Making a significant change is hard, but doing it without support is even harder.
In theory, a lot of people are supporting you and want you to succeed.
In practice, not as many do. Not because they don’t want to, or because they’re bad people.
But just because, well…
It’s a lot of things as I’m sure you know by now. Because if you’re like most people you’ve had that experience of not getting support from someone you expected would give it.
Some people are just negativity zombies. So don’t expect them to be upbeat when they hear about how you plan to try something new.
So, here’s the deal…
If you want to make big changes to your practice you need to be picky about who you talk to about it.
You need to be careful who you spend time with, and try to find folks who are supportive because they’ve been through what you are going through.
When I was first trying to figure out how to adopt technology to make my practice easier I was in a big firm. No one there cared about technology.
They didn’t care too much about efficiency either since that meant (in their short-term thinking mentality) fewer billable hours.
I felt like an outcast, a weirdo, for thinking that technology could help me practice law better, and in a more enjoyable way.
I had to leave the big firm to clear my head.
Hurricane Katrina gave me an excuse and a cover story. But the real reason I left was I couldn’t take the negativity anymore.
Negativity wrapped in cluelessness, disguised as a well-run firm.
What kind of cluelessness?
Oh, don’t get me started. I have so many stories.
But forget about the cluelessness. What really bothered me was the negativity.
And one thing I’ve learned is how insidious negativity can be…
When I announced I was leaving the firm my law partners were shocked.
Sure, they offered superficial encouragement and support.
But in reality, they felt like I was betraying them somehow. Like I didn’t appreciate their process.
Weirdly, I felt like maybe they were right to be negative.
I felt guilty, and I didn’t have a lot of confidence that my “plan” for starting a solo practice would succeed.
I projected confidence outwardly, but inside I was afraid.
I was afraid that my solo practice would fail and I’d need to return to a big firm to make the money I needed to make.
Which would be humiliating for me, and a source of schadenfreude for my old law partners.
Fortunately, things worked out the way I hoped they would.
I practiced law in a simpler, less stressful way.
I got a steady flow of great clients and confidently turned away prospects who seemed high-maintenance or troublesome in any way.
I had more free time and my life was now flexible enough that I could work as much as I wanted, when I wanted and where I wanted.
I practiced law from my living room for several months after I went out on my own and it was sublime. I even had client meetings in my living room.
Turned out my clients loved that kind of informality even more than me. Who knew?
In the end, I discovered something.
And I couldn’t have discovered this while working in a large firm.
I discovered that you can create the exact kind of practice that makes you most satisfied, based on your unique sense of what provides deep fulfillment.
Very few people will understand your unique sense of fulfillment.
And if they don’t understand it they probably won’t support it.
if they’re not fulfilled themselves (and most people aren’t sufficiently fulfilled) they’ll probably downplay or dismiss your aspirations.
Consciously or unconsciously, it doesn’t matter.
To you, it feels the same: lack of support and reflexive criticism hurts.
It wounds and it discourages.
So, if you want to make big changes to your practice…
Find people who understand what you are trying to do and will support you in a way that provides you with confidence that what you’re trying to do makes sense and is achievable.