Olivia Covington: Advice we’d give our younger selves

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What advice would you give your younger self?

That’s a question I posed to this year’s class of Leadership in Law honorees as part of a recognition video winners are asked to participate in. I asked this question to honorees for partially selfish reasons. I’m a Type A personality, always thinking and planning and looking for the next step forward, and I love to glean life lessons from others. So when I ask an honoree, “What advice would you give your younger self?” I’m really asking, “What advice can you give me?”

It’s the variety of answers that surprises me. You’d think you’d get some pretty standard responses—take every opportunity you get, don’t sweat the small stuff, etc.—but usually, our honorees provide personal, thought-provoking answers that go beneath the surface.

For example, one honoree this year discussed the importance of listening to your inner voice. He talked about mentors who advised him with his best interests in mind, but ultimately, he wished he’d followed his gut.

Another honoree talked about four things that, once lost, are very hard—if not impossible—to recover: time, trust, opportunity and occasion. As someone who is still relatively young in her career, that was an important and needed reminder to be intentional about the things I say yes to—and the things I say no to.

As I was listening to these answers, I was pondering what advice I, a very mature 29-year-old who clearly has it all together, would give to my 19-year-old self, who also happened to think she was very mature and had it all together. Aside from taking regular doses of a reality check (my 39-year-old self will probably cringe at how not-all-together my 29-year-old self really was), the biggest piece of advice I’d give my younger self would be to just relax. Again, I’m a textbook Type A, so in my mind, bigger, better, faster is always the way to go.

But as the big 3-0 creeps closer (it’s four months away—not that I’m counting), I’m learning to trust the process. I’m finding the cliché about life being a marathon, not a sprint, to be true. And as it turns out, I’m not the only one. Another honoree just a hair older than I am said she would advise her younger self to “chill out”—short, sweet and to the point, just like a true Type A.

But even the less serious questions can inspire thought-provoking answers. For example, when asked about their favorite fictional lawyers, one honoree cited Vincent Gambini from “My Cousin Vinny”—not because it’s a funny movie, but because of Vinny’s skill on cross-examination. Another pointed to millennial icon Elle Woods of “Legally Blonde” fame as an example of the importance of staying true to yourself. And the list goes on.

Getting to meet our Leadership in Law honorees every year for their video shoots is truly one of my favorite parts of my job. It’s fun and inspiring to hear from lawyers of all facets of the law and all steps of the proverbial ladder.

Want to meet them, too? We invite you to join us May 18 at our annual Leadership in Law recognition breakfast. You’ll see the videos from all 36 honorees and hear from retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard, this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Go to theindianalawyer.com/events/leadership-in-law for tickets. It’s an event you don’t want to miss—especially if you want to know which of your colleagues prefer Vinny Gambini to Atticus Finch.•

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Olivia Covington is editor of Indiana Lawyer.

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