We spend roughly a third of our daily time in the workplace. That’s a lot of tick-tocks. Obviously, there are things that all of us dislike about our place of employment. But, I hope that the positives outweigh the negatives at your job.
I work in a law firm that has about 70 employees. It can be a very stressful environment. The people on top set priorities for the people below. Having someone telling you what to do is freighted with the potential for conflict.
The partners (the bosses) have the ever-present obligation to bring in more business and to maintain the business that is already in the door. This dynamic permits all of the people in the place to take home a paycheck, enjoy benefits, and to hope for a better future. That’s stressful as well.
All of this is coupled with the day-in, day-out deadlines, work crush and other pressing obligations of the practice of law. As anyone who has worked even a single day in a law office has figured out, it ain’t like on television. Ally McBeal, L.A. Law, The Practice, Boston Legal and those other law shows depict only the glamorous parts of the gig. The producers of those fine works neglect to reveal all of the drudge work associated with the successful practice of jurisprudence.
Long story short — it’s a grind for the attorneys and their staffs. Sure, there are those who get by with less drudgery. They may even achieve some measure of success. But, they are hacks.
The wonderful news is that, even in the midst of all of this constant need to strive for excellence, there are daily examples of noble behavior sufficient to recharge the soul, and to make one want to continue working with co-workers in a pressure cooker. That, my friends, makes putting on a tie or nylons much less onerous.
Here a just a few examples:
One co-worker loved her truck. Her life is not an easy one. To make ends meet, she works two jobs — one at the firm, and a second gig after hours. Her mom (who means everything to her) is now sick and requires cares. This worker’s pride and joy was her F-150.
Recently, I learned that she had gotten rid of her her beloved Ford pickup, in favor of a smaller sedan. Knowing her love for her automobile, I was greatly surprised by her decision. The reason nearly brought me to tears at work.
“My mom can’t get into my truck anymore, and I have to take her for treatment.”
What a wonderful sacrifice on the part of this person. She is walking right up to the plate and taking one for her team. I salute my co-worker for her act of greatness.
Another co-worker has a nice car and a beautiful house. Instead of preserving these things for herself, she has opened her life to rescuing and caring for dogs that no one else will take. Recently, this person traveled to another county to adopt a three-legged beagle that had no home and had been basically sentenced to live out the rest of its life in a shelter.
Taking care of animals like this can be fulfilling. But, it can also be a huge pain in the ass. Rushing home from work for the comfort of pets instead of heading to happy hour with the rest of the gang is a sacrifice. Cleaning up after dogs (who do what dogs do) in your house, and in your car (yes, even in her car!) is not fun.
This worker is at her limit on canines. Not her self-imposed limit, mind you. But, the municipality where she lives has imposed a doggy limit. If my friend had her way, she would bust on through that ordinance and bring in all the pets that she could manage. That is love.
Finally, yet another co-worker has a fulfilling home-life. She has a beautiful house and a wonderful family in it. A few months ago, she and her husband moved out of their home into a less-desirable location. Why would they do this? My co-worker’s father-in-law needed help with his acts of daily living, so they moved into his house.
Picture for a second the incredible self-denial that would go into physically moving out of your domicile and moving into the home of an elderly relative (and an in-law to boot!). Instead of forcing the father-in-law to leave his house and move into theirs, this remarkable couple uprooted and transplanted their lives in order to make a loved one more comfortable at the end of his life.
You can’t make this stuff up. It’s just too wonderful.
The father-in-law died last week. I didn’t know him. But, I’m certain that he finished his days on this Earth more happy and fulfilled in the knowledge that he had people who loved him enough to make such sacrifices.
I do know the co-worker. And I know for a fact that she would not have had it any other way. In fact, she is grateful for having been able to do what she and her husband did. That’s heart-warming stuff.
I am quite proud of the fact that my law firm has earned the title of Best Place to Work in Western New York for a mid-sized company (not just law firms) for the past several years running. What makes it a great workplace is not the management (I’m one of them). It’s not the innovative and creative work systems we have in place. It’s not the plush offices (no, they’re really not that).
It’s the noble, caring and loving people who come to spend almost a third of their time there each week.