The way we choose to perceive our circumstances affects the way we feel about where we are, what we’re doing and who we are.
Are we making wise and helpful choices?
Are we even aware that this is an option?
Why our strawberry patch got me thinking…
We inherited a strawberry patch when we bought our house in 2016. It’s never really needed any work until last year when we had a particularly bad crop. This year we have faithfully weeded (even my 3 year old knows the difference between the strawberry plants and the weeds) fed and watered the strawberry patch every week.
Last week my husband came into my office to say that the strawberries appeared to be rotten and full of insects. I didn’t have time that day to go and check on them. Up early the next morning I went out to inspect them and found a whole colander full of perfect fruit, with not a rotten one to be found. The same the next day, in fact we now have more fruit than we know what to do with – I’m feeding them to the kids for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (They even decorated my niece’s birthday cake, more on that to come…)
My husband has traditionally been more of a glass half empty person whereas I tend to be more glass half full, although of course I’m always trying to encourage him to see a little more of the positives!
Our different perceptions of the strawberries got me thinking about how we can often see what we choose to see. Or if we have a certain way of looking at things, we then find ourselves looking for evidence to support that way of thinking – so that it appears to be the truth for us. I started to look for other examples of where this might be happening in life.
What we see depends mainly on what we looking for.
This weekend we celebrated the 1st birthday of my gorgeous niece. My sister wrote a beautiful poem about the past year and the journey of her lockdown baby. She worried over how much remains unknown of whether lockdown might impact her development.
There is no doubt that the past year has been extremely hard for many people. I wasn’t able to share those last few months of her pregnancy when we should have been shopping, eating cake, discussing baby names and talking about birth plans. My niece was six months old before I was able to meet her and hug my sister.
Our family split to keep everyone safe. My Dad moved out onto his boat so my Mum could be in a bubble with my sister and the baby, and my Dad with us and the boys. After my sister’s poem my Mum cried over how much she’d missed of my boys lives in the past year and how she’d worried that their relationships would be affected.
In reality, as hard as the situation was, it has brought us much closer as a family and we have a appreciation of just how important it is. We should have known this already, but I don’t think we did.
Grandad has also been an instrumental force in encouraging us to grow fruit and vegetables in the garden and was a major part of the success of the strawberry patch!
I don’t think of my niece as a lockdown baby. She might be a little shy and wary around people she doesn’t know, but then so was my middle son despite the fact that he was taken everywhere and met everyone as his three year old brother had a fully packed schedule. He took four months to settle with the childminder. In many ways he’s very like my niece, they were even both in the 25th percentile!
We can choose whether we see the negatives, the problems, or worry about what might happen.
What does this have to do with lawyers?
My brother is a property developer and works with a number of lawyers. We’ve been discussing how his architects and planners have taken well to working from home, but his legal team have struggled. Partners weren’t used to drafting documents, some don’t even type. Delays in his paperwork have been put down to a lack of a trainee or a paralegal sitting next to them.
(Apologies, but…) that’s rubbish!
That’s seeing the problems and using them as an excuse rather than looking for a solution. Perhaps because everyone thought this would be a temporary situation, maybe three months or so, they didn’t look for solutions until much later?
These lawyers are not alone, I’ve seen with my roundtable discussions in November 2020 and my white paper on effective remote supervision and training, that many firms have not prioritised or used the technology that’s available to recreate the best parts of the office environment. You’re welcome to read more about that in the white paper here.
That’s a choice, rather than a fact.
But when we take something as fact, we don’t look for solutions.
Is it easier to say “that’s just too hard”?
Recently I’ve started working with an amazingly brave coaching group of lawyers who want to work on changing their pre-held beliefs that long hours are just part and parcel of the job, and that stress and anxiety is just a necessary evil. When one client mentioned the long working hours we dug into whether this was due to their firm or not. It didn’t take long to see the “need” to work those hours came from internal beliefs, not firm expectations.
Whilst one approach might simply be to say, stop working those hours, I know from my clients that it really isn’t that simple, or they would sort it out right away! Until you deal with the belief behind it, what’s driving it, the pattern won’t change.
What we say to ourselves becomes our reality.
What we look for, we see.
We look for evidence to support what we’re telling ourselves, like I’m not good enough for that promotion, I can’t ask for help when I’m struggling with workload, I’m the only one who feels like this…
We see the evidence, because that’s what we’re looking for, and so it becomes true for us.
What if the opposite was true?
We see the evidence, because that’s what we’re looking for.
Can we start changing what we’re saying to ourselves and what we’re looking for around us… to create more of what we actually want?
We only see what we want to see; we only hear what we want to hear. Our belief system is just like a mirror that only shows us what we believe.
If you’d like to have a chat about how your beliefs and thoughts are affecting you, how you can take control in ways that are more empowering, and help you to create more of what you want to see and feel, please do book a conversation using the link below. I’d love to have a chat.