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Who is your rope connected to?

Eric Weihenmayer is the first blind man in history to reach the peak of Mount Everest. With a 10,000-foot vertical fall into Tebit on one side, and a 7,000-foot fall into Nepal on the other, the south summit of Mount Everest at 28,750 feet is where many climbers eventually turn back. But Eric Weihenmayer is not the kind of man to turn back. He didn’t stop with inching along the icy cliff nearly five and a half miles above sea level. In fact, on August 20, 2008, Eric reached the summit of Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia, the tallest mountain in Asia. With that climb, he finished his goal of reaching eight summits – the highest peaks on each of the world’s seven continents. And he climbed them all, and many more, while being totally blind since the age of 13.


I had the opportunity to meet Eric right after he reached the tallest summit, Mount Everest. At first glance, physically speaking, there was nothing special or extraordinary about him. But after talking with him, there was an undeniable humble yet powerful determination about him.


When Eric began his adventure a few years before our meeting, a friend told him that he should climb Alaska’s Mount McKinley, something that seemed completely unrealistic. He knew there would only be one way to accomplish it. “It may sound crazy,” he said, “a blind novice taking on such a dangerous goal.” But in many ways, Mount McKinley was the perfect big peak on which to begin. Since the route is glaciated and crossed by giant gaping crevasses, the only way to climb it is to be roped up with teammates. “Even when the wind was howling and I couldn’t hear footsteps crunching in front of me, I had the direction of the rope to follow. Surrounded by these crevasses, with the wind howling and nothing but a rope to guide your steps and keep you connected,” he said, “my knees get weak just thinking about what I did”. When a half dozen climbers are inching along a crevasse in single file, the rope that passes through each of their harnesses is their lifeline. If one person slips, it’s the rope that holds them. The others dig in and bring him back. The rope is their stability.


Who or what is your rope connected to? I would make the argument that the best way to know who your rope is connected to becomes painfully obvious to us during a time of crisis. Who is there to guide you, encourage you to get up and keep moving forward, and most importantly, keep you focused on reaching your goals?


There was a time when we were encouraged to set goals. Personal goals and professional goals. We cherished our memories and past successes but we were more excited about chasing our dreams, therefore we were optimistic.


Today, on any given day, from a quick glance of the headlines within the legal community, there is a growing sense of pessimism.


Firms and individual attorneys, especially those partners in leadership, express high degrees of uncertainty and unfulfillment at levels rarely seen before. Many of our clients recognize that their partners are feeling disconnected, restless and perhaps most concerning, discouraged and lonely. And unfortunately, this isn’t an exclusive club, it appears to also apply to many of those providing support within the legal profession.


While this may be good for psychologists, life coaches, therapists and the pharmaceutical industry, if it’s lasting longer than a typical mood swing, it’s not particularly healthy for any of us.


So what can we do? I recommend starting each morning with a hard reset. “What’s a reset?” It’s what we do when our phone or laptop is experiencing technical difficulty? We unplug and reboot our system, and we recommend establishing a daily spiritual, physical and mental reset each morning.


Then evaluate “who” your rope is connected to. Teammates require trust. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but trust isn’t a word many people are comfortable with these days. But just as it was for Eric, to reach your goals, you will need others along the way to whom you harness your rope.


Here’s a formula that you might consider. There are lots of ways to do this, but for me, it starts with waking extra early and spending reflective time growing spiritually. I admit this wasn’t easy when I first started. I forced myself to commit to 15 minutes in the morning, before allowing any distractions. Discipline yourself to ignore checking your emails, texts or the latest news headlines. Now I have to force myself to limit my time to one hour.


Next, it’s time to get into the gym. For me it’s weights and boxing before most people are awake. But it could include walking your dog, stretching, or yoga. The point is to engage your body and push yourself outside your comfort zone a little bit more than you did yesterday. Even if it’s for 15-minutes.


After breakfast, it’s time to engage mentally. How you approach this depends on your goals. If establishing goals is a challenge, you may enjoy watching this video by clicking on this link.


At JAGLAW, our goal is simple, to assist and support our clients, firms and candidates alike, in reaching their personal and professional goals. And sometimes, even the simple step of recognizing the importance of reassessing our goals reenergizes and invigorates us in a meaningful way that helps us feel supported, understood and joyfully optimistic.


Contact us at teamjag@jaglaw.com to speak confidentially with one of team members regarding your goals. We would enjoy the opportunity to share our proven system that has served our clients, coast to coast, for several decades. You may find that connecting your rope to JAGLAW is exactly what you need at this stage of your career.


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