Commit first. Figure out the details later


You have a new project or idea. If you’re like a lot of people, especially lawyers, your natural tendency is to research it, ponder it, and worry about it, to the point that you talk yourself out of doing it.

How many great ideas have you abandoned in their cradle?

You’re smart. No doubt you have lots of ideas, some of which could transform your practice, your life, or the world. Most of your ideas never see the light of day, however, because you feel the need to figure out everything in advance.

You over-plan. Better to under-plan and figure things out as you go along. Grant Cardone, author of, The 10X Rule, says, “Commit first. Figure out the details later.”

Successful entrepreneurs don’t charge forward blindly, mind you. They do their homework before they invest a lot of time or resources. What they don’t do is insist on preparing for every contingency before they take the first step.

Yeah, that means taking risks. And failing. But also learning from the failures and using what you learn to do it better the next time.

It also means getting a lot of “at bats,” which leads to more hits and more home runs.

When you see something you’d like to do but that little voice in your head nags at you and points out what could go wrong, note what that voice is saying (because it might be right) and come back to consider it later, after you have made some progress and have more context. Don’t let your fears stop you. If you are to be stopped, let reality do it.

You don’t need to know everything before you start. If you like an idea, commit to it, start it, and figure out the details as you go along.

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What to do when you find out your friend is a moron


What do you do when you find out your friend is a moron? You see their post on social media or a bumper sticker on their car or they simply tell you who they support for President in the upcoming election and. . . you think. . . they are out of their friggin mind.

You’re shocked. Angry. Your friend is a fool. A dummkopf. A dunderhead.

How could they be so ignorant? How can they turn a blind eye to the evil that is their candidate?

You want to talk some sense into them. Convince them to change their mind.

I recommend you don’t do it. You can’t fix stupid.

You can love them, pray for them, try to see the good in them, but God knows, you can’t fix them.

And if you want my advice, you shouldn’t even try. You’ll just make things worse.

Let it go. Or. . . let them go. They’re not who you thought they were so walk away and don’t look back.

Don’t get angry. Don’t be sad. Move on. One day they might see the light.

Now, I know that a lot of people won’t follow this advice. They like to fix people. And they feel guilty if they don’t at least try.

I have some advice for the fixers of the world.

If you’re trying to convince someone that they’re wrong about their candidate (or about anything, actually), the first thing you have to do is realize that they’re probably not going to listen to you.

They know you, and while they may love you and respect you, they don’t necessarily see you as an expert on this topic. They’re not buying what you’re selling.

However, while you can’t convince them that your point of view is the correct one, you might help them to convince themselves.

How? By steering them towards information and opinions provided by someone your friend doesn’t know.

Your friend won’t listen to you but they might listen to a stranger.

It’s called “third party”. It’s what we use when we submit evidence in court. We present documented facts and expert opinions and let the evidence do the persuading for us.

But here’s the thing. When you present this evidence to your friend, you run the risk of exposing yourself and having your friend think that you’re the fool. As we are told, it is usually “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

So there you go. You’re all set for this election cycle. I’ll see you on the other side.


Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable


I read a quote the other day that said the key to success was getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. This is obviously based on the idea that success lies outside of your comfort zone, which it surely does. Success requires growth and growth means doing things that are unfamiliar and risky and thus uncomfortable.

Our subconscious minds crave familiarity and routine, however, because they keep us safe. Meeting new people, learning new skills, taking on new projects, all involve risk. What if this new person means to do us harm? What if we get lost? What if we fail?

But without risk, there can be no growth. And that’s the challenge we face every day. Do we take the risk or stay comfy in our regular routine?

Some people say that success requires us to live outside our comfort zone but surely that’s going too far. We can live inside our comfort zone most of the time and regularly venture outside of it. Take a few minutes a day to work on your new skill. Meet one or two new people each week. Then, go back to your routine until tomorrow or next week.

