The Year That Has Been 2020™
As we end The Year That Has Been 2020 ™ it has never been more important to take a little moment out to reflect, to look past the trauma of what we are collectively still going through, to consider what positives we can take from it, and how we hold on to these.
Firstly, the trauma bit. Because it is important to acknowledge that COVID has affected us all and we have all, in some way, suffered from loss. We have not seen family and friends. We have lost schools. We have lost jobs and businesses. There is the tragic loss of those who are no longer with us. We lost normal life for almost an entire year, and even with news of the vaccine approval just today (thank you science) it is not over. So much grieving on so many levels, without social relationships to help us through because of social distancing. So for those of you who are literally hanging on by your fingernails right now, I see you.
Trauma for me was having a global pandemic literally knocking on the door whilst trying to shield a vulnerable child with a history of respiratory illness. I am one of life’s planners – but this was never in my scenario planning and I did not have the response kit ready. It will take me some time to get over the shock of the schools closing and being forced into impossible home-schooling / running business scenario with the added complication of a child with complex needs. As every single support source dropped away from us and we were told to shield for three months, I have never felt so isolated. During this period, I definitely crossed the line of madness. (I think the lowest point was when my husband found me pouring boiling water over some raspberries to “kill any traces of the virus”. Yes readers, I actually did this.) The overwhelm of parental and professional responsibility was like nothing I have ever experienced. Most days I wanted to scream “You have to be ****ing kidding!!!” (actually, to be fair, most days I did that). It was physically and psychologically punishing.
Yet I adapted. And as is often the way with baptisms of fire, I learnt some of my most valuable lessons.
From a business perspective, nothing increases efficiencies more than having no time and headspace. Developing processes, automating, never doing anything twice, only investing time in what brings the most value – this is always at the cornerstone of how I run my legal marketing business, but so much of it has been fast-tracked during 2020. I have invested to be able to grow. I have worked smarter, deepened collaborations, leveraged partnerships to bring best solutions to clients. I rethought what it is I do best and how I package this up to offer more cost certainty. And far from work drying up as is the consultant’s great fear during times of volatility, I have been lucky enough to work with so many game-changing legal services businesses on major initiatives from new brands, new websites, meaningful marketing campaigns, strategic communications projects…I have been privileged to be part of so many business journeys and have found such energy and positivity from the founders I work with who are so passionate about change in the legal industry.
I have always believed in the power of community, and I go into 2021 more convinced than ever before on how we need to be part of communities to help us feel connected and aligned in an often broken world. My legal community has been the most powerful force throughout 2020 and has kept me sane. The support has been immense on every level, it is hard to encapsulate it all. Obviously Sunday night #80swatchalongs during peak lockdown (ten 80s films analysed through a 2020 lens on Twitter) including a weekly TikTok in fancy dress will always hold a special place in my heart, but there was so much more besides this, a feeling you can reach out to any one of these people for help, for support. Legal community – you are the best.
And within this greater community, there is of course our lawbreaking community at She Breaks the Law. At the start of lockdown, I could not see how I would factor this in. But as I saw the community, driven by collective purpose, coming together to support each other with virtual meet ups across the world, lawbreakers lifting each other up on their journeys, connections continuing to grow, I dug deep for the time to keep investing and growing what we do. It is not always easy, we lost a lot through losing our events in real life and connecting in this way, but going virtual has harnessed the power of the global community, and it has been incredible to see lawbreakers coming together to talk about important issues and what we can do together to keep creating change. With thanks and love at this point to all those special lawbreakers.
On a final note: well-being and mental health. This year life has afforded me an integrated campaign of mid-life challenge from running a business / parent in need of care / young children school dilemma with the added bonus features of what has felt like a dystopian low budget sci-fi and costly legal battle for a specialist school. Holding on to my mental health through this is a necessity and an ongoing challenge. I feel beyond lucky to have the most amazing family support from an incredible husband, glorious children and a few good friends. But experiencing poor well-being myself has made me more tuned in than ever to the distress I feel all around us. And as we go into 2021 I would urge the legal industry to put the well-being of its people front and centre. Cultural change, as we continue to work in this remote way, is so important, from building in the very necessary time for people to be offline to leading with kindness. If I could hope for anything in 2021, it would be to see a culture of kindness in business and more support for well-being to help navigate us through what is to come.
A final note to the many who have helped me survive The Year That Has Been 2020 ™. From my ace collaboration partner, to the Twitter crew, to supporters, champions and all of you on here, to amazing clients past and present, so many of whom I am also pleased to call friends. I am not doing Christmas cards this year in an effort to be kind to myself but I have made a donation to our industry’s incredible resource LawCare in all of your names!
A final thanks to all those on the frontline of care during 2020. The real heroes, may this also never be forgotten.