When I was 37, a friend of mine, who I love dearly, called to tell me that at my advancing age I needed to freeze my eggs. Instantly, I got angry, hot all over and told my lovely friend to “freeze her own damn eggs.” That is now a funny story between us, as she became the mother she always wanted to become and I let my eggs go unfrozen.
That now funny story did teach me something. I remember when people give me advice and I seem to forget when I give it. Allegedly, advice is for the benefit of the receiver. Thus, for the receiver to actually receive the advice and do something positive with it, the receiver needs to receive it. Sounds simple, but it is difficult to be receptive if one feels judged, and so often advice comes with a ‘what you ought to do’ flip of the head and snap of the neck, or at least with my crew – it does. One of my teachers told me long ago that the responsibility of the communication belongs to the originator.
How you give advice with kindness so that it is received, or better yet, not give it, unless it is requested or in the context of teacher/student, is a true art form. Having the inner judgment to understand how, when and where to offer verbal assistance is the dance of masters and most of us aren’t masters nor an Alvin Ailey.
A few weeks ago, I told a friend how she should be. I saw an opening and I took it. My ego pushed it and I knew it was my ego, because I felt the need to apologize immediately thereafter, but she said sweetly ‘apology not accepted.’
All of this weighs heavy on my heart as I launch this effort to share my journey that has led to Beyond Law and help lawyers become more successful as lawyers, and more importantly as people. I remember I was giving a speech to a group and someone in the back of the room, who knew me well, shared that ‘yeah, she talks this stuff, but she doesn’t do it.’ Oh my, that stung, but it was a message that my spirit needed to hear. All I need to remember as I go on this journey is that I must, at all times, take my own damn advice. Humbly, we go beyond.