Rainmaking Recommendation #217: What Fears are Keeping You from Becoming a Rainmaker?

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay 


We all have fears. 

In fact, I am a trypanophobe and an arachnophobe – which sounds a hell of a lot more impressive than saying I am terrified of hypodermic needles and spiders.  Both phobias have very weird roots in how they started.  It has to do with a nightmare as a child (spiders) and a scene from the movie Tommy that I shouldn’t have been allowed to watch at the age of 7 (hypodermic needles).  Nevertheless, these are my biggest fears. 

Since I receive the flu shot every year, and because I live alone and sometimes spiders enter my home, I have learned to deal with these fears.  Concerning needles, I not only look the other way, but I cover my head with a jacket or towel or blanket (whatever is handy) so I don’t even have to see the needle.  For the record, I am not afraid of sewing needles, crochet needles, or record needles (look it up kiddies!).

As for spiders, I have a “spider vacuum”. It’s an old vacuum with a six-foot extension that really wasn’t effective in cleaning but still had enough power to suck the spider off the wall so I don’t have to actually touch the spider (Ewww).  And for those nature lovers who tell me I should catch and release the spider into the wild, I would tell them that the spiders were not invited into my house so I am using the “Castle Doctrine” which allows me to defend myself in my own home.      

These fears are not going to keep me from being successful at what I do. But some fears will. Specifically 3 fears:

  • Fear of Failure,
  • Fear of Rejection, and
  • Fear of Success

Fear of Failure:

Until recently, I had no idea that this fear was an actual phobia called atychiphobia and can present itself, when taken to its extreme, in panic attacks.  And while that is an extreme form, and I am not qualified to deal with this and suggest seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, most fear of failure is less extreme. 

The way the fear of failure manifests in lawyers is they do not try to do the things that will help them become Rainmakers.  And so they do not set the goals they need to enable them to develop the book of business they would like.  The fear is if they try, they will not succeed.  But, the wonderful thing about failure (if you can say there are wonderful things about failing) is that failure is an indication that you are not doing something right, and not that the goal isn’t a good one. Instead of letting it stop you, you need to find a new solution or method to achieve that goal. 

Confucius said:

“When it’s obvious the goal cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.”

Fear of rejection:

Nobody likes being rejected.  Period.

And while that could be the end of this section, I will elucidate.

We are born into a world where there are many other people. And to obtain what you need to survive, per Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you need other people.  So when you are rejected, it feels like a personal attack. 

“Being human, we long to be accepted and wanted. It hurts to be rejected and to experience loss”

How this fear shows up in lawyers who say they want to be rainmakers is that they don’t reach out to potential clients, the ones who would be their ideal clients with whom to work, because they are afraid they will be rejected.  So they hem and they haw and then lose momentum. 

Seth Godin recently posted one of the best blogs on rejection that I have ever read.  Just 23 words that can change your perspective on being rejected:

“They didn’t reject you.

They rejected an application. They rejected a business plan. They rejected a piece of paper.

They don’t know you.”

Fear of Success:

The fear of success sounds like such bull sugar.  Who would be afraid to be successful?  Aren’t we all looking to be successful? 

Believe it or not, the fear of success is the fear of change.  What happens if you become successful?  In most instances, your life will change. You may become well-known as the go-to-attorney you would like to be.  You may feel pressure to keep being known as “THE” attorney and many people begin to self-sabotage by procrastination.

Denis Waitley, a famous personal development author, and motivational speaker once said:

“Procrastination is the fear of success. People procrastinate because they are afraid of the success that they know will result if they move ahead now. Because success is heavy, carries a responsibility with it, it is much easier to procrastinate and live on the ‘someday I’ll’ philosophy.”

In the spirit of full disclosure, I will tell you that I suffer from both the fear of failure and the fear of rejection (which really aren’t that far off from each other).   But thankfully, when I feel these fears, I stop and ask myself the following question:

“What is the worst thing that could happen?”

And, if the answer is not “I’m going to die,” then I take a deep breath and plunge right in.

There will always be times when I will not be successful in an endeavor – like the first time I created a course and no one signed up – but you get over it and you move on.  There will always be people who don’t like you, and most of the time they do not have a valid reason to do so (unless you are a jerk which is a totally different story). 

But now, more than ever, you have to get over your fears. 

We are living in a very frightening world at this moment.  Some are very legitimate – the fear of getting sick, the fear of being laid off, the fear of not being able to pay your bills – but you can do something about these fears.

To avoid getting sick, follow the doctor’s orders.

To avoid being laid off and not being able to pay your bills, take control of your legal career.  Those who have the ability to bring in new clients regardless of what is happening in the world will always have a job and money.   

In 2009, at the height of the Great Recession, Heather Morse-Geller wrote a great blog entitled “Law Firm Rainmakers: The New Untouchables.” that is just as apropos today as it was then.

It starts: 

“I don’t know why this isn’t intuitive, but, if you bring in new business to a law firm, or you are identified as having the ability to bring in new business, your job will be, for the most part, safe in this economy.”

And it ends with 3 suggestions on how to safeguard your career:

“1. Personally invest in coaching & business development training
2. Take advantage of your firm’s marketing department, or local Legal Marketing Association.
3. Take a rainmaker to lunch.”

#1 is a bit self-serving, there are also a myriad of great business development coaches out there who can help you if I cannot.  And #3 is a bit difficult this time, but that doesn’t mean you cannot meet with the Rainmakers in the firm via virtual platforms or speak with them on the phone. 

If you want to become a Rainmaker you have to get over the fears listed above and start performing the tasks you need to become the Rainmaker you want. 

  • If you are a mid-level associate who would like to become a partner or a partner looking to become a Rainmaker and are interested in individual coaching but would like to take it for a test drive, schedule your FREE Rainmaking Coaching Session
  • If you are a law firm leader and would like to discuss bringing a virtual training program or a Rainmaking Webinar (with Ethics CLEs)  email me. 

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