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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Is this the key to success?

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Pastor, business owner, speaker, and author, the late Mark Yarnell, offered his recipe for productivity and success. He said, “Work on one thing at a time. Do it right. Finish it.”

Simple. But not always easy to follow.

Working on one thing at a time is difficult for a lot of people. But it’s easy to see the value of doing so. Numerous studies prove that multi-tasking is inefficient to the extreme. Fortunately, there are strategies and tools aplenty that can help us to curb this habit.

“Do it right” certainly makes sense, but we must recognize that the way we learn to do it right is usually by first doing it wrong.

This leads to the third piece of advice, to finish what we start. That’s the key to making everything work.

When we finish what we start, we can move onto something else. No chance for multi-tasking. We’ve also learned something so the next time we do it, we should do it better.

Finishing is the “Big Kahuna” of productivity. The more things you finish, the more you accomplish. The more you accomplish, the more likely you are to succeed.

Author Philip Roth said, “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress”. What have you started but not finished?

Before you go looking for new ideas and new projects, you might want to dust off some of the half-finished projects lurking on your hard drive or in the recesses of your brain and finish them. Then go work on something else.

Dust off your marketing plan

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Focus on your destination (with exceptions)

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I walked my daughter down the aisle a couple of weeks ago. It was an outdoor ceremony at a country club, with a panoramic view of rolling hills and lush gardens.

My daughter and I waited at the top of the hill overlooking the wedding party below. Everyone was seated except for the groom and minister. We received the cue to begin walking, my daughter took my arm, and we walked down a series of stone steps which led to the aisle at the bottom of the hill.

The steps were steep and uneven and I had to look down to make sure we didn’t trip. I knew we were being videotaped and that looking down would look awkward but it couldn’t be helped. All I could think about was that if I tripped on the steps or stepped on her gown, my daughter and I would go tumbling down the hill.

At the bottom of the steps was the aisle. We walked down it, I gave her away, took my seat next to my wife, and we watched our beautiful daughter and her groom exchange their vows.

It was a proud and happy day.

A marriage is a journey. The destination is a long and happy life. You get there by staying focused on the big picture and by not letting little problems stop you.

Your work is also a journey. The destination is a long and successful career. You also get there by focusing on the big picture and by not letting bumps in the road throw you off course.

Swedish diplomat and author, Dag Hammarskjold, said, “Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.”

Long term. Big picture. Stay focused on your destination.

Good advice for a marriage or a career. Glad I didn’t listen to it when we were walking down those steps.

A successful career starts with a plan

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Are you too logical to be successful?

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I’m pretty sure that most lawyers are left-brained. We’re logical, orderly, and rule-bound.

These traits help us to be good at what we do. They make us good at drafting documents to protect our clients. They help us to see the flaws in the other party’s position and forge the right arguments against them. They help us to fill out the right forms, check the right boxes, and avoid neglecting something important.

Unfortunately, these traits might also hold us back from reaching our potential.

Logical thinking is linear. A before B followed by C. This helps us to get the work done efficiently but it often blinds us to other options.

Right-brained people operate differently. They see many options, usually all at once. They are artists and inventors and creators of new ideas. They don’t necessarily follow the rules, they often break them. As if to underscore this difference, Thomas Edison once said about his laboratory, “There ain’t no rules around here! We’re trying to accomplish something!”

As lawyers, we can’t ignore the rules, although perhaps we can remember to question them. When it comes to marketing and building our practice, however, we should consider throwing out the rules and making new ones.

I’m not suggesting we violate the law or ethical rules. I’m suggesting that we observe what everyone else is doing and do the opposite.

That should be easy. Since most lawyers aren’t good at marketing and don’t do much of it, it doesn’t take much to beat them.

In a world of blind men, the one-eyed man is king. In a world of logic-bound lawyers, a little creativity can go a long way.

How to earn more than you ever thought possible: the formula

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Working hard or hardly working?

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All our lives we’ve been told that hard work is essential to success. The person who works harder than other people generally achieves more than other people.

But is that always true? Does someone who earns a million dollars a year work ten times more than someone who earns $100k? What about people who work incredibly long hours every day but continually struggle?

We’ve also been told that there are no shortcuts to success. It doesn’t happen overnight. Okay, then how do you explain the many tech entrepreneurs who are billionaires before they’re 30?

I don’t purport to have all the answers but clearly, there isn’t an absolute causal connection between effort and results, hard work and success. There are other factors at play. That’s why I continually look for ways to work smarter.

Working smarter is about leverage. Getting bigger (or quicker) results with the same or less effort. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to do that.

You frequently hear me prattle on about the 80/20 principle. I do that because it is the quintessential illustration of leverage and I encourage you to continually look for ways to use it to increase your income and improve your life.

Where does most of your income come, for example? The odds are that a high percentage of it comes from a few things you’re doing, the so-called “20% activities that deliver 80% of your results”. Look at your practice area(s), target market(s), and marketing methods. You’re likely to see that most of your income comes from a “precious few” things, not from the “trivial many”.

When you find your precious few, do more of them. Get rid of other things to free up time and resources so that you can make that happen.

If 80% of your income now comes from one or two marketing activities, for example, doing more of those activities could increase your income by 160%. That’s because you’ll have two blocks of 20% activities instead of just one.

Back when I was a cub lawyer, struggling to figure things out, I made three changes to what I was doing and my income skyrocketed. In a matter of months. I also went from working six days a week to just three.

So nobody can tell me there aren’t any shortcuts. Now, if you will excuse me, it’s time for my nap.

How I learned to earn more and work less. Yep, it’s all here

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Dream big, start small. Or big.

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Are you the type of person who jumps into the deep end of the pool or do you dip your toes in first?

Deep-end divers usually say the water may be cold and jumping in is the quickest way to overcome the shock. Toe-dippers say they prefer to become acclimated to the cold and go all in when they’re ready.

This isn’t a referendum on swimming habits, of course. It’s a metaphor for how you handle change.

If you have a big goal you want to accomplish or a big project with lots of moving parts, do you throw yourself into it with everything you’ve got and sort it out as you go along? Or do you create a detailed plan, study and prepare before you take the first step?

Either way is fine. What’s not recommended is “none of the above,” that is, sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing. Don’t do that. Better to do something and back away if you’re not ready or you decide it’s not worth the effort.

Every experience is a learning experience and the more of them you have, the better. Half-finished projects, abandoned ideas, and unfinished first drafts are all fodder for your creative brain. Try lots of ideas and you’ll surely find some winners.

It’s also okay to use different approaches for different projects. You might start some projects by diving in and splashing about. With others, you might check the temperature before you decide what to do next.

In either case, do something. Read something. Make some notes. Talk to someone. Great accomplishments often start with very small steps. Big steps are okay, too.

For a simple marketing plan, get this

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