So even after a long holiday weekend in the United States, there is still time for reflection. Let’s finish off our game of twenty questions!
The last five are all about your relationship to the future.
How can I keep myself absolutely safe?
You have to acknowledge reality. Unless you live in a cave along the Salmon River of Central Idaho you’re not going to be absolutely safe. Even in a cave in Central Idaho you can’t be safe. Even Dugout Dick, a hermit who lived on the river, fell and broke a hip. I came real close to running him down while he was riding his bike along Idaho 93. (I felt bad about that, but it was a brush with greatness.)
There are immutable laws of nature at work to keep you in a constant state of imbalance. As a river guide once told me: if you fall of the boat, don’t try to control things. Just fold your arms, point your feet downstream and go with the flow.
Where should I break the rules?
Just about every time you get the chance. Some rules are important – Thou shalt not kill comes readily to mind – and you need to decide what those are in your particular value system. The important thing is to know what your values are, and guide your decisions and life accordingly. The well behaved people don’t make history.
Say I lived in that fabulous house in Tuscany, with untold wealth, a gorgeous, adoring mate, and a full staff of servants…then what?
We get so busy with our lives or getting to a goal that we forget to live along the way. I hear a story once concerning a newlywed couple who decided they would plan and save for their perfect dream house. There would be plenty of room for each of the children and their families, and they would have lots of party space. They knew exactly what they wanted, and as the years passed they and their children did without, and because both parents were working towards their goal, there was little time for vacations, dinner parties, or family outings. Time passed and eventually the couple moved into the house of their dreams. The only problem was that their children wouldn’t speak to them, and they’d gathered no friends along the way to entertain in their fabulous new house.
Better to live in a cave on the Salmon River of Central Idaho.
What’s important to you now, and do you realize you’re living your “perfect life” right now? Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death – Live!
Are my thoughts hurting or healing?
Your mental attitude determines your health, your well-being, and your success. Creating a miserable story line can lead to depression, guilt, and seriously affects your ability to progress and move forward. It raises your stress level, leading to an increased risk of debilitating illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, and autoimmune dysfunction. Reframing your situation in positive terms increases serotonin and helps combat stress. Just about ANY situation can be reframed to be positive. Even if the situation itself is irredeemable, you can reframe your response.
Really truly: Is this what I want to be doing?
You aren’t obligated to stay in a situation that will ultimately prevent you from progressing or meeting your full potential. Of course, you have to figure out what that phrase means for you. Once you do that, you’ll be able to decide if you’re doing things that will help you meet that potential. You’ll know it. Doing what you really want to be doing feels light. Doing what you don’t want to do – that thing that steers you from your objective – is a daily burden.
… and another thing:
I’m judging a moot court competition soon for law students from all over the country. I got the judging materials today, and the ballot contained some interesting criteria upon which I must judge the contestants. It makes a good checklist for your own professionalism and work approach. Every young professional I know would love a checklist to follow to see if he or she got it right. Here is one for you law students and young lawyers:
Think about the substance of your work:
- Overall effectiveness of argument irrespective of merits.
- Reasoning and logic.
- Knowledge of and ability to incorporate applicable legal authority.
- Judicious use of time.
Think about your knowledge of the record.
There is a lot more to “the record” than the facts before a judge on review. Consider that “the record” might be assumptions you make about yourself and your skills, your background, your hangups, and your ability to move forward in spite of these.
- Knowledge of the content of the record
- Familiarity with authorities, facts, issues, and arguments (you change these words to meet your situation)
I know this is hard when your a maladaptive perfectionist like 65% of lawyers, but give it a shot. It won’t kill you.
- Ability to answer questions,
- to think on feet, and
- to resume argument after interruption.
Consider your demeanor and professionalism
- Proper deference to coworkers, including paralegals, office assistants, janitorial personnel, and court clerks. In other words, be nice to everybody. Even the jerks.
- Etiquette (try sending a thank you note or returning phone calls).
- Use of speaking voice, poise, gestures, mannerisms.
These basic considerations will make you popular, good-looking, and happy. Follow them.