourself to others who have more success and find that there’s only so much success to go around?

Or is it tunnel vision? Are you (or rather, do you think you are) unable to see beyond the boundaries of your (current) experience, despite all of the trainings and workshops you’ve attended?

If so, then all of these are grounded in your loss of objectivity or ability to judge. So how do you regain a neutral perspective moving forward?


If it’s self-doubt, that negative monologue (again, your inner-saboteur) can be very convincing. Know that we all had to start somewhere. Why was it okay to take on your first client (for whatever service you normally provide), but now it’s not okay to assure a consult that you are competent to provide collaborative dispute resolution services?
Maybe you had a mentor that first time around. If so, then reach out to him or her or find a new mentor to coach you through that first collaborative matter you sign. I mentor collaborative teams of newly trained professionals all over the country for this very reason, and I’d be happy to coach you, as well.

Success Scarcity

Have you convinced yourself that there’s only so much room for successful collaborative professionals in your venue? Or that the success of others somehow render yours unobtainable?

Read that last line again . . . . How is that thinking even reasonable? Be proactive. Assemble your team of professionals before you sign that first client and designate the others as your accountability partners. Tell them so at your “Getting to Know You” meeting. There’s your safety net. Even with a team of newly trained professionals, it is rare that anyone on the team fails in any way to perform according to the collaborative norms. And the team is there to support the newby if it does happen, even when they, too, are all newbies. Remember that they (and you) are not newbies in your profession, just in the collaborative process space.

Oh, and keep in mind, every newbie at some point or another becomes, well, not a newbie! Focus on your growth, both personally and professionally, and don’t be scared off by us old dogs – we were in your shoes once, too.

Tunnel Vision

If you believe that your own experience is limiting your perspective, you’ve lost your objectivity. It’s easy to instruct yourself to “think outside the box,” but what if the sides of that box are higher than you can actually reach? What if you can’t see the stairs? What if there are none? What if there’s no ladder? What if it’s invisible?

So, learn something new. Expose yourself to new ways to “climb,” i.e. to think. TED Talks is one of my favorite resources that fulfills this need. You can sign up for a weekly email that suggests a different talk according to the topics that you designate as of interest. I also find podcasts to be especially helpful for exposing myself to all sorts of out-of-the-box, new ways to think.

Books and seminars are another unlimited and fairly inexpensive resource. Professionals you know can recommend these to you or you can reach out on the internet to find them. I myself maintain a list of books (well, actually, two of them, one on topics related to marketing and one on subjects related to collaborative matters) that I offer to my proteges whenever it is appropriate. (Reach out if you want one . . . or both.)

Or just reach out to professionals you know in other practice areas. Have lunch. How do they do what they do? Often, the creative impasses we face are nothing but limitations imposed by our previous experiences. When this is true, remove yourself from your own work and observe it through someone else’s lens. You’ll gain a perspective you’ve never see before and fire your creativity that way.

Being consistently creative need not be unusual. In fact, prolific creativity can be your modus operandi. It is mine! Above are many of the ways that I ignite my creativity, clearing my mental pathways to enable my mind to make its more innovative and inspired connections. But don’t forget that free research algorithum at your disposal – Google – which is particularly helpful for finding ways that others ignite themselves, and those might just ignite you, too.

Let me know if these suggestions made sense for you. I would so appreciate you sharing your suggestions with me, too. And for more on how to market your professional practice, reach out to me at or find me at Your Collaborative Marketing Coach, because your marketing is my marketing!

Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, 2 of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed upon those who have provided exceptional leadership to The American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.

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