My son is five years old and this year he discovered Star Wars.
And the main way he enjoys Star Wars is through playing with his Star Wars Lego toys.
And he’s actually pretty good at building them. It can be tough for a young child to fit the pieces together, and he’s gotten a lot better. He can fit the feet of figures on the Lego pieces so they stand upright, he can get the small red lights to fit on the end of the blaster guns, and he can get the spears to fit in the Gungan hands.
But some pieces still give him trouble, and one in particular bedeviled him tonight: he just couldn’t get that arm piece, with that rounded knob, to fit back into the socket of the figure’s torso.
I wanted him so badly to do it on his own. I wanted the full strength of his fine motor skills to kick in, for him to grab the torso of the Lego figure in his left hand, to gently pinch the half inch detached arm between his right thumb and forefinger, and then carefully and strategically align the knob on the top of the detached arm into the hole at the shoulder of the torso. Once the knob and the hole have engaged slightly, he then can pivot his thumb onto the outer edge of the arm and press the knob into the hole. Done.
As I encouraged him to do this, as I wished the Force would be with him, he gave me an exasperated look, which said Dad, will you just help me? And then to remove all doubt, he screamed it aloud: Daddy, help me!
He needed help. He just couldn’t do it himself. Or if he theoretically could do it himself, the effort and time to learn and stay with the task was well beyond his discipline and belief.
And I respect him for this. I of course want him to be fully self sufficient. But I know he is getting there.
The point here is that I completely respect his call for help.
We need help
And I wish many of us attorneys would respect our need to call for help too.
It’s difficult to do, because we attorneys are the ones people come to for help. We are sources of advice, guidance, and salvation for many people. To our clients, whether they outright tell us or not, we are the ones with the answers.
So it is not easy for each of us when we don’t have an answer. And it’s especially hard when we attorneys can’t answer specific personal questions like:
- Why am I not happy?
- How did I get to this spot in my life?
- What do I really want to do with my life?
- How come I am not making the money I want to make?
- Where did the time go?
- What do I do next?
We feel helpless. And since we aren’t supposed to feel helpless, since we are supposed to have the answers, since we are supposed to be perfect, we don’t admit to anyone we need help.
How to get help
So, here we go. Ready? As an unhappy, dissatisfied attorney who wants to leave the law but needs more support to do so, we now have permission to seek and ask for help.
And here are four ways to get started.
1. First, tell yourself you are unhappy being a lawyer and need help.
Admit it to yourself. Write it down. Feel what this feels like.
And remember, a feeling is a thing. It’s not just some fluffy, intangible phenomena. It’s a thing, it’s real. It has manifested inside of you. Acknowledge it and do not try and deny it. Feel it, and congratulate your self for feeling it.
2. Then, tell someone else.
Learn to trust someone else with this information. It’ll feel so good to get it out. And it will begin to build your confidence.
Tell a non lawyer. Tell someone you trust. Tell someone who doesn’t care about money or stature or a career or a pre-defined path. Do not ask for advice. Just ask them to listen. And then see how they respond.
If they know you well enough, they likely will say “I know”.
3. Do steps 1 and 2 again.
How does it feel?
Once it doesn’t feel awkward, but rather feels liberating and less a scarlet letter and more an opportunity for new beginnings, then prepare to do any or all of step 4 below.
4. Do something. Act on it.
Write a blog post for me. Seek a coach. Explore your Unique Genius. Volunteer in something non-law. Become a mentor to someone. Answer the question “How can I add value to someone? How do I really help?”
You see, realizing we need help, and then actually asking for it, and exploring for it, is not a sign of weakness. Rather, it’s a commitment to yourself that you will fulfill your calling.
And I promise, the Force will be with you.