By: Alison Monahan
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid to fail?”
But I’m not sure that’s the right question to be asking.
Sure, as a mental exercise it might be helpful…I mean, I’d love to be able to snap my fingers and climb Everest, or surf Mavericks, without going through the “Holy crap, this is really scary, I might die” phase. But am I actually going to do either of those things?
Probably not. (Everest isn’t inconceivable, but my one surfing attempt made it clear that’s not the sport for me.)
Is there an alternative?
The Fear Isn’t Going Away
I saw an interesting speech recently where the speaker talked about being so terrified by her new role that she literally couldn’t sleep. She was up every night, worrying about what was going to happen to the company she was leading and fearing she’d made the wrong decision. At some point, one of her employees told her she was sure everything would be fine in the end, because this insomnia-ridden scaredy cat was “the most fearless person she’d ever known.” Hello, disconnect!
But I think that’s kind of the point — it’s not:
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
(which implies that one magical day you won’t be afraid) but:
“What can you do even though you’re afraid?”
Let’s face it — law school (and being a lawyer) is pretty scary for most people. You’re in a new environment where you don’t really understand the rules, the system is set up so you have to compete with the people who’d otherwise be your allies, and your immediate successes, or failures, are very public.
It’s normal to feel intimidated. But — and this is a big but — feeling intimidated isn’t a reason to give in to your fear.