Start before you’re ready

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Endless research. Planning. Preparation. Waiting for inspiration, the killer idea, the right timing.

Enough. It’s time to do something. It’s the quickest way to find out if your idea is any good, the best way to gain feedback so you can improve it.

John Goreman said, “Success isn’t about knowing more, it’s about acting on imperfect information.”

I know, you’re afraid of failure. Wasting time, losing money, embarrassing yourself. You want to do this right, or not at all.

Hey, I go through this with just about every project. My left brain keeps reminding me of all the things that can go wrong.

I put the doubts and fears in a lockbox and get on with it.

If you don’t do that, you never find out how far you could go.

So enough with the planning. Do something. And give yourself permission to create dreck.

One thing I’ve learned: dreck can be fixed.

You can take something that’s terrible and improve it. You can even make it great. But you can’t fix something you never start.

Another thing I’ve learned is that things have a way of turning out okay. They’re usually not as bad as you feared, in fact, they’re often damn good.

Look at all of things you’ve done in your life, all the completed projects, milestones, and accomplishments.

You’ve got some, right?

You can get more.

My advice: Look at your list of ideas. Take the one that scares you most, the one that looks too big, too risky, or too expensive, and put it at the top of your list.

It’s probably the one you should start next.

Notice I said “start,” I didn’t say “do” or “complete” or “launch”.

I said start.

Take the first step and see where it takes you. If you like what you see, take another step.

One foot in front of the other until you get where you want to go.

If you get lost, you can do more research. And start again.

If getting more clients is on your list, here’s where to start

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Think (less) and grow rich

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You know that project you’ve been thinking about for the last six months? The book you said you were going to write–three years ago? That thing you keep talking about but never start?

Take some advice from someone who has been there and (not) done that: stop thinking and start doing.

Bruce Lee said, “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Truth.

You’re smart. A good thinker. Too good for your own good. It’s time to up your game and get some stuff done.

C’mon, you know you want to.

Don’t tell me you’re not ready. That’s irrelevant. Jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down.

You’ve taken enough notes. Done enough research. Pondered enough possibilities. It’s time to put pen to paper, shovel to dirt, hands on the helm, and get the ship moving.

It will be exciting. A new adventure. Scary, maybe, because you don’t know where you’ll wind up.

I’ll tell you where you’ll wind up. Same place as all of us. The big sleep, that’s where. “Don’t die with your music still in you,” Wayne Dyer said.

“What if it doesn’t work?” you ask. The question is, “What if it does?”

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I feel good. I knew that I would, now

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Albert Schweitzer said: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

Actually, science says he’s right. By mapping the brain to identify dopamine production they found that pleasure results in greater productivity.

When you feel good about what you’re doing, you give it more energy. You work harder and get better results.

Are there exceptions? Sure. In the short term, you can make a lot of money doing something you detest. But it catches up with you in terms of poor health, failed relationships, and other negative consequences. So you wind up with money but you’re still not happy.

Why not start with happy and have both?

Stop looking at happiness as the end result or an added bonus and start seeing it as the pathway to success.

Most lawyers who aren’t happy suck it up and continue working until they have enough money, contacts, and ideas to retire or go with plan B.

Some make it. Some don’t.

How about this: If you don’t love what you’re doing, change something–your practice area, partner, job, or methods. Find different clients. Adopt different marketing strategies. Compartmentalize your work so can focus on the parts of your practice you enjoy and delegate or automate the rest.

Because success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success.

Get more referrals so you can hire more help and let them do the things you don’t like

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I like pain. It feels so good when it stops

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The economy is good. Incomes are up, unemployment is down, the future looks promising. Many are beginning to realize how bad things had been.

When you feel good, it’s easy to take it for granted. It’s only when you don’t feel good–when you’re sick or sore, stressed or sad, battered or broke–that you appreciate how good it is to not feel that way.

You don’t notice what you had until it’s gone. Or it returns.

One thing I do to keep my balance is to take inventory. Periodically, I sit down and note what I have, not what I don’t have. I make a list of people and experiences I appreciate. I note my talents and assets. I ruminate on the positive aspects of where I’ve been and where I’m going.

I do this because gratitude is essential to happiness.

When bad things happen, I remind myself that this too shall pass and note that it could have been worse (because it can almost always be worse). Then I look for the lesson.

If all else fails, if I’m in a bad place and can’t seem to extricate myself, I remind myself that I’m not going to live forever and I can choose to give up or suck it up and get back to business.

And then I feel much better.

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Do everything in full-screen mode

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On the radio this morning I heard a promo for an upcoming program. I wasn’t listening closely and don’t know what it’s about but the guy featured in the promo said something that caught my attention. He said, “Do everything in full-screen mode.”

I like the image. I like the idea of being so totally focused on what you’re doing that you can’t see anything else.

“Full screen,” says, “don’t multi-task,” do one thing at a time and give it your full attention.

It says, “pay attention to the details,” because they’re important. And make sure you have the proper tools and allocate sufficient time so you can do that.

When you’re working, work. When you’re playing or relaxing, praying or spending time with loved ones, do those things with everything you’ve got.

Do everything in full-screen mode and live a more productive and prosperous life.

Focus on getting more referrals

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What’s obvious to you is amazing to others

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Author Derek Sivers once said, “What is obvious to you is amazing to others.” From time to time, take a moment to remember that.

You know things most people don’t. Don’t take what you know for granted.

