I have heard that the opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference. Likewise, the opposite of confidence is not doubt. It is confusion. The ongoing question of can I or should I, plague our minds to the point that we are paralyzed and unable to move. As small business owners we are often confused as to how we approach our business, our customers, or even ourselves. It is that confusion that leads us to decisions that are damaging.
In an attempt to provide myself with comfort and release a cathartic hypothesis, I decided to share a piece of the brick from the road I am traveling. For those of you who don’t know, I am a lawyer. I practice in the greater Houston, Texas area.
This year has been one of those years where I have had to look for any inkling of positivity to keep moving forward. It hasn’t necessarily been bad, but it hasn’t been great either. There have been deep valley lows and mountain top highs. This had kept my emotions on a roller coaster like path. One which I cannot seem to escape and that I have come to realize is part of the path to create the business I really want.
Earlier this year, I took a case that I totally thought was winnable. It was a new client. I had come in late into the case, but the facts were not complicated and I thought we could come to some resolution. Long story short, I was completely wrong. Every attempt at compromise failed and we ended up going to trial. I thought we had a strong case and a good argument. The judge thought so too, as she ruled against us. Procedural and evidence issues, caused a massive loss to my client and my ego.
At this point my confidence was shattered in a way that I honestly had never experienced before. I felt like a loser in the most literal and figurative senses imaginable. It was so devastating that I could not ever bare to tell anyone what happened. Epic fail was an understatement.
Last year I took a case for a previous client. In all honesty, I never thought we would win. I told my client as much, but she insisted on moving forward. She had a strong conviction and was resolute in her position. I only took the case because we had a previous business relationship, I had no confidence that I would win.
It took about a year before we obtained any ruling on this case. It was different from the other one as there was not a trial per say, but a host of hearings and written arguments from which the judge had to rule. This case was a crap shoot. We had a valid argument, but not a strong case. It was like threading a needle, we had to make one point and make that point so strongly that there was no other choice but to rule in our favor.
I didn’t like my odds. But as luck would have it, the Judge did rule in our favor. I’m still stunned as I write this post. Facing the impossible odds (even other attorneys I spoke to about the case didn’t think it was winnable), we won. Despite the win, it did not and has not erased my devastating low from the previous loss of the winnable case. I lost a case that was impossible to lose and I won the case that I should have lost. So now I stand in this very uncomfortable situation. Can I really be confident in who I am and what I do when I lost a case that I should have one? Can I really doubt myself and think that I am worthless when I won a case I should have lost? It is a crazy place to be.
I about others who experience this same phenomenon, and think about what I would say. For every negative thing, think of something positive that you have done. It doesn’t matter if they are of equal value. Then for every negative thing, give it 1 point. And every positive thing, give it 2 points. I say that because it is easier to think of the negative things first. It takes more time and thought to say what “good” you have done. After it is said and done, throw the paper away and remember that you are the best person you can be right now. Do not confuse one bad situation as a determination of your worth and value. John Stewart said that David Letterman told him not to equate the failure of his first talk show with the failure of the man. Likewise, don’t equate the failures you encounter as the failure of you!
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.