You are more powerful than you may know

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As you think about your New Year’s resolutions and goals for the coming year I feel compelled to remind you that you are more powerful than you may know.

Fear not. Great things await you. You can have what you want, do what you want, and be who you want.

The world might seem to be upside down right now, you may at times despair for the future, but everything you need is within your grasp. You can create your own miracles and in so doing, you can save the world.

You may not be comfortable with that power, but you have it nonetheless. It is in each of us and we should not hide from it, we should embrace it.

As Marianne Williamson, in “A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of ‘A Course in Miracles,'” elegantly put it:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Think bigger. Reach higher. Get out of your own way and allow your dreams to become your reality.

You are a child of God and He doesn’t want you to play small.

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Are you getting stale?

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You’ve been a lawyer for more than a few years and you’re good at what you do. So good, you could do most of your job in your sleep.

You know the forms to use and the words to say. You know the best places to park at the courthouse. You know the judges and other lawyers, and they know you.

Your job has become routine. Easy. Life is good.

Don’t get too comfortable. Before you know it, some rookie lawyer will come along and eat your lunch.

They may not know what you know or be able to do what you can do, but they’re fresh and hungry. Everything is new and exciting. They’ve got energy and drive and something to prove.

And let’s not forget that they have been using computers since pre-school.

If you’re not careful, as their practice grows, you may see yours diminish.

But you can stay ahead of them by re-inventing yourself and your practice. Become a new lawyer again. Look at everything with fresh eyes.

Imagine that you have just opened your doors and you don’t have any clients. Get hustling and bring some in before the end of the month.

Take classes in your practice area and also in practice areas you know nothing about. Take classes in business, marketing, sales, writing, and speaking.

Take some cases you’ve never handled before. Find another lawyer to associate with you or mentor you.

Start over, from scratch, and build your practice again.

In the military, for a day or for a week, a unit will periodically stand down and review all of their operations. You should do the same thing. Examine all of your office management procedures and forms, look for holes that need to be patched, find expenses that can be reduced or eliminated, and processes that can be improved.

Do the same thing with your marketing. Find ways to make it better. Eliminate things that aren’t working, do more of  the things that are, and find new ways to bring in business you’ve never tried before.

Examine every piece of paper in your office and every electron in your computer. Resolve to get organized, eliminate clutter, and streamline your workflow.

And from this day forward, do something new every week. New ideas, new projects, new people, will keep you fresh and alert and sharp and open new doors for you.

Get excited about the future you are about to create and then go eat someone else’s lunch.

Get your marketing plan here

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Goals are a bitch

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Goals can be a demanding and unforgiving bitch. You do what you’re told, or rather what you said you would do, or there’s hell to pay.

Who needs that?

Yes, you want what you want, and yes, you’re willing to do the work to get it, but who needs an overseer? Who needs the pressure of “do or not do” when you might only want to try?

I write down my goals, but more and more I focus on something else. Something that helps me reach my goals without making my life miserable along the way.

Instead of focusing on the goal, I focus on the process. Instead of focusing on the results, I focus on the activity.

After all, it’s the activities that bring the results.

But to do the activities long enough (and get good at them) you have to find peace with the process. Or else you won’t stick with it. Or if you do, you might get the results but come to hate what you’re doing and burn out or get ulcers or ruin your marriage.

You can’t say, “Once I get what I want, I’ll be happy”. It doesn’t work that way. You have to be happy, first.

Author James Clear said,

“. . .if you look at the people who are consistently achieving their goals, you start to realize that it’s not the events or the results that make them different. It’s their commitment to the process. They fall in love with the daily practice, not the individual event. . . If you want to become significantly better at anything, you have to fall in love with the process of doing it. . . Fall in love with boredom. Fall in love with repetition and practice. Fall in love with the process of what you do and let the results take care of themselves.”

And they will take care of themselves. Or they won’t, but you’ll be happy nevertheless because you’re doing something you love.

Use this to create a simple plan (i.e., one that you will do)

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Two six-month vacations per year

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Hey there. I’ve got something to share with you. But it will have to wait. I’ll be back in an hour. . .

Okay, I’m back.

Where did I go? What did I do? I didn’t go anywhere, and I didn’t do anything. I took the hour off because I wanted to prove a point.