By briefly but regularly stepping outside of our comfort zone and then returning to it, we grow not by getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, which we may never do, but by expanding our comfort zone.

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You messed up? Congratulations!


We may not like it but it’s true. We learn more from our mistakes than from our successes. I’m sure you can think of lost cases, unhappy clients, and failed projects you’d like to forget, but forget them at your peril.

I don’t dwell on them, but I still remember some of my mistakes. Like the client I was prepping for a statement. He didn’t speak English so I had my secretary translate. I told him not to say something during the statement because it could be interpreted as an admission of fault.

Sure enough, he said the very thing I told him not to say.

I couldn’t believe it. I shook my head and muttered the word “stupid”. Unfortunately, after the statement, I learned that the client spoke some English and understood what I said.

Yeah, he wasn’t too happy with me. But I learned a valuable lesson that day. Some clients really are stupid.

Anyway, learn from your mistakes. And learn from the mistakes of others.

Jim Rohn said, “It’s too bad failures don’t give seminars. Wouldn’t that be valuable? If you meet a guy who has messed up his life for forty years, you’ve just got to say, “John, if I bring my journal and promise to take good notes, would you spend a day with me?”

Until that happens, you can learn from the mistakes of others through observation, and by reading biographies and watching documentaries.

Or, you could come hang out with me.

Despite some mistakes, I built my practice through referrals


How to win friends and influence clients


You may be a good writer, a good speaker, and a good advocate, but an even more valuable skill is to be good with people.

In a one-on-one setting, when you meet someone new, when a prospect calls, or when sitting with a new client, being able to make people feel good about themselves and about you is one of the most valuable skills there is.

How do you acquire that skill, or improve on it if you’re already good with people? You can read books (like, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”). You can hire a coach. And you can make a conscious effort to observe your interactions with others and work on improving them. But one of the best ways to become a more charming and likable person is to watch how other people do it.

Find people who are good with people and spend time with them. Observe them. Listen to them. Watch their body language, absorb their language, and soak up their energy. Note what they do to put a smile on other people’s faces. And then model their behavior.

Use what you’ve learned from people who have the “people gene”.

I can attest to the value of doing this because I have surrounded myself with people who are good with people and it has allowed me to change my wicked ways. People used to tell me I was “intimidating” and “hard to know”. Now they say I’m “approachable,” “friendly,” and “nice”.

Nice? Me? That’s embarrassing. How about if we just say that I’m not as mean as I use to be?

Earn more, work less. Here’s the plan


Put your passion on your todo list


When you wake up in the morning and think about your work and your life, what do you look forward to? What puts a smile on your face? What excites you?

Whatever it is, that’s what you should focus on. If you can do it, do it. Otherwise, think about it during the day. Make plans for it. Study it. Talk about it. Because whatever it is that excites you is at the heart of your creativity and growth.

Earl Nightingale said, “The key that unlocks energy is desire. It’s also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited.”

Most people spend most of their day dealing with the mundane, fixing problems, and taking care of responsibilities. They make a life for themselves but neglect the things that make life worth living.

Some say we can’t build a life around our passions, that the realities of the world make that impossible for all but a privileged few. I say that while we might not be able to have the life of our dreams today, we can start working on it today, and thus unlock the energy that fuels our journey.

And that’s what life is, really. A journey. We may never reach the destination, but if we have something we’re excited about to keep us company, we can have one helluva ride.

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You’re making things harder than they need to be


As lawyers, one of our strengths is our ability to reason. Our strength, however, can also be a weakness because we often think too much and do too little and it is the doing, not the thinking, that brings results.

A key to doing more is to make things simpler. Break up big decisions, difficult tasks, and complicated projects into smaller components. Then, start with the easiest parts because starting is the most important element in doing.

As you begin, a good question to ask yourself is one posed by writer Alan Cohen: “How would I be doing this differently if I were willing to let it be easy?”

Among other things, letting it be easy means letting go of the need to avoid all risks and control all outcomes.

