My wife Melissa and I were in the car driving to the North Fork of Long Island for the weekend while the kids are at camp.

I asked Melissa if she had any good podcasts to listen to. She told me about Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History and the episode, Pull the Goalie.

With my curiosity piqued, we had a listen…

In professional hockey, when a team is down, the coach can pull the goalie and put in another offensive player. They typically only do this when they are losing and there’s very little time left on the clock, may be a minute or so.

Statistically speaking, pulling the goalie would have the best chance of tipping the game in their favor if they did it much earlier, 11 minutes and 40 seconds before the end of the game to be exact.

They wait until the very end to do it, because it is not popular with the fans.

“Pull the goalie” is a metaphor for being willing to be unpopular or disagreeable in order to improve your life.

This is not easy if you are a woman in big law, who wants to say no. To set the boundary. To take a vacation and not work during it. To put yourself first.

My clients struggle with saying yes to themselves and no to the firm. But over time we celebrate each victory, large and small.

Let me share a couple of recent small victories when clients “M.” and “A.” pulled the goalie…

1. M. was out to lunch with friends on a Sunday afternoon. She got a call from the partner to join a client call that she had not been previously invited to. He said, “We are 10 minutes into a call. Can you get on?” She said, “Sorry, I’m not able to and can look into the matter later.” She pulled the goalie!

She didn’t drop everything to join the call. She stayed at the table with her friends, something that replenishes her joy and energy.

2. A. firmly communicated to a partner that she was going to be on vacation and would not be able to make a court date.

She quieted the voice in her head that said “Maybe you can fly down for that.” She pulled the goalie, and is in her Airstream trailer camping with her family as I write this.

How we spend our days, adds up to how we spend our years, and how we spend our life.

Here are a couple of questions to help you “pull the goalie”.

  • What is a small way you could “pull the goalie”?
  • Where can you be more proactive/on the offense in your life?

Pull the goalie. Don’t wait till the last minute.

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