Wellness (every)Day: emotional regulation and the power of “what’s important now?”

In July 2017, I posted W.I.N. Your 3-Feet of Influence.  I shared how a basketball team that I coached used “W.I.N.” – What’s Important Now? – as a tool to focus our energies on the things that we could control. The post was this blog’s most read in 2017. Ever since, I’ve used both this space and CLE podiums to argue that the “W.I.N.” mindset could lead to a healthier, more civil profession.


My pitch is best reflected in this video on Emotional Intelligence. I recorded it in conjunction with 2020’s Well-Being Week in Law.  It includes mention of how we need to understand (1) that we will experience negative emotions; and (2) that it is okay to acknowledge that we are experiencing them.  From there, I argued that employing “what’s important now” when confronted with a negative emotion can improve emotional IQ.

Having long been interested in the topic and its connection to attorney wellness, I was pleased yesterday to find Law Practice Today’s Emotional Regulation: What It Is and Why Lawyers Need It.

I recommend the article.

Here is the opening paragraph:

  • “Law schools and legal employers are struggling to meet the growing demands for lawyers who possess not only the intellectual capability to perform the demanding work of a lawyer, but also the emotional intelligence to perform that work with interpersonal skills, while also maintaining a sense of well-being. Lawyer well-being and lawyer performance – two critical issues that historically have seemed antithetical to one another.”

True.  Historically, we’ve made the choice binary.  Fortunately, that’s changing.  The article goes on:

  • “In today’s legal climate, well-being and performance are less of an ‘either/or’ and more of ‘both/and’ leaving both law schools and legal employers scrambling to find how to teach both emotional and substantive skills. Many firms, other legal employers, and law schools are beginning to teach emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) and emotional regulation (ER). While you may have heard of emotional intelligence, emotional regulation is a relative newcomer to the vernacular. Emotional regulation is a component of emotional intelligence. Together, EQ and ER can help lawyers improve their well-being, heighten their interpersonal skills, and build fulfilling and successful careers.”

I love the premise.  Wellness is not inconsistent with performance.  Rather, wellness is an aspect of competence.  And, when confronted with a negative aspect of the profession, focusing on what’s important now is a critical aspect of wellness.

In other words, something will happen today that causes negative emotions.  A client will be angry. Opposing counsel will refuse to extend a deadline. A judge will be short with you. You cannot control how they impacted you and it is okay to acknowledge that they impacted you negatively. But, for your own well-being, before responding, try to pause and consider “what’s important now?”

Again, please consider reading the entire article. It presents a compelling argument that emotional regulation – or what’s important now? – is a powerful and productive response to the stress and anxiety all too prevalent in the profession.

Oh.  Yes, I’m aware that today is Thursday.  But wellness is important even when it isn’t Wednesday.

Related Posts

6 thoughts on “Wellness (every)Day: emotional regulation and the power of “what’s important now?”

  1. it seems the more we talk about “wellness” and things like “emotional intelligence”, the less we practice it. As I have said before, and will say again–after getting two messages this morning attacking me personally–that civility, as used to be practiced in Vermont, is virtually dead. One problem: judges will not sanction any attorney, no matter how outrageous their conduct. Recently at a status conference, the judge indicated that the attorney’s conduct may be sanctionable under the RPC–but declined to do anything about it. So I am supposed to spend hours on a complaint to the Board, with no hope that anything will happen there either–rather than have the problem dealt with directly by the judge–and nipped in the bud. We are told we must try to regulate other attorneys, but without someone who has some leverage over them–like a judge–they will continue to do so. It used to be bad form to attack other attorneys, so judges did not need to reprimand. Its different now, and if the culture is going to change, we need some leadership.


  2. Today was an example of the problem. The same attorney noted above, who has repeatedly slandered me in front of various courts, did it again. At a status conference, as I was speaking, he interrupted me and went on a long harangue, mostly about how terrible I was. I kept saying: your honor, please let me finish. The court said nothing. After he was finished with his harangue, I was allowed to speak. Then he spoke again ( I did not interrupt him). He ended by saying he did not want to deal with me anymore, that I was committing malpractice, and he said he was going to hang up, and he did. The court said nothing, leaving me and my client alone on the call. This is totally ridiculous. It is embarrassing to me, my client, and the court. How is any attorney supposed to manage an attorney like that? I have never felt the need for wellness–I feel the need for judges to manage their courtrooms.


Comments are closed.