Why being a lawyer just doesn’t feel right

My daughter is a big fan of the Peanuts cartoons. She shared one strip with me. She said that reading it made her think of the lawyers we help to leave the law.

Charlie Brown and his sister Sally are waiting at the school bus stop one morning, lunch bags in hand. Sally looks at the cars driving by and asks “Who are all those people driving by in those cars?”

Charlie Brown says “Those are people going to work.”

“Work?” Sally says

Charlie Brown explains “They used to wait for the school bus, like we’re doing … Now they have to go to work every day for the rest of their lives”

Sally says: “Good grief! Whose idea was that?”

Right, whose idea was that?

So many of us did what seems like everything “right” in your life. We did everything we were supposed to do.

We got the grades. We made (or tried very hard to make) our parents proud. We pursued safety and security and avoided the unknown and risk.

We applied to, got accepted by and graduated law school.

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This is how we thrive and grow and succeed

I made a typo in a blog post a few years back, and a number of readers noticed it. They took the time to email me and point out the error I made. It bummed me out that whole day, and as you can tell, I have not forgotten about it …

I may have left the law, but I still battle with the lawyer’s perfectionism. I still bristle sometimes at “constructive” criticism. I still have areas of me that want to be perfect from the outset. I still don’t want to fail.

And the advice many “experts” or motivational speakers give on how to handle failure often isn’t that helpful: embrace failure, failure is the first step to success, you only know what you want from failing, and on and on.

Sure, make sense. But it’s still general, nebulous advice that can be difficult to get our arms around.

And this advice doesn’t lessen the blow at all. Failing hurts. It’s hard to be comfortable with. We lawyers instinctively want to avoid it.

 

Two kinds of failure

But recently, the value of failure became more clear to me.

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How to leave the law in 5 seconds

I remember asking a client who successfully got an informational interview lined up with a tech CEO how he was able to call the busy CEO and get to talk to him and get time on his calendar.

“I called him” was my client’s response.

He just did it. He called the CEO.

He didn’t let his fear or anxiety or risk of embarrassment make him hesitate or back away from the task at hand.

He acted.

 

The Five-Second Rule

It reminds of a great TedX talk from Mel Robbins, CNN correspondent, life coach, motivational speaker and law school grad. In it, she expands on her popular Five-Second Rule.

The Rule says that anytime you have an idea that seems like a sure thing, act to advance it within five seconds. Don’t hem and haw, don’t hesitate, don’t not-act.

Act within 5 seconds. Make the call. Raise your hand. Click the button. Write down the idea.

Something. Do something within 5 seconds of the idea, but just don’t do nothing. Because science has proven that if you don’t act within 5 seconds,

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Would you jump out of a plane to salvage the rest of your life?

I watched a video recently of actor Will Smith speaking about his first sky diving trip.

He talked about how he only agreed to go sky diving after being forced into it over dinner and drinks with a group of friends. They all wanted to go, he didn’t want to be the only one not to go, so he said he was in. Peer pressure even works on famous celebrities.

But he was very afraid of jumping out of the plane.

He was too afraid to sleep. He was too afraid to eat.

The fear was a feeling caused by his belief that jumping out of the plane was going to put him in danger. It was going to cause him pain. Or loss or death or whatever else bad …

The fear of course only grew as he entered the plane. As they climbed to 14,000 feet. As the door opened. As the wind rushed in. As he stood at the edge of doorway.

And then he was pushed.

And as he dropped out of the plane … he said it was the most exhilarating experience he has ever had.

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How to overcome one of the biggest obstacles to leaving the law

In this week’s video, I touch on how to overcome one of the biggest obstacles we face in trying to leave the law.

I faced it in 2004 when I left the law for good.

And I speak weekly with so many of us who still face it.

The fear and anxiety it causes can stop us in our tracks.

Fortunately, there is a way around it.

Hope you enjoy the video.

Are you serious about leaving the law?

Want to talk with me for free? Go to http://meetme.so/LeaveLawBehind.

Interested in the Online Training Program & Community? Go to http://leavelawbehind.com/online-training.

Want to discuss One to One Coaching? Go to http://leavelawbehind.com/coaching.

