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Welcome. I thought I would do something a little bit different for the next few video lessons and podcasts. I've been reading a series of books that I think. Incredibly helpful and insightful about personal development, but they also apply to bar takers, as I see almost everything these days.

And I wanted to share what I've been reading with you. And so for the next couple of videos, we're going to take a look at two books, and the first one will surprise you because it's a classic. It's Dante's' Divine Comedy. Now you might remember Dante, he's the one that had Dante's Inferno. But if you know anything about the book, The Divine Comedy, it actually has four different stages to it.

And it is a terrific book. It's an allegory that applies, to the journey of a lot of people. And certainly to a lot of bar takers. Problem is, it was written a really long time ago and it's not easy to decipher. And so while you may have read it back in college or high school and you might be thinking to yourself, Dante, really?

I'm going to update it because there's another book that is really incredible and I want to recommend to all of you.

And it's called The Way of Integrity by Dr. Martha Beck. And this book, The Way of Integrity takes Dante's Divine Comedy and it breaks it out in a way that makes it usable

as we work through this idea of our personal integrity. Now I need to explain what's meant by the word integrity.

It doesn't mean our values or our virtue. What it really means is being in alignment, and you might ask yourself, what does that have to do with taking the bar?

In my experience, over 30 years of working with thousands of people, one of the things that's obvious to me as a teacher is that when people are out of alignment, when their values and their core ideas, when their concepts and thoughts and their aspirations and their beliefs about themselves don't really match up.

It's very difficult to be successful on a high stakes exam, whether it's the bar exam or anything else. And so one of the things that we've done for years at Celebration Bar Review is to work with students to help them get into alignment. Now, sometimes we call that mindset coaching, and we've got some great resources to help with that.

But the general approach is to figure out how you get into the best state in order to take the exam. And by best state, I don't mean Florida or California. What I mean is the best mental state, the best physical state, the best alignment of your inner resources so that you can really show what you know.

When I read Dr. Beck's book, The Way of Integrity, it became very clear to me that though she was talking about personal development in the broadest sense, it also applied to bar takers. And as she explains Dante's. Book The Divine Comedy. She breaks it into several different sections. I'm going to focus primarily on the first section, at least for the first of these recordings because I think they apply and I think you'll see very quickly why they make sense for a bar taker.

Now, when Dr. Beck starts talking about this idea of the way of integrity, she begins where Dante begins, which is called the Dark Wood of Error. If you don't remember your Dante, basically what happens is that he begins his allegory, his story and says that he found himself in a dark wood. Doesn't tell you how he got there, doesn't tell you what happened.

He just tells you that he's in the dark wood. If you're a bar taker and you've taken the exam and not been successful, I think it's safe to say that you are in the dark wood. You're lost in the woods right now, and you may be wondering How do I get out of the woods? How do I pass the exam?

How do I move to the next step? In many ways, this is the question that Dante was asking himself. He found himself lost in the woods. Doesn't tell you how he got there, but he knows that he can't wander out. And I think this is an important point to make. At the beginning, you may find yourself in this lost dark wood of error around the bar exam today.

You may have gotten your results and they weren't successful, the real problem here is that you cannot wander out. Even if you wandered in, you're not going to get out of that dark wood of error by just wandering around, and that's what a lot of repeat bar takers do.

Sometimes we call this the self-study cocktail or just trying to put it together or doing more of the same. We'll talk more about that in a moment, but the overview of what's happening is that you have to figure. And realize that you really are lost in the woods and what that means. So we're going to look at that first.

Then the second thing that happens to Dante is that he recognizes that there is what he calls Mount Delectable, and I'm translating into English, but Mount Delectable is this wonderful place outside of the woods. He could see it, but he can't quite figure out how to get. The way that Dr. Beck describes that is just being desperate for success.

It certainly makes sense if you're a bar taker, you're in the woods, you've failed. Now you're desperate for success, and we want to talk about what that means to be looking for that success. But so often what happens to people is that they try to hustle their way there. And hustle is an incredibly powerful word.

We're going to dig into that in another discussion later. But this idea of hustling to success just doesn't work. It didn't work for Dante either, and as hard as he tried to climb up the mountain just didn't work for him. And so we want to talk about why that's a problem. Then the third thing that happens to Dante is that he meets a.

Now the teacher for Dante was in his own mind. It was his favorite philosopher Virgil. But meeting your teacher, finding that guide that will help you out of the woods is certainly one of the steps that bar takers and repeat bar takers go through all the time. And we want to look at that and we'll take a separate discussion to look at.

