Well, hey everybody. Welcome back to part two in our, what I think is gonna be a three part series on getting out of the dark wood of error. It's a series based loosely on Dante's Divine Comedy and a more modern reinterpretation called The Way of Integrity by Dr. Martha Beck. In the first part of this series, I talked about what the dark wood of error means for bar exam takers. Essentially, it's a allegory to what Dante was talking about. In his divine comedy, he starts by talking about being lost in a dark wood. He calls it a dark wood of error. It's this place where you've got emotional misery and a lack of purpose and physical problems and failure and bad habits, all those things that happen. And I talked in the first part, and we'll link to it here about the importance of recognizing that you are in the dark wood of error when you are a repeat bar taker. And I got a lot of response

And we got a lot of responses to that. A lot of people saying, You know, that really resonates with me. That's how I'm feeling right now. I'm just completely lost. I don't know what to do. I'm so frustrated. I got back my results. They weren't successful. And where do I go from here? Do I just give up or do I keep trying? And I talked to new students all the time who come to me in precisely that position. They are in the dark wood of errors. So in part one, we describe what that means and what it looks like, how you resolve it and deal with it just a little bit when you're standing in that dark wood. Now in Dante's Divine Comedy, he starts in the dark wood, and then the next stage of what happens is that he looks up and he sees something that we're going to reinterpret as Mount Delectable.

I don't speak very good Italian, but that's my interpretation of it. And it's Dr. Becks as well. Dr. Beck has done a lot of work in talking about how people have to harmonize what they're doing. They have to get into what she calls integrity. And it's a terrific book, and I highly recommend it. And in this session today, what I want to do is talk about what she sees as that next step when you're stuck in the dark wood and what she's talking about. And what we're gonna focus on is this idea of being desperate for success. Now, when you are in the darkwood of error, when you've gotten your results and they're not favorable, or you're feeling really anxious about the bar exam, what do you do? And most bar takers start looking around. They start frantically scrambling for resources or tools or tips or tricks.

Maybe that's how you got to this particular video. And I think that the analogy for that kind of an individual is that they are looking for Mount electable. They're looking for this wonderful, idyllic place where everything is good, and the scores are all above passing. And that's perfectly reasonable, and it's something that you certainly would want to do. So you're standing down there in the dark wood and you see this lovely goal or mountain out there, and you say, Well, all I've gotta do is climb that mountain. And that's where most bar takers get stuck. You see, part of what happens when you're desperate for success is that there's some disconnect that's occurring. Now, a lot of bartenders would tell you that the disconnect is they don't know enough law, or they haven't memorized enough, or they didn't cram enough. And we're gonna talk more about that in a moment.

But the reality is that somewhere in that process, what's happening at a deeper level is that your goals and your motivation aren't harmonizing with a deeper truth. I realize that some of you would be saying, Wait a minute, what's he talking about? This is a bar exam video. Yeah, it is. But the reality is that after more than 30 years of working with thousands of successful students, I can tell you that when your goals and your motivation aren't harmonizing, they aren't in harmony, they're not in integrity with your deeper truths of who you are, what you want to do, what you're capable of doing, you're just not gonna be successful. I'll give you an example. I had a student at one time who told me that they desperately wanted to be licensed and, and in the bar, and yet they kept deferring and postponing and having all kinds of problems that came up that kept them from taking the test.

And I finally after several of these misfires sat down with the student and said, Look, what's really going on here? What's causing you to have all of these disruptions? And as we talked, it became apparent that

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this individual was terrified, really at a deep level of becoming licensed, because they didn't think they'd be as good at being a lawyer as another family member who had been a member of the bar for many years. And that fear in comparison that they were doing was causing them to be self-destructive. They just couldn't get past that. Well, when they finally recognized that that was really a deeper problem, a deeper truth, that they really had the capability of being a good attorney in their own right, things started to click and came into focus, and they were able to then go ahead and go and take the exam and ultimately pass it.

