August 16, 2019 Article

Give Yourself Some Room to Breathe

Stress is a major problem in the legal industry. Try these three steps to embrace flexibility as a way to manage stress.

By Precious Williams Owodunni

For much of my life, I’ve lived in a bubble of high achievement. Starting at Yale undergrad, then at Yale Law School, and later at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker, I was surrounded by motivated people with sky-high standards who largely seemed to attain the lofty goals they set. While that environment definitely produced excellence in many cases (and the beloved busyness in almost all), high achievement also has a dark lining that has fully come to light for me only in the decade that I’ve been advising successful attorneys as a strategic consultant.

My attorney clients operate in high-stakes environments where the futures of people and companies are often at risk. That pressure drives (and is used to justify) a perfectionism that is plaguing our industry and putting in danger the very success it’s supposed to engender. For well-meaning attorneys in this industry (among others), I’d like to introduce the concept of “professional self-care.” Professional self-care doesn’t involve the golf outings, spa appointments, and beach vacations that are so hard to carve out and thus only episodic. Instead, it’s a daily regimen of simple ways to introduce flexibility into your mind-set and to succeed while showing yourself grace. 

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