Yogurt happens

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We all have problems. When we don’t have solutions to those problems, they frustrate us, distract us, and cause us to waste time and resources. They slow our progress and hinder our success.

What do you do when the yogurt hits the fan and you don’t know what to do about it?

Here are some ideas, many of which I have used to solve problems and achieve goals:

  • Write it down. Take an hour or a day and reflect on the issue. Make notes, brainstorm ideas, write a list of pros and cons. You may already know what to do. Get it out of your head and onto paper.
  • Procrastinate. Maybe you’re not ready to start or finish the project. Give yourself time (without guilt) to heal, to rest, to find new ideas, to evaluate whether this is really something you should do and if so, how to do it.
  • Recall past successes. Think about how you solved similar problems or achieved similar goals. Remind yourself that if you did it once you can do it again.
  • Think about what you want, not what you don’t want. Focus on solutions, not problems. See yourself doing the activities (writing, speaking, presenting, signing up clients, etc.) that will create your desired outcomes.
  • Start walking. Exercise will help you feel better, sleep better, and have more energy. Walking is a great way to clear your head, clarify your thoughts, and generate new ideas.
  • Change your habits. Bad habits tend to metastasize into other areas of your life. A habit of watching too much TV, for example, in addition to taking time away from productive activities, can create or exacerbate other bad habits that hold you back from reaching your full potential.
  • Don’t worry, be happy. It is difficult to succeed when you are afraid or worried or in pain. Change the subject. Think about (or do) things that make you happy. The happier you are, the easier it will be to find the solutions and do the activities needed to achieve your goals.
  • Remember why you’re doing this. Your goal may be difficult to achieve, your problem may be difficult to solve. Remind yourself that the work, the problems, the sacrifices, are worth the effort.
  • Talk to someone. An expert, a coach, a shrink, a clergyman. Talk to God. Talk to a friend or someone who has overcome similar problems and can offer advice or a shoulder to cry on.
  • “What would Einstein do?” Have an imaginary conversation with someone you know or a historical figure you admire. Ask them to tell you what they would do in your situation.
  • Get more information. Read, take classes, watch videos, hire a consultant. If anyone has done what you want to do, you can do it, too. Find out what they did and do it.
  • Compartmentalize. Put your problems or worries in a mental lock box and don’t open it until you’re ready to do something about them. Don’t let them distract you from doing the other things you need to do.
  • Get help. Hire someone who is good at the job you’re struggling to do. Hire more staff to do some of the work that is overwhelming you. Free up some time to do what you do best.
  • Do something different. For things to change, you must change. Try a different marketing method, a different workflow, a different practice area, or a different attitude about what you’re currently doing.

Finally, don’t be so hard on yourself. Few problems are fatal. Solving problems helps you to learn and grow, which is what you need to get ready for the next time the yogurt hits the fan.

Marketing can solve a multitude of problems

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Maybe you need to get out more

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If you’re like most people, you spend most of your time with people who are similar to yourself. Other professionals you know through work, neighbors with similar income levels and lifestyles, friends with similar values and interests.

This isn’t a bad thing. But it can get a little boring.

How about meeting some people with different backgrounds? How about talking to people who disagree with you and have different values and interests?

You might learn something from them, and they from you.

I know, it can be stressful meeting new people. And it takes time. But there is a payoff: New ideas, new resources, new ways to do what you already do. You might even make some new friends.

Worst case, you’ll confirm what you already think and that you like things the way they are. Best case, you’ll stumble into some great adventures.

You might meet someone who leads you to your biggest client. You might get excited about learning a new skill that changes everything for you. You might meet the love of your life, find a new business or investment, or cross something off your bucket list.

You might have some fun.

Start small. Join a club. Take a class at your local college. Invite someone to lunch with whom you have little or nothing in common.

You never know where that first step might lead but you won’t find out until you take it.

The most profitable clients come from referrals

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Are you willing to take my challenge?

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You’ve heard me preach about why you should prioritize important tasks and projects over everything else. Do your “most important tasks” because they will help you achieve your most important goals.

Today, I want to issue a challenge.

If you take my challenge and are faithful to it, you will make steady progress towards accomplishing your biggest goal.

And yet the challenge is simple.

Every day, without fail, do one task related to your biggest goal. You can do more than one, just make sure that you always do at least one.

The task might be big or it might be small. It doesn’t matter. Read an article. Make some notes. Make a phone call. Anything. Just do something that helps you move forward.

It could even be an action to remove something that blocks or slows your progress or sucks up time that could be used to work on your big goal. It might be valuable or important, urgent even, but if it distracts you from or slows your progress towards what’s most important, you should eliminate it, delegate it, or automate it.

The habit of doing something every day to move you towards your big goal will condition your brain to prioritize your big goal, think about it, and find more things you can do to achieve it.