My point is that we can all choose how we spend our time. If we want to take an hour off, we can. If we want to take the rest of the day off, we can. If we want to take Friday’s off, we can.

Who says you can’t? Your boss? Your spouse? Your clients? Your creditors? Okay, so you have obligations. I’m not suggesting you shirk them, just that you don’t have to be enslaved by them.

You have free will.

So the question isn’t, “Why can’t you?” it’s “How can you?” How can you take off Friday afternoons if you want to, and still meet your responsibilities?

Come in a little early? Work a little later on Thursdays? Do some work on the weekends?

Think. There are solutions. You can find them.

Once you’ve mastered taking off Friday afternoons, you can work towards taking off every Friday, if that’s what you want to do.

There are solutions and you can find them.

I know professionals who take off an entire week every month of the year. Why couldn’t you?

I know some who take two months vacation every year (and they’re not European). Are you interested?

I know people who have the ultimate goal of taking two six-month vacations every year. Yes, it’s a joke, but for some people, it’s a very real goal. If you have enough cash or income-generating assets or passive income, it can be done.

Start with the end in mind (the goal) and work backwards. What would I have to have? What would I have to do first?

You may have a tough time right now accepting the idea of taking even an hour off in the middle of the day, but you can. Once you get used to it, you can go for two.

It’s your life and you can live it on your terms.

You may have some ‘splainin to do to the people in your life, and you should probably start small and not announce you’re taking the rest of the year off just yet, but you can (eventually) spend your days on Earth any way you choose.

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What would you do with a $200,000 line of credit?

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What would you do with a $200,000 line of credit, or a windfall in that amount?

What would you buy? Who would you hire? What would you do to grow your practice or free up more time?

Would you hire more or better employees? What would you have them do?

Would you invest in additional web assets?

Would you invest in advertising, or increase your ad buys?

It’s up to you.

You might pay off higher interest debt. Maybe you’d open a second office, or move to a bigger one. Maybe you’d buy new computers or furniture or invest in training your staff to work more efficiently.

Think about your SWOT: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. How would access to cash allow you to maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, or neutralize threats?

What do you want to accomplish this year? Where do you want to be in five years?

Maybe you would invest in a business venture outside of your practice. For additional profit, for retirement, or just something you’ve always wanted to do.

As you think this through, you might decide to do nothing. You know you’re on track to meet your goals and you don’t need a pile of cash to get there.

The point of this exercise is to make you think about where you are and where you want to be. It’s to make you see what’s possible if money wasn’t an issue. It’s to give you ideas you can put on the drawing board.

If cash or credit would help you accomplish your goals more quickly, begin working towards acquiring a line of credit or amassing a pile of cash.

If you don’t need capital to get to the next level, however, consider building a line of credit anyway, because once you get to the next level, you might need cash to get to the level after that.

Do you know The Formula?

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How to increase your income ten-fold

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What would I have to do to increase my income ten-fold? That’s a question you should ask yourself periodically.

Yesterday, I did a consultation with an immigration lawyer and asked him a similar question. We were talking about his fees and I said, “With your experience and reputation, you could probably triple your fees, right now, and get it, no questions asked. Who’s to say you’re not worth three times what you now charge? What you need to do is figure out how you could increase your fees ten-fold. What would you have to do? How would you have to package your services in order to get that?”

Because he could. Because you can, too. The challenge is to figure out how.

Okay, too much to ask? I’ll ask a different question that might make you more comfortable. “What would you have to do to increase your income ten-fold in the next year?” The answer would entail a combination of increasing fees and getting more clients, yes?

Good stuff.

I heard an interview with an author recently who said his goal was to increase his income ten-fold within the next year. His plan calls for a combination of writing more books and selling more of them (marketing).

Will he reach his goal? I don’t know. But I do know that as a result of thinking this way, he’s bound to increase his income, undoubtedly much more than he would if he didn’t ask “how”.

Ten fold is big. But not impossible. You have to ask questions like this. It’s no fun to ask, “How could I increase my income five percent?” Snore.

So, what would you have to do to increase your income ten-fold? What new services would you offer? What new (higher-priced) markets would you target? What would you have to do to increase your fees? What would you have to do to get more traffic to your website, viewers of your ads, or attendees at your seminars? What would you do to get more referrals?

Think. And maybe you’ll grow rich.