Stop making things harder than they need to be. Get out of the way and let them be easy.


Putting practice into the practice of law


I saw a video recently by a woman who decided to take up the violin and wanted to record her progress. As you might expect, her first efforts sounded like a cat being tortured.

She chronicled her journey with additional videos and it was amazing to see her improvement. Within a few months, she was playing decently. Within six months, she was a good amateur. At the two-year mark, when the video ended, she had made remarkable progress and was able to play reasonably sophisticated pieces.

Even though she started as an adult, which is said to be more difficult, with regular practice, she was able to acquire a new skill. She’s taking lessons now and who knows how far she might go.

Earl Nightingale said, “One extra hour of study per day and you’ll be a national expert in five years or less.” Bill Gates said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

What new skills do you want to acquire? What do you want to get better at? With enough practice, you might be amazed at what you can do.


Feel the fear and DON’T do it


Many say that the way to overcome fear is to face it head on. Do what you fear long enough, they tell us, and you will eventually conquer that fear.

There are others who say otherwise.

One group of philosophers say that instead of making ourselves do something that makes us uncomfortable, we should heed the feeling. “Never move forward in fear,” they say.

Who’s right?

Should we brace ourselves in the face of fear and soldier on? We know this works. If you fear public speaking, for example, but force yourself to do it enough, you often overcome the fear and are better for it.

But facing your fears can also make you miserable. For every one time we think, “I’m glad I stuck with it,” there might be three times when we think, “I never want to do that again!” Isn’t there a way to accomplish the deed without the pain?

The folks who say, “Never move forward in fear,” say there is. They say we can (and should) eliminate the fear first, or at least dilute it enough so that we aren’t bothered by it, and then take action. They also say that doing it this way will allow you to do the task more easily and get better results. You can speak without trembling knees and sweat dripping down your face.

Sounds good to me. But how? How do we dissipate the fear?

Therapy? Hypnosis? A stiff drink or two?

The philosophers who recommend this path suggest that you guide how you feel about the activity by changing your thoughts about it. “Reach for a thought that feels better,” they say. Keep doing that until the fear is all but gone.

So maybe you think, “I’m not going to have a heart attack and die on stage”. Marginally better thought, yes?

Then you think, “It’s only twenty minutes. I can get through this.” Relaxing a little. Feeling a little better.

“I have something worthwhile to say.” Yes, you do. And the audience wants to hear it.

“Actually, it’s a friendly crowd.” Feeling better and better.

“Once I get past the first few words, I’ll be okay”. That’s the ticket.

And so on. Little by little, thought by thought, you think your way to feeling better and better until the fear is all but gone.

I’ve done this before and it works. It takes a little practice, but it’s not difficult.

Anyway, you don’t have to feel the fear and do it anyway, you can remove the fear and feel good about it.

Try it. Find something you know would be good for you but you’ve been putting off because of fear. Change your thoughts about it, little by little, until the fear is gone or at least completely under control. And then do it.

Your mind is powerful. It created your fears and it can be used to eliminate them.

Afraid to ask for referrals? This shows you how to get them without asking


Don’t wonder what will happen next, decide what happens next


Life is a series of decisions. You decide on your career path, your school, your job, your first client and your next. This morning you decided which suit to wear, what to eat for breakfast, and what time to leave for work.

You decided which file to work on first, which message to return first, and what to work on after that.

Most of the decisions you make are not very important or difficult to make. Some are critically important and gut wrenching.

But everything is a decision. Letting a boss, a parent, or a spouse decide for you is a decision. Leaving your fate to God is a decision. Not making a decision is a decision.

Things will happen that you couldn’t have anticipated. But when they do, you decide how to respond.

It’s your life and you get to decide what happens next. As someone put it, “Don’t wonder what will happen next, decide what happens next”.

Don’t let the immensity of your power overwhelm you. You don’t need to plan out the rest of your life or even the rest of the year. You only need to decide what’s next.

When you’re done reading this, what will you do?