So, are you ready to take my challenge?

What is your big goal? The ONE THING you want to be, do, or have more than anything else?

Whatever it is, identify a list of related tasks and do at least one of them every day.

If you want to get more referrals, your first task should be to get this

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It’s not how much you spend, it’s how much you earn

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In Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan,” Lord Darlington defined a cynic as “a man who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing”.

Not all lawyers are cynics, of course, but many lawyers focus too much on the cost of building their practice and too little on the potential return.

They pinch pennies that might earn a nice profit. They avoid “spending” billable hours executing strategies that might earn them a fortune.

They don’t want to lose money or waste time and their aversion to these risks clouds their vision and stifles their growth.

I know. When I finally started making money in my practice, I lost thousands of dollars to some people I thought I could trust. Having been broke for so long, the loss rattled me and I was afraid to take a chance on losing more.

I shared what happened with a doctor I knew who pointed out that the losses were simply a cost of doing business, that I should accept them and move on. “At the end of the year, if you made more money than you spent or lost, that’s what counts,” he said.

And he was right. Most of what I was doing was working. My practice was profitable and growing, despite the losses and expenses.

It was an important lesson for me, and maybe for you, too. In building a practice, our task isn’t to avoid all risk but to intelligently manage those risks and maximize our return.

If you are too focused on the costs of building your practice, if the idea of losing money or wasting time is an anathema to you, I encourage you to find a way let go of your fear and get comfortable taking more risk.

Because without risk there is no reward. And because it’s not how much you spend, it’s how much you earn.

Referrals provide an excellent return on investment. Here’s how to get more

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Do less

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You’re smart. Good at your job. Successful. But you want to be more successful so you do what most people do, you look for ways to do more.

More clients. More projects. More work.

To fit it all in, you look for ways to work faster and get bigger results.

You get busier and busier. You have less time and more stress. You’re frustrated because you’re doing more but not achieving more.

You’ve reached a point of diminishing returns.

It’s time for a different approach.

Instead of doing more, do less.

Take things off your calendar and to-do list. Start fewer projects. Make fewer commitments. Have fewer conversations.

Make room for what’s important and what you do especially well.

You’ll have more time to do more important things and more time to build on your strengths. You’ll have more energy, less stress, and fewer distractions. You’ll make fewer mistakes, waste fewer hours, and make better decisions.

You’ll build stronger relationships with key people. You’ll complete projects that take you to higher levels.

You’ll achieve more by doing less.

Get busy doing less.

Work smarter. Leverage your professional relationships to get more referrals

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It ain’t over ’til it’s over

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At half-time, I thought, if Atlanta can score 21 points in the first half, New England can do the same in the second half, and win. That’s the way The Pats have to look at it. There’s a lot of game left.

Yeah, I’m so smart I turned off the game early in the fourth quarter and missed the comeback of the century.

I thought it was over. No time left. Too big a deficit. But it wasn’t over. Because it wasn’t over until it was over.

So, is that it? Is the lesson to never give up, no matter what? Keep fighting no matter how bad things look?

Yes.

The game isn’t over, the election isn’t over, the trial isn’t over until its over (and you’ve exhausted all appeals).

Never give up. Never give in.

Now, it’s easy to give up when nobody is watching. All those projects you’ve started but never completed, all those goals that were quietly swept under the rug. When you’re the only one who knows, giving up is no big deal.

So if you want to win, make sure lots of people know.

There are those who say we should never share our goals or plans with others, that we should keep them to ourselves. Telling others, they say, puts too much pressure on you to perform and causes you to mess up.

But it is precisely that kind of pressure that leads to great victories.

When hundreds of millions of people are watching you, cheering you, counting on you, that’s when you do the impossible.

Go public with your plans. Share your goals. Be accountable. Take the chance that you will mess up. Because in this way, you will summon all that you have and accomplish things you might otherwise never accomplish.

There’s a related lesson, one that Atlanta missed, and that is assuming you’ve won before you’ve won. The Falcons took the win for granted and blew it. As Lost in Space’s Dr. Smith would put it, “Oh the pain”.

Never give up, and never celebrate before all the beans are counted. Because it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

What’s your goal? How many referrals are you going to get this month?

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Plan less, do more

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Relax. You don’t need to know everything. You’ve got some goals, or you know the general direction you want things to go, and that’s enough.

You don’t need a detailed plan. You’ll figure things out as you go along.

I say this from the perspective of someone who usually wants to know everything. Over the years, I’ve had to fight my need to know because, frankly, it has held me back.

Many of my biggest accomplishments began on a lark. They weren’t well-planned or even given much thought.  Something sounded good and I went for it.

Sometimes they worked out, sometimes they didn’t, but the net result was that a lot of good things happened for me that I’m sure would otherwise have never seen the light of day.