How to increase your income ten-fold: Go here

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To dream the impossible dream

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One of my favorite musical recordings is Richard Kiley singing The Impossible Dream in the original cast performance of “The Man of La Mancha”. Don Quixote sings about his impossible dream and the resolve he brings to attaining it:

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go

To right the unrightable wrong
To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star

This is my quest
To follow that star
No matter how hopeless
No matter how far

To fight for the right
Without question or pause
To be willing to march into Hell
For a heavenly cause

And I know if I’ll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm
When I’m laid to my rest

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage
To reach the unreachable star

What is your impossible dream? The one that defines you and your purpose but eludes you?

Perhaps you have dismissed your dream as truly impossible, or banished it to a faraway land called someday.

At some point in your life, your impossible dream filled your thoughts as you fell asleep each night. Perhaps no longer. Perhaps too much has happened and those days are long gone.

Never give up on your dreams. Your dreams are what make life worth living.

It’s time to begin your journey. It’s time, right now, to set forth towards your unreachable star so that when you are laid to rest, your heart will be peaceful and calm.

Go back in your mind to the place where your dream was exciting and real. Remember how exciting that felt and feel that way again. Sing about it. Affirm that nothing will stop you. This is your quest, no matter how hopeless, no matter how far.

To reach your impossible dream, you need that kind of unassailable determination because without it, you won’t get out of your comfort zone and do the things you need to do. You won’t risk rejection and ridicule and you won’t keep going when pain and frustration make you want to give up.

Don Quixote was thought to be crazy. You need to be a little crazy to accomplish your impossible dream.

Then, prepare for the journey. Research, study, practice. Find your Sancho to travel with you.

Or just start. Put one foot in front of the other, and then do it again.

Work on your dream every day until it becomes a part of your routine. John Grisham developed the writing habit by committing to writing every day, even if only 5 minutes, no matter how busy he was with his law practice.

Some days you’ll do a lot. Some days not so much. But if you work on it every day, you will make progress. You’ll get better, and faster. Eventually, your efforts will compound and you will see meaningful progress towards your destination.

Keep going and the pace of your progress will accelerate. Before you know it, what was once an impossible dream will be a foreseeable reality.

You might tilt at windmills along the way, but that’s how you will find your unreachable star.

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Mr. Spock was only half right

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As a kid, I loved Star Trek. I watched the original series and thought that Mr. Spock’s unemotional, logical approach to problem solving was the way to go.

Examine the evidence. Calculate the probabilities. Make your decision.

I even took a class in logic in college. It was one of my favorites. My professor noticed my enthusiasm for the subject and wrote me a letter of recommendation to law school.

Anyway, I started my legal career with a penchant for logic. I calmly reasoned my way through problems to find the best solutions. I did my best to keep my emotions in check.

And it’s a good thing I did. Those first few years were awful. I didn’t know how to bring in clients and, oh yeah, I barely knew how to do the legal work. Every month was a struggle to survive and if I had let my emotions out of their box, I would surely have fallen apart. Logic got me through some tough times.

Later, when I had turned things around and had a thriving practice, logic only took me so far.

At one point, I had an important decision to make. I can’t recall the subject but I remember having a terrible time deciding what to do. I had a paralegal who saw my consternation and offered a suggestion. She told me that I was more intuitive than I realized and that I should trust my intuition to provide me with the right answer.

I listened to her. And then I listened to the voice inside me that told me what to do.

Whatever the issue was, my intuition provided the solution and the problem is long forgotten.

We should remember that Spock was half-human. Somewhere inside him was a reservoir of intuition and human emotion. We saw flashes of it when he made illogical decisions to save the life of Captain Kirk.

We all have great intuitive powers and we shouldn’t ignore them. There is a voice inside us that wants to guide us but most of us (men) don’t listen.

Feelings, who me? I’m a lawyer. I don’t let my feelings tell me what to do.

Maybe we should. Maybe we should listen to how we feel about things before we make decisions.

I do that now. When I think about choosing A or B, for example, I ask myself how I feel about those options. More often than not, I choose the option that feels better.

I also do that when charting my future. I look at the pantheon of options available to me–all of the projects I could work on, all of the tasks on my master list–and do the ones that I feel pulled toward.

