Lessons from the Road: Emotional Intelligence, Resilience, and Well-Being on a Solar Eclipse Adventure

happiness mindset self-care work/life balance
eclipse image

What we learned on our great eclipse roadtrip!

Earlier this week, I had an incredible (maybe once-in-a-lifetime) opportunity to take a road trip with my daughter, who's in her sophomore year of college, from Minneapolis to Indianapolis to witness the awe-inspiring solar eclipse. 

(Did you catch the eclipse from your location? I’d love to hear about it or see pictures!)

This journey was not just about chasing celestial events (though that was absolutely incredible). There were several moments that turned into rich learning experiences, especially in emotional intelligence, resilience, and well-being. 

And, as always, I was thinking of you and how these lessons are perfectly relevant for us in the legal profession. 

So, let's dive into five key takeaways:

  1. Be Present: Savor the Moment

One thing that really stuck with me from this trip was the importance of being present. Inspired by none other than “Bill Nye the Science Guy” (yes, I watched several videos on how to maximize our eclipse-viewing experience and keep our corneas safe), we put our phones down as much as possible during totality and soaked up the experience of watching the eclipse. It was a reminder that sometimes you just need to pause and appreciate the moment. We know research shows that in our hectic legal world, practicing mindfulness like this can help reduce stress, sharpen our focus, and boost our emotional intelligence.

  1. Resilience Through Flexibility: Roll with the Punches

Our adventure required us to be pretty flexible, especially since we had to zip back in time for my law school teaching commitments. I teach a class called “Well-Being and Professional Formation” at St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis, and we meet on Tuesday mornings at 8:30 a.m. This was a bit challenging since I was viewing the eclipse until about 3:10 p.m. - in Indianapolis. When we hit snarls of traffic, my daughter and I practiced flexibility and (a lot of) emotional regulation - calming ourselves and not getting worked up even under stressful circumstances. Adaptability is a huge part of resilience, and emotional regulation is a key part of emotional intelligence. For us legal folks, being able to pivot and handle the unexpected calmly and thoughtfully is part of the job. Studies show that resilience isn't just about toughing it out; it's about growing from challenges, a skill we can all develop with experiences like these.

  1. Emotional Intelligence in Action: Connect and Communicate

Staying with our super welcoming AirBNB hosts reminded me of how crucial emotional intelligence is. Our hosts were so thoughtful and gracious, even offering to let us stay another night for free since they were worried about our long drive back to Minneapolis right after the eclipse. Skills like empathy and effective communication are key for us lawyers. We're always dealing with different people, whether it's clients, colleagues, or in the courtroom. Being able to understand and manage emotions can lead to better relationships, a more positive work culture, and smoother interactions and negotiations. And what an example of customer service our hosts gave us, right? You can be sure I gave them a glowing review on AirBNB, and I would refer anyone I could to them in the future. That’s just what we want as lawyers, too!

  1. Prioritize Well-Being: Find Your Balance

This trip was a big reminder of the importance of prioritizing well-being. Even with professional responsibilities waiting (and backed up - so sorry if I still owe you an email from earlier this week!), it's crucial to make time for personal experiences and self-care. For those of us in the legal field, where stress and burnout can be all too common, savoring sweet moments and maintaining a balance between work and life is essential for long-term happiness and success. I know there won’t be many opportunities for that much quality time with my young adult daughter in the future, so I did everything I could to make our road trip a reality, even in the midst of a full couple of weeks of client work and travel to give presentations. This eclipse opportunity was too important to miss, and we made memories that will last forever.

  1. Embrace New Experiences: Grow and Learn

Finally, this journey taught me the value of embracing new experiences. Whether it's a road trip to see an eclipse or trying something completely out of your comfort zone, these experiences can teach us so much about ourselves and the world around us. For legal professionals, being open to new experiences can lead to personal growth, new perspectives, and even innovative approaches to our work. Keep that growth mindset strong! Look for ways to learn, grow, and stretch from your comfort zone into your “growth zone.” Any time you stretch in one area of your life, it helps you feel more comfortable stretching in other areas, too!

Our road trip to see the eclipse was not just a fun adventure; it was a journey filled with valuable lessons for personal and professional growth. 

So, the next time you have the chance for a new experience, remember the lessons it might hold for your development in the legal field. I can’t wait to hear what you discover about yourself, personally and professionally!