What a playoff basketball game and leaving the law have in common

This past Saturday night my Golden State Warriors played a playoff basketball game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

And I was a nervous wreck watching it, yelling at the TV when the Warriors messed up, pumping my fist when they scored … all the while in a burger restaurant with other people, my wife and my two kids.

And I felt I had good reason for my anxiety. The Warriors played inconsistently – leading in the first quarter, missing many shots in the second quarter, losing by 5 at halftime, committing bad turnovers, playing out of synch. It was hard to watch.

I was at my most nervous when the Warriors were losing 94-87 with only 5 minutes and 48 seconds left in the game. With the Thunder’s Steven Adams at the line for his second free throw, I clenched my fists and let out a muffled scream.

My 9 year old daughter finished her bite of burger, looked at me, and asked me “Daddy, is this fun for you?”

First off, it’s always hard to take when your children are smarter and more mindful than you are.

But second, it made me think. Why was I watching this game if I wasn’t really enjoying it?

I was worrying about the Warriors losing, I was worrying that the Warriors great season would all be for naught, I was worried about having to hear the talking heads on TV and radio bash my beloved Warriors for losing, I was worried that I should be doing some work or something else productive and not wasting my time watching a silly game.

Most of all, I was worried that the Warriors hadn’t already won the game right now.

 

I was worrying and not realizing

I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the experience for what it was. I needed to slow down this whole scene in my mind.

First off, here I was, with my beautiful and very patient wife, my mindful daughter, my sports crazy son, and we were amongst other Warrior fans in a local burger joint.

And second, I wasn’t realizing the beauty of the unexpected. Sure, I was watching basketball at the time, but the true meaning of this experience wasn’t necessarily about sports. It was about the unexpected. It was about the ups and downs. It was about the thrill. It was about the unknown. It was about this journey. It was about the excitement.

It was about the thrill.

It was about the thrill.

It was about the thrill.

How often do we have thrill in our lives? How often do we have the unknown? Not that often. Even for those of us whose lives are great and happy and fun, there can still be a lack of adventure and inspiration and sensation and bang! and wallop! and tingle! and fireworks!

And that is what I was missing as I watched the game: The realization that there was absolutely no need to be worried.

There was only the opportunity to be appreciative … for the thrill and the ride.

 

Enjoy the thrill of leaving the law … really

And that is also what leaving the law is about. Leaving the law is a thrill.

So many of us want to leave … but we want to leave RIGHT NOW! We want to know what non-law job we’re going to get. We want it all to happen predictively and simultaneously. And if we can’t have it that way, then we worry that it might not happen. We feel daunted and overwhelmed and weak and we consider dropping this whole leave the law thing.

But making a better life for ourselves doesn’t happen all at once. It doesn’t happen in a routine way.

Rather, because of its inherent nature as a transformative life shift, leaving the law happens in a thrilling way, an adventurous way, in a way that we have never experienced before.

Energies come to us that we have never felt before. Coincidences arise that we never thought could happen. Opportunities present themselves that we never thought possible.

We feel an alignment in our bodies, a confidence in our souls, an appreciation in our hearts, that we have not felt in a long time.

So, we can’t make leaving the law be something that it isn’t. Leaving the law is not routine or watered down or anti-climactic or ho-hum.

Leaving the law is pow!, leaving the law is I made this happen!, leaving the law is I can’t believe it’s coming true!, leaving the law is about getting the chills!

 

“Enjoy the journey”

I know, I know, we’ve heard this before: “Enjoy the journey.”

And while I love this idea, it can be hard to grasp when we’re down or depressed or not seeing success with the life changes we want to make.

So here’s my take on how to describe this idea for attorneys looking to leave the law: “Enjoying the journey” really means realizing that we are always on the right path. We never leave our right path. Even when we’re down or full of doubt or wrestling with what our Unique Genius really is, any failure or worry is part of the process to nudge us, to guide us, to wake us up.

“Enjoying the journey” really means realizing that we get as much from what we don’t do right as we get from what we succeed at.

For the whole game the Warriors seemed to be frustratingly down by 5 points. They never could hit their groove and make a run to win.

That changed with 2 minutes and 48 second left. Oklahoma turned the ball over to the Warriors’ Harrison Barnes, who passed it to Stephen Curry, who made a three point shot and tied the game at 99.

The Warriors went onto win 108 to 101.

Once we appreciate the thrill, we can do nothing but win.

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6 thoughts on “What a playoff basketball game and leaving the law have in common

    1. Thanks Stephen! Happy it resonated with you … I hope you are calmer and more collected than I can get 🙂 I’m learning … Go Dubs tonight!

  1. Kids really get it. Such an insightful comment from your daughter.

    I’ve heard a lot of similar reactions from lawyers who leave the practice of law. Many find it thrilling. I always encourage lawyers who are still in law to make the most of their salary while they have a chance. The better your financial shape, the more options you have (whether leaving or staying in law).

    1. It’s a great point: You need to plan financially. You don’t want to trade the anxiety of not liking your job for the anxiety of not being able to pay the bills! Thanks for the comment!

  2. Being advised to “enjoy the thrill” is hard to accept when I attended a non-legal interview today and was told by the COO that “I was coming across as overly confident and obnoxious like all legal people”. Yes…he said that. I was going for the Head of Quality Assurance in a private intellectual disability sector provider and I had got through the first round and was down to the final 3 candidates. I spent days preparing for the interview. I was judged by him for being a lawyer and I had no chance of getting the job as a result. His decision was made before I opened my mouth. This is not a thrill I can enjoy.

    1. You know, there is no way around that – that is just not cool to be judged that way. He likely had his mind made up before he saw you. No, not much thrill in that.

      But where I try to find the thrill is in realizing that this isn’t your end, but just down chapter in your book. You’re the hero of your story.

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