I have one such project I’m working on right now. It’s something I feel good about and I can’t wait to get back to work on it. Isn’t that how our work should always be? Mostly doing things we enjoy?

Look at everything on your plate right now, and everything on your list of ideas. Which one calls to you? Which one feels good when you think about it?

That’s probably what you should do next.

Mr. Spock might not approve, but he’s at the Science station and you’re in the Captain’s chair.

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Begin with the end in mind (and work backwards)

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Most people choose a goal and then start working towards it. They put one foot in front of the other and keep walking until they get to their destination.

If they choose the wrong step, however, they may get sidetracked and lose sight of their goal. If they do the steps in the wrong order, they may waste time and resources.

A better way, some say, is to begin with the end in mind and work backwards.

Let me give you an example of how it works.

Let’s say you have a goal of getting one additional referral each week.

Nice goal, yes?

Okay, now you have to ask yourself this question: Can I do this tomorrow? Can I get one additional referral per week starting tomorrow?

The odds are the answer is no. So you ask another question: What would have to have happen first?

Putting aside the idea of getting more referrals from your clients and existing contacts, let’s say the answer is, “I’d have to have twenty new professional contacts who know, like, and trust me. If each one of these twenty contacts sends me just one referral every five months, I would achieve my goal of getting one additional referral per week.”

That sounds doable. But can you do it tomorrow?

No.

What would have to happen first?

First (let’s say) you would need to connect with 100 new contacts (professionals, business owners, community leaders, centers of influence, etc.), in order to find twenty who are willing and able to send you one referral every five months.

Can you do this tomorrow? I’m guessing not.

What would have to happen first?

First you would have to identify (a) places where these people congregate, so you can go there and meet them, and/or (b) people you know who can introduce you to these people.

Can you do that tomorrow?

Yes you can. You can start anyway. You can do some research and find organizations comprised of people who fit the description of the people you want to meet who meet locally.

You can also comb through your current list of contacts to identify people who are likely to know these people. They have clients or colleagues or business contacts who fit the description. You know them well enough to ask for an introduction.

Finally, you have something you can do tomorrow. Now you can take the first steps towards your goal.

But if you do all of that, can you reach your goal tomorrow? No. What has to happen first?

You need to meet them and get to know them. You need to find out what they are looking for that you might be able to help them with. You need to show them what you do and how you can help their clients or contacts. And you have to build a relationship with them, earn their trust ,and eventually, their referrals.

Can you do this tomorrow? No. What would you have to do first?

You’d have to talk to them, get their contact information, and begin a dialog with them.

Can you do that tomorrow (if you meet them tomorrow)? Yes you can.

And now you have a plan.

You can’t “do” a goal, you can only do activities. Begin with the end in mind and work backwards. Identify the activities you need to do, and do them, and keep doing them until you reach your goal.

Marketing is easier when you know The Attorney Marketing Formula

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What you focus on is what you get

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You can’t be successful at everything. If you’re smart, you’ll make a big list of everything you’d like to do this year, narrow it down to ten things, and then choose just 3 or 4 goals or objectives to focus on this year.

That’s what Steve Jobs did with Apple.

The key to success is focus. Choose a few things and spend most of your time on those.

I have one major business goal this year. If I accomplish it, it will transform my business and I will be a happy camper. To achieve this goal, I have two big projects I’m working on. Depending on how things go, I might take on a third project, but no more. To achieve exceptional results, I must stay focused.

It’s not a lack of discipline that keeps us from achieving our goals. It’s a lack of focus.

Clarity gives us focus. If you are clear about what you want to accomplish in the next few years, you can focus on the work that will help you get there. If you are unclear about your future, your focus will be fuzzy and your efforts will be scattered and inconsistent.

Clarity gives you focus and focus gives you momentum.

So, what do you want? What are 3 or 4 goals or projects you intend to focus on this year?

You may not need 3 or 4. You may need only one. A major goal that will decidedly advance you towards your long term vision.

Perhaps that one goal is to reach a certain income level. If you achieve this, it will take care of a lot of other goals. If you increase your income enough, you don’t need a separate goal of paying off back taxes, for example.

Now, with goal in hand, you can focus on achievement. What do you need to do to accomplish this goal?

You can accomplish anything you want in life, you just can’t accomplish everything. Get clear about what you really want and focus on that. Because what you focus on is what you get.

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