And that's a simple example. And one of of many that you would see, and that we see all the time where we've got individuals who just simply haven't figured out their goals and their motivation, and they haven't harmonized those with deeper truths. So if you're feeling that right now, if you're feeling like, You know what? I see that goal, I'm just not able to even get out of the dark woods here to, to start to climb the mountain, how do you resolve it? Well, one suggestion I would make for you is to create privately, and this is not something you would share with anyone else, but sit down and write down the pros and the cons of taking and passing the bar. When you do this on the pro side, put down all of the reasons that you wanna be a member of the bar.

And they could be very simple things like, I just wanna make more money, or I want to pay my bills, or I want to be deeper things like I want to help society, or I want fight injustice, whatever it might be. I wanna help big corporations get bigger and make more money. I, I really don't care what it is, but finding those positives. Then take a look at the negatives. What's it gonna cost you in order to pass the exam? And the cost can be financial, it can be personal, it can be time away from your family. It can be the risk of failure. There's a whole lot of things that go on there. Now, once you've done that, and it may take you a few days and just randomly things coming to mind, sit down and look at that list and see what the balance is.

If the balance of items, and I don't mean the number of items, but if the weight of the items on the negative side are greater than the items on the positive side, you've got a problem. Your goals and your motivations simply aren't harmonizing with those deeper truths in your life about why you don't want to take the exam. And if you look at the list, ask yourself, what's the deeper truth? What am I seeing here? What's the picture that's coming out? Am I taking the bar exam because I have to in order to pay my bills or because I really want to be a lawyer? And sometimes when people do this practice, when they take this sometimes when people do this exercise, what they discover is that they really don't want to pass the bar. They really don't wanna be a member of the the bar, and they might as well stop taking the exam, and that's an okay result as well.

So don't be afraid to do that. But it's a first fundamental thing that I think you have to do before you can even start to get out of the woods, is that you've gotta be able to figure out your goals and your motivation and make sure that they're in harmony with your deeper truths, whatever they might be. And again, this is not something you have to share with anyone else. If you're in our course and you wanna talk to me about it, I'd be glad to talk with you. But I really believe that you've gotta get that foundationally in place. Now, as Dante is talking and and, and Dr. Beck is reinterpreting this idea of being desperate for success, we now come to the next step, which is you see Mount Delectable up there, you see the opportunity to pass the bar. You see what it would be like.

You identified that the goals and motivation that you need to do it. So now certain you just start scrambling up the mountain, and that's what Dante tries to do. Unfortunately. He's he's hounded by three animals. I think it's a wolf and a lion, and a coyote. And they're all coming after him. And he's unable to get up the mountain. He starts to climb up the mountain and he finds himself slipping back and he's being chased by these wild animals. And they all represent different things in his allegory, but essentially he's unable to get up the mountain all by himself. Now, in part three, we're gonna talk about

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how he gets out of the woods using a teacher. But for right now, let's just focus on the mountain because I think for a lot of bar takers who are desperate for success, they run into what we call the social comparison and cultural hustle.

Dr. Beck describes these as the things that we do in society that make us think that we could strive and work harder and get a better result no matter what it is that we're doing, or no matter the field or the category or the problem. She starts by looking at social comparison. And essentially what she says is that too many of us get distracted by culture. We start thinking about what everybody else is doing, what the culture's doing. And we think, if I could just do that, I'd be just fine. How does that affect a bar taker? Well, I would say that the culture that you wanna be looking at, the one that distracts so many bar takers is the culture of the big box and the big law schools. What they tell you is that you don't need to do anything except cram a bunch of information, memorize a lot of rules, spit it all out on exam day and spot a bunch of issues.

And if, hey, look, if you do that, you win and you pass the bar. Now, that might be true for a very small subset of first time bar takers from relatively strong law schools. No doubt about it. Those people typically pass no matter what they do. But the reality is that when you look at the number of bar takers in the United States, there are more repeat takers than first time takers. In other words, most people have to take the bar exam again. And as we come up on a February exam, the numbers are almost two to one, almost three to one in some jurisdictions of repeat takers to first time takers. Now, those numbers flip a bit in July, and we have more traditional law school students coming in and they're taking the exam at that point. What I wanna really say about this is that social comparison for bar takers is really a deadly sin.

