I’ve been unwell for the past few days. It’s been a decidedly unpleasant experience, but I wanted to try and make something useful out of it – so here’s 3 lovely little metaphors for legal practice that I worked out while lying down and trying not to be in pain.
1. There’s Always a Fly in the Room
No matter what, when you lie down to have a rest there is always a fly in the room. The problem is that when you’re sick, you can’t really do anything about it other than close your eyes and hope it goes away (chasing a fly around the room would sap your strength… and you probably wouldn’t catch it).
Similarly, young lawyers, I’ll bet you’ve got a few things (matters, skills, worries, or issues) that are buzzing around you on a daily basis. Perhaps you have become accustomed to having them around, but that doesn’t mean their presence isn’t gradually eroding your confidence, your skill or your ability to advance.
You need to tackle the issue, learn the skill, front up to the problem, or get past the worry. I understand this can be a challenge, but doing nothing at all doesn’t make that fly go away – it just hangs around.
The other way you can get rid of the fly? Ask someone for help.
2. You can usually walk slightly further than you think
At first, of course, you can only take a few steps (probably from a bed to a couch). Over time, though, the barrier is not your physical ability as you recover, but your mental barriers.
Are you basing your legal skills and abilities on things that have happened in the past? Do you call yourself a poor communicator because a client once took something the wrong way? Maybe you’ve had a few awkward networking functions and you think that makes you “bad at marketing”.
Our skills are not limited by our previous experience. Sure our experience shape us, but they shouldn’t be our limitation. Just like recovering from illness, each time you do something you’ll be able to take a few more steps, go a bit further, or be a bit stronger. If you tell yourself that you can only do what you have done before, then you’re like to make that true.
Stretch your boundaries if you want to grow.
3. Pain is… painful – but not always debilitating
I accept that some kinds of pain can stop you in your tracks. But most aren’t like this. Pain during illness can seem a bit like the end of the world, but it needn’t be.
Maybe you’ve lost a matter that you should have won?
Maybe you’re done something horrendously wrong and are trying to get over it?
These things do suck. A lot. But they should not stop your legal career in its tracks. They are things to let you grow, learn, and adapt.
I want to add as well that these things should not necessarily turn you into the kind of lawyer who won’t do anything because of the risk involved. That’s like the person who catches the flu that doesn’t go outside anymore. Sure, they don’t get the flu, but they’re missing out on everything else.
Take necessary and appropriate precautions, but don’t be afraid to take up opportunities that present themselves.
Those are my lessons from a week of illness. Do you have any to share? If so, let me know in the comments!