Years ago, our daughter Jill and I exchanged a one word description of each other. I felt great when she described me as “Encourager.” I described her as “Determined.” Among many examples of Jill’s determination is her Jui-Jitsu efforts.


I’ve coached and encouraged many, many lawyers over the last 12 years, and I mentored and encouraged many when I was practicing law.

I’ve witnessed lawyers with great potential and determination become incredibly successful. I’ve learned that I can’t motivate the unmotivated. But, I’ve been most confused by lawyers who have identified what they want in their career and life and have  great potential and motivation to achieve it and then don’t go for it.

As I was doing research for my novel I found a 1983 New York Times article: SELF-SABATOGE IN CAREERS A COMMON TRAP.

The opening line stated the premise:

THE conflict is this: A powerful desire to achieve success is often thwarted by an even stronger fear of it.

The second line suggested the problem was more prevalent in women than men, but that was changing.

That debilitating fear of being successful, which some regarded in the 1970’s as particularly prevalent among career-minded women, increasingly appears to be an abiding problem for members of both sexes.

Two quotes also caught my attention. The first by Benjamin Franklin:


The second by George Bernard Shaw:


In my coaching and mentoring, I’ve discovered that some who fear success do so because a more senior lawyer has defined what success means. Other lawyers fear success in their career because it might take away from their family.

Some lawyers don’t want the additional responsibility. I understand. In my career what kept me up at night more than any other thing was worrying whether the lawyers I had assigned important work for important clients were doing it well.

I wanted to find something more current and a suggestion how to overcome the challenge. I found an interesting blog post: 10 Sure-Fire Ways To Conquer The Fear Of Success written by Barrie Davenport. If this subject interests you, take a look at the 10 suggestions.