“It does not take any courage to say, ‘Nothing is going to work.’
What you are really saying is, ‘I am afraid to try. Because what if I try and I fail.’
The hipster approach is to say, ‘I don’t give a sh*t.’
But not giving a sh*t is a way to have a terrible life.”
– Tony Robbins
What seems like 100 years ago, I was in litigation.
Not in litigation as a defendant or plaintiff, but my lawyer hat was as a litigating attorney. While my career in the law was mostly in real estate, I did have a stint where I handled business and corporate litigation. Learned a lot. Even argued my first case in front of the Georgia Court of Appeals–which was terrifying (never make me do that again, please!) and exhilarating (we won!).
But one of the things that bugged me in litigation was the divide between some attorneys–especially when you were a female associate working under an ego-driven male partner. Very interesting stuff right there. Without getting to it, I’ll just say there’s a reason that legal fiction is best-selling stuff. Of course, I know many, many regular “real people” attorneys–those who have families who do their jobs, are kind, have outside interests, and are wonderful people. My best friends in the world are partners and wonderful lawyers and people.
That being said… sometimes the super lawyers, the “elites” if you will–can be a lot to handle.
I recall the day that the shiny beacon of litigation wore off of me.
I had just submitted a brief to my supervising partner. He was silent for, I don’t know, about seven minutes, before I heard his thundering voice from two offices down: “MEREDITH! Get in here!” (Need I remind you that I was a thirty-two year-old person at this time? Not a three-year old child? Okay, just for clarification.)
“Yes?” I stood in the doorway.
“This is all wrong,” he said.
“What is all wrong?” I asked.
“This! THIS THIS—” he shrieked, pointing feverishly to the computer.
“What what what?”
“You need to re-do this.”
“Okay. But what needs to be done…” (And he launched into a tirade about how I made the wrong legal argument for pages.)
I actually had not. He was wrong. He was confused. I swallowed. I was about to cry (because I am that annoying breed of woman who awesomely freaking cries when she is angry… #blessed). So I walked out, before I cried.
He screamed, into the hallway, into the ears of probably six paralegals and ten attorneys in surrounding offices:
“Where do you think you are going? DID YOU EVEN GO TO LAW SCHOOL?”
I froze. I bristled. I looked over at my friend, his paralegal, whose eyes were wide like saucers. I seriously almost lost my lunch, my tears and fell down on my face in the middle of the carpet with this.
[But I was a triathlete. I had experienced several rounds of humiliation to date (including but not limited to: spandex, failing, panic attacks, low-speed tipovers), and therefore, I could suffer it again.]
I walked to my office, calmly. Shut my door, cried for a second, and re-opened my document. I thought for a minute about how to handle this. And then came to the conclusion, that now it was time to have a little fun.
I changed the entire brief to the “way he wanted,” carefully saving my first version (since it was the correct one), and deciding that my use of this non-billable time was totally worth it.
And I re-submitted to him. Three—two—-one…. There it was..
He lost his mind. Again. He screamed for me, again. But I was ready. I walked into his office with the printed versions of both briefs. The one with the actual correct case law, arguments, etc., and the other one which I had flipped and flopped, and which was a total farce.
He started on his tangent, “Where in the actual hell did you get these arguments…”
I listened for a minute. Then I flopped down both documents. I said, “When you have a chance to calm down, maybe you can pick the one you want.” And I walked out.
A few minutes later, he sent me an email. “Let’s go with the first version.”
No apology. No nothing. But I felt vindicated nevertheless.
I thought, This guys seriously does not give a crap about me or anything but screaming and flailing and making himself and others miserable. What a waste.
It was in that moment that I realized that I must give a sh*t about things. That it wasn’t an option. It was a MUST.
I also realized that I did not have the drive to do what it would take to litigate for the rest of my career–at least not in the corporate, big-case style matters. I didn’t have the stomach for it. I didn’t love it. I didn’t like it. I loved research and drafting–but then working for that guy? He tore that away from me, and I couldn’t even send along a well-written brief without bile rising in my throat.
Finally, I was scared of where that job would lead me.
I didn’t want to care so much about the job…that one day, ten years from now, I found myself screaming at an associate. I feared that it would happen, in that environment, under that leadership.
I wanted to believe that I would never turn into that.
(But how could I be sure?)
I realized that I was turning a corner with that job, with that firm. I finished my first half Ironman while I was working there–so I, personally, was changing too. I learned other things: that I didn’t want to slack off, that I wanted to have a real purpose, and that I really didn’t like feeling like I was a screw-up. I knew something had to change. The job paid really well. It was reasonably close to my house at the time. It was flexible, but then–it wasn’t, like when discovery was due or court was looming. And when it was inflexible—it was bad.
I had this fear within me that I would wake up, in fifteen years, be forty-five years old, a partner, and screaming at my staff and associates.
I couldn’t risk it. I left litigation when I left that firm, and moved back into real estate. (Land doesn’t talk. It’s nice.)
