I listened to Barack Obama’s excellent memoir, Promised Land, which, in just ten chapters, dispelled a number of my misconceptions about Obama’s path to the presidency. Based on Michelle Obama’s equally brilliant memories, Becoming, I had viewed her husband’s ascension as a carefully planned ascent rather than the result of chance and sometimes reluctance to take risks.
Look at Obama’s presidential candidate – after Obama made a more public commitment to serve at least a full term in the Senate before considering moving to higher office. But by 2008, just two years into office, many Democratic party leaders viewed Obama as someone who could breathe new life into the party by connecting with young and colored people. But even with support, Obama didn’t feel ready – until a conversation with the venerable Senator Ted Kennedy made it clear. Kennedy advised:
They think that you may not be ready to do so at a more opportune time. But you don’t choose the time. Time chooses you. Either take advantage of what turns out to be the only chance you have or you decide that you are ready to live with the knowledge that the chance has passed.
We like to think that life is long and will allow us to revise and make second changes. Sometimes that’s true. But waiting carries risks in itself. I know this from my own personal experience; How my husband and I waited for our daughters to graduate from college to move to another part of the country and start new ventures. But life had other plans.
So many lawyers dream of starting a law firm to handle cases that they cannot handle in the law firm they work for, or for financial freedom and greater opportunities. But then, after thinking about it, they decide against it – either because they want to gain more experience. Pay off more loans or save more money. Or spend more time planning a launch. And all of a sudden, weeks and months turn into years and it’s time to save up for your kids’ college or plan for retirement and that window of you to start passes you by.
For all of these reasons, Obama had intended to wait to run. But he also realized that there was an opportunity he couldn’t miss. And of course the rest is history.
What will your story be Perhaps now is not the right time to start, but is it the right time for you?
If you’re thinking about starting a law firm but still have some apprehensions, listen to my recent webinar: Make 2021 the Year to Start Your Law Firm.