The Lawyer’s Compass Series:  Are you carrying stones or building a Cathedral?

 In Living Our Best Life, Practicing Law and Life, Redefining a Successful Lawyer, The Lawyer's Compass

Like my grandpa Jim, most of us have a compass in our pocket – at least if that’s where we carry our smartphone.

Compass apps are so easy to use. We don’t have to be standing still or making sure we are holding it level. We open the app … and there’s the information.

A compass works on a simple basis:  the arrow that sits on the pin is magnetized at the tip and is drawn to earth’s magnetic north. It’s through knowing one true direction that we know where east, west and south are to be found.

The Lawyer’s Compass works on the same magnetized principle. The guiding force is buried at the center of the compass – inside each one of us. By standing still and holding ourselves level, we are able to utilize it.

I was at a funeral recently for a dear friend’s father. The minister told the story of three workers carrying stones. When asked what they were doing, the first one replied exhaustedly “I’m just carrying these stones.”  The second one said “I’m carrying these stones to build a wall”. The third one replied “I’m carrying these stones to help build a cathedral to God.”

Fifteen years ago I realized I was just carrying stones.  Wanting to be the best attorney I could I always worked hard to return my client’s phone calls everyday so they knew they were valued. The problem was when I got home I was exhausted from all of my work. Was this the life I was destined to live when I became a lawyer? Could I add more meaning to my life through my work?

Being the best lawyer I could was not enough. Getting my work done, crossing off my ever growing to-do list and getting good results for my clients was not giving me the deeper meaning I needed. I was doing more than carrying stones, but I was not building a cathedral –  I was not allowing my work to carry more meaning.

The practice of law is about more than giving good legal advice and making a living. It’s about me living a life that is true to who I am. It’s not hard, but it’s also not easy.

That’s when I started to get a glimmer that what needed to change was me, not the practice of law. By paying attention to these feelings and the sense of being part of a greater purpose for me – not my clients or anyone else in the office – I discovered the truths that had been patiently waiting for me. I had to tune back into my inner compass.

I listened for the “pings” that came from my core. What I first heard was a longing for a deeper connection with my clients, for our interactions to be about more than what I was hired to do.  It took so little to do this – not being distracted when talking to them and searching for a way to elevate the conversation beyond my job. I don’t know if my clients sensed a difference, but I did.

The Lawyer’s Compass guides us to living our truest life, while being the best lawyers we can be.

The more we know, explore and infuse the many elements of our true self into what we encounter throughout the day, we ensure we are heading to our true north. Only then can we begin building a cathedral to something greater in our lives.

It’s harder carrying stones than building a cathedral.

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  • Kelly L. Andersen

    Great post, Jim.

    • Jim Dwyer

      Thank you Kelly.

  • Jennifer Jefferis

    Thanks for your encouraging words. I know I am following my compass and am thrilled his name is God.

  • Samson M. Freundlich

    Being more conscious and mindful to the inner voice of our spirit leads us to the purpose we are all here to fulfill. Very timely post!

    • Jim Dwyer

      Thank you Samson.

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