Pain, Pressure, Action

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Last week an attorney client of mine sent me a note thanking me for “saving his life, his marriage and his business”. 

Since it’s not often that I get credit for doing something so dramatic, I decided to reach out to the gentleman and ask what, specifically, I had done.

What he said surprised me.

And that is unusual because I’ve been around the block a few times.

Well, let me rephrase that…what he said was not as surprising as what he did.

Let’s start out by adding some context to this story. 

My client came to me about a year ago and told me that he was working over 70 hours each week.  He said that he had not spent any time with his wife and two young children in at least four months.  He had, however, been to the doctor three times during that same time period and he was diagnosed with high blood pressure. 

The guy was overwhelmed.

To top things off, even though he was killing himself – literally – he was continuously getting grief at work because he was always behind on the cases that were assigned to him.  (My client worked in a big firm where the Partners passed down work to the “more junior” people).

That’s the point where he came to see me.

Swamped.  Never home.  Sick.  And constantly getting his onions busted at work.

He was at the end of his rope.

When we first sat down he vented for over an hour.  He alternated between screaming and tearing up – especially when he talked about his kids and how they were growing up and he was missing it.

The advice I gave him was easy and practical.

I told him that he needed to start his own law firm immediately or he would be dead before his oldest son reached high school age. 

I scared the crap out of him.

We spent a few weeks discussing his fears about this – and I helped him work through those.  We discussed logistics.  And we discussed timing.

He said he would need to “think about it” and he left.  After that, I lost touch with him until I received his note the other day.  That’s not unusual as most folks would rather find a way to deal with the current situation rather than change.

When I finally had a conversation with him he filled in the rest of the story for me.

He said that he had gone home and discussed the move into a solo practice with his wife and she was concerned.  She saw tough times ahead as they sacrificed a six-figure salary in the short term for the hope of long term gain.

But as they continued the discussion, she began to see something that had been missing from her husband’s eyes for a long, long time. 

It was passion.

She knew that if he felt this strongly about the move, he would be successful.  So she supported him.

Now, two years later, this guy is making more in his own firm than he was making at the sweat shop. He weighs 30 pounds less and his blood pressure is normal.  And he takes Friday off every week to spend with his family.

So what was the thing that surprised me?

It was that the person receiving the advice took some action.  The fact that he did something about his situation is what gave me a moment of pause.

Getting good advice is one thing.  Implementing good advice is something totally different.

The next time you ask for advice thing seriously about what you will do with it.  Taking action could literally save your life.