When you start comparing yourself to other people, maybe people who are your classmates or people that you see at work people that you know have passed the bar, it really is a incredibly discouraging process for a lot of people. And they start saying, Well, that person must be smarter than me or knows better than me or has something that I don't have. And unfortunately, what happens is you get distracted by that, you become fixated on it, and it starts to work at against your deeper truth against who you are and what you've got in the way of ability. At Celebration Bar Review, we take a very different approach to this idea of social comparison. Instead of asking you to compare yourself to this cohort of people that magically show up and take the exam and pass, we have you working with people who've been right where you are, may have taken the exam and failed, but then found a way to pass.

And that kind of comparison I think is more helpful because now we're not as distracted by the broad culture that says, Hey, it's no big deal. You just show up and memorize a bunch of stuff. I don't think that's true. And I think most repeat bartenders have already discovered from themselves that issues spotting and memorization and cramming just don't work. And when they don't work, continuing to do them over and over again is of course the definition of insanity. But another part of this insanity is that when we compare ourselves to other people, other bar takers, it's really, really harmful. You know, we just came back from doing a live Bootcamp for our students and it was a wonderful experience. And one of the things I really enjoyed was that there was no social comparison going on. Our students weren't trying to measure themselves against each other.

They were collaborative and cooperative. They were working with each other. They were sharing ideas and concepts, and they were sharing the things that they were learning. That kind of social comparison I think is positive and valuable, but I think the one that it causes us to think that we just do more that we're gonna climb the mountain delectable of the bar exam, is really a distraction and it's a dangerous one that you want to try and avoid. I also mentioned this idea of a cultural hustle, and I love this word hustle because as Dr. Beck points out in her book, we use the word hustle all the time. You know, you just get your hustle on, you hustle harder. Or sometimes we use it in a negative sense of, you know,

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don't, don't fall for that hustle. But the reality is that in culture, we've got a whole lot of wisdom, if you

will, that says that we should always be hustling.

That's what should be going on. But the reality is that there's a difference between your joy and your hustle. You see, when someone is hustling and it's not their joy, it's not their passion, then it's just grinding. It's just work for its own sake. Sometimes students will come back to me and they'll say, Well, I tried to outline a lecture, or I tried to do something that was really in depth and it was just really tedious and boring. And my comment is, Well, that's because you were just trying to take that material and, and put it out there. You weren't trying to own it or use it. So when you Mind Map it, instead of taking traditional notes, one of the things that happens is you start to see connections in relationships and it creates this whole new world for you. And so now there's not a difference between your joy and your hustle.

You're actually doing work that's productive and getting you someplace, and it changes your mindset around it. Another thing about the cultural hustle is that it causes us to go against our true nature in order to serve the culture. Remember, if the culture is telling us, do more of this memorization or make flashcards or do mnemonics or spot issues, well, your true nature is not to do any of those things. You don't learn by memorization. You learn by repetition. We now know that very clearly. We also know that in the practice of law, you don't spot issues. And you know that too. It's only something that gets done in law school. So to just take those two examples, when you know that you're doing something that is ridiculous, you'll never use it in the practice of law, and you're trying to learn it in a way that your nature tells you is not very effective.

What happens? Well, you lose your joy and you'll lose your hustle. And so the cultural hustle starts to cause you to not get the result that you want. And students often say to me, I hate studying from the bar. I hate's a pretty strong word, but I think it's an accurate one. Why do you hate it? Well, because it seems so meaningless. I'm just memorizing rules and I'm spotting issues, and I'm doing writing in a way that I know I would never write. If you can change those things, if you can modify the paradigm so that you're learning in a way that's natural and comfortable, and you're learning how to prepare essays and performance tests that will get you the kind of writing that you do in the practice of law, which by the way also gets higher scores, then you're gonna have a coherence or an integrity.

