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President's Message - April 2019 - Lawyers Club of San Diego
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Spring Forward

Danna Cotman, Lawyers Club President 2018-2019
One of my favorite times of the year is spring. As the earth unfolds its beauty, the colors, the smells, the freshness, it brings me a renewed energy and enthusiasm to bring in a fresh, new and colorful perspective to other aspects of my life. Interestingly, April is also Stress Awareness Month, so I also find myself reflecting on how to manage stress in my life. While we used to talk about “balance” I prefer to think of it more as juggling. How to keep all the balls flowing through the air without letting any one of them come crashing down.

Starting first with Self: We can better care for others if we have first taken the time to care for ourselves. Our mental, emotional and physical well-being is key to us being able to be our best selves and engage with our loved ones at home, and to achieve a level of excellence in our work and in the community. We juggle those priorities frequently and often we give up our own self-care for that of others, for work, or even for volunteer work. Try to take a few minutes for yourself first. Take time for some fresh air. Stop and smell the flowers. Breath it in, contemplate the beauty. Get your exercise – whatever that means for you. Put self-care at the top of the list. Need ideas? Attend Life & Law Committee’s Warrior II program for more tips. 

Family and Friends: Grow your community. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and contribute to you in a positive way. I’ve noticed I tend to absorb the energy of others such that if someone around us is sad, angry, happy – I also tend to adopt those sentiments. When someone I am around is happy, I absorb the positivity flow, but when they are negative, I have to make a conscientious decision to balance empathy while guarding myself from letting negativity pull me down. For a while I had a group of lady friends that would get together to surf regularly. We went because no matter how down we were, once we got on the water, we played and laughed like children and left refreshed and energized. When someone new joined and brought her negative energy to our group, what was previously a joyous and uplifting excursion became somewhat depressing. After multiple attempts to agree to “leave our junk on the sand”, we finally stopped inviting her to preserve our health and well-being during these adventures. Surround yourself with individuals that encourage the best you and where you encourage the best them.

Work: I heard at a conference recently: “You will only be your best when you are your true self. You are your second best self when you are trying to be someone other than your authentic self.” Find your own voice. Look at traits you admire in others and incorporate them while being true to yourself. Develop your own personal style. Identify your own personal purpose. Be authentic. Measure yourself against you and no one else. This requires taking the time to learn your craft, educate yourself, practice, make mistakes, seek correction, ask questions, learn and constantly explore to expand your skills. Build a team. Be Inclusive. I find this article “Six character traits of inclusive leadership” particularly useful. It describes inclusive leadership as “treating people and groups fairly- that is, based on their unique characteristics, rather than on stereotypes, personalizing individuals by understanding and valuing the uniqueness of diverse others while also accepting them as members of the group, and leveraging the thinking of diverse groups for smarter ideation and decision making that reduces the risk of being blindsided.”

I encourage you to read this article, and then make a plan for how you will develop your team. And be creative with your team building events: hold a skin care event, a yoga or meditation class, a night at theatre, a discussion around a book or article, a concert in a home, a golf outing or a hike, a field trip, a cooking class or how to make designs on coffee.
Have fun!

As we celebrate the beauty of spring, I hope you will consider how you can bring fresh perspectives into your life at work, at home and for yourself. Exercise self-care, grow your community, build your team, charge forward, be bold. And above all, be authentic.

Danna Cotman is founder of the female-owned intellectual property boutique law firm ARC IP LAW, PC and president of Lawyers Club.

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