The price of inertia
The MOSAIC Mood Index Series: no 3
It’s too hard. It won’t make a difference. I am just one person so what difference can I make?
We have all most likely at some point uttered one or all these phrases during our professional lives and we aren’t done with them yet. So before we go on to consider the enormity of making change happen in a bigger setting like the legal profession, let’s scale back and look at ourselves. Because to be honest, it starts with us. Each of us.
The Mood Index reveals that for almost all of us (94%) our mood has an effect on our home and personal life. So is this price we are willing to pay for this job, this life? That 94% is so much more than just a big number and it IS a big number. It’s a ticking time bomb for our wellbeing. There is so much data out there at the touch of our fingertips that reveals the impact that stress, loneliness and living under the cloud of negative emotions can have on us and on our physical and mental health. And more than half of us (51%) can’t talk about how we are feeling.
The loneliness epidemic
It is widely understood and accepted that there is a loneliness epidemic and that loneliness is on the rise and is as deadly or more so than some of the diseases that we associate with early mortality.
In a profession such as ours where we are trained to armour up and to wear a cloak of invincibility, the stigma associated with putting your head above the parapet and admitting that you are not ok means it is quite likely that the real number is underreported. Is this why we don't say anything?
Loneliness and weak social connections are associated with a reduction in lifespan similar to that caused by smoking 15 cigarettes a day and even greater than that associated with obesity. But we haven’t focused nearly as much effort on strengthening connections between people as we have on curbing tobacco use or obesity. Loneliness is also associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety. At work, loneliness reduces task performance, limits creativity, and impairs other aspects of executive function such as reasoning and decision making. Vivek H Murthy*
Murthy should know. He was the Surgeon General of the US from 2014 - 2017. He states clearly that "for our health and our work, it is imperative that we address the loneliness epidemic quickly."
What gets in the way of making change?
We do. We get in our own way. Well, more accurately we don't get out of our own way.
What’s that phrase we have all heard - “be the change you want to see”. Sounds super simple when written down and put like that, doesn’t it? As a profession, we are fortunate to have more means than average to actually be able to push for change in ourselves. Health, fitness, nutrition, personal and professional development, mentoring, coaching, therapy; these are all within our reach. Only 25% of you said that a lack of money was a barrier to investing in yourself.
So many of us don’t prioritise this. You told us this loud and clear in the Mood Index - with 84% of us on the hamster wheel of work, home, sleep, repeat. There is no time (84%) as well as a pressure to be at home/work when at the other for 72% of us. 77% of you know that actions such as making time for your personal and professional development are directly correlated an uplift in your mood. Equally 56% understand that taking positive actions in the workplace such as being more supportive and vocal will lead to improvements in your mood.
So when you know how hard it is to change yourself, you understand how hard it is to change others.
So is it too hard?
Yes, sometimes it sure can feel like that. We have always said that change will come one lawyer at a time but really time is running out for us to be the agents of our own change. If we don’t then it will be done to us. We believe it’s better to have some say in shaping our future than that have that imposed on us. Again time is seen as the main culprit with 78% of you citing this as the barrier to making changes for the better.
Tick tock. Time stands still for no one.
The MOSAIC Collective is an advisory business creating change by connecting people and transforming legal teams. This blog was written by Claire Debney of The MOSAIC Collective.
Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy served as the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, from 2014 to 2017. As Surgeon General, Dr Murthy commanded the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, a uniformed service of 6,600 public health offices serving vulnerable populations in 800 locations domestically and abroad. His recently published his book Together: Loneliness, Health and What Happens When We Find Connection. The quoted section of text in this blog is from a Harvard Business Review article which you can access here.
You can buy Together at all good bookstores, online, or download to Kindle. You can hear Vivek in conversation with Brené Brown on her podcast Unlocking Us wherever you usually listen to your podcasts.