I often describe myself as flexible.
My husband laughs. Out loud, mind you, right in front of me!
Because in truth, I yearn to control every situation. I prefer to know the question before it is asked of me. And I’d rather meet with you when I want to and where I want to.
Here’s what I know about myself mid-pandemic. I can be almost always flexible, but it does exhaust me.
How it started
I remember the dates very clearly because I was hosting the third annual Managing Partners Summit on Tuesday March 17. The week prior, the phone calls and emails were coming in fast and furious from speakers, sponsors, and attendees, “what are your plans for next week?”
I talked to everyone for advice, the most risk adverse people in my circle, as well as those who saw things a little differently. I talked to my sister-in-law who works for a clinical research organization. Her company is international and by this time they already had dozens of clinical trials happening across the world. She sent me charts and graphs and articles daily.
And from March 9 – “the show must go on!” – to March 12 – “I’m shutting it down” – we began to see the world around us change. And flexibility became more important than ever.
Send everyone home
By Friday the 13th (REALLY???), Lawyers Mutual decided to send our work force home, as many of you did. At that time, we thought we would work at home for six weeks and beat this pandemic. It was probably good for us that we didn’t know then what we know now. That we would be working remotely for the remainder of the year, or that we would have tough pandemic protocols in our offices monitoring everything from whether we allowed clients inside to taking our temperatures daily.
Living during a pandemic
I have felt ALL the emotions during this pandemic. Anxious, depressed, tired, lethargic, happy to be home, sad to be isolated, guilty for having a job that allowed me to work remotely.
I was only in the second year of a new business venture so I worried whether I would have business, then worried when I got business whether I could manage it remotely. I’d have a great day with plenty of energy and good client exchanges on Zoom then the next day find myself feeling angry because the internet was down AGAIN and asking myself how I could possibly be expected to work under these circumstances?
It has been hard. And even as I write that, I am inclined to erase it. I imagine there are millions of people across the world who would read that sentence and wonder if I had fallen and hit my head. How hard is it to work from the comfort of a beautiful home office?
I get teary-eyed as I put these emotions on the page. And I think to myself, girl, no one wants to read this.
2020 has been a year like no other I’ve experienced in my lifetime. And there are plenty of people this year such as the wonderful Laura Mahr, a lawyer and wellness and mindfulness expert, who tell me it is ok to feel all the feelings. And to acknowledge them. Because one thing we do GREAT in the legal profession is to smile and say, “I’m doing great, how about you?”
It’s a New Dawn
I open YouTube and search for Michael Buble singing “Feeling Good”. “It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a new life for me and I’m feeling good.” The jazzy music lifts my spirit. His crooning puts a smile on my face. And I love those horns. It’s a big song. Which is what I need, a BIG song.
I am hopeful about 2021. It is a new dawn and it is a new day. There’s a vaccine. Winter will end and the days will get longer. Sometime in 2021, I’m going back to the office to work.
My New Year’s wish for you is a healthy 2021. I hope you experience joy this year. I hope your law firm, or law school or business is prosperous in 2021. I hope our families and our communities will thrive this year.
And next month, I’ll try to be my normal, flexible self, writing to you about the legal profession and how you can evolve and thrive. But until then, Michael and I are singing pretty loud, because horns can handle the volume.
Camille Stell is the President of Lawyers Mutual Consulting & Services. Continue this conversation by contacting Camille at [email protected] or 919.677.8900.