He was wondering how I could’ve ever been a lawyer.
The question took me swirling back to a time when I wore $2,000 Armani suits, Ferragamos and custom shirts…and hated my life. As cool as the money and the perception of power and prestige were, what I was doing to earn my living was so contrary to who I was that it caused what I call—”a constitutional crisis.”
You may have heard that term before. Wikipedia defines it as:
A severe breakdown in the orderly operation of government. Generally speaking, a constitutional crisis is a situation in which separate factions within a government disagree about the extent to which each of these factions hold sovereignty. Most commonly, constitutional crises involve some degree of conflict between different branches of government…or between different levels of government…
That’s a governmental constitutional crisis. What I was going through was a “personal” constitutional crises.
Take the above definition and swap the word “life” for “government. Then re-frame the word constitution to understand what I’m talking about is not a document of law, but rather your own personal constitution, your personal make-up, the core of who you are. That’s the kind of crisis I’m talking about.
The day-to-day setting, culture, mission and tasks required by my then occupation so strongly conflicted with my basic temperament, preferred creative modus operandi and core beliefs and left so little opportunity to do what made me come alive, it literally made me physically ill.
The “orderly operation” of my mind, my body and my life verged on breaking down.
There were any number of ways I could’ve handled that crisis. Maybe there was even a way to stay in the law, but change my specialty, firm and focus…for a third time. I thought about it, but it just didn’t feel like that would be enough. So, after taking a short leave of absence to create a bit of space, clarity and objectivity, I set out on a path that led me away from the law.
Because that’s what I needed to do to bring the “separate factions” back in agreement, into harmony. To resolve the crisis.
So, my question to you is, if you’re feeling disillusioned, dissatisfied or disquieted by the way you earn your living…
How deep does that conflict run?
To your core? Your constitution?
Is it causing a “severe breakdown in the orderly operation” of:
- Your body,
- Your health,
- Your mood,
- Your relationships,
- Your ability to enjoy life and
- The pursuit what makes you come alive?
Or, is it something less visceral, more susceptible to fixing without substantial disruption?
If what’s not right is fixable with some effort that doesn’t entail substantial disruption, then get about the business of fixing it, and find people who are equipped and willing to help with the process.
But, if you’ve blown past that point, if you’re in the midst of a genuine constitutional crisis…stand up now and declare it!
Own up to it. Then, do something to resolve it.
Rally a team together. Find supporters, coaches, therapists, friends and family members who can guide the journey.
Then begin to act. To re-craft your occupation on your terms.
It may take time and work, but that’s okay.
Because if you don’t bring it all to the table and take the major steps needed to resolve the interests of “disputing factions,” there’s really only one direction that crisis will lead. And, that’s the complete, though sometimes slow and grinding, shut down of operations. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (if it doesn’t kill you) and it’s the only thing that’ll serve as a wake-up call and a catalyst to meaningful and substantial change.
But, it is the most disruptive approach by far.
So, I’m curious. Are you building what you want to build? Is what you’re doing aligned with who you are?
Or, is it time to do a bit of gear-shifting?
Share your thoughts in the comments…
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