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[Video] I love getting phone calls like this

I shot this video (it’s short, only 2:45) this past weekend after reflecting on my daughter’s softball game … and after thinking about a phone conversation I had with a fellow Leave Law Behind community member.

My daughter was afraid of being hit by the ball when she was at bat … and by trying to avoid being hit, she ended up striking out.

And the attorney I spoke with was afraid of all the risk he associated with leaving the law … and by trying to avoid making any mistakes, he ended up doing nothing and remained unhappy.

Check out the video below to see how both were able to mitigate their fears (not fully overcome their fears yet, just reduce them a bit) to be able to create some momentum and move forward.

 

 

Do you need some help?

Want to talk with me for free? Go to http://meetme.so/LeaveLawBehind

Interested in the Online Training Program? Go to http://leavelawbehind.com/online-training.

Want to discuss One to One Coaching? Go to http://leavelawbehind.com/coaching.

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Can you picture yourself leaving the law?

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

Chinese proverb

Total insomnia

Last weekend I went skiing with some of my best friends I’ve known since childhood. We rented a cabin right off of Lake Tahoe, in the mountains of California. Sounds great, right?

It was a great … but I have to admit, it started off really wrong.

I’m not sure if it was the elevation or the excitement of being with friends or something else altogether, but I had trouble falling asleep the first night.

A lot of trouble.

Total insomnia.

All of my buddies were asleep like babies, snoring, peaceful, relaxed.

And there I was, middle of the night, eyes wide open, awake on the living room couch.

All alone in the dark, my mind racing. Anxious. Nervous. Frustrated. Worried I’d be a wreck the next day. Trying to figure out what I had done to deserve this.

And I also tried really hard to fall asleep: I paced, I did pushups, I drank water, I looked out the window,

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Begin

It is raining very hard. It is very quiet and so I can hear what seems like every rain drop on our roof and windows and balcony. It is very quiet because it is Saturday night and it is dark out and my children are asleep and my wife is asleep and the dog is asleep.

A big storm is passing over California. All week. We have had years of drought, so we all rejoice when we have wet winters.

But actually the television weather people don’t seem to be rejoicing much – they only gloomily talk about how there may be flooding and downed trees and power outages and food shortages. I prefer to listen to the rain and be thankful that we now have water.

Needing greatness

I wondered a lot about what I was going to write this week, and so I ended up not writing much. I wondered and wondered and wondered. I wasn’t getting anywhere in my mind wondering so I didn’t even start writing. And that’s how I got to watching the weather on television.

I didn’t write because I didn’t have anything to write.

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Why I stopped being perfect

One of the major obstacles to leaving the law is our need to be perfect. Our need to not make mistakes.

I shot this short video for you (it’s 3 1/2 minutes long) delving into this fear we have of imperfection, and if you prefer reading, I jotted below some of the points I talk about in the video.

 

Celebrate the mistake

Of course, as a practicing attorney, we need to be perfect (or close to it). We have our fiduciary duties, we have judges to impress, counsel to oppose, clients to serve. We need to be perfect or close to perfect, and that is part of the job.

It’s also a main source of all the stress and anxiety that we feel as attorneys. There isn’t much cushion to make a mistake as we practice law.

But in leaving the law, it’s actually quite the opposite. In leaving the law, in being in a non-law job, and in succeeding in the world out there, making mistakes is welcomed.

Making mistakes is often celebrated.

Making mistakes is recognized as necessary.

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The three things you are worried about

 

 

Last week I asked readers to schedule a time to speak with me. To talk about anything – to vent, to ask questions, to brainstorm next steps.

I’ve spoken with many of you. It’s been great. I hope I’ve been able to help, and I know I’ve learned so many insights from many of you.

And I wanted to share with everyone the three main, consistent themes that have surfaced in these talks.

For those who prefer auditory learning, I shot at the above short video for you (it’s short, just a bit over 3 minutes).

And for those of you who would rather read, I continue in more detail below.

 

We are not alone

So many of us looking to leave the law are battling with anxiety, self doubt and the fear of the unknown.

We are kicking ourselves for going to law school and doing work we don’t like. We feel we have wasted our time, our potential and our money. We don’t feel confident anyone else will every hire us.

And we feel we’re the only ones struggling with this.

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