People often mistake their thoughts and beliefs as actual truths. Yet it’s often not so. Our beliefs are not necessarily the gospel from on high, let alone the entire truth. But so many lawyers fervently believe that work can’t be fun, that they can’t make money doing something they love, or that they have no marketable skills aside from law.
Stuck in the office for the rest of your life? Time to create beach reading time for yourself, even if your only travel plans are to and from the office for the foreseeable future. If you really want to embrace the idea, put on your bathing suit and find an umbrella to sit under. At the very least, get a cold drink, stick a tacky paper umbrella in it, curl up on the couch, and put your nose into a book for a few hours.
When the work starts to pile on, lawyers not only fail to put on their oxygen masks, they head for the cabin door, rip it open, and jump out. From 5,000 ft. And then they wonder why they end up drained, dispirited and depressed about their jobs and their life. The ironic thing is that those 80-hour weeks don’t produce higher quantity or quality work.
When I say “use your creativity” to lawyers and non-lawyers alike, I get some highly revealing responses. Sadly, a common reaction is “I’m not creative.” I blame traditional schooling, Martha Stewart and Pinterest, and our consumerist society for this false belief. Every human being is born creative. At its most basic, creativity is solving a problem for which there is no known (to them) solution, or for which the current solution isn’t working.
If you have a very agile analytic mind, you’re often pushed into those smarty-pants courses that you can do well in where others can’t. Highly creative people are also very curious (cf., “Let’s see what happens!”), and it’s not like they mind learning about a vast number of topics, from love and betrayal in literature classes to string theory in physics to the Bolshevik revolution. So they get A’s because they’re curious and like learning stuff, not because they’re so especially suited to that area. Trouble is, we’re brainwashed in our schooling to think that analytic gifts must be used in those kinds of professions, or they’re “wasted.” We have the polar opposite view when it comes to creativity. Smart kids figure that out quickly.
Fun, as it turns out, is not optional if you want to stay out of the loony bin. That’s what psychology research has discovered in the last 40 years. Yet most lawyers and business people haven’t caught on.