This week I want to focus on something that prevents so many of us from leaving the law … and that is the fear of making a mistake.
A mistake is traditionally defined as an action or judgment that is wrong or misguided.
We do or think of something, and if it isn’t successful, or not validated by others, or doesn’t make enough money, ugh, we made a mistake.
The fear of a mistake is what prevents us from taking any steps to leave the law and positively change our life.
It’s what causes the paralysis that makes us remain unhappy attorneys.
Warren Buffett’s mistakes
But Warren Buffett surfaces a different definition of mistake.
When asked “What is the biggest mistake you have made?” the greatest investor of all time said that some of his biggest mistakes were the times he decided to not act at all.
While sitting on the sidelines has its merits at times, my interpretation of his comments is these are the times his soul told him to make an investment or to reach out and connect with someone or to try something, big or small … and his ego pushed him not to, out of fear, the need for security or the worry of social disapproval.
When I almost made the same mistake
I remember when I almost didn’t act. When I almost made a mistake of omission.
It was 2003 and 2004, and I was in-house counsel at a technology company here in San Francisco, doing software licensing. I saw my professional trajectory leading me to be a 40+ year old Silicon Valley General Counsel. I had the job and the future that looked great on paper and that so many attorneys aspire to.
It was very tempting to ignore my feelings and stick to the status quo and keep my head down and not cause a stink and to follow this path.
But it didn’t feel good to me. I didn’t like that picture: too stressful, too reactive, not proactive enough, not creative enough, not a fit for me.
Not a fit for me. For me. And that’s what matters. I felt confident in that.
I am 43 years old now, and I can tell you, that if I was an in-house counsel at a tech company, I would not be happy.
I knew that if I stayed in the law, it would be a mistake. I would be staying out of fear of facing the unknown, out of fear of disappointing my friends and family, out of fear of doing something wrong and misguided.
I almost made the mistake of not doing something.
It hasn’t been easy since I’ve left. In fact, it has been very hard. But it has been right. And I’ve learned so much, about myself and my purpose.
I’ve also learned the exact steps to leave the law. If you’re ready to leave the law, I can help you.