The Mindfulness Blog

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Be The Change

Among the many words attributed to the great man, Mahatma Gandhi, one of my all-time favorite quotes is: "Be the change you want to see in the world".

Whether Gandhi actually spoke those words, or not, the thought is compelling and unmistakable. What we do--the manner in which we treat each other--is really what it's all about, and that is particularly true of us lawyers, who represent and speak not only for ourselves, but also our clients.

Learning how to disagree without being disagreeable, is something we must require of ourselves--it's at the heart of everything that we are taught in law school, and it's at the heart of the Rules that bear upon us once we enter the profession. It should be in the hearts and heads of all of us--especially us lawyers.

It's called leading by example, and contrary to what some may believe, it's what people expect of the legal profession--society's "best and brightest". The "best" part is behavioral, while the "brightest" part is intellectual, and for purposes of this post, I'd like to focus on behavior.

How can we be our "best" lawyer selves? The Rules of Professional Conduct require both civility and professionalism, and those qualities certainly go a long way toward being our "best". But I'd suggest two other things that complement those mandates: Mindfulness and meditation--stick with me, and hear me out.

Start with the well-known physical fitness concept of repetition. Reps develop strength and muscle memory, and you know what? The discipline that works for us physically also works for us mentally, or emotionally. Check it out for yourself. Stick-to-it-ivness and repetition enable us to be our best--to be the kind of change we want to see in the world.

The practice of meditation--which can be different things, for different people--and the resulting state of mindfulness, depend upon consistency (reps). Regularity is critical. Just as reps improve our bodies, reps will also improve our minds. It's all about mind/body--both are important components of we'll-being.

Related to the concept of reps, is the importance of commitment--a commitment to improve one's self. Those of us who care will see the notion of commitment as a challenge that is absolutely critical. It really does matter.

For us as lawyers, "Be the Change" has to be more than just a mantra that is aspirational. It's a way of being that is something we should be constantly striving to achieve--particularly in our dealings with others. It's also something about which we need to be constantly reminded, and that's where our law firms, legal departments and bar associations can play a tremendous role.

A mindful lawyer will always be (I believe) a civil lawyer, as well as a genuinely professional lawyer. If our institutions enact policies and practices that remind us--encourage us--to be mindful, they will benefit not only themselves, institutionally, but also us, individually. What a concept.

Let's be the change that we want to see in the world!


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