I’m feeling rather pleased with myself! I have been working hard on the final push to get my book finished. I have just finished the last chapter ‘Do your best work – live your best life’.
I have spent quite a lot of time over the last few years exploring the difference between doing ‘most work’ and doing ‘best work’. Historically I was a most work sort of girl – I have a huge capacity for work, first to arrive, last to leave and choosing to work many weekends. I thought this was the way to make most progress and progress was important – I was passionate about the work I was doing. It was fun to a point but frequently I was exhausted and overwhelmed.
I believe it was Kevin Nations who came up with the metaphor of the Magician and the Mule. The Mule works very hard – doing the same job day in day out – hauling stuff all day long. The value of the Mule is in how hard he works and how much he sweats. He gets paid for the hours he works and the amount of stuff he shifts.
The Magician on the other hand doesn’t seem to work at all – they wave their hands around, things transform and people are delighted. People pay a lot of money for just a little of their magic. The bigger and more instant the transformation the more they will pay. No one knows how the Magician transforms things and no one else can do exactly what they do.
When we are just working hard – ploughing through the ‘to do’ list we are being a mule. If you are charging your client by the hour you are probably being a mule (or hugely underselling yourself).
When you are doing your best work – thinking creatively, exploring possibilities, making good decisions and delivering to your client a practical, innovative solution then you are a magician. Then you can command the big bucks.
Being a lawyer can be tough. It is constantly demanding and can be very stressful. But you can’t create magic when you are exhausted, stressed and overwhelmed. Your brain just won’t let you. When you are stressed your brain is hard wired to automatically protect you. Your creative, logical thinking brain (the human brain) is taken off line and your older and faster animal brain kicks in to keep you safe – you operate on autopilot and just do the things that have worked in the past to get the job done.
Anyone can work long hours but to be able to deliver a little magic you need to be on top form. You need to be free of stress and overwhelm, you need to be relaxed and full of energy – then your brain will be able to engage that part of your human brain (the prefrontal cortex) where your best creative decision making can be done.
Want to know my recipe for being ready to create magic? My philosophy for life that will help me do my best, magical work and live my best life?
Here it is:
I believe I do my best work – and live my best life (i.e. most meaningful and most successful) when I know myself (where I am now, where I want to get to and who I want to be on that journey) and then:
- I put my own self-care first so that I am healthy, happy and human
- I make time for my relationships with those I love and care about
- I prioritise the work that has the most meaning or is most important to me right now
Then I feel happy and free.