I’ve written previously about the importance of saying nay to the naysayers – you know, those folks, some jealous, some just well-intentioned – who tell you that you won’t succeed in starting a law firm. Pesky as these external naysayers may be, the truth is, they’re only part of what’s holding you back. In many cases, the biggest naysayer is you!
For example, how many times have you rejected a marketing technique out of hand, such as cold-calling (too cheesy) or blogging (too time consuming) without trying it or coming up with a way to make it work for you? If you practice at a large firm, do you simply assume that you can’t handle the same lucrative, biglaw practice area on your own because no one else is doing it? And believe me, I’m as guilty of naysaying myself as anyone. Indeed, just now, I am training myself not to reflexively reject ideas out of hand merely because they’re off the beaten track or out of the box or contrary to conventional wisdom.
What’s really inspired me to stop naysaying myself, however, is this recent story about Randy Pausch, the former Carnegie Mellon professor dying of pancreatic cancer whose on Last Lecture about living your childhood dream has captivated and inspired millions. Jeff Zaslow, the Wall Street Journal reporter who helped break the story, asked Pausch to memorialize his lecture and other life lessons in a book. But Pausch initially declined, explaining that he wanted to spend his remaining time with his family. So Zaslow and Pausch came up with a plan. Each day, Pausch rode his bike an hour a day as a way to maintain his health. It was time spent away from family anyway, and necessary to Pausch’s well-being. Pausch would wear a cell phone headset during his rides, and during that time, he’d talk about his life, his family and his lecture to Zaslow, feeding him information for the book – which was just released.
If a dying professor intent on spending every waking minute with his family during his last months on earth can find a way to write a book, well then, there’s hope for all of us. So long as we focus on figuring out how to do what seems impossible or infeasible, rather than complaining about why we can’t.