Do You Have Failure to Launch Syndrome?

Over the past year I have fallen in love with long-distance running. Specifically, the half marathon distance, 13.1 miles. Since last March, I’ve trained for and run 4 half marathons and an overnight relay with a comparable total distance.

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That’s me, running in the Ragnar Relay Florida Keys

That sounds crazy, even to me. But the fact is, this whole racing thing started with one step. I had been talking about getting fit for ages. I meant to go back to the gym. I meant to find the time to work out. I bought the shoes and the gym membership and even met with a trainer a few times. It never worked. I never got there.

Fitness finally started to click for me when I finally got my butt off the couch and took my very first running steps.

A friend was using one of those annoying apps that posts to Facebook every time she went for a run, and it caught my eye. The title was “Ease Into 5K.” It sounded doable, so I asked her: what are you doing? She told me it was a great app and I should give it a try. And she challenged me to sign up for an upcoming 5K. And finally, I did.

So out the door I went on my first ever run. And I mean EVER. I used to joke that I would only run if I was being chased… by a T-rex wearing a leather mask and carrying a chainsaw. But it wasn’t bad. I only had to run for 30 seconds at a time, with walk breaks in between. I kept at it, and before too long I was running 10 minutes, then 20, then 30 minutes at a stretch.

I was overweight. I was slow. I was 45-years old and wearing spandex. I am pretty sure I looked like I was having a seizure every time I laced up and hit the pavement. And I was loving it!

What the hell does any of this have to do with you and your law firm? I’m glad you asked!

What applies to every small business owner applies equally well to solo and small firm attorneys, and one of the biggest problems I see as a lawyer who represents small business owners is failure to launch.

I see it all the time: the business owner comes to me with an idea, a project or even a pretty fleshed-out business plan. They want to turn their idea into a business. They’ve been thinking about it for a while. Maybe they hate their job and would just like to work for themselves. Or maybe they see an opportunity to do something completely different. They’ve done their homework and they know what they want to do.

Despite all of their preparations, they are also terrified of the unknown. Just like I was afraid of how ridiculous I looked when I ran, these new business owners are afraid that they are going to fall on their faces. They are so afraid of failure that they can’t embrace the possibility of success.

You can over-plan. You can spin your wheels for a year writing the perfect business plan, and you still won’t know everything you need to know to start a business. You can seek out a hundred “experts” and ask a million questions and you still won’t feel like you’ve done enough preparation. You can read up on every book about starting a law firm. You can take every class offered on Solo Practice University.  You can save up six months of your Big Law salary, and you still won’t feel secure when you turn in your notice to the managing partner. I know. I was that lawyer.

You know the difference between every runner and every guy sitting on his couch thinking about joining a gym? One step. The runner took that one step out of his front door and started running.

The difference between planning for and actually starting a law firm is taking that one step. For me, it was setting a date to launch my firm, then handing in my notice at Big Law. After that, the rest was relatively easy. I walked at first, but now I’m up and running.

Inertia is real. You can talk about starting your own firm all day long, but until you take that first step you won’t ever actually make the move.

All opinions, advice, and experiences of guest bloggers/columnists are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, practices or experiences of Solo Practice University®.

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2 comments on “Do You Have Failure to Launch Syndrome?

  • Some lawyers certainly could use a lesson from the successful crowd of action-oriented entrepreneurs. They rarely suffer from over-planning (which drives their lawyers crazy sometimes). I hear it from my most successful clients all the time: “We will work out the kinks as we go, but let’s get started now.”

  • Very apropos for me at the moment – thanks! I have more or less set June 1st as my launch date (yeah, I know …. more or less … see what I mean?)

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