September 5, 2015

By  Casey Berman

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I was on vacation recently with my wife and two kids. And while it does take some time for me to disconnect from my normal life when we go on vacation, we were able to ultimately arrive at a nice and mindful and fun routine.

One way we did so was by catching up on movies (read: Pixar and Dreamworks kid movies) each night. We watched a number of them including Night at the Museum, Planes 2 and Mr. Peabody & Sherman.


He shouldn’t have listened

The main character of Mr. Peabody is a highly intellectual and accomplished cartoon dog that has adopted a human boy, Sherman.

In the movie, Peabody and Sherman suffer the usual suspects: a bully at Sherman’s new school, bad people who don’t understand why a dog would raise a boy, and history and world influencing mishaps while traveling back and forth in their time machine.

It’s the time traveling part that I found interesting and applicable to us.

In one scene from the Renaissance time, Mr. Peabody and Sherman visit Leonardo Da Vinci. Sherman secretly explores Da Vinci’s attic workshop high above the ground, and discovers his early flying machine prototype.

Unbeknownst to Da Vinci and Mr. Peabody, Sherman takes off in the machine, screams, almost crashes, and twists and turns through the air, until he gets the hang of things and confidently and successfully flies around Florence. Sherman’s face is full of joy as he realizes that, yes!, he is flying. He got this contraption to actually fly!

As he zooms over the Da Vinci estate to show Peabody the great news, Mr. Peabody spots him and is aghast. He is mad that his boy took off on his own and he is embarrassed that he may wreck Da Vinci’s machine.

“What are you doing up there?!†screams Mr. Peabody.

“I’m flying!†yells Sherman elatedly.

Mr. Peabody looks furious and screams back: “But you don’t know how to fly!”

“I don’t!?†squeals Sherman.


And with that, Sherman’s face turns sideways, he loses his confidence and he proceeds to crash.


We know how to fly

Whatever we believe will happen, will happen. And the converse is true too.

This can be very difficult for us attorneys to recognize and come to terms with. We attorneys are for the most part empirically based animals. We need to consider as much of the evidence, reason–based arguments and risk factors we can find in order to make a decision. It can be difficult for us to base what we do or don’t do (at work or in life) in large part on what we believe.

But it’s true. When we are told and made to believe that we cannot do something, like leaving the law, then we can convince ourselves we cannot do something.

And so we don’t do it.

But we do know how to leave the law. There are clear steps to take.

First we just need to believe we can leave the law. We just need to firmly believe we can make this life change.

Here are three ways to begin to believe:

1. First off, let’s realize that people who doubt us oftentimes actually just doubt themselves

As we begin to truly believe in ourselves that we can make this life change, we can realize that many others in our life have not made a similar life change (lawyer or non-lawyers), or haven’t thought seriously about this life change, or know they won’t ever have the courage or energy or will to make this life change.

So when we describe to others our anxieties and fears and goals and wishes about leaving the law, many of these people may not be supportive.

That is okay. It doesn’t mean these people are mean or malicious – many of them are likely the ones who care for us the most.

But it does mean that they are likely afraid. Afraid for us to take a risk, afraid for themselves to be left behind, afraid for both of us of the unknown.

We can always love these people, but we cannot take their doubt as fact. It’s likely their issue, not ours.

2. Know that it only takes one first step to begin to believe

Leaving the law is a process of steps.

And the best way to begin to take these steps is to make baby steps – small incremental steps that build momentum and confidence. It enables us to try things, to fail without failing too much and to understand what works, what doesn’t work, what we want and what we don’t want.

There is an established set of baby steps to take:

  • Forecast our money situation and see what we can, and cannot do, financially.
  • Address our identity as a lawyer and explore whether this is an obstacle to leaving the law.
  • Explore our Unique Genius and become very comfortable with our skills and strengths and to which non-legal jobs our skill set can add the most value.
  • Get out there – set up informational interviews with people in the non-legal roles we think we’d like to explore, and learn more about them and find potential opportunities.
  • List the nagging fears that we still have about leaving, and work to overcome them.
  • Throughout it all, train our mind to become more courageous, confident, authentic, sincere, in-tune, dynamic, strong, happy.

Choose one. Do them in order, or in parallel. Try it. Try again.

Email me and tell me what you want to do, and how it went.

3. Realize that belief is a thing

As we’ve discussed, in life and at work, and especially with leaving the law, we attorneys feel more comfortable once we have seen the evidence. We want to see the tangible goods in our hands, we want to see the terms spelled out, we want to see it to believe it.

And if we don’t see “itâ€, we have trouble believing that “it†is even possible.

So we need to realize that the fluffy, intangible, touch-feely thing called a “feeling†or an “emotion†is actually a “thingâ€. An emotion is actually “itâ€.

That’s because when we believe something can be done, when we feel something that grows our confidence, more than likely an emotion has manifested itself in our mind, in our soul, in our gut. And it is there. And it makes us feel good. And it is a thing that exists. It cannot be denied. We just need to recognize it as evidence we are seeking right now.

So when we visualize forward and say and think I have left the law and I have reached my potential and I am happy and I am worthy and I know what I want and I do good work, we also feel a corresponding emotion. Happiness. Contentment. Alignment. Clarity. Confidence.

These emotions are real things. Our belief we can leave is a real thing. Our ability to leave the law is a real thing.


Mr. Peabody … the boy crashed not because he couldn’t fly. He crashed because he was caused to believe that he could no longer fly. Change that belief, Mr. Peabody, and the boy is still soaring …

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