The next time you talk to a client and explain the law, their options, and your recommendations, note the depth of your knowledge, the alacrity with which you’re able to summon it, and your ability to communicate it.

The next time you do a presentation, record a video or write an article, or you are interviewed, review the finished product so you can see how good you really are.

You know things and you’re able to do things. You can quickly spot issues and form arguments for and against them. In a matter of minutes, you’re able to pull essential information out of a client or witness.

Don’t discount your knowledge, your ability to explain things, or your ability to persuade people to your point of view.

Unfortunately, many attorneys don’t appreciate their value. They charge less than they deserve and the market will bear.

What is obvious to you is amazing to others. Don’t forget that.

Marketing is everything you do to get and keep good clients. Start here

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Doing the impossible

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If Alexander Graham Bell had been a professional electrician, he would never have invented the telephone. He would have know that it was impossible.

What aren’t you doing because you know it’s impossible?

If you’ve ever wondered why lawyers with half your intelligence and charm and none of your good looks seem to get more clients, make more money, and lead a charmed life, it may be because they don’t know what you know. They’re able to charge forward, unburdened by the knowledge that what they’re doing isn’t supposed to work.

Mark Twain said, “All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”

So maybe you’re too smart for your own good.

You can’t unlearn what you know. You can’t ignore what you know can go wrong.

Or can you?

Sometimes, I put what I know in a mental lock box and charge ahead in self-imposed ignorance. I don’t think, I just do. I don’t edit, I just write. And I remind myself that it’s okay to make mistakes.

My motto: “progress, not perfection”. I give myself permission to write crap or mess up royally. Only when I’ve gotten far enough along do I stop and take a look at what I’ve done.

I’m often pleasantly surprised. But then, what do I know?

How to get more referrals without really trying

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What? You STILL don’t want to do it?

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Yesterday, I talked about coming to grips with doing things you don’t want to do. Like marketing.

Basically, I talked about sneaking up on a task and giving it a big hug, until it feels familiar and you can give it a go. But there’s another way to do things you don’t want to do.

Do them anyway.

Who says you have to feel like it? Who says you have to like it? You have work to do so do it.

You may have legal work you don’t “feel” like doing. You do it anyway because if you don’t, your clients leave you, sue you, and complain about you. You can’t pay your bills. You lose your license. Your home. Your spouse.

There’s no choice here, you do the work.

With marketing, it’s different. Or so we tell ourselves. If we don’t do the work, we don’t lose, we just don’t gain.

Of course, that’s not true. If you don’t do any marketing, eventually you will lose everything.

Fear of loss is powerful. That’s why we do our legal work even when we might not want to. The desire for gain doesn’t motivate us in the same way.

That’s why we have to create habits and routines for marketing, why we have to hold ourselves accountable to others, why we have to block out time on our calendar for marketing (even five minutes a day), and why we have to force ourselves to do it.

But not forever. Eventually, we see that marketing isn’t that bad and it really does work. Eventually, we come to like it.

Or we don’t. But we do it anyway.

Your clients want to send you referrals

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When you don’t want to do something, try this

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Let’s rap about the stuff you’re “supposed” to do but don’t want to. Okay, too many things. Let’s limit it to marketing.

Actually, I’d like you to make a list. Write down all of the marketing tasks you can think of that are currently in your no-go zone.

You don’t want to do networking? Write that down. Social media sucks? Add that to the list. Blogging, asking for referrals, webinars, public speaking, email, direct mail, advertising, cross-promotions, convention booths, sponsoring sports teams. . . and the list goes on.

Look at the items on your list, one by one, and write down the reasons you don’t want to do them. What is it about each strategy that gives you heartburn? Or, is it that you don’t think you’re any good at it or you’re convinced it won’t work for you?

Don’t skip this part. Write down why you don’t want to do it.

Next, write down the answer to this question: “If I DID like this [was good at this/got results with this], what are the possible benefits?”

If you liked networking, for example, what could it do for your practice or career?

Write this down, too.

The purpose of this exercise is to get you to confront the things you don’t want to do in a rational manner. The goal is to take something you don’t do now and find a way you can do it.

Pick one strategy on your list and learn more about it. Read, watch videos, and explore the different ways people (lawyers) are using these strategies and getting results.

See if you can find someone who will let you see their content creation process–what they do to write and publish an article, for example. See if you can find someone who will let you tag along to their next networking event.

We all talk ourselves out of doing things we don’t want to do. This exercise is meant to help you talk yourself into giving it a try.

There’s a big world of possibilities out there you’re currently not doing. How might your life be different if you could find one possibility and make it work for you?

Marketing 101

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Turning off your issue-spotting machine

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One reason many people say they don’t like lawyers is that we appear to be negative people. We’re the ones who tell everyone why things won’t work.

Hey, we’re just doing our job.

Lawyers are said to be bad in business because we’re risk-adverse. We see what can go wrong and we don’t like to take chances. We stay safe but we also miss a lot of opportunities.

How many of us fail to realize our potential?

Robert Schuller asked, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” It’s one of my favorite questions.

Turn off your issue-spotting machine temporarily and think about this for a few minutes. If failure was impossible, what would you be, do, or have?

Think about what you want and how you feel about it. How bad do you want it?

If it’s something that makes your heart sing, don’t give up on it just because the evidence against you seems overwhelming.

Dr. Robert Anthony said, “Forget about all the reasons why something may not work. You only need to find one good reason why it will.”

Client referrals made simple

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