A Lawyers’s Advice For Conquering Your Fears

There’s one thing no one told me when I set out to be a lawyer. That people would be scared of me. That’s right. Adding “Esq.” after my name creates fear and dread in at least 80 percent of the people I cross paths with.

I’m talking about smart, accomplished people. People who could run circles around me in terms of expertise in their own profession.

The fear shows up in their eyes first, like they have suddenly encountered a ferocious bear on a casual walk through the park, or as if they are going through a haunted house for the first time.

Sometimes their hands tremble a bit as they sign the fee agreement and retainer check. Sometimes they have a hard time putting sentences together into cohesive thoughts.

Sounds silly, right? If someone is going to be scared of me, shouldn’t it be because I have extensive training in self-defense? No. It’s the profession.

I understand this fear because we all have things that make us nervous. Maybe it’s going to the doctor’s office, visiting the dentist, or having to get in front of a large audience and give a speech. It can be a range of things that automatically triggers in you the inability to be the articulate and confident version of yourself. 

The best part is there are ways to help reduce fear and tackle it head on. After all, fear is just an acronym for false evidence appearing real. Did you know that?

Reduce fear by getting more information

Remember the end of The Wizard of Oz movie? Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion embark on a journey to see the all-powerful Wizard of Oz. When they get there, the little dog Toto pulls back the curtain and reveals a little old guy pretending to be the great and powerful Oz. When was the last time you pulled back the curtain surrounding your fears? Before letting fear get the better of you, don’t forget the acronym. Where is your evidence to support this fear? Get additional information and explore the terrain a little better. Reduce your fear to a more manageable size by really examining it, not by feeding into it.

Reduce fear by deliberately setting it aside

Churchill once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Remember the time you were scared but you convinced yourself to push forward? We all have moments when we have to just go for it and take the risk. Several years ago my daughter was a junior life guard and had to jump off the Ocean Beach Pier, 30 feet above the water. I was scared just watching her, and I know she was terrified, but she jumped anyway. Having her overcome her fear was incredible to watch. Choose to not let fear stop you. In the immortal words of Nike, “Just Do It!”

Fear is a part of our everyday lives and can take many shapes and forms, but it doesn’t have to govern our lives. Pick a fear, hack it down to size with knowledge, and then throw it aside and boldly follow your dreams!