#1, to my boss. I know, I know, how can it be ‘contribution’ when I get PAID for it? But, it’s the come-from that matters (right?)!
My ex-co-worker Hamutal, a junior female attorney, told me her dream as a lawyer was to be JUST like me, which she described as: “Showing up to work every day like you’re no shit doing them a favor.”
Anyway, I contributed to my boss because I volunteered to take on something I could have easily justified not taking on. It deals with trademark law, it’s a mammoth of a case, and I have no (zero) specialization in that area of law.
BUT what I do have is a powerful (and empowering) self-belief: I can figure anything out. Not just superficially, but all the way, thoroughly, as good as any expert — hell, better. Does this belief get me into trouble sometimes? Yep. I try to handle too much on my own, and asking for support becomes a “last resort.” I google all of Jimmy’s health ailments (exhaustively) to where he is REALLY reluctant to tell me about them anymore (but… but… I can FIX it! just give me the info and a few hours at the computer! …things almost came to blows when I asked him no less than 27 different, detailed questions regarding the color, texture and consistency of his poo–culminating in a request that he just let me see it). At work, though, it serves me well. I just have to remind myself to STILL get support from more experienced lawyers, even if I’m convinced I can figure it out better and faster than anyone ever could (and to resist the temptation to think that whatever they tell me is probably wrong, especially if it conflicts with my findings). Gotta watch even (especially?) your empowering self-beliefs sometimes.
What I got back from volunteering to take this on was feeling empowered in my position and like I’m contributing value. He’s been really stressed about this, and the help he’s tried to get on it so far (from experts, I might add!) has not panned out.
#2, to James. He worked all day yesterday. I didn’t do much, as I didn’t really see him–but, I did wait up for him for when he got home. And I gave him a good mood and my full attention. I asked him about his day, and attentively listened. It was small, but it was something, and it seemed to matter.
What I got back was feeling connected to my husband, and getting to experience him energized and animated even though he was exhausted. It’s amazing what just being fully present can do for someone.
#3, to me. I got up and went to the gym even as some stories were coming up. Mondays at work are hectic; we have a Monday status meeting where we go over every single case we have to make sure we’re all on the same page. We have roughly 25-30 cases at any given time, and they’re not all concentrated on one type of client, one area of law, or a certain type of situation — no, they vary widely. The task list I walk away with after those meetings can be daunting, as for 30 cases, there are only 5 of us (and 1 of us is my boss–his role is to captain the ship, not do the day-to-day work on the cases we have).
Anyway, the stories I was facing were “you got up 10 minutes late… now you only have a half-hour or so at the gym, and that’s not really enough,” “you can just make it up later in the week, or over the weekend,” “if you go to the gym, you’ll be rushed, and you should really prioritize getting to work on time for the meeting,” etc. etc. etc. My resistance is always very rational, too. It knows what works with me.
I went anyway, and it had zero (0) impact on the rest of the day. I got home, got ready, got to work on time, went to the meeting, got my giant task list for the week and continued on. It was all business as usual.
What I got back was a reminder to not always trust my inner voices–they’re crafty, and while they think they’re trying to protect me, they often do not have my best interests at heart.