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Of Breakthroughs And Well-Being

"People are drawn to stories in which characters break through to another reality, because it is a universal experience", noted one of the people interviewed by WSJ magazine. "What is both interesting and challenging about breakthroughs", observed another, " is that you can't have one without some sort of breakdown. Progress only happens because certain things start calling into question our paradigms". Now you know why my interest was piqued.

Those quoted observations got me thinking about breakthroughs that I've experienced-- like the breakthrough that motivated me to retire from the practice of law, and form The Mindful Law Coaching & Consulting Group.  What was the breakthrough? It was the realization (or reminder) that the practice of law is about helping others and the corresponding realization (or reminder} that well-being is about helping ourselves-- so we, in turn, can help others.

That's the way it's supposed to work but somehow, it seems that a lot of us in the legal profession have forgotten or abandoned the last part, and simply view well-being as something that benefits only us. Sure, in the most immediate sense, well-being does benefit us, but there's another reason we need to emphasize it in our personal and professional lives-- so we can be a benefit others (our clients).

That was my breakthrough, but what about my breakdown? For me, the breakdown came in my perception of the legal profession, which remains strong in many respects, but is clearly broken, in others. Specifically, it's broken in it's relationship with-- and regard for (or disregard of)-- the women and men who comprise the profession. Those without without whom there is no legal profession.

As stated by another person quoted in the WSJ piece, "A breakthrough I've had is understanding that what it takes to really change-- what it takes to create great innovation and to create solutions-- is other people".

Breakthrough = Change, and Change = Other People.         Therefore, (if you're someone who believes in syllogisms), Breakthrough = Other People. I don't recall that particular logic being tested in the bar exam, but maybe it should be.

Most law firm managing partners are chosen to maintain status quo and protect profitability, but the broader business world has begun to recognize and reward innovation-- like, for instance, the importance of well-being, and the innovation of institutional awareness surrounding well-being (which can benefit both lawyers and clients).

Lawyers are notoriously slow adopters, and there is precious little indication of a significant breakthrough in the lawyer well-being department any time soon, but who knows? Maybe pigs really can fly!


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