Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

How A World War II Poster Can Improve Your Practice

“Keep Calm and Carry On” wins my vote for best law office motto.

The phrase fits our profession perfectly. Amid the tumble and turmoil of a lawyer’s day, few attributes are more valuable than a cool head and steady nerves. And faced with an endless grind of title examinations, document revisions and photocopier jams, what better advice than to keep on trucking?

Most likely you’ve seen “Keep Calm and Carry On” adorning coffee mugs, bumper stickers and billboard ads. Usually the words appear under an image of the British crown. That’s because the slogan originated on UK propaganda posters in the tense run-up to World War II. Afterwards the poster faded into obscurity until resurfacing in the early 2000s in a second-hand bookstore and on Antiques Roadshow.

Since then “KCCO” has gone viral. You see it on the walls of hospital emergency rooms and on the wheels of baby strollers. In particular, the phrase was adopted as a battle cry by investment bankers and financial firms in the grip of recessionary panic. It connotes a certain stereotypically British, stiff-upper-lip quality thought to be desirable by Masters of the Universe: picture a sedate couple serenely sipping tea as the bombs rain down.

Does “Keep Calm and Carry On” capture the spirit of your office? Or perhaps one of the following is more accurate:

  • Keep Whining and Make Excuses.
  • Worry Obsessively and Freeze Up.
  • Blame Others and Point Fingers.
  • Babble Mindlessly and Pontificate.
  • Grow Nervous and Procrastinate.
  • Freak Out and Quit Trying.
  • Lose Faith and Give Up.
  • Catastrophize Crazily and Get Carried Away.

Consider ways to add serenity to your workday. Music, meditation or a mid-afternoon mocha might do the trick.

And you might be able to boost your diligence by taking a few simple steps. Tackle important tasks first thing in the morning when you are fresh. Finish one project before starting another. Keep motoring ahead even when the road gets rocky.

Above all, remember that it is just a job. Look up at the blue sky and sunshine. No enemy bombers in sight. No reason not to “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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