Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the United States. Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving or just going about an ordinary Thursday, please know how grateful I am for the opportunity to serve you through this newsletter.
Wednesday’s post Top Ten Tips to Overcome Overwhelm apparently hit a nerve with more than a few readers! In comments sent directly to me by email, procrastination was identified as the top challenge for many of you. In response, I’d like to offer you a video — which may be enabling procrastination, but it’s a chuckle and provokes awareness, so I’ll let that slide.
Last December, Stephanie West Allen (of Idealawg and Brains on Purpose(tm)) and I launched a 10-day campaign that we called “Lawyers Appreciate…” We asked legal bloggers to make a post, sharing the things and people they most appreciate in the practice of law. And we were delighted with the results, which you can find summarized here. We discovered that lawyers appreciate clients, staff and colleagues, fair jurists, family, and so much more. (To my delight, I rediscovered a comment on the kick-off post that celebrates, in part, peppermint ice cream, which is my favorite as well. Cheers to Monica Bay of The Common Scold, whose identifying info was apparently stripped from that comment when I migrated to the new blog.)
A few weeks ago, I asked Stephanie what she thought about launching a second annual Lawyers Appreciate… And she responded with an enthusiastic thumbs up!
Last year’s campaign ran from December 22 to December 31, with some appreciation coming in even into the new year — which, it has to be said, Stephanie and I both appreciated. There’s no statute of limitations on this! Since the 22nd is a Saturday this year (and I will be making extra-merry, since the 22nd is also my birthday) I thought I’d announce a day early, so resourceful bloggers can begin reflecting. And, of course, anyone without a blog is welcome to participate as well by posting a comment.
Here’s how it works: tomorrow, we’ll invite 3 bloggers to join us in our appreciative countdown. We’re asking them to post a blog entry that begins with the words, “Lawyers Appreciate…” and then to invite 3 more bloggers of their choice to do the same. We’ll keep this up for 10 days, until (at least) December 31. And we’ll kick off 2008 with conscious appreciation for what might otherwise go overlooked.
Get ready…… Get set………………….
Edited to add: from Stephanie’s announcement:
For those of you who posted your “LA . . .” list last year, what additions (and maybe subtractions) will you make in 2007? And to those new to the “Lawyers Appreciate . . .” countdown, we look forward to reading your posts of appreciation.
Since it seems like the entire country will be shopping today, I thought I’d post some gift ideas for your favorite lawyer.
As you may (or may not) know, my background is in patent litigation and I am a patent attorney, so I was thrilled to see Dennis Crouch’s Patently-O post on Ten Ways to Spend Your Bonus: Holiday Gifts for a Patent Attorney. With choices like the Roomba vacuuming robot, the Jawbone Bluetooth headset for cell phones, and a portable GPS, this list might even be useful for non-patent geeks.! You’ll also find other fun legally-minded gifts there, not to mention a dazzling array of greeting cards that you can personalize and send without having to lick a single stamp.
This CafePress page offers more than a thousand designs for t-shirts, bags, coffeecups, and more — all legally inclined, and most under $30 or so. Perhaps a messenger bag styled Fungible Billing Unit would be just the right thing for weekend trips… to the office?
And Levenger, THE site for “serious readers,” has created the best thing ever to hit legal shirtpockets, briefcases, purses, etc: the Pocket Briefcase. This little leather case holds 3×5 cards (Levenger can personalize them, or you can order plain and print your own) that are perfect when you need space to write. Although they’re useful for a “to do” list, my favorite way to use them is to jot down a resource for someone I’ve just met while networking, leaving them with a card that’s larger than a business card, thus easy to read and remember, complete with my contact information.
And last but not least, one of the best books I’ve read this year about the practice. Raise the Bar: Real World Solutions for a Troubled Profession questions the billable hour, the firm as an organization, the way lawyers work, how associates are integrated into the practice, and how law can serve society. It’s guaranteed to make you think.
(Incidentally, if you’re wondering: no, I’m not compensated for any of these recommendations. Alas, no funding my own shopping!)
Time management has been on my mind this week, since I’m delivering a workshop tomorrow on that topic. It often figures in coaching, sometimes as a key presenting issue and often as a secondary issue that comes to light in the course of the engagement.
Procrastination is always a big one. It’s especially challenging for lawyers, I believe, because procrastination really can pay off. There’s little point in preparing for a meeting too far in advance, since dates very often change. Same goes for hearings, depositions, on and on. I’ve identified tactics to deal with this kind of well-motivated procrastination, but that’s another post for another day.
