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mantras

Rob-tastic’s Back!

Reminder: Rob-tastic and I teamed up with Barbri to document and share our stories from studying for the July 2017 California Bar Exam.

Statue of Anonymous in Hungary
Photo by Rob McGee

After three weeks in Europe and Asia, Rob is back in the States and back in the office. He walked into the office on Monday upbeat and refreshed from his travels with lots of pictures and stories. Rob’s a history buff, and he said that “Hungarian history is about 75% fighting Turks and Germans, and 25% building statues memorializing those wars.”

He told me about the statue of Anonymous in Hungary, created in honor of the unnamed chronicler (or possibly chroniclers) of the earliest Hungarian history. According to local folklore, if you touch his pen, it grants inspiration and writing ability. Of course, Rob touched it. That seems like a good omen heading into a bar exam.

Rob Went on Vacation and all I got was this Shirt
When Rob was at the INTA conference, one of the vendors was making personalized “.Sucks” shirts for attendees. He had them make a “Studying.Sucks” shirt for me. No one studies for a bar exam because it’s fun.

Thanks Rob!

Side note: I don’t think this vendor’s first language was English. Rob’s pretty sure the vendor thought he asked them to make this tiny shirt for him to wear.

We’re Both Behind on Bar Studying
Rob and I have both been dealing with schedules and circumstances that make it difficult to keep up with the demanding Barbri schedule. Rob was traveling with only one Barbri book and relied on mostly online content to help him study.

Rob and I are like yin and yang this week. He’s energized and I’m exhausted. I’m still a few days behind the Barbri schedule, due to obligations to clients and needing to exercise some self-care. Studying for the bar is a marathon and it wouldn’t do me any good to burn out so early on in this process. I’ve had to take some time to get some much needed rest and relaxation. As one of the members of my mastermind group reminds me, “You can’t draw water from an empty well.”

This past weekend, I studied 8-9 hours each day, trying to keep up and catch up and hit the ground running at work on Monday. By Tuesday, I was exhausted again. I’m someone who tends to use mantras to stay focused, but I was so drained on Tuesday, my mantra was “Don’t throw up, don’t pass out.” Thankfully, by Wednesday morning, I had my mojo back and my mantra was, “Hold my beer.” (No, I don’t drink. It’s just a euphemism for “I’ve got this.”)

On the flip side, I’m working like gangbusters on client projects. Right now, due to all my obligations, I’m trying not to take on any new clients except those that fall into one of my niche areas of practice. For other prospective clients who need help from my firm, but not necessarily me, I pass along those calls and emails to a colleague with more available bandwidth.

The one thing that’s become obvious with this round of bar prep is there’s no time to waste. (Self-care is not wasting time.) There’s so much time and so little to do!

Strike that. Reverse it.

Get A Helmet

I was a gymnast from age 4 to 23. I was a competitive gymnast for 8 of those years. Gymnastics was more than a sport for me – it was a lifestyle. Not doing it was never an option. When I struggled with injuries, I just had to find a way to work through or around the pain.

Rocky & His Girls, 1993

I had an amazing coach during my competitive career named Rocky Kees. He brought out the best in me and all my teammates. That man was gymnastics magic. I absolutely loved training with him.  It was one of the best times of my life. And Rocky taught me more than gymnastics. He taught me life skills that I carry with me to this day.

One of Rocky’s mantras was, “Get a helmet.” It was his way of saying, “Suck it up” but it had an added element of respect for how hard our work was. He respected that gymnastics was hard or scary, but he wouldn’t tell us to do anything that we couldn’t do. We all heard, “Get a helmet” on a regular basis. To this day, I can post “It’s a Get A Helmet kind of day” on Facebook and I’ll get lots of acknowledgements from my former teammates.

Post-It Above My Desk

“Get a Helmet” has become my mantra for building my law firm. I have it written on a little post-it note above my desk. Every day comes with its own set of challenges, whether it’s managing my calendar, balancing the books, doing client work, writing my book, or marketing the hell out of myself and my firm. There are a lot of things I’d rather not do, but that’s not really an option when you run a one-person shop.  Sometimes I get tired, frustrated, and unmotivated. That’s when I look up at that post-it note, take a deep breath, and soldier on.

Remembering to “Get a Helmet” keeps my eye on the prize. I’m not asking myself to do anything impossible. It’s just hard and scary. I can handle that.