The Law Office of John M. Zenir
Face Your Fears And Success Will Follow
Change can be a terrifying thing. But in the spirit of the new year, I want to share how empowering it can be to face the fear of change. The scariest challenge I’ve ever faced is also the most dramatic change I’ve ever faced because it impacted more than just my own life. But I learned that if you’re willing to take steps toward facing your fears, the reward you can reap makes it all the more worthwhile. Even though I studied criminal justice in school and went on to earn my law degree, I’d been working full time in sales for 20 years. I was content, and my family was provided for. But after some major changes in company management, quality careened downhill so rapidly that I couldn’t just sit around and wait for the inevitable. Customers made it clear they were unsatisfied with the business, so I no longer felt right about continuing to provide that service. I had to face the facts and make the decision to leave, and it was the most terrifying moment of my life because it so heavily impacted everyone I cared for. The process of making the switch from sales to law was the second hardest challenge I’ve faced in my life. We had no money saved in the bank and a child going off to college. My wife had to reenter the workforce so we could make ends meet, but we were determined to continue giving our kids the life they envisioned. That meant a lot of long days and longer nights for me. By day, I was running around town getting to know other attorneys, frequenting courthouses to look for clients, and using every moment in between to educate myself. By night, I was selling magazine subscriptions from the basement office in our home. It wasn’t the most glamorous period of our lives, but it kept food on our table and allowed our kids to continue thriving.
As I became more experienced with law, the third biggest challenge I had to face was the decision to lease my own office so I could operate as an official practice. After five years of renting a desk as needed, I still didn’t have the finances to lease my own space or hire staff to fill it. But a mentor at the time taught me a valuable lesson: Every step you take is going to generate revenue, even if you don’t have the revenue needed to make the step. So even if you don’t think you can, taking the first step is the first step to having the means to take it. It’s a bit of a twisted way of realizing that every positive action you take will pay itself forward eventually. I believe that’s because facing fears is all about taking steps: stepping up to face the challenge, taking one step at a time to bring yourself closer to your goal, and then taking that final step past it.
With the support of my family, the law community, and my mentors along the way, I faced my fear of making a drastic change in my life. It wasn’t an overnight success. I had many restless nights full of fear about making the next decision. But 25 years later, I look back and see that my fear is many steps behind me. So, in this new year, face your fears and whatever challenges accompany them. As long as you keep stepping, you’ll get where you need to go.
-John M. Zenir
Joke of the Month: I’ve been trying to get over my fear of elevators. I’ve been taking steps to avoid them!
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