To illustrate a different kind of procrastination, I’ll be sharing this YouTube video tomorrow. (This was my first foray into the YouTube world. I’m staggered at the number of videos there and the amount of time that people must spend making and watching videos. But, this is from the woman who doesn’t own a TV, so perhaps I’m just out of step.)
Another pointer to some interesting goings-on…
1. The 800-CEO-READ Blog has an interesting post about the necessity of praising twentysomething workers for absolutely everything, because parents, teachers, and so on have rewarded this generation with everything from verbal reminders to winner’s ribbons and gold stars, following on a similar (but unlinked) WSJ article published last weekend. The post (and presumably the article) even quotes Bob Nelson, a “thank you consultant.” (I’ll be filing that under jobs I never knew existed.) The post (authored by a self-identified member of the praise generation) ends by requesting more than kudos:
So yes, we were raised on praise. Most of us benefited with self-esteem. That self-esteem gave us a backbone. That backbone helps us stand up for our ethics (which after such scandals as Enron and Worldcom, can’t be bad), question company policies and processes in a productive way, and use disappointments to better ourselves rather than take it personally.
We’re not asking for kudos and presents for every small success. Challenge us and congratulate us when we go above and beyond. As a fellow member from my generation and co-worker chimed in, “Take us seriously.” If we’re not doing well, tell us. Don’t hold us to anything less.
2. Wondering how big firms retreat? I thought the retreats I’d attended and heard about were rather plush, but I am agog at the description posted by Nancy on the But Slenderly… blog. (I’ve been following her blog — she writes like a dream and has some great insights!) Anyway, the description includes not just the standard drinking stories (which vary from firm retreat to firm retreat primarily only in details) but also this:
In the past two days, I heard speeches by Lance Armstrong (inspiring and uh, kind of sexy); Bob Woodworth (fascinating, though a little smug); Cherie Booth Blair (as in Tony); Francis Fukuyama (who knew game theory was so interesting?); Terry McAuliff (Dems 2008, whoo!). Stephen Colbert (via video) and JHud performed at night – girl has some pipes, holy moses. There was one horrifying moment though when she walked out into the crowd with her mike in hand to find “back up singers” and as she stood next to my table, towering in high black stilettos and this sparkly sheen of fame, her eyes met mine and I thought I was going to have to make my way under the table to avoid the entire firm hearing my frog croak. Luckily, my frantic head-shaking and horrified expression convinced her I was not her gal and she plucked another unsuspecting victim further down the table. Bullet. Dodged.
Ok, color me impressed.
3. And finally, Bob Sutton reports that a New York lawyer has been disbarred “for being an asshole,” as detailed in the Village Voice. The official reason for the disbarment is “obstructive and offensive behavior which did not involve fraud or deception.” It’s staggering, and more than a little sad to me, that any lawyer would think the behavior that the Village Voice describes would be even colorably acceptable.
And a brief report on my Colorado adventure… Colorado had a winter storm today. I’d planned to drive from Cheyenne (where I spent a couple of days) to Keystone, where the NALP meeting is being held. But after I checked the weather and road conditions, I decided to drive to the Denver airport and take a shuttle over. Good decision on my part! The drive from the airport to Keystone should take about 90 minutes. I know this not only from the shuttle schedule but also because I drove it on Sunday. Today’s drive took 4 and a half hours. The road was slushy and icy, the snow was blowing sideways with huge flakes, and 6 tractor trailers jack-knifed just before the Eisenhower Tunnel. I met some nice people on the ride over (fortunate, since 10 of us were crammed into a van) and was enormously relieved when I arrived, safe and sound, at the resort. If my crummy little disposable camera works, I’ll post pictures next week. On the plus side, everything here looks like a winter fairyland!
Travel week here: I’ll be speaking on Wednesday at the NALP annual conference, on Facilitating a Successful Transition from Student to Lawyer.
Since the conference is in Keystone, CO, I seized the opportunity to spend some time in Colorado and Wyoming over the weekend and into this week. I flew into Denver (home of Stephanie West Allen, though unfortunately my schedule will preclude a visit this time) on Friday and won’t return til next Friday, when I’ll fly out again. Though Denver is a lovely city, I love the smaller cities and, better yet, empty spaces. Although the weather in Cheyenne today is overcast and drizzly, it’s a treat to be here. We visited Boulder (where I spent a very snowy freshman year of college), Estes Park (home of the Stanley Hotel, where The Shining was set) and the Rocky Mountain National Park (where we saw literally hundreds of elk, as well as prairie dogs, coyote, and even a moose!), the Canyon Wine Cellars tasting room (featuring surprisingly good wine; we even bought several bottles and plan to return to the Grand Junction area with its 65+ wineries later this year), and Vail and environs over the weekend, in much better weather. We were stunned to find that the slopes are still open in Vail, but I suspect that won’t last much longer. Sadly, I forgot to bring a camera with me… But perhaps I’ll pick up one today.
