Brett is an equity partner in a large international law firm. Little did he know how much his decision to teach a course while moving ahead on the partnership track would be the first step in developing a set of 21stcentury skills – skills that he uses every day, now that he’s balancing work and family.
When retelling his story, Brett describes the changes he went through in three stages. The first stage was focused on learning the practice of law and developing his skills. During this stage he was determined to learn as much as possible as quickly as possible. But even during this first stage of work, Brett was very intentional about taking his vacations. Focus of Stage: skills development.
As Brett moved along on the partnership track, he began to experiment with integration. He tested the waters by teaching a class at a local university. He pitched the idea to a partner and started teaching on the side. It was his first experience with juggling non-workday obligations with work. The key was being intentional about creating the space to teach. He didn’t give up his current work responsibilities; Brett figured out a way to do both. Focus of Stage: skills development, integrating outside interests, career development.
In the third stage, Brett had developed significant skills as a senior associate. Brett had also developed skills around setting boundaries in the earlier stages, and he now applied them to the new chapter of his life when he became a father. Brett was one of the few senior associates who took a paternity leave: in fact he took four weeks off. Today, Brett continued to integrate life and work making it home for dinner nightly in a world where 8pm+ arrivals are the norm. He has also learned how to minimize work over the weekends and enjoys being an integral part of his children’s lives. Focus of Stage: skills development, career development, integrating outside interests, and firmly setting boundaries.
Brett might not have had a crystal clear vision of what he wanted when he started; but he did know that he wanted a life outside of work. This idea and the opportunities Brett took advantage of helped him build and strengthen the skills necessary to craft this life. As Brett looks ahead, now his goal is teaching others how to succeed at work while also creating time for life.