During the downturn years, I have been doing some serious banking. Not financial banking, but banking of a different kind. I have been banking insights, self-awareness and tools to make myself more useful for my clients and kinder to myself. In a world of uncertainty with disruption the ‘new normal’, this has been an excellent investment, with far greater returns than the interest in a saving bank account would have yielded. Self-interest is not selfish, it is wise and make you resilient and resourceful. More kind to yourself and more useful and self-aware with others.
I have been banking a number of useful commodities that I am sure you can relate to easily; new high quality contacts now tagged connections on LinkedIn to create ease in future, thought leadership with books, chapters and articles published, content to share for a content hungry world, trend digests to help me make focused and sound business decisions and to add additional value to my time-poor clients. But I have also been banking something that many lawyers poo poo. Insights and tools from personal development, that soft fluffy thing that is so hard to prove the benefit of or justify in business.
Or is it?
The personal development that I have done on myself in the downturn years and indeed throughout my life has given me a rich treasure chest of useful tools for lifelong use. If such a qualification existed, it would equate to a PHD. In a coaching market that is currently unregulated, isn’t that reassuring to know?
As I sit writing this, I picture you reading this, cynical, sceptical. Am I being unfair to you? You need evidence, I know, practical tangible evidence. You are lawyers trained in critical thinking.
Ok then, here you go. Some examples of how personal development has been useful:
- Staying present and achieving a complete turnaround of an outcome in an hour with a stressed HR law firm client. Closing gambit – “I apologise, I took out my frustration on you, we do want to continue working with you.” Opening gambit “We think you are too expensive, you are not giving us what we want and we are not sure we want to work with you any more.”
- Making decisions in line with my personal values, the things that are important to me, so that I am always authentic and fulfilled
- Staying resourceful and resilient when my back has been against the wall at the darkest time post 2007 crash
- Preventing a high potential employee from derailing their career. They were physically running out of the room before delivering a training. In 4 hours of coaching, I helped them understand why their fight or flight mechanism was kicking in and to develop a detailed strategy and plan to feel comfortable and choose to stay in the room. It worked first time.
- The instant disappearance of anger in a client by working out the insight that the anger was caused by frustration. The cause? Conversations were always moving on to a different topic because an introverted and reflective French speaking father was thinking in French, translating into English and preparing what to say, compared with his extroverted fast thinking and speaking English wife and children.
Why have I made personal development a priority? The future has been firmly in my sights – a happy inner future as well as a prosperous financial and reputational outer one.
Finally, one last thing to share. One of the things that has stuck in my mind when I researched and wrote an article for Managing Partner magazine on emotional intelligence was the insight that a feeling is faster than a thought, neurologically speaking. Now that could give you a serious competitive advantage. Not so soft and fluffy perhaps.
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