The Career Advice That Changed My Life

Do the work even when you’re scared.

Like many lawyers, I was born prewired with a deep fear of failure. I spent a large portion of my life letting fear drive my decision making and avoiding pursuing the things that scared me. If I was unable to see a clear path to success on something, I found every excuse not to do it.

In law school, this manifested in my “missing the deadline”  to write-on to law review, applying for “safe” internships, and skipping important networking events because I was “too busy.” I was also in blissful denial of exactly how fear driven my choices were. Instead, I convinced myself that I didn’t want whatever the opportunity was, or that the timing was all wrong. I assumed that one day I would wake up and feel ready to take on bigger challenges.

But that day never came. I graduated law school, took the bar exam, and started my career while continuing to make decisions based on my fear. Even the decision to start my own business, while considered brave by my friends and family, was initially made out of fear of not being good enough to get a job.

It felt like I was swimming in circles in the shallow end of the pool. I could see the deep end, but I wasn’t quite sure how to dive into it. Two years ago,  I was ready to give up on myself and my business. My fear had escalated from influencing my decisions to driving the entire ship. I was stuck in place. That is, until I met my business mentor and now friend, Nicole Walters.

Nicole is an extremely successful entrepreneur (she is also incredibly kind and generous, and has a killer eyebrow game). From the outside, it seems as if she has it all together, all the time. However, Nicole is a transparent and authentic leader, and she shares her own struggles and insecurities with her community. After months of following her on social media and listening to her message, I actually heard what she was saying.

I finally understood that Nicole isn’t so successful because she has no fear, but rather because she takes action despite her fear. This was the most eye-opening, powerful, and comforting message I had ever received. I realized that magical moment of total confidence that I was waiting for was never going to come. And instead of that moment being terrifying, it was freeing. It gave me permission to stop waiting for perfection and to stop viewing my fear as a barrier. Most importantly, I learned there is a huge difference between doing something because you are scared and doing something even though you are scared. I’m no less scared today than I was two years ago. But, now I take chances despite my fear. Even though the chances don’t always turn out the way I plan, I know that I'm much further along than I would have been had I kept standing still.

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    Meet the Author
    Kerriann Stout is the founder and CEO of Vinco Prep, LLC that serves clients with 1:1 support for their academic and professional needs. Kerriann is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at several law schools teaching courses on bar prep strategies and legislation and regulation and is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science. She lives, works, and writes in New York. Read more about Kerriann >