This week in Things I Wish I Knew, Joleena Louis discusses how fear of failure affects a solo attorney.
Starting and running a solo practice means dealing with a lot of different emotions, including anger, surprise and pride.
But the most difficult emotion to deal with as a solo is fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what might happen or what might not.
When it all boils down to it, it means fear of failure.
I recently went through a divorce and it can be said that a lot of it came down to me putting my career first.
Fear of failure is unpleasant and has proven to be a real stress on my career as a solo.
Fear of failure can be a motivational killer.
For me, the primary root of fear is uncertainly.
When you are a solo, this uncertainty can lie in a lot of areas: paying the bills next month, keeping clients coming in, keeping my current clients happy, and whether I can really do this.
Constantly worrying about these things and being afraid of this uncertainty is extremely draining, and it can kill the motivation needed to keep pushing our practices forward.
The thought of taking the easy road out made me feel worse.
I recently considered giving it all up and going back to working for someone else. On the surface, it seemed so much easier to put in my 9-6 and walk away with a paycheck every week. No more uncertainty and a lot less stress.
In the span of a week I sent out resumes, got called for interviews and was even offered a couple of positions.
But instead of feeling happy, I felt like I failed. I felt like I failed those who believed in me, including my family and most importantly my clients. I worked so hard to get my practice to where it is and it’s not fair to give up on it now because things got hard.
Knowing that I still had the potential to do more and I gave it up would haunt me.
It’s hard giving up the “solo” identity.
The funny thing about being a solo is not only are we fiercely independent, but we are also rebels in a sense.
I like being in charge of my schedule and being able to choose the clients I represent. I’ve worked hard to build a brand and reputation in the legal community and I don’t feel comfortable giving someone else control of that brand.
After this experience I received the best advice from my little sister. She asked me if I was honestly doing everything possible to grow my business. The answer was “no.”
She told me that if I worked harder than anyone else, if I did everything I could possibly do to succeed, it would be impossible for me to fail.
So while I still have many fears, worries and concerns as a solo, I will no longer fear failure. Because I won’t allow myself to fail. That’s the difference.