A lawyer worked for me many years ago. I doubt he reads my blog, but even so I will call him Pete rather than his real name.

Pete was a really bright lawyer. He was a litigator. When a case came to Pete he might tell the client it was a very strong case. As time passed sometimes on the courthouse steps, Pete told his client they should settle the case. Pete was so afraid of losing that he felt compelled to settle every case.

None of you want to lose a case, a transaction, or a client. If you’ve had that experience, the photo below might look like a familiar scene.

When I lost a case, or worse yet a client, it hurt, really hurt. Each time I failed it was like putting a dagger in my heart. Yet, now many years later, I believe my failures made me a better lawyer helped me clarify what I would focus on and strive to become.

I was thinking about fear of failing while watching a video clip of J.K. Rowling speaking at a Harvard graduation. As you will see and hear, she failed early in her career. But, that failure in part made her the well known author she is today. In her presentation she said:

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.

As some of you know, when I turned 21 in 1968,  Robert Kennedy was running for President. I strongly believed he could bring the country together at a time when we were very divided. (Does that sound familiar in 2020?)

I watched many of his speeches during his short campaign that ended in his assassination. I repeat many of his quotes from those speeches. One I particularly like is:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

Last, but certainly not least is the one minute video of Michael Jordan. You’ve probably seen it, but it’s worth another minute to remember what he said.

Don’t let your fear of failing hold you back.