Meeting the teacher and what that teacher is and what that teacher can offer you when it comes to passing the bar exam. But ultimately, what the teacher is here to do is to help you find your inner guidance. It's to help you align yourself and be all that you can be. And that's what a good teacher does.

And so we'll talk more about that later. And then finally the fourth step in coming out of this dark wood of error is to find the only way out. Now for Dante, that was at the gates of hell, that was what we call the inferno. And we won't go very far into that, but we are going to take a look at the only way out.

Once you have determined that you aren't going to get out of the woods by wandering, there's only one way out, and that's to go through what Dante called the gates of hell. And that's pretty appropriate I think, for a bar taker. What I'm trying to say about all of this is that there are four steps that we need to look at, and I'm going to take four different discussions and look in more detail at each of these items so that you can begin to get a sense of how you get out of this dark wood of error if you find yourself there.

Now I need to make a point. If you're a first time bar taker and you're doing well, and you are in a good law school, you probably don't need to watch this series. It's probably okay to go back and spend another couple of hours understanding the rule against perpetuity. But if you're at all concerned about your ability to pass the bar, Or if you've taken the exam and failed, no matter how many times, this is some of the most powerful information that we can offer you.

And even though it's not telling you how to figure out the hearsay exceptions, ultimately this is the core fundamental understanding that you have to have in order to be the very best student, the very best bar taker that you can. So with those introductory ideas, I want to dig into this very first idea about being lost in the woods.

If you feel lost right now, if you've wandered in and getting your results, and they weren't what you expected, and maybe you were stunned and surprised by that, it is one of the worst feelings that you could possibly. You're not quite sure how you got here. You studied, you worked hard, you did what everybody told you to do, and yet you found yourself unsuccessful.

What is a way, or how do we identify that feeling of being lost in the woods when it comes to the bar exam? want to identify some of the things that Dr. Beck discusses because I think that they apply to most bar takers.

The first and obvious one is that there's emotional misery. You may be depressed, you may be completely discouraged, and those are perfectly normal reactions.

If you're feeling some level of emotional misery as a result of your bar scores, that's part of being lost in the woods and it's normal and you need to recognize it.

Another thing that happens is that you may be feeling a lack of purpose. Why am I even in this profession?

Why did I want to be a lawyer? I talked to lots of people who took the exam, failed and then walked away for it in many cases, years and years, and then came back because they said I had to discover my purpose. I had to discover my. When you get bad results, it's easy and normal to feel like you don't have a purpose, and yet you have to remember your purpose.

I talk to a lot of students who are what I call underrepresented voices. They are non-traditional students. They are students of color. They are students who don't represent the traditional three L that went to a top law school. They are the people that we think need to be recognized and have a voice in the bar.

That's been our primary purpose for many, years here. But I also know that for many of those individuals, it feels like such a steep, uphill climb, and it feels like there's no reason. I want to tell you very clearly right now, there is a reason for you to be in the bar. There is a reason for you to have your voice heard, more now than ever in my experience, over 30 plus years.

And so if you're feeling a lack of purpose, I want to encourage you. There is a purpose and a reason for you to be a member of the bar, no matter how you want to practice or what you want to do. But we need your voice to be heard. And I don't want you to give up just because you found yourself lost in the woods.

Another way that you can experience being lost in the woods is that you may be experiencing physical problems right now. It may be hard for you to sleep or you may be anxious and having all sorts of difficulties physically with eating and just getting exercise, and that is a very normal thing to occur.

So if that's happening . Relax for a moment, understand that it's normal and that the physical problems oftentimes dissipate or at least become less obvious when you start to get into alignment with your purpose and what it is that you're doing.

Another way to experience being lost in the woods is that there's career failure.

That means very simply that a lot of people start thinking maybe I should give up. Maybe I've chosen the wrong career. Please don't do that. If you've come this far, if you have found yourself in the dark wood of error based on the bar exam, You've already come far enough that you need to keep going in my view, and we don't want you to give up.

I've had far too many experiences with people who were ready to give up and then got themselves into alignment, figured out how to use their inner resources, and passed the exam and went on to successful and productive careers. So this momentary career failure that you're experiencing is just that it's not forever and it can be resolved.

We also see that when someone is lost in the woods, they start to develop bad habits. They do bad things. Sometimes those are personal bad habits. They can drink too much or smoke or get involved in, distractions to them. It could be that you suddenly become a big fan of Draft Kings or the sports book.

