I was out of town recently and stopped in at a gym I had never been to before.

It’s always an interesting experience to be in a new gym for the first time. Beyond just learning the layout of the gym, there is usually a sizing up by the regulars – even at a gym that has a fair number of transient gym goers. Who is that guy? What’s he going to do? What’s his workout? Is he a poser or can he really lift? Is he heading to the squat rack or the hip abductor machine?

Despite most gym members actually being friendly and welcoming to new people, there remains a silent judgment when you walk into a new gym. Many are intimidated by it – preferring to avoid gyms altogether.

But you can also channel intimidation and judgment into intensity. Anxiety can be turned into achievement. Let it feed you while you lift – push more weight harder and deeper. Thrive on the judgment, let it push you, and you can leave your comfort zone.

Owning Your Words Online

A similar thing occurs when you write online – with your real name attached. You’re offering up your words  for the judgment of others. But as opposed to being in a gym, eye-to-eye with other people, you are separated by hundreds or thousands of miles, connected only by thin strands of fiber optics.

Distance, privacy, and anonymity allows people to express their innermost thoughts – unfiltered (see G.I.F.T.). People have the luxury of time and distance and are free from any sort of social norms when sharing their thoughts. No need to have tact or grace when you’re talking to someone via text on a screen – especially when nobody knows who you are. As such, people are often ugly and cruel.

When you put your real name on what you write online, you have to own it. You are going to get called out on it. People are going to disagree with it, belittle it, mock it. Say it’s foolish or wrong or an outright lie. You are going to be judged by strangers.

Again, many people are often intimidated by it – preferring to avoid putting their name on anything altogether. Or if they do put their name on something, it is on insipid fluff like “the 5 best PDF apps!!” that have no substance and don’t say anything meaningful. But if you really have something to say, you need to be able to handle the criticism that comes with it.

There Is No Comfort Zone In Court

I was in a hearing this recently for a case. A scheduling conference, in front of a judge I had never met before. Here, again, was a complete stranger, about to judge the words, thoughts, and ideas of everyone in the room. The judgment of strangers in a gym or anonymous commenters online can’t even compete.

There is no comparison. Because it’s not just your appearance or thoughts being judged – you are responsible for someone else, your client. They have placed their trust in you to protect their interests and rights. You must put everything else in your life aside and provide them the best representation you possibly can, knowing that it is going to be evaluated by a stranger, perhaps twelve.

If you can’t take the judgment of a stranger in a gym or an online forum, what makes you think you’re going to be able to take it in a courtroom?

You’re likely always going to have some level anxiety or doubt yourself. That’s just part of being a professional. What matters is how you respond to it.


The best response is likely to buy my book. Just saying.

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