“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
Did you have a super hero growing up? I can remember the Marvel Comic Book superheroes as if it was yesterday. For the younger among you, GI Joe and Wonder Woman might have been your heroes, and there were many others — something for everyone. We admired these characters for their strength and bravery and compassionate and independent behavior. They made us think that we could be like them — if only a little bit. We liked to be on the side of the super hero or super heroine because it was usually the just and right place to be. It made us feel good to identify with them.
Flash forward to today, and ask yourself about your heroes. Not super heroes — just your every day hero variety. They could be mentors and teachers, parents and other care givers, religious or world leaders, colleagues and friends, or sundry other people whose personal traits and abilities you admire. Ask who inspires you. Who has something that is special to you and makes you want to spend time with them?
Now, as Marshall Goldsmith, the leadership guru and one of my mentors, suggests in a recent video, emulate those personal traits and abilities. Don’t just admire them in others, but make them compelling standards in your own life. If they are your heroes, then why not try to be like them? Write down the positive attributes and put your own name at the top. Aspire to be more like those people. The reward will be that you will admire yourself even more.
Check out the video and ask yourself, “Who are my heroes?” Make it part of your plan for a successful and meaningful life. It is all about finding solutions to your life in other places — and other people.
Become your own hero! As Marshall Goldsmith says, “It could change your life.”
“When they go low, we go high.”
“Practice the discipline of gratitude.”
Henri Houwen, Dutch Theologian
Recently I wrote an article for Corporate Counsel magazine and its on-line blog which addressed, among several topics, the toxic cultures of law firms. Here is some of what I said there:
The truth is that we don’t do the profession of law very well in America. We ignore the lifestyles and well-being of practitioners. The law firm culture encourages workaholic behaviors that lead to stress-related illnesses and dependencies, as confirmed by research demonstrating that lawyers suffer from alcoholism and illegal drug use at rates far higher than nonlawyers. Divorce rates among lawyers, especially women, also appear to be higher than divorce rates among other professionals. Although lawyers represent some of the best-paid professionals, they are disproportionately unhappy and unhealthy. The result is a profession of burnouts and resentment.
Pretty serious stuff, I am sure you would agree. Now, in the aftermath of that article, comes some newly discovered research demonstrating that these dependencies and related mental health issues are getting their start among law students. Even more serious, if you ask me.
In a recent article on Law.com, the author addressed a first-ever national study of drinking, drug use, depression and anxiety in the legal profession that was published earlier this year in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. As described in that study, the health and well-being among lawyers is “grossly wanting.” Specifically, “younger attorneys in the first ten years of practice are experiencing the highest levels of problem drinking and mental health distress.” According to the data, the early stages of a legal career strongly correlates to a high risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.
Another study cited in the Law.com article, the 2014 Law Student Well-Being Survey, made the connection between well-being problems law students exhibit and their future well-being problems as lawyers. The article concludes that the two studies taken together suggest that “the front end of the legal profession is running on some very wobbly wheels.”
The question then becomes: What are law schools doing about this? Not much it seems. The article poses the following question: “[W]ould a one-credit course or seminar about these issues during the first year of law school be too much to ask?” and concludes with this summary: “Given the far-reaching implications of the substance use and mental health problems of lawyers — on the public and the future of the profession itself — the time is long overdue that we make substance use and mental health a similar priority.”
Hear, hear. We call it risk management when we discuss similar issues with our clients. How about taking care of ourselves.?