The Lawyer’s Compass

What I love most about being in Hawaii in November is that I get to escape the cold and wet of Portland, Oregon.

Along with the warm water, air and soft sand that I love so much about Hawaii, I’m also seemingly surrounded by compasses. Being in a state that is a series of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it makes sense that you would see so many instruments of direction.

The deep connection I have with compasses stretches back to my grandpa Jim. Growing up, he took me fishing at lakes throughout Oregon and fly fishing up and down rivers on both the east and west sides of the Cascade mountains. The compass was our guide through rivers and lakes. It took me places I had never seen. They still do, but now it’s the mountains, valleys and rivers of my life.

No matter where I went with my grandpa, he always had a compass, whether it was in his car, on his boat or in his pocket.  The ones in his car and boat were my favorite. You know, the old school kind that seemed to float on water in their plastic encasements. I remember being transfixed by its bouncing and spinning movements.

Seeing all of the compasses in Hawaii took me back to those days with my grandpa.  He showed me how to tie a hook, put the worm on and the difference between a fish nibbling and actually biting.

The last time I was in Hawaii, I found myself staring at a compass on the back of a shirt. There were names on the compass of places that I knew and some that were unfamiliar. Suddenly, out of nowhere, came the question, “What would a life compass look like? One made specifically for a lawyer?”

A short time later when Jan and I sat down to eat, I borrowed a pen from the waiter, took my napkin and sketched what the compass might look like and the words that went with it.  Because I was afraid I would lose the napkin, I took a photo of it with my phone.  And then, I forgot about it.

Thirteen months later, I came across the photo and it all came rushing back. I sat down and started drawing where my imagination led me.

As I drew, I realized this compass is not about finding places in the world around me. It is about discovering and understanding myself, the worlds within me. Words that I know so well as a lawyer became directions and points on the compass. At the center lay what is most important – my True Self.

It can be easy to get lost in your life when you are dedicated to being the best lawyer you can.

The Lawyer’s Compass is a reminder and a guide to help us live our lives true to who we are. To infuse those elements into our working life and align the world around us to feed what’s most important to our ultimate life, all while being the best lawyers we can be.

I’m dedicating my posts of 2016 to exploring the meanings that lie within The Lawyer’s Compass. I’m nervous about this undertaking. Moving into uncharted waters brings a mix of excitement and anxiety.  But I’ll have the compass to guide me.

Join me in this yearlong journey of exploration through the Lawyer’s Compass.  We will navigate together the often complex, confusing and ultimately life changing nature that truly lies in the messy confluence of being a lawyer and living a rewarding and enriching life.

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