I ultimately “landed” back at a firm, where I had worked previously, under wonderful attorneys in the area of compliance. There were spreadsheets and rules and policies – and I LOVED that. I am a “Captain Careful” and I like to be bossy, but not “too bossy”—so compliance was where I have, for the last few years, felt most at home. I am immeasurably grateful for my supervising partner, and my managing partner–two very wonderful women who I consider fab role models and friends.
But little by little I have stepped bravely out of my comfort zone(s) over this last year.
Things have changed all over the place, left and right for me. I am excited for 2017, and all it brings. I am am thankful for 2016 and all the amazing lessons it has taught me. I don’t have it all figured out, that’s for sure.
But I do know one thing: in the battle of the head and the heart, it’s a hard call to make… which one do I listen to?
Sometimes, I have to go with my “heart” and ignore all the logic. Sometimes, I can’t listen to my heart, because then I would be making careless decisions; decisions that would far-reach my own emotions.
Sometimes because our hearts and our minds are so loud (and often such polar opposites) that we can easily shut down—we can numb ourselves with food or booze, or we can lay under the covers and think, “Screw this, I am not dealing with any of it.”
“…The hipster approach is to say, ‘I don’t give a sh*t.’
But not giving a sh*t is a way to have a terrible life.”
We have to give a sh*t.
We must give a sh*t.
We must wake up.
We must act and do and breathe and give.
We deserve happy.
We do. REALLY.
Over the last several years, I have woken up. There has been a wake-up call, and an answer, and more calls. I have taken steps forward, and steps back… but over the course of the last few years, I have made forward progress, in all areas of my life to some extent—progress that I deem progress. Which by the way is what you should measure by—YOU (not the outside world!)
I have three main “things” that I point to, as actions I have taken–especially over the last year. And these three things are really simple. (And yet, so stinking complicated to actually do, I guess).
On this Thanksgiving Eve and turning into my 37th year, I thought I would share them.
1) When my heart and mind are yelling at each other, I close my eyes and I listen to my gut.
Some might think that the gut is the heart. But it’s not. The heart is what flutters, and the gut is what pukes. When you listen to the puker, you can really feel if it’s the right thing. If something makes you want to puke, you should probably do it.
The puker is the barometer for fear.
And often fear is exactly what we need to look in the face—and jump into.
When you are scared, that’s okay. It’s pushing through those fears to make it to the other side–whatever that “other side” may be–that makes us hold our heads and hands up high and say, “Yes!”
(to name a few.)
If you have a decision to make and have been stuck, try this for a bit. Listen to your heart’s argument. Listen to your mind’s side of logic. Then close your eyes and feel your gut.
And then listen even more closely.
Then go for it.
2) I never (ever) quit. Not on something I want. Not on a dream. I will not (ever) quit.
If you want something, lean on it.
Pick your dream, your goals and assume they are DONE. And work towards them.
One of the best Tony quotes (and I am full of them right now, I know), comes from his documentary and it went something like this:
“Most of us OVER-estimate what we can do in one year, and UNDER-estimate what we can accomplish in a decade.”
The time will pass anyway. Pick your goals. Pick your destiny. Choose what you ARE going to accomplish. And never effing quit.
Maybe it takes you “longer” than you want.
But one of the things I have learned this year is that patience is where it’s at. Patience and consistency are the actual cat’s pajamas. Without patience and consistency, you will need nothing but a lottery and luck. I think we have better odds with patience and consistency.
And never quit.
3) I ask myself, “Am I doing the very best I can, right now, with all I am and all I have? And if not, what can I do differently–starting RIGHT now?”
We talk about one thing in our nutrition group that is so impactful—and that is about choice and your ability to change your choice and your path in a second.
Yep. Just like “that”.
For example: eat badly for lunch? Well, have a freaking salad for dinner and get yourself right back on your path to FEELING good—forget about weight loss, forget about beating yourself up. Just do better, and the best you can right now. Ka-pow, right now. Right nooooooow.
When is the last time that you actually FELT great? When did THAT stop becoming a main goal?
What if we took a minute and BREATHED?
What if we ate well 80% of the time, and then enjoyed a break every once in a while with coffee and an amazing quiche from a French bakery? (I do, and I did last week… and it was great.)
We can start feeling good immediately–with our next choice of food, drink, workout, sleep, reading material, movie, conversation.
We can remove people pleasing and toxic people and plants and things from our lives. We can hide our Facebook friends and feeds. We can wipe out a planet of people and things that are “just not for us.”
Is it easy? Nope. But it’s worth it.
As we move into the holiday season, I wish you all much love and hope and hugs. I am thankful for you, this community and all it entails.
I like that we, as a Swim Bike Community, seem really against the “Crab Effect” as quoted in the book, “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero.
We like to LIFT each other up, and not pull each other down. I am proudest of that, when I think about our Swim Bike World.