And now the cultural hustle isn't telling you to do something that isn't going to work. Now for Dante, as he tried to climb Mount Delectable and he was being chased by all those animals, what he is really talking about is he is being chased by social comparison, by the cultural hustle by the, the fear of, of the unknown. And that I think is part of what happens for so many bar takers. They're so desperate for success that they'll fall for anything. I have potential students that come to me all the time and they talk about how wonderful it is. It must be great to have some sort of an algorithm for questions. And I have to say to them, there's really no algorithm for multi-state questions. If you miss a question in towards negligence, guess what? You're gonna get another question towards negligence.

It's not an algorithm, it's just common sense. You don't need those kinds of gimmicks. And then I've got people that say that they've talked to, to potential mentors who have all these wild and crazy ideas about how to study for the exam. And when I say, Well, is it proven? Is it vetted? Do you know people that have used it? Have they been around for a while? The answer invariably is no. It's really easy today in this world with the internet for anybody to show up and claim that they know how to help you do almost anything, including passing the bar. That's a hustle and it's a bad kind of hustle. It isn't gonna get you up the mountain. And frankly, most of those people don't have the ability to prove any success rate for anything that they've done by comparison. What we do and have done for over 25 years is to help students who are repeat bar takers systemically work their way through and pass the exam.

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And you can find nearly a hundred video interviews that we've done over the past year or two with some of those successful students. I think it really makes a difference to know that you can make it out of the dark wood of error, but you're not gonna make it directly by going up the mountain. You see, unfortunately, the process of learning requires that we go through some dark times. In fact, the four stages of learning, which I find fascinating, are that we start with what we call unconscious incompetence. We don't even know that we're what we don't know, and we kind of like Dante finding himself in the lost wood. And then the second stage is that we become aware of our incompetence. And this is what happens for bartenders, particularly when they start getting results back. Now you're clearly aware that you weren't able to pass the exam that time and you become desperate for success.

Where we are right now, the trick here is to not suddenly reach out and try to climb Mount Delectable at least by yourself. In fact, what you have to do is to find a good teacher. And that's what Dante did. He, he created one in his own mind. We'll talk about that in the next episode. But this is the next step. But here's the weird part in the catch. The teacher doesn't take him directly up to Mount Delectable. The teacher takes him to the gates of hell to what we all know of as the seven rings or eight rings of hell, including Dante's Inferno. In other words, you have to go through some part times this consciously incompetence stage of, of learning in order to get to the third stage, which Dante calls purgatory, but we would call it conscious competence.

You're aware of what you can do and now you can start to perform and then ultimately we get up into heaven or the top of Mount Delectable when we become unconsciously competent. And that's the learning stages that have existed. And really they apply very cleanly to Dante's divine comedy, but they really mean that there's a basic human truth behind them that we never learn in a straight line. And so if you are in the dark wood of error on the bar exam and you see Mount Delectable out there and you think All I've gotta do is study harder, if I put in more hours, if I buy more stuff, if I do more memorization, if I do more cramming, I'll be able to climb that mountain. Well, unfortunately, what we know statistically is that you won't succeed. The pass rate for repeat bar takers is 20%, and it goes down the more times you take the exam.

In other words, the more times you try to scale that mountain, the worse it's going to get until you get a good teacher who can give you a different path, not straight up the mountain, but through that process of unfortunately the gates of hell in order to get ready to be successful. Now, I know that's probably kind of discouraging for some of you and you say, Oh my God, why can't I just get from point A to point b? I wish it was that simple, but in my experience, you have to go through a process to get there. And that's what a good course can offer you, is a good teacher and a guide to get you there. In our next episode, wrapping up this dark wood of error, we're gonna talk about finding that teacher, meeting the teacher. How do you know who the right teacher is?

And then trusting that teacher to start to get you towards your goal in order to pass the exam. If you'd like to know more about how we do that at Celebration Bar Review, check the links in this video and we'll be glad to show you and what we do. And I'll be glad to sit down with you on a live video, zoom, call and chat a little bit about where you are and what it would take for you to pass the bar exam. Thanks for being with us. Look forward to getting to part three of this series. We'll talk about meeting the teacher and starting to leave the dark wood of error.