Who Are You? A Lawyer or So Much More
In Conversation With Alicia Koch
In Conversation With Alicia Koch
I was given the immense honour of addressing the mentees of the South African Charter (SAC) of the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) on 2 July 2022. During the Webinar, I addressed two key aspects that mean a great deal to me, personally, as well as professionally.
The first revolving around defining yourself beyond your job title. This stemmed from an article I wrote for one of my key clients, Braving Boundaries, titled “Who are you? A lawyer or so much more?”. My belief here is that we are more than our job description. We are more than our title. And the question really comes down to this – is being a lawyer (or insert other profession here) our whole identity? Does that really describe who we are? Where did the rest of our personality, interests and roles in the world disappear to? And why do we choose our professional title as our sole identifier?
In my opinion, living just for your title is like being an imposter in your own life. Relying on other people’s perceptions of who YOU are (whether it be our partners, family, friends, colleagues, even strangers) to guide your choices rather than deciding who you are and what you want, for yourself. By doing so, we only mirror what other people expect from us. Not what we want for ourselves.
From the very beginning, I believe it is crucial to not restrict yourself to one thing. Don’t become an imposter in your own life. Don’t live just for the job title. Don’t live for others.
There is a big bright world out there, with unlimited possibilities. All you need to do is open the door and see for yourself. Don’t be limited by what you perceive your limitations to be. Instead, open yourself up to what you can do if you learn a new skill, put yourself “out there” or take a chance on YOU. What can you achieve if you just believe in yourself?
Forget about other people’s perceptions – chase your dream.
The second topic was all about mental health – both generally and more specifically within the legal profession. This again resulted from an article I wrote for Braving Boundaries titled The Legal Sector has a very real Mental Health problem. As someone who has “high functioning anxiety”, mental health is a topic that is extremely close to my heart.
I believe that mental health is something that needs to be spoken about – out in the open – without shame or fear of rejection. Admitting that you are struggling with a mental health issue does not mean you are weak. It does not mean that you are incapable, unable to perform or unable to achieve in your profession.
That’s all rubbish.
We need to do away with this stigma that admitting you have a mental health problem is something to be ashamed of. Rather, we need to encourage action. We need to encourage those suffering to seek help. Talk about it. And not fear the judgement of peers.
As legal practitioners and as professionals in the workplace it is easy to be roped into believing that you are meant to be “bulletproof” that you are “superhuman”, that you are immune to every-day life and all it’s complexities. The truth is – you are only human. And it’s this humanity that I believe needs to be nurtured. That needs to be protected – no matter how senior you are in your profession, no matter what you have achieved, no matter how old you are.
I do hope this video resonates with you and inspires a better way to work….
To watch the Webinar, click on the video below.
To find out more about speaking events, contact me here.