Dan Harper is vice president, corporate counsel and secretary for Océ North America, Inc., a Canon Group Co. He is also president of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel. The views expressed herein are the opinions of the author and do not reflect the position or viewpoint of Océ North America Inc., Canon Inc. or any of the Océ or Canon companies.
“It is our best work that God wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think He must prefer quality to quantity”
Scottish Novelist George MacDonald
Every once on a while, we need to take a break from the pressure cooker at the office, take time to relax and refresh the mind. Every good craftsman takes care of the tools in his tool box. Just as the piano must be tuned to strike the right key and create the perfect tone and the lab instrument calibrated to take accurate measurements, so too must we take time to “recalibrate” our intellect. The in-house lawyer’s tool is our brain. A rested mind is essential to the fresh thinking required to solve problems for our clients and address our daily tasks with a smile.
Our mind has physical needs as well as psychological. We must feed and rest our brain like we do for the other organs in our bodies. A healthy diet is good for the body and spirit. I am most concerned about the psychological aspects of caring for the mind as it is not at all difficult for me to ensure that it is well fed physically!
Sometimes the mind itself resists the notion of downtime. It is often difficult to find time to take rest. We are busy people with “important” things to do. We make good faith commitments to help others, only to find that we are overcommitted. We have little time for our families and friends, let alone ourselves. We work, we serve our communities on boards or service organizations, we mentor, we coach, we volunteer for this committee or that committee. We often do so much that when we finally get home at the end of the day we fall exhausted onto the couch, motionless. This is not healthy, nor does it allow us to perform at our highest level at any of these activities.
Fall is fast approaching and with it a less relaxed atmosphere around the office. Fall is budget time and the approach of year-end. School starts for the kids. Fall seems to be the start of a myriad of activities that take us away from ourselves, it is a time when all those commitments start coming due. So, if you have not yet taken some time off from the office this summer, do it soon. Take a day here or there and relax on the porch, lay in the hammock, read that book that has been sitting on the nightstand for months. Take some time for yourself to recharge and reenergize your mind. You will think clearer, be more productive and just outright do a better job. Your fresh approach to your job will make you happy and your positive attitude will rub off on your clients.
And don’t feel guilty about taking a little time for yourself. Remember, even God rested on the seventh day!
“And on the seventh day God finished the work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work He had done.”