The most valuable skill I learned when I was finally ready to leave the law in 2004 was the power of the baby-step.
Babysteps are the best time-intensive-but-still-manageable-build-on-each-other-to-grow-your-confidence-incremental-and-rewarding-forward-moving drivers of progress you can take to effectively leave the law behind for a fulfilling professional (and personal) life.
Babysteps were difficult for me to initially adopt. As an attorney, I wanted to know right now how “it would all turn out”. I didn’t like and wasn’t comfortable with the unknown.
And as a person in today’s day and age, I wanted success now. I didn’t want to wait. I wasn’t comfortable being patient.
This wasn’t a good combination to effectuate change in my life. It wasn’t a good combination to end the dissatisfaction with my job as a lawyer.
But once I became open to using these babystep – again, small non-sexy steps and progress that empower ever growing momentum and confidence and create more and more opportunities – that was the key to my success in launching my non-law, alternative career.
And it’s the success for many people I work with.
I just heard back from a client,
My 7 year old son is a smart kid. His teacher said he’s very academically advanced and is very passionate about the subjects he likes, such as math, endangered species, fantasy stories and farming.
But she also said that when he is faced with a new, challenging or unclear task, his motivation drops dramatically.
My son will say he doesn’t want to do such-and-such challenging task because he is tired or bored or hungry.
But his teacher observed that my son likely opts out of attempting such-and-such challenging task so as to avoid failing at it.
Does this sound like you?
We all know that we perfectionist attorneys are afraid of making a mistake, especially in attempting to leave the law behind for an alternative career.
We do not want to fail. We may not have faith in ourselves to follow through. We do not want to disappoint others.
We want to please people. We’re ambitious. And we likely haven’t even thought there could be a future beyond just being a lawyer.
And so we don’t act.
But success in leaving the law is not about being perfect.
Yesterday, we talked about the mistake of omission … the mistake we make by not doing something we know we should do.
Another way of saying this is you do not act and live and model a life that lets the world know the gift you have inside of you.
You do not take the time to build the courage to find the best way for you to add value to others.
You do not take the time to be the leader and teacher you can be.
Years ago, Henry David Thoreau put it this way:
“Most men [and women] lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
More recently, motivational speaker Les Brown pushed us by saying:
“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step,
We suffer from so much pain as unhappy attorneys.
We have so much fear that prevents us from leaving the law.
But there is hope. Lots of it.
I shot this short 2:45 minute video below to ask you one very important question.
I can’t force you to leave the law and be happy. But if you are ready, I can help. Start here: http://leavelawbehind.com/leave-the-law-$1-trial
Three things I’m excited about and wanted to share with you all:
1. I’m planning on doing a live event in San Francisco soon. If you’d like to be one of the first to pre-order tickets, Contact Me and I’ll put you on the list.
2. Love the article “How to Navigate a Career Change” a LLB client who left the law for technology just sent in, to share with you the Leave Law Behind audience. The part around how being older can really be an advantage really resonated with me.
3. Want to take a babystep to leave the law? It’s easy – schedule a free 15 minute time to speak with me. We share experiences, we discuss tips on how to leave, and most of all, you’ll realize you’re not alone 🙂
This past weekend, my wife, two kids and I let out our collective inner geek and visited the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, in the heart of Silicon Valley.
While the toys in the gift shop elicited the most interest from my daughter and son, the museum exhibits were not far behind.
The museum provides a fascinating history of how, going all the way back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks, humans have thought up new ideas, used new tools, and created new processes to find things out, make life easier, and reduce manual steps.
Think the Abacus to the Antikythera mechanism to IBM punch cards to iPhones.
What really struck me though were the personal stories behind all of these inventions.
They weren’t always famous and successful
Sure, it’s easy for us now to see how useful all of these tools are. And it’s easy for us now to assume as self evident that these technology inventors would be famous. It’s easy for us now to take for granted the ways the technologies they invented have made our lives simpler, easier and more dynamic.
I shot this short video for you (it’s less than 3 minutes long) describing the best advice for leaving the law …
… and if you prefer reading, I jotted below some of the points I talk about in the video.
Recently my family and I attended a fantastic free science fair event at the baseball stadium at which the San Francisco Giants play.
We were part of a group of thousands of people on a sunny Saturday, getting to not only play and run around on the baseball diamond, but also to participate in tons of science experiments and activities set up on the field and throughout the stadium: Local companies, museums, science institutes and non-profits set up tents and stands educating us all about insects, chemical reactions, robotics, the environment, physics, curing diseases, traveling to Mars and more.
The best advice
One of the participatory exhibits about gravity encouraged my daughter and me to hook a small “ship” made of wooden popsicle sticks powered by a rubber band wound propeller to a thin plastic zip line a few feet off the ground and watch it go.
I came home one evening this week after work and was eagerly greeted at the door by our dog. My wife and kids were out of town, and our dog had been home alone for a while, and she wanted to get outside.
Let me first tell you something about our dog: she’s a big 72 pounds, a Golden Labradoodle we rescued from the SPCA, is the sweetest thing alive and has tons of energy. Tons of energy. All she wants to do is run, sniff something, go to the bathroom, and then run and run and run more and more and more.
I do love her energy. And it’s actually been a forcing factor in getting me to run more. Almost every day, we jog our neighborhood loop in the morning, and then again in the evening. When she sees me walking towards the closet where I keep my running shoes, she knows it’s jogging time.
But this evening I did not feel like running. I was tired. I was hungry. And I was nursing a sprained ankle from my Sunday basketball game. There was no way I could run. I would only be able to walk her.
Right now, what value do we (unhappy, disgruntled) attorneys provide?
A lot actually.
We have specific knowledge (case law, what a client can do, what a client cannot do), we provide strategy (how to approach and navigate a case, what damages to ask for, how to best negotiate), and we ensure execution (getting documents drafted and finalized). And on and on.
People (partners and clients primarily) value all of this that we do.
Partners value it because the client has paid them to get all of this done and if they didn’t have us to do it all, they would have to find time to do it, or not be able to do it at all (and then have to forfeit the client’s money).
The client values all of this that we do because they need all of this for some important reason (to grow their business or personal situation, to protect their business or personal situation, to plan for the future, etc.)
And because we provide value for doing all of this, we are paid by the partners (from the client’s money) for the time it takes to do all of this.
One of the biggest hurdles we face in leaving the law is money.
Some of us make a lot of money as attorneys. Some of us do okay, and are able to pay our bills and our student loans and get by. And others of us are out of a job, or jumping from contract gig to contract gig, and money is a major source of our anxiety.
And whatever the case may be, we are unhappy or dissatisfied or out of sorts and want to leave the law but we feel that we can never make enough money if we were to leave and take a non-law job.
What we really make
According to the New York Times, first year BigLaw associates make around $160,000 a year.
According to CNN.com, most of the rest of us make $62,000 a year.
And in conversations with many of you, the salary figures are all across the board.
And so are our expenses – we have student loans of $100,000 to $200,000, mortgage, rent, kids’ college tuition, car loans,