I've been facing an item on my to-do list for 9 weeks now. Nine weeks of repetition gets old. Almost worst than sitting down and doing the nasty task.
Here is the nasty task: for my website (that is being revised), I am supposed to add a "What is Holistic Law" section which is to include my personal story. The only problem is I'm tired of telling my personal story.
In brief, here it is:
In college, I was too chicken, or poorly advised to pursue fashion design, acting, writing, computers, psychology, or marketing/business. So I studied economics instead. I thought a creative, liberal arts education wouldn't be marketable. I went to law school as a back-up plan and because I wanted to make good money and always have a job.
Hah, hah, hah.
Many soul-sqeezing hours of labor later, I was out of a law job and having a fun holiday season at the Bon Marche. Then back into the boiling pot for more intense work hours of litigation. At one point, fed up with litigation, I quit the practice of law altogether. I took me 75 new-agey seminars and countless self-help books to get there.
Quitting with no back-up job a leap- right off the cliff of life. I became very acquainted with the concept of fear. To get through the rough passage, I relied on a mantra. Every day I'd get up and tell myself:
Today I will apply my talents, skills and interests, and I trust that eventually the Universe will put me to work doing something that others are willing to pay me for.
It took about six months before I realized I could take a private client. With this realization, I jumped into solo law practice. The first few years were lean. I remember calling my friend from
work that first summer. "Please come give me a ride home from work. I don't have bus
money, I have no money in my account, and no credit available on my
credit card." She said, "I'll do better than that. I'll take you
out. You can have anything on the menu." We went to the Olive
Garden. The rest of the weekend I ate from all those cans on the
second to the top-shelf of the kitchen. You know, the ones you usually
take to Northwest Harvest around Thanksgiving as a donation to the
poor. That year, I ate my Northwest Harvest donations. But I survived to talk about it. It turns out, sacrificing for a greater career objective isn't that awful when you are in the thick of it.
What I did in those early years of self-employment was to be a fanatic in selecting clients. I gave away 75% of the cases that came my way. I gave away one divorce case that generated $110,000 in legal fees the year I netted $24,000. I preferred to eat really shitty food than compromise my integrity doing work that felt shitty. I was a legal-purist.
Actually, those early clients were really lucky. They were hand-picked. Money could not buy me. And I loved them! I would plant flowers in my garden so that by the time their divorce was complete I would have a bouquet ready. I'd buy them gifts even before I had met them. I would spend the final 5 minutes of my work day praying for a happy outcome for them and asking for divine guidance as to how I could be of better service.
I was not perfect, however. My office procedures were lax. After years of being inprisioned by law firm protocols, I couldn't subject myself to much discipline.
But ohhhhhh, I loved my first batches of clients. I would sit in a client session, thinking to myself: "I love this work. This is so great. I can't believe I get to do this work and paid."
It was good. Then I got bored, and added more complex cases. I later learned about collaborative law and started a non-profit. I read Rich Dad Poor Dad and learned about the importance of wealth building, and bought myself a rental property.
Along the way to building a private practice, it feels that I made at least 139 major mistakes. The really big blunders that you read about in Business 101. Things like Listening to Experts. I didn't. But, in the end so what? Careers are a growth process, not a destination vacation.
After a series of cycles, I'm curiously right back at that confluence point again, scratching my head and wondering, "Hum, where to next?" I've got my preliminary plan but I'm wise to the fact that I have many options and can revise the plan as events unfold.
So where to next?
I think that is the critical question that develops when you tell your story.
Most people's lives are not like a kid's book, with a beginning, middle and end. We are more like Huck Finn. Lots of chapters and adventures. Tell one story, and we want another.
What is your story? But more curiously,.... what is your next story?