The Ubiquitous Fear of Failure — And How To Overcome It

I can tell you from my own experience – and from the things I have heard from other lawyers as I have gone along in my career – that the anxiety people feel when they think or talk about developing a book of business of their own is incredibly high.

If you’re feeling this way, you are not alone. You are part of a huge majority.

There are a few things driving the anxiety, but the biggest, of course, is failure. Lawyers are scared that they won’t be able to build a book even if they try. We hate to fail as a general rule, and this forum is so foreign to us that we have no idea how to be successful. In our minds, if we don’t know how to succeed, we are destined to fail. The worst thing about this fear is that it completely paralyzes us; we stop doing anything at all.

In reality, very few things you do with a view to building your business can truly fail. That is because there are four objectives you should have in mind with every activity that you undertake as an effort to build your business. Activities are then bound to accomplish at least one of these objectives, which are:

  1. Make a connection with someone who will support you in some aspect of your career;
  2. Make a connection with someone who you will support in some aspect of their career;
  3. Be a visible, interested, and engaged participant in an event that is important to a community that is important to your career; and
  4. Make a connection with someone who will ultimately be part of a chain of people through which work will flow.

Most lawyers are focused on the last one, or some variation of it. But, if you go into everything you do hoping or expecting that you will leave with a file or with a relationship that will send you a file in the near future, you will forever be immersed in failure. It almost never happens that way.

If you broaden your mind and look at your career more holistically, you’ll see that it is more important to build your profile and network of people that will form the foundation of a successful and satisfying career, rather than leave every party with a file in your grasp.

When you finally embrace that concept you will start to really enjoy the things you are doing to build your business. The genuineness that you bring to it will show and people will be drawn to you. And guess what? The work will start to flow.

Testimonials

Jane is like magic. She helps you stretch your imagination of what’s possible, and then helps you actually make it happen. She inspires, supports and collaborates, all while making you laugh.

- Associate, 5+ years Previous

Jane accomplished the impossible: she made me enthusiastic about marketing and the business side of law. Her encouragement, advice and support have been invaluable.

- Partner, 10+ years

Jane is a force of nature. You may think you can cruise in your career, but from the second you’re in her presence, you’re inspired to do more, be more and aspire to more.

- Partner, 10+ years

Jane is a force of nature. You may think you can cruise in your career, but from the second you’re in her presence, you’re inspired to do more, be more and aspire to more.

- Partner, 10+ years
In the past, I’ve been frustrated by marketing advice that’s so vague it’s meaningless. Jane provided me with concrete, practical advice… she is a straight-talker and fun to work with!”
- Partner, 15+ years Previous