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Getting Comfortable With Discomfort: Practical Tools for Keeping Your Head While Navigating a Changing World


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slides from a presentation I gave on November 6, 2015 to the Richland County Bar Association with some thoughts and tools for staying healthy in the legal profession.

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Getting Comfortable With Discomfort: Practical Tools for Keeping Your Head While Navigating a Changing World

  1. 1. Getting Comfortable with Discomfort: Practical Tools for Keeping Your Head While Navigating a Changing World
  2. 2. This Ever Happen To You? • Something is going to happen • That Happening is going to be awful • That Something is Going to Be My Fault • (Repeat) • Distress is Not Wanting What We Presume is Going to Happen
  3. 3. Tools We Picked Up in Law School • Taught That the Law (and You) Were Unique – “Law School is Different” – “The Law is a Jealous Mistress” • How to seek (and present) information • How to work on your own • How to avoid risk and crave certainty • How to think criticially (skepticism, pessimism) • How to compete (Get a job) • How to Follow the Rules – what does the law say? – bound by precedent – Bound by the BlueBook and the Manual on Style
  4. 4. What Tools Are You Using Now? • All of the Above • Seeking Compensation • Seeking Clients • Seeking Advancement • Craving affirmation (from clients, decisionmakers, higher-ups) • Living in a zero-sum world- Seeking to Avoid Blame
  5. 5. How Are Those Tools When Things Don’t Go As “Planned”? • Ever thought your way out of a painful emotional situation? • How Do Those Tools Work in Your Personal Life? • How Do Those Tools Work When the Pace of Change Picks Up?
  6. 6. And The New Tools? • “The Real Problem of humanity is the following: we have paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and god-like technology.” – E.O. Wilson • An Information God and a Dopamine Dispenser • Saps your attention, and momentarily assuages all that discomfort. • And often you don't even notice.
  7. 7. Responses to Distress • The need to try and control it • Strike back, numb out, bliss out • Things get stuck in that endless cycle
  8. 8. What is Missing? • The Capability to Manage Emotion • What to Think • Space to Consider What is Happening and How to Respond Rather Than React • Cooperation/Collaboration/Communication • Context/Awareness • A Reminder from Time to Time that Things Are Relatively Easy
  9. 9. Sidebar: Quit Whining, Pringle • Rules and Structure necessary • The Impassive, Professional, “Stoic” Ideal • There are more things, Lucilius, that frighten us than injure us, and we suffer more in imagination than in reality. -Seneca
  10. 10. Summing This Up • Most of us live mindlessly all of the time- – we don't perceive everything that is important. – Our brains and emotions don’t always make sense of the world • "Everyone who drives slower than I do is an idiot. Anyone who drives faster than I do is a maniac." - George Carlin • Using the Tools We Have means we don't see the whole picture and miss what is right in front of us • Not there and not there to know we are not there
  11. 11. Another Way of Putting It We are “problem solvers”, but often • unaware of the problem (especially when the problem is us) • Unaware of any clue how to solve it; • But absolutely certain that we do know or unwilling to admit otherwise.
  12. 12. One Tool to Help- Mindfulness • the ability to seek out, create, and actively notice new things • Actively notice new things -->puts you in the present -->makes you aware of context-- • Without judging – letting go of the illusion that we are in control – Beginner's mind and the ability to listen or evaluate without preconceived notions
  13. 13. More on Mindfulness • Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by stupidity. - Hanlon's Razor • Get aware of what you pay attention to • Whatever you are doing can be done in many different ways • Turn rampaging thoughts into next actions.
  14. 14. Business and Mindfulness • Mindlessness is the application of yesterday's business solutions to today's problems • Mindfulness is attunement to today's demands to avoid tomorrow's problems • If you want to change it, you have to see it for what it really is.
  15. 15. Why Do Lawyers Resist Change? It is very difficult to change the wheels on a moving car. – Richard Susskind
  16. 16. Hesitancy and Fear • “Drive out fear. No one can put in his best performance unless he feels secure.” – W. Edwards Deming • Pause and Plan, Don’t React
  17. 17. Strange Sort of Impatience
  18. 18. Change Your Mind • Put some space between stimulus and reaction • Get quiet • Get outside • Find the flow
  19. 19. Adopt a Growth Mind-Set
  20. 20. A Plug For Work-Life Integration • Treat yourself, at work or play, the same way • "You must have work-life balance" – this is mindless because we make this binary distinction mindfully but then use it mindlessly – you don't stop being human at work, and you don't stop being organized or task-oriented at home
  21. 21. Paradox: You Have to Ignore Technology to Plan How to Use It • Technology is a Distraction • Lawyers Require Sustained Attention- – Minimize Your Beeps and Notifications (and your Interruptions and Meetings) – Guard Your Attention Jealously • It’s Not What You Read, It’s What You Ignore
  22. 22. The Checklist Manifesto • Why Use Your Head as a Storage Device? • Document a Process Well One Time, Never Have to Document it Again • Benefits: – Delegates – Reduces Mistakes – Promotes and standardizes best practices – Stays with the organization – Encourages revision and improvement (Productivity) – Capable of application in other areas (Innovation) – Rewards input and collaboration • Accepting coaching and criticism
  23. 23. Create Space in Your Day (Energy) • Exercise • Leisure Time – Flow • Reducing Distractions • Rest and Recovery
  24. 24. Create Some Space in Your Life – Hack It • Amazon • Dollar Shave Club • Blue Apron • NatureBox • Boxed
  25. 25. Build The Profession and Contribute To It • Be Generous of Your Time and Your Knowledge- Without Expecting Anything in Return • If You Are Taking Care of Yourself, You Will Take Care of Others • Build Empathy • Get Out and Play - n-celebration-of-play.html
  26. 26. Conclusion "I didn't come down here to change your mind about anything, but to ease my own mind about everything." - Todd Snider
  27. 27. Questions? Jack Pringle Adams and Reese LLP (803) 343-1270 @jjpringlesc 1501 Main Street, 5th Floor Columbia, SC 29201
  28. 28. Resources • The Resilient Lawyer • Farnham Street • One You Feed With Michael Taft taft/ • Tim Ferris with Brene Brown vulnerability-and-home-run-ted-talks/ • On Being With Ellen Langer langer-science-of-mindlessness-and-mindfulness/6332 • You Are Not So Smart realism-lee-ross-0
  29. 29. More Resources • City Yoga • 10 (Ok 11) Books for Getting Better good-books-for-getting-better.html • 5 Must-Reads for Graduates (and everyone else) for-graduates-and.html
  30. 30. More Resources The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better, by Clive Thompson Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D Dweck/dp/0345472322 Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, by Adam Grant
  31. 31. Resources - Tools Basecamp Camtasia Evernote Freedom LeechBlock Mindmeister Ommwriter TheForm Tool WikiSpaces
  32. 32. Resources- Websites ABA Law Technology Resource Center Attorney at Work Clio Law Office Guru Law Practice Matters Lawyerist Legal Ease Legal Productivity MyCase MyShingle Paperless Chase SC Bar PMAP Technolawyer