• Gerard Petersen

Who is it really for?

It is common to lose sight of why we do what we do. Much of my time is spent in conversation with Partners about their careers and most confront this scenario at some stage of their career journey.

Growing up, personally and professionally, in the bubble of the private law firm environment can skew our perspective on life and career. The constant comparison, the fierce competition, the allure of money can be insidious and can drive behaviours and outcomes that are not what we truly value. It can become an egoistic, hedonic treadmill, on which there is seemingly no end. But, for what purpose?

As one Partner explained to me the other day, “I’m doing this for my family, for their future and security”.

Discussing this further it became apparent that this Partner had been disillusioned and unhappy in his career for several years, was constantly anxious and stressed about preserving his practice and equity position, was working long hours and had been increasingly self-medicating with grog - it had become, in his words, “a soul-sucking grind”. As our work is inextricably part of our lives, it turned out that his relationship with his family - his wife and teenage children - was suffering, with his wife having told him “you’ve changed, you’re not great to be around”. She had been saying this to him for a couple of years, that he needed to make some changes.

Paradoxically, the very reason this Partner said he was doing what he was doing was the very thing he was most at risk of losing if he continued - that being his family, their future and their security. Unfortunately, this is all too common .

Somewhere along the career journey, I believe we all lose perspective from time to time, forgetting how one part of our life impacts another and how we, individually, are ultimately in control of this balance through the choices we make. In my work, I call this managing “The Business of You” - diagrammatically, it looks like the sketch (above) that I drew during my recent meeting with this Partner.

It is important that we remind ourselves why we do what we do, what is truly important to us and then make the decision to prioritise accordingly.

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