All of this is to say that my posts will likely be short this week! But there’s plenty of interest going on, so I’ll point you to some good posts and news stories elsewhere.
Eliminate clutter that can derail your professional success. Suzanne Dupree Howe of the Counsel to Counsel blog links to a WSJ Career Journal article titled Decluttering Your Career. It suggests removing “career clutter” that can pull you off the course of your day — or your career. This clutter includes distractions from the pursuit of your career goals, conflicts, email overload, and social chit-chat at work. I’d expand the list to include anything that drains your energy, including home tasks that are overwhelming (perhaps hiring a weekly housecleaning service?), physical clutter in the office or at home, and physical habits that don’t support you.
Living in the Moment: Executive coach Doug Constant has written a thought-provoking post on how we live our lives in the “dash” between birth and death. The post is definitely a step outside what I ordinarily mention on this blog, but it’s well worth a read and some reflection. Doug offers 5 principles and one law that will guide the reader toward truly living in the dash:
Principle 1: You are either living YOUR life or someone else’s.
Principle 2: The people that enter your life are the right people… good and bad.
Principle 3: Whatever happens… happens.
Principle 4: Whatever happens is the right time.
Principle 5: When it’s over, it’s over.
The Law of Two Feet. Stated succinctly, if at anytime you find yourself in a situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet. Go somewhere else. Do something useful. Live Your Dash. Stay in the moment and don’t get stuck in the moment.
Some of these ideas may be tough for Type A types, but there’s at least a grain of truth to each. I admit that I’m not quite as zen as these principles would encourage me to be, but finding the ability to take a deep breath and let it all be ok is a helpful skill, particularly when tempered with the Law of Two Feet.
And now… I’m taking my two feet out to explore Cheyenne before the rain arrives.
Stephanie West Allen has tagged me to participate in the Gotta Get Goals meme. The idea is to share 5-10 over-the-top, fabulous goals that I will need to achieve to say I’ve reached my wildest dreams in life. Now, that’s fun!
I’ve always kept goal lists in one form or another, simply because I think it’s critical to define what I want to accomplish as a first (and, often, continuing) step of my actions. I’m sure many people have heard this analogy, but if I get in the car and just start driving without any aim, I may end up in Miami when I would have much preferred Calgary. (There’s a place for exploration without direction too, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.)
One thing I’ve already learned as a result of this meme: some authors encourage goal-setters not to share their goals with others! Stephanie cites a small $3 book called It Works, which sets out a 3-step process for reaching goals — the third step being not talking about the goals until there’s some objective evidence that you’re reaching them. I’m not sure what I think about this one, having experienced terrific results in the past from goals that I discuss on a regular basis, and for purposes of this exercise, I will spell mine out. And, I’ll put them in the form of an affirmation, which always helps me recognize that my goals are achievable.
1. I am really, really healthy. Suffice it to say that everytime I urge a client to add exercise, eating well, and sleeping enough into his life, I’m urging myself as well. And I’m pleased to say I’m now working out three times a week on average, with associated weight loss, so this goal is well underway. (So perhaps this isn’t a “wildest dream” category, but it’s certainly the bedrock for the wildest dreams.)
2. I speak Italian. It’s such a beautiful language, and I’ve always wanted to learn it. My desire has been refueled by Elizabeth Gilbert’s delightful Eat, Pray, Love, which I’ve been reading recently.
3. I have completed my mother’s book on woman suffrage in Wyoming. After spending more than 20 years unearthing the details on how women got the vote in Wyoming in 1869 (some 50 years before national female suffrage), my mother prepared a manuscript exhaustively detailing the story. She died before she finished it, and I’d like to pick up that torch. It needs to be told.
4. I enjoyed walking a marathon. However, I have NO desire to run one.
5. I’ve spent a vacation hillwalking in Scotland, followed by a retreat to Iona. I’ll also continue my study of Scottish history, which fascinates me.
6. I sustain an ideal balance between coaching and practice, and I have an entirely referral-based business on both sides. I have a number of associated goals here, but no need to go into that detail!
7. I have earned my ICF credentials. Step 1 of this is a short-term goal, as I expect I’ll get my ACC credentials this summer.
I’ll stop there, since 7 is a ripe number. I tag anyone who chooses to accept the challenge — and if you don’t have a blog, feel free to list your goals here as a comment. Play along!