Why Never Taking Risks Will Destroy You
Me, You and Taking Risks As We Age
As I have gotten older, I don’t take risks like I used to take.
I do realize my failure to take risks could cause the destruction of my “self.” Or of someone else’s life.
I seriously have to snap out of it.
And, if you aren’t taking risks in your own life, you have to snap out of it, too.
By not taking risks, you will cease to evolve. You will live a boring, uneventful life and die a slow, unhappy death. On top of that, you are cheating other people out of the power you have to help them. You are giving up your chance to do your part in saving the world.
Let me illustrate my point.
The Risks Taken By a Young, Clueless Lawyer
In 1999, I left the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office to open my own law practice. I didn’t even think twice about leaving, about where the new clients would come from or whether I would make it. I was at a point in my career where I just had to go; I felt I had something to offer the world that I wouldn’t be able to do while working as a prosecutor.
Without any money or clients, I quit my job and hung up my shingle.
I was overzealous and unbelievably driven at that point in my career. That’s probably because I was hungry. I knew that only one person was going to “make” things work and that person was me.
At that time, I didn’t know any other kind of law except for criminal. Because I had to eat, I took almost every case that found its way to me. Looking back on my life, I have never felt more overwhelmed, clueless OR tired. Each day felt endless because during most of them, I actually started work at 6:00 a.m. and didn’t finish until 10:00 or 11:00 at night.
It kind of sucked. Still though, I was happy because I was passionate about learning new areas of law. I was committed to doing an exceptional job for every client who I was thankful to call my own.
Taking On the U.S. Government
(Certain facts have been omitted and/or changed to protect the identity of my former clients.)
During the late 1990s, an Eastern European family found their way to me through my miniscule ad in the Yellow Pages. (Do the Yellow Pages even exist anymore?) This family was in desperate need of help because the mom and dad (“S” and “J”) were on the verge of being deported because their visas had expired.
When the family had originally come to the U.S., they were granted political asylum due to being persecuted for belonging to a class of people called “gypsies” in their country. For reasons too complicated to go into, they were on the verge of being whisked onto a plane back “home.” If that happened, they would be returning to a place where they would likely be enslaved and mistreated.
While residing in Phoenix, S and J had given birth to a beautiful daughter, “Little S.” Unfortunately for Little S, if her parents were deported, she would either be abandoned here alone OR go with them to a country where she would certainly suffer in ways she was not capable of comprehending.
Despite my telling them I didn’t have the first clue how to help them, S and J still wanted me to be their lawyer.
Yes. They wanted me. To help them. Not get deported. By the BIG, BAD U.S. Government.
The answer came easily for me. I said “no.” Hell no.
There was no way I was going to risk their lives nor my career for this case.
They seemed OK with my answer.
But then they showed up in my office the next week. They begged. I said no again.
Then, they came to my office again every week, once a week, for several weeks.
No. No. No. No. No.
Then, they brought Little S to the office with them one day. Little S was 6 or 7 when I met her. She was wise beyond her years, gorgeous and an amazingly talented singer.
She sang a Britney Spears song for me. She sounded just like Britney. She danced, too.
She looked me in the eyes and told me she thought I was pretty.
And then…I caved.
“Damn you Mom and Dad for raising the most sensitive lawyer on the planet.” I uttered inside my own head.
And there I was, a few months away from fighting the U.S. Government for this family to stay.
With no clue whatsover.
A New Era for a Family and for a Young Lawyer
The deportation hearing was on my 30th birthday. I was a sobbing mess that morning before I left to court. The fact that I was entering a new era in my life didn’t matter to me as much as the era that would begin (or end) for my clients that day.
They met me in the parking lot at court. They had bought a birthday present for me. They hugged me and kissed my cheeks. They told me they believed in me. They said that I would be the one to save their lives.
And, as it turned out, I did, because we won the hearing.
It was one of the happiest days of my own life. You can imagine how the family felt. And, to make it even better, after the hearing, the immigration judge called me to tell me that (1) he knew I was “new” (because most of the same attorneys appeared in front of him every day); (2) he thought I did as good of a job as any of the attorneys regularly appearing in front of him and (3) he was thankful I made a difference in this family’s life. He invited me to visit him in court any time.
So…I was just thinking of this family other day, and I came to a realization…
Sometimes the risk you need take is for someone else’s life, not your own. Sometimes the potential outcome of that risk is worth far more than any negative consequences that you realistically could ever suffer. Consider the fact that sometimes the risk you take not only ensures that you will keep growing as a person, but it could mean the difference between life and death for the other person.
In this case, the family believed in me more than I believed in myself. Their faith in me gave me the power to step into a new stage of evolution as I entered my 30s. In fact, it wasn’t me who saved their lives…
They saved mine.
S, J and Little S…Wherever you are and whatever you are doing…I send you my eternal gratitude and all of my love.
As for YOU (the one reading this), sending you my wishes for a week in which you close your eyes, plug your nose and jump into something risky and amazing!
All my best,
P.S. What is the biggest risk you ever took in your life that made you into a stronger, wiser, and better version of yourself?