A Personal Note From Susana
Last Spring, I travelled to California for a week to relax and to hike in the area of Escondido. This is not tough hiking but it involved dealing with dry, sandy/pebbly paths, steep downhills, and some with steps. Beautiful country! For some unknown reason, I had left my good hiking shoes home. This meant real trouble trying to do this in regular running shoes. After a couple of days of slipping and sliding down “mountains,” a woman in my group loaned me a pair of “hiking sneakers.” It changed my whole experience. She was really kind to do this, but I wound up again in the position my Mother told me never to be in–in someone else’s shoes. There is a superstition about that in my religion—or at least in my family. You are supposed to walk your own path, in your own shoes. But I think that “standing in someone’s shoes” means understanding their situation from their perspective. I find that to be a valuable lesson in life and in my law practice.
As we walked/hiked I tried to stand in her shoes metaphorically as she told me her remarkable story. She is a young person who was forced to work through a genetic issue in her makeup. It is such a rare condition that few people have it. Mass General is studying it. This adorable, feminine, and petite person, never developed as a woman. When in high school she suffered because as everyone else moved into puberty she didn’t. She went from popular in grade school to hiding her condition and not being popular in high school. In that I could really identify with her. I never had the popularity of the cheerleaders of my high school. So, I hadn’t exactly understood how devastating it was for her to go from very popular to a complete non entity. Never the less she powered through and developed into this amazing person. She is the most successful “detail person” in the United States; invested in the housing business; and married a wonderful man. A detail person is someone who sells medications and other devices to the medical profession. It is a hard job involving a great deal of travel. She has three children now by scientific magic, that she loves unreservedly. She had thought she would never marry because of her condition. She broke engagements because she was unable to comfortably describe her problem to more than one fiancé. Her present husband fell in love with her from day and didn’t care! He asked to marry her on their first date.
As we walked together, I realized that walking in my slippery shoes was far less challenging than walking in her life shoes! I admire her enormously. During that trip she decided to take more time from her work to be with her husband and children and to possibly move to the east coast where (in her spare time there) she had invested in housing properties!
What is the lesson here? First, my Mother, rest her soul, was wrong. It is important both personally and professionally to understand where other people are coming from. It makes for great friendships and assists with a rational plan professionally. When I work with people, I want to know everything about them, just as I learned quite a bit about her. This would affect the advice and recommendations I may make.
Bottom line, if you meet with me, expect me to be curious and empathetic!