Do yourself a favor. Take a look at your project list or your someday/maybe list, or reach into your subconscious and choose something you’ve thought you’d like to do but have continually put on the back burner.

Choose something that excites you. Something that would make you leap with joy if you could actually do it. Something that has seemed impossible or the timing hasn’t been right or something you’re not sure you are capable of doing.

Don’t spend a lot of time on this. If you’re not sure, choose something that scares you.

When you’ve got it, push aside your doubts and questions and start doing it.

You don’t need to know what’s next, just take the first step.

You may not succeed. You may give up before the day is done. You may realize that you really don’t want it. But if you don’t start, you’ll never know.

If you do start, you might continue. And accomplish something that completely changes your life.

Referrals rock. Here’s how to get more

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Winning is great but so is losing

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Everyone loves a big win. Settling a big case, being named “Lawyer of the Year,” tripling the number of new clients this year over last.

Break out the champagne. There’s nothing better than the sweet taste of success.

If you want to win big, however, you have to do something you may not want to do. You have to take more risks and thus accept more losses.

Babe Ruth set records for hitting the most home runs. He also set records for the most strikeouts. He hit more home runs, he said, because nearly every time he was at bat, he swung for a home run.

If you want to have more success this year than last, you have to take more chances this year. Do more things that might fail. And bigger things that might fail big.

This year, take some cases that are big risk/big reward. Open that second office you’ve been thinking about. Double your advertising budget.

Do something that might turn out to be a big, fat, embarrassing loss but might also turn out to be a colossal win.

If you don’t do things you’ve never done before, you’ll never grow. You’ll stay in your comfort zone where very little changes.

This year, go for more home runs. Yes, you’ll strike out more. But who knows, you might just win “Lawyer of the Year”.

Take a chance on getting (a lot) more referrals

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Why you should do something other than practicing law

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You work long hours, most of which are spent doing the same things with the same people (or type of people) and while this may be a factor in building a successful career, it might also be holding you back.

Doing the same things day after day, decade after decade, can lead to boredom, a loss of perspective and a stifling of creativity.

Even if you don’t have the time to do it, or perhaps because you don’t have the time to do it, you should consider doing something outside of your practice.

Starting a part-time business would almost certainly allow you to network with people you otherwise might not meet in your “day job”. It could allow you to create additional income, develop new skills you can use in your practice, and give you something to do when you retire.

Taking classes in an unrelated field could stimulate your mind, teach you something you’ve always wanted to learn and provide you with fodder for your blog, newsletter, or presentations.

A new hobby, or the resurrection of an old one, could give you something pleasant to look forward to on weekends.

Joining a club or group might help you meet people who share your interest in something important or entertaining and give you a pleasant distraction from the stress of practicing law.

You are more than the sum of your legal experiences, or at least you could be. As you plan for the new year, consider doing something different. Look at your “someday” list or bucket list or pick something at random and dip your toes in.

You might find something that gives your career a new dimension, or, as I did, a completely new career.

I built my practice, and found my second career, by getting good at getting referrals

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Can you really earn more by working less?

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We’ve all been taught that more is better so how is it that some people earn more and achieve more by working less?

They do it by choosing the right things to do.

The most successful among us focus on doing things that allow them to take giant leaps instead of incremental steps. The kinds of things that let them leverage their resources and get “eighty percent results with twenty percent effort”.

It’s not that they ignore the little things. It’s that at any given moment, they’re able to zero in on the one thing they can do that will give them the most bang for their buck.

Real estate entrepreneur, Gary Keller, made this the theme of his bestselling book, The ONE Thing. He says that we can become much more successful by finding and doing the one thing (activity, task, decision, etc.) that can allow us to achieve extraordinary results.

Keller suggests that we look at our goals and for each one, ask, “What’s the ‘ONE Thing’ [I] can do such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

If your goal is to bring in ten new clients per month within 90 days, for example, out of all the things you MIGHT do, you should find and do the one thing that is likely to make it most likely that you will achieve that goal.

Start by brainstorming possibilities. You’ll probably think of hundreds of ideas, and if you don’t, read through my blog and courses. Put your list aside for a few days, come back to it and look for your ‘one thing’.

You may reason your way to a decision, but it is just as likely that your “gut” will tell you. If you’re not sure, go through your list slowly, think about each idea and see how you feel about it. If it feels good to think about it, if you find yourself getting excited about it, the odds are that’s what you should choose.

Your ‘one thing’ will likely be different than any other lawyer’s. You might decide that your one thing is to hire someone to create a new website for you. Another lawyer might decide that his or her one thing is to meet prospective new referral sources. Someone else may decide that advertising is the right thing for them.

All of these things, and others, might help you reach your goal, but you should consider them later. Right now,  you should find your one thing and do it.

Your website can bring you a lot of new clients

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