The Road Not Taken

The editor of LinkedIn recently launched a series in which she asked the question: “What would you be doing if you had chosen a different path? Or if you’ve already switched gears, tell us about the pivotal moment that altered your journey.”

For those of you that know anything about my history, you know this is a subject near and dear to my heart. After all, with a degree in Electrical Engineering, four years as a Patent Examiner working for the US Patent and Trademark Office, and a law degree from George Washington University Law School, it surely was predictable that my life would be spent as an attorney specializing in Intellectual Property Law. In fact, that’s exactly what I did for the 18 years following my graduation from law school.

The only problem was that I had absolutely no life or business skills and so I was neither happy nor successful in my career. Faced with that reality, I set out on a quest to discover how to have a great life, how to be successful and how to have a relationship with anyone that was mutually supportive and empowering. That quest took me to many places where I could learn and learn I did. Within a couple of years, I really began to turn my life around. I became a partner in a major law firm in Los Angeles, became the manager of their office in Orange County, I had wonderful clients and partners, and was making a lot of money.

Now came a new problem. The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn. I ended up enrolling in a seminar called The Win seminar, all about how to live your life as a winner. It was a two weekend seminar and all I can remember at this point is that the first weekend had you look at what you were doing with your life and why. That was not an easy question to answer and I remember spending the week regretting that I ever signed up for the seminar in the first place.

The following weekend produced the pivotal moment. At a critical point in the program on Saturday afternoon, with all eyes looking my way, I stood up and unexpectedly announced my retirement as a lawyer and declared that I was going to find out what there was to do with my life that would really make a difference.

Nine months later I walked out of my law office for the last time and about a year later I started what is now a 30 year career as a business coach and speaker. In hindsight, it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.