If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard a lawyer say “it’s either feast or famine!” I’d be able to upgrade my entire Autumn/Winter wardrobe.
It’s an expression I used all the time when I was a lawyer in the City, before I understood how results are created. Fifteen years later, my clients are still using it to describe their experience of work – one minute you’re overwhelmed and your billings are up 200%, the next minute the transaction is over, your billings are down and you’re lying awake at night worrying about paying the bills
Sound familiar?I know “feast or famine” seems like a fun and frivolous way of thinking about the vicissitudes of lawyer life, but there is no such thing as an innocent thought. Every thought creates a result. Think “it’s either feast or famine” and that’s exactly what you’ll get.
Take one of my clients. It took just one quiet week in August to trigger her famine mindset. “Forget the long hours you’ve worked these last 6 months”, her brain told her. “None of that counts now. We’re going to die!” That’s literally what you are allowing your brain to think when you use a word like “famine”. Naturally, my client did what any sane human being would do in a life threatening situation:
She felt guilty.
She beat herself up for wasting precious time that she would never get back again.
And because her brain was in panic and survival mode, here’s what it stopped her from doing:
- Enjoying her well earned downtime
- Reconnecting with her network
- Building relationships
- Learning from feedback
- Getting her house in order
- Planning ahead
- Preparing for what comes next
I told my client that if she wanted work to feel less volatile, she needed to stop entertaining such volatile thoughts. If she wanted to work in a calmer and steadier way, she needed to start entertaining calm and steady thoughts. And then I offered her this:
“Work is constant”
“Work is constant” isn’t as poetic as “feast or famine”, but the calm, steady, plan-ahead energy it produces when you truly believe it will transform your experience of work.
Your work is like the sea. The tide comes in. The tide goes out. But it’s always the same constant sea.
Work is constant.
This isn’t a trick. This is coaching.
Have a great week.
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