Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. - the day specifically set aside for us to take the time to count our blessings and remember all of the good things that have happened in the past year, and all that we have to be grateful for. In my own experience, Thanksgiving also often becomes a time to reflect on all of the difficulties over the past year, and to be grateful for the people that were there to help and support me, both personally and professionally.
The first Thanksgiving in America was held to celebrate the harvest and the Pilgrims' survival of their first year in what they called the New World. But the Pilgrims may not have survived were it not for the Native Americans who taught the Pilgrims about the native plants, showed them how to tap the maple trees for sap, and helped them plant and fertilize their crops.
As lawyers, we tend to want to 'go it alone' much of the time, constantly trying to prove ourselves and show that we can work harder and longer than anyone else. But that leads to frustration, burnout and what I call 'meltdown.'
This Thanksgiving, while you're celebrating with family and friends, take note of whether you feel you haven't spent enough time during this past year with those that are the most important to you. Pay attention if you have the urge to try to sneak some work in between the turkey and the pumpkin pie. Reflect, for once, on all that you have accomplished and all that you have to be grateful for. And if you're feeling overwhelmed or on the verge of a breakdown, resolve to find others to help you this year, so that next year you can give thanks for a more balanced life.
The Pilgrims accepted help from the Native Americans who knew the land and the native plants better than the Pilgrims did. Nobody is good at everything. Find out what your strengths are and what you love to do in your practice, and find ways to get help with the rest, whether that's delegating to existing staff, outsourcing some work, finding a coach, mentor or consultant, or setting up strategic alliances.
Finally, I'd like to thank all of those who have helped me over the past year, including those who have read, commented on and linked to this blog. I am constantly amazed and inspired by the generosity of those I've met through the internet, some of whom have become not only professional clients and colleagues, but true friends.