The Lawyer’s Compass: How to Become a Force to be Reckoned With
Don’t forget your compass.
It makes sense that you think about using it when you’re lost, in an area you don’t know well or when you’re at a critical junction.
You’re actually in greatest need of your compass when you’re traveling through familiar lands — such as work and important relationships — places you find yourself most of the time.
We are creatures of habit. We establish patterns of behavior for most of our relationships — including work — and off we go doing many of the same things over and over because it seems to work just fine.
It’s often not until a disruption in the relationship that change happens. It’s what I call relationship crisis management. Our lives begin to resemble the Groundhog Day movie with Bill Murray — where we keep doing the same thing over and over until we are called out of our routine — an event that requires us to snap out of our regular programming and see differently what is in front of us.
The danger lies in waking up one day to find that we squandered a great opportunity by keeping our true self, our compass, hidden in the most familiar places.
The Lawyer’s Compass isn’t just for lawyers. It’s for those longing to align their everyday world to the truths that are alive within them.
If you yearn for a deeper sense of joy and accomplishment in your everyday life, or you desire to transform the mundane into a more meaningful experience — the Compass is for you.
There are twelve points of The Lawyer’s Compass:
Wholehearted for who? Wellness for what? Equanimity where? Forthright when?
The answer is always: For Your True Self, the center of the compass; your primary reasons for existence.
Sometimes the simplest advice is the hardest to follow. Like a compass, we need moments of stillness to gain an accurate reading. If we’re constantly moving, not taking time to still our minds and be aware of what lies inward, we miss it. If we keep it hidden within, closed from our sight and psyche, we lose what it has to offer.
The compass is about center, those parts of us that aren’t conditioned upon what others say or do — it’s one of the places in life where joy and meaning germinates.
In spite of the fact no one sees your compass, its effects radiate from you. And like gravity, those effects touch everything in your physical world. When led by your internal compass you become a force to be reckoned with.
The more we suppress expressing who we truly are, the less we experience it and so do those around us. Waiting for the right person, circumstances, or situation to voice what is ours means we take our own power away.
In fact, it may be that when we’re willing to be our true selves, especially to those we feel “don’t deserve it,” that we truly become a force that cannot and will not be ignored.
Let me give you an example…
How is it that 40 years later, telling this story is as hard now as it was the first time? It’s because of the guilt I feel in how I thought and talked to someone who helped me through dark times.
During my senior year in high school, Steve Earl, my golf coach, was there for me when I desperately needed someone to help me put myself together. After picking my mom up from the State mental hospital in Salem, I was internally falling apart — I felt shattered and splintered.
Steve was there helping me put myself back together, whether it was on the golf course or when I’d drop by his house on the weekend. The fact of the matter is, I didn’t deserve the aid and guidance he gave me. I merited his scorn.
What I didn’t know in 1977 was that Steve was gay. Being the stupid high school kid I was, several of my friends and I would say mean things about people who were gay. And yes, I would tell Steve the cruel things we said. All the while he continued helping this confused and lost 17-year-old.
He said nothing to me about being gay until one fateful day after I’d unknowingly insulted a dear friend of his. He pulled the car over and said, “You may never want to be friends with me again. I’m gay and so is my friend that we were just golfing with.”
I sat there in shock. I didn’t know what to say. And then, in my mind, I saw a road dividing. One direction kept me with my friends and all of my inhumanity. The other, well… all I can tell you it’s the route I chose, to honor the man who gave so much to someone unworthy.
Two seemingly opposing truths reconciled in me that day — I didn’t deserve Steve’s love, care, and compassion. Yet, he didn’t let that stop him from being who he was. It was years later that I came to more fully understand how Steve chose to live his life\ as a force to be reckoned with.
In spite of my meanness, he did not hold back being who he was — a deeply caring, compassionate, and forgiving man. Had he not been true to who he was, I wouldn’t have learned so much about life that day. It was my trial by fire. By showing me such kindness in the face of who I was being, it burned away the chaff, revealing truths I had no idea about.
A truism that experience revealed to me is the power that comes from living authentically — not allowing who I am to be conditioned on what the outside world is or is not doing.
You can’t be the force you’re meant to be when you hold your true self captive. Had Steve not been who he truly was, the force and power that came from him would have been held back from someone who desperately needed it.
Steve Earl is still a force to be reckoned with and it’s powerfully beautiful what he did for this soul. If I can give back to life half of what Steve gave me, I will have lived a life I can be proud of.
What does being a force to be reckoned with mean to you?