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Perception Is Reality

Perception may not carry the day in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion, it's king. And as a matter of perception, the cause of lawyer wellbeing is seriously lagging.

That needn't be the case-- some would say that it ought not be the case. Whatever the fact may be, I believe that priority attention must be given to lawyer wellbeing, and I recently suggested a reason that the challenge persists: Human nature and lack of personal incentive. If one focuses on business incentive, there is plenty of evidence to support the point-- the business case has already been made, quite thoroughly.

Digging a bit more deeply, one gets past business incentive to examining personal incentive, and as to that, I've suggested that advocates shift their attention and emphasis to individual decision-makers' reputational incentive-- what has been referred to as, "the portrait test". Does reputation really matter? You bet, and the point is easily made by recounting a very short story.

I recently attended a funeral service for a gentleman with whom I'd done business for years, as my insurance agent. He was always upbeat, professional in manner and an all-around good guy who deserved my respects, even though we weren't personal friends. The service was brief, and the time I spent with his wife and kids was also brief-- but surprisingly meaningful.

The family members expressed sincere gratitude for my visit and were obviously proud of the fact that a longtime client (a lawyer who lived in a town with a fancy name) had come to pay respects to their husband/father. They were proud that a "man of reputation" was there, to recognize their husband/father.

I have no illusions about my portrait being hung in the family office, but I did learn an important lesson about reputation and the importance it carries-- in the course of human affairs, the impact of one's reputation is right up there, along-side the respect of family, friends and close associates. It's the real deal and it matters what people think of, if/when they think of us.

Lawyer wellbeing (all workplace wellbeing) is one of those things with which many of us would like to be associated-- because it's meaningful, it's personal and it's about others.

Sure, it's about perception, but that perception is also a reality!


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