Let’s face it, attorneys tend to be control freaks: we like telling our clients what to do; we monitor carefully our schedules and calendars; we edit our clients’ emails and choose their words for them; we prepare the case in our own way; in a courtroom we ensure the rules are followed; and meanwhile, the people most emotionally invested in the case cannot speak unless specifically addressed by the judge or counsel. While these skills might serve us well at work, they can be quite detrimental in our personal lives.
Funny thing about life is that it does not always like following someone’s plan. My first real lesson in this respect was with my son. It is very hard to accept (especially as a control freak) that a “due date” is not actually set in stone. In the beginning of my pregnancy, no one could tell me if it would be a boy or girl, whether he would look like his dad or me, whether I would need to go on bedrest, have a C-section, or when my water would break. I kept wondering what I would do if the latter happened while I was in court or in a client meeting– thankfully, all that worrying was unnecessary, as it wound up happening at the hospital. But the point was, I had to learn to just accept that all these things were completely out of my control.
Since my son’s birth, lots of things have not gone according to my plan, including most notably my divorce. To me, that was the most humiliating public admission of failure– not something most overachievers are comfortable with; meanwhile, everyone around me got hit with the impact of the economic crisis, showing me that we are all susceptible to having our best laid plans torn to shreds by the whirlwind of life.
I am always going to be a planner at heart, it is simply in my nature. While I cannot control the world around me, I will continue to control my own schedule and the cases I handle, but thanks to life’s lessons and my trainings in Mediation and Collaborative Law these past few years, I have learned to facilitate conversations, encourage clients to determine their own settlements, and in many ways, I have learned to let go of various outcomes. For those who have come to know me as a reformed control freak, I am happy to report they appreciate the softer, gentler side of me.