Those are bad habits, right? But there are also bad habits when it comes to study, and you can get yourself into bad study habits and they aren't going to get you out of the woods. They just continue to eat at you and become more problematic.

And frankly, if you're lost in the woods, it can also create relationship difficulties.

It can be hard for the people around you. Remember, they're taking the bar exam with you, even though they don't get to sit for the exam. They're going through all of the same experiences that you're going through, and they're feeling for you. And relationships can become stressed. And strained. It is not at all unusual to talk to bar applicants that tell me that they're having problems with their significant other or their family or their children.

They'd missed too many birthdays and too many events while they were studying. There's all kinds of guilt and shame that go into the experience of failing the exam. Does any of that sound familiar? Can you relate to any of those things? The emotional misery, the lack of purpose, the physical problems, the sense of career failure, maybe the bad habits, the relationship failures?

If those things have happened to you, If you have felt yourself in those positions, then we would say that you are lost in the woods. That's the bad news.

The good news is there is a way to get out of being lost but it's not what you expect it will be. And that's what Dante experienced as well as he was lost in the woods and feeling the very worst and lowest that he could feel.

He saw this beautiful mountain rising up in the distance again, Mount Delectable, and he thought, All I've gotta do is climb that mountain and I'll be success. If you're a bar taker, you already know what that mountain is. It's to pass the bar exam and you see your friends climbing it. You see your classmates climbing it.

You see your contemporaries climbing it. And it seems like all they've gotta do is just hustle. Work harder, and I'll get there.

I want to talk about this idea of being desperate for success very briefly, because I don't want to leave you lost in the woods, but we're going to dig into it more in a future episode.

This idea of being desperate for success is what occurs when your goals and your motivation simply don't harmonize with your deeper truths. What I mean by that is that when the way that you are approaching the bar exam, your approach to study and to taking the test, when those things don't harmonize with the deeper truth within you of what you know and who you are, then it is really tough to be successful.

And part of this problem is that. Are all creatures of social comparison. We compare ourselves to other people that have taken the exam. We compare ourselves to people that are already members of the bar and we are distracted by that culture. And so what happens is we start to compare ourselves, and in the comparison we become even further lost in the woods.

It becomes worse and worse . Beck calls it the cultural hustle. We start to hustle. We start to work harder to do more maybe study more hours or memorize more law, or dig in deeper. And in that process of doing the hustle, what occurs is that we begin to lose our joy.

One of the fun things about teaching law is that when you talk to A one L in their first semester, and maybe you remember this for yourself, you were so excited. You wanted to tell everybody about every case you had just briefed and all those exciting cases and torts and contracts and property. You had a joy about being in the law.

But now doesn't seem very joyful, does it? You've lost your joy in the midst of your hustle. What you've done is to go against your true nature to learn and grow and serve, and instead you're serving culture. What didn't work for Dante doesn't work for most people. And when we become desperate for success, when we are trying to climb our own mount electable based on our work harder.

We just simply can't be success. All right. I'm going to stop here for today, but really what I want you to take away is that when you begin to harmonize your inner reality, when you begin to be aware of who you really are and the great gifts you have, your natural brilliance, when you start to use the things you really know, instead of what you've tried to memorize or cram, what will begin to happen is that you start to move out of the woods even if it's difficult and I'm not going to suggest anything other than that, Dante certainly didn't. And if you really want some interesting reading, go ahead and read his Divine Comedy. But remember that the point that he's trying to make, Is that there's not a simple path.

There's not a clean route from being lost in the woods to getting to heaven in his case. And if heaven is passing the bar, we know that there are steps that you have to take. Now in the next discussion, we're going to talk a little bit more about this hustle mentality, but also about the idea of meeting the teacher and what the teacher can bring you to help.

And then we'll look at the only way out, which is to go through the gates of hell. Oh boy. That's going to be quite a discussion. And then we'll continue on into to purgatory and then ultimately up to Paradise. I know that might sound a little weird to some of you, and some of you are thinking, My goodness, I could have been studying something in law right now.

But I want to assure you, if you can get this part of the process if you can align who you are with what you do, it will make all the difference in the world. We've learned that over the years with thousands of students, and I hope that we can share some of that wisdom with you over these next few recordings. 📍

So stick around and we'll come back next time to talk about how you get out of being in the dark wood of error.