As I’ve written about before, my five year old son is devoted to one thing in his life right now … Star Wars Legos toys.
These Lego sets and ships he entertains himself with on his play table (and that I help construct) are not that simple to complete. That’s why Lego provides a detailed set of instructions for each ship. These instructions can run over 60 pages and can take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours to complete. The instructions help turn a disparate set of multi-colored pieces into a gleaming, proportioned, fully integrated Lego toy to admire and play with.
It can be a lot of hard work following those instructions to the detail. I feel so accomplished and productive when I’m done.
So recently, I was a bit startled when I saw that my son had partially deconstructed and adapted what I had worked so hard to build, into some crazy, cockamamie ships and sets.
He added Gunguns to the Wookie Gunship. He moved around the trees of the Ewok Village. He had Luke and Anakin both flying in the Interceptor with red (and not the standard green) missiles.
He constructed totally new sets from his imagination: the Ewok-Thanksgiving-dinner-table-speedster, the Gungun-birthday-party-cruiser, the Luke-and-Han-mobile-dragster-lightsaber-fighting-destroyer. These sets were physically unstable, completely un-aerodynamic, and just a hodge-podge of pieces cobbled together.
And he loves them.
It hit me that while I followed the Lego instructions in order to be productive, he ignored the instructions in order to be more creative.
For us lawyers looking to leave, there really aren’t any instructions
As a lawyer, I thrived in building the Lego ships when I had the instructions. The instructions gave me guidance. They gave me predictability. They gave me a visualized end game. They gave me a guarantee.
If you do X, Y and Z, as we tell you, you will, without a doubt, end up with this completed Lego ship.
But in leaving the law, there are no instructions. Sure, there are steps. Sure, there is precedent. But there is no all-determinative, universal set of instructions for each of us to follow in order to leave the law.
And moving forward in the face of this lack of certainty is one of the main hurdles we attorneys face in leaving the law.
The reason there is no hard and fast set of instructions to leave the law is because for each of us, when we begin to leave the law, we do not (and really cannot) yet know what the completed “us” will be.
So, leaving the law is not about following instructions, but more about leading with our creativity.
Yes. Us. Creative.
Here are three ways to find our creativity:
1. Realize that, yes, even lawyers can be creative
“Creative” can be a loaded word, monopolized by the artists and hipsters of the world. We lawyers don’t think of ourselves as being creative.
But being creative really only means being inspired. Inventive. Unique. Resourceful. Consistent. It means doing the work to find what we are good at and enjoy, and then consistently showing up (despite self-doubt and tiredness and embarrassment) and continuing to work on and hone and develop ourselves in order to provide value to others.
2. And one way to find what we are good at is to ask ourselves what we do for free
Whatever we do, or would do, for free, is a tangible example of what we enjoy. And when we enjoy doing something, there is a greater chance we can be creative (unique, inventive, resourceful, consistent) at it.
Where do we volunteer our time? Where does our mind go when it’s not focused on work or anxiety or worry or “I shoulds”?
Let’s say to ourselves the following: Today is a good day to do it.
What did we think of when we said “it”? Let’s think about that. And do it.
3. And one way to confirm what we are good at is to be conscious of our emotions
We lawyers can pay little attention to how we feel.
To be more creative, let’s think about our emotions. When do we feel good? What are we doing when we feel good? Our emotions are the best, and sometimes the only, indicators of when we are in alignment with what we do best. And when we are doing our best, that is our chance at our highest creativity.
The more we tap into the skills we like and enjoy doing, the more we hone our creativity. And the more we hone our creativity, the more confident we become in our manifestations. And the more confident we become in what we manifest on our own, the less we care or even need instructions.
And think about it … if my son had only followed the instructions, we never would have witnessed the creation of the Jawa-Tatooine-birthday-cake-hyper-speed-sand-cruiser.