Monday, September 17, 2007

Sometimes There's Just Not Enough Rocks -- Becoming a Stress Free Marketer

A lot of little stresses lead to one big anxiety -- over time burnout and resentment sour anything good we feel about the job we do or the place we work. Law firms in particular can be tough simply because it is a melting pot of such intense, driven personalities. A battle I share with so many legal marketing professionals is to stay free of little stresses that do not belong to me, and to deal with what DOES belong to me in a healthy way. Writing as a non-professional therapist, here are my suggestions:
  • Who owns the mess -- Often lawyers will become a champion of a cause or sponsorship that is of their own ideal, and less appealing to most others in your firm. A lawyer may pass the task of recruiting participants to marketing staff and suddenly you find yourself working to gain support for an unpopular activity. If you have been diligent with your part of the task, LET GO of the responsibility -- that belongs to the champion. Give a thorough report and let it go as job done. Hopefully a lesson has been learned as well.
  • Know where work ends and your life begins -- Many lawyers equate their experiences growing up in their profession as normal for all other professionals in the their sphere. Working 14+ hours a day? Of course. Always available whenever? Certainly. I'm sorry to disappoint but this is NOT normal, and I have no problem pointing this out when expectations get unreasonable. Protecting your time is your responsibility.
  • Stand up to one-off determination -- We are all faced with lawyers that want to do "something special" for an event, prospect, or project. Yet what they wish to do totally departs from the message, image, or direction of anything the overall firm is doing. I've had those moments -- standing my ground in front of a powerful partner as they demand that I "just do what I'm told", or they say, "Who do I have to talk to to get this done the way I want?" If you stand for "the firm" your ground is solid and you can walk away stress-free no matter the ultimate choice.
  • Be free to feel out loud -- Your lawyers will do it and you should too. You will earn their respect even if you loose the battle. And when it is over, let it go whichever way it swings.
  • List your priorities and stand by your list -- Often you will face one-off challenges that may disrupt what needs to get done. Be comfortable to say no to the emergencies (real or imagined) of others if that emergency is not reasonable.
  • Respect your own personal boundaries -- Any time a situation or task becomes uncomfortable you should listen. DON'T put up with rudeness. DON'T allow people to run over you. DO stand up for doing the right thing. DO expect others to respect you -- you've earned it just as they might have.
Taking care of ourselves is the single most important job any of us can accomplish. I hope that you know this as well as I.