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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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Don’t follow your passion

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More than a few smart having been saying lately, “Don’t follow your passion”. The main reason they give is that just because you’re passionate about something doesn’t mean you can make a living at it. There has to be a market for it.

If you love building Star Wars Battle Cruisers out of Legos, you probably have a hobby, not a business.

But some people build fortunes following their passion so telling everyone not to pursue theirs does them a disservice.

How about this: “Don’t follow your passion as a career unless there is a market for it”. Or, “Find a way to leverage your passion so you can make a living at it.”

Few among us love every aspect of our chosen careers. You may love standing in front of judges or juries and flapping your gums but hate marketing. If you asked me, I’d tell you to find a way to do more of the former because your passion for doing that will likely mean you don’t have to do much marketing.

And, if you aren’t passionate about any aspect of your career, if you do it because you’re good at it and it’s paying the bills but you would rather be doing something else, I’d tell you to keep looking for a way to do that something else.

Because if you can make a living doing what you love, not only will you be happier, you’ll likely accomplish more than you ever thought possible simply because you’re doing more.

In speaking about productivity, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits said: “…if you’re passionate about your work, you won’t procrastinate — you’ll love doing it, and want to do more. . . Make your life’s work something you’re passionate about, not something you dread doing, and your task list will almost seem like a list of rewards.”

Go find your list of rewards.

This can help you figure things out

 

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Living life on your terms

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Take a gander at your todo list, reminders, and calendar and ask yourself this question: how many of these items fall into the category of “have to do” and how many are “want to do”?

Yes, I know, some things fall into both categories. And some things you have to do because they allow you to do things you want to do. Or something like that.

The point is, I think we should all be working towards doing more of what we want to do.

Come on, as long as the things that have to be done are getting done, by us or someone else, why shouldn’t we be able to do more of what makes us happy?

The question is, how can we do it?

One way is to get money out of the way. Accumulate a ginormous pile of cash so you no longer have to work. If not cash, passive income will do the trick. When money is out of the way, you can do more of what you want to do.

Sound good? Okay, put that on your list of goals. Actually, you might want to make that your number one goal because if you accomplish this, when you accomplish this, most of your other goals will also be taken care of.

Don’t scoff. You know people who have done this. I’ve done it. It can be done. You can do it. You should do it.

Now, while you’re working on this, what else can you do to get more “want to” into your life?

I think you begin by being more aware of what you’re putting on your lists. If you routinely ask yourself, “Is this something I want to do?” before you write it down, you might start gravitating towards a list comprised of more things you want to do.

You might also get frustrated as you realize how much of what you do falls into the “have to” category. But frustration isn’t a bad thing. It might be all the motivation you need to get going on your plan to get money out of the way.

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What’s bothering you?

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Are you worried about something right now? A problem in the office or at home? Paying your taxes? Too many bills? Not enough income?

We all have problems. Most of them aren’t fatal. With a modicum of time and effort, we can resolve them or at least make enough progress so that they no longer keep us up at night.

But sometimes, they have a nasty habit of sticking around.

Whatever you do, don’t dwell on them. Because what you focus on, grows.

Instead of focusing on your problems, focus on solutions.

Get the problems out of your head and onto paper or into your favorite app. Brainstorm all of the possible solutions. Write down your available resources. Note what you can do, not what you cannot.

Talk to smart people and get their suggestions. Talk to people who love you and are good listeners and ask them to listen to you talk it out.

Let your subconscious mind (your gut) help you figure out what to do and then do it. It will almost always be the right decision.

What if your gut tells you to do nothing? Then, do that. Sometimes problems go away by themselves. Sometimes the passage of time gives you perspective and makes you realize that the problem wasn’t as bad as you had imagined. And sometimes, time helps you to discover other solutions that weren’t possible before.

Finally, once you have made a decision about what to do and you’ve started doing it, turn your attention to all of the good things in your life.

Dwell on your blessings. Because what you focus on, grows.

Need clients? Here’s the best way to get them

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Stop getting ready and start getting busy

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You have an idea. A project, a side business, a new career. At some point, you have to stop thinking, researching, and planning, and start doing.

Often, the more time you spend preparing, the harder it can be to start. Paralysis of analysis is a thing. You get caught up in trying to get your ducks in a row and thinking about everything that can go wrong and self-doubt sets in.

If you find the courage to do it anyway, you often find yourself easily spooked. Something goes wrong or is harder than you imagined and your brain starts cruising down “worst case scenario” lane.

Ignorance is bliss? Often so.

When I started my practice, I wasn’t ready. I had enough money to buy some furniture and pay a months rent but I was ill-equipped to manage a practice, let alone practice law.

I didn’t know anything about getting clients, hiring employees, billing, bookkeeping, insurance, CLE, and 101 other things that are part of the deal. I couldn’t think about those things; I thought I’d figure them out as I went along.

I also couldn’t think about possible problems. What if I run out of money? What if I mess up and get sued or the state bar comes calling? What if I hire someone and they mess up or rip me off? What if I can’t handle the work?

You can “what if” yourself until you don’t want to get out of bed.

So I didn’t know much or have much before I opened my own office, but I did have one thing that made the difference. Its something entrepreneur Shaun Rawls says all successful entrepreneurs have in common: “a high tolerance for ambiguity.”

I had that because I had to. I wanted the freedom of doing my own thing and I was willing to do what I thought I had to do to get it.

Whatever you’re contemplating, don’t overdo the thinking and planning. Stop getting ready and start.

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What are you waiting for?

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You want to start a project. Write a book. Leave your firm and start out on your own.

Why haven’t you? What are you waiting for? Information? Inspiration? The right time?

Whatever it is that’s holding you back, it’s killing your dreams and stifling your momentum.

You don’t need more information. Or confidence. Or time. You don’t need buy-in from anyone. The time will never be right, so stop waiting and do it now. Take the first step.

Book the room. Announce your plan on social media. Burn your ships. Do something to affirm that you’re doing this and don’t look back.

I remember opening my first law office. I wasn’t ready. But I knew it was something I had to do so I did it. Signed a lease. Bought some furniture. And told everyone I was open for business.

You probably know that I had a rough time of it. But I made it. You will too.

Whatever you’re doing, once you start, you find ways to make things work. One foot in front of another and before you know it, you have arrived.

Take a chance on your idea. Trust that things will work out.

What if they don’t? What if you leap and the net doesn’t appear?

You might get hurt. But you will survive. You will have learned things you didn’t know before, and through that knowledge and experience, you will grow. You’ll know people you didn’t know before and some of them will help you with whatever comes next.

On the other hand, you may be a stunning success. Everything may work out far better than you ever thought possible. Your project or venture may lead to glorious achievements and position you for even better things down the road.

No matter what happens, you’ll have an adventure. A story for your grandkids.

Don’t wait until the time is right or you feel ready. Start now. You’ll be glad you did.

When was the last time you did a Referral Blitz?

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Massive action for the win

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I’m very analytical. I like to think about things before I do them. A lot.

Weigh my options, research, ferret out the risks. This is a strength; it has prevented me from making some costly mistakes.

But it is also a weakness.

It is a weakness because being analytical has stopped from doing things that might have been a brilliant success if I had allowed myself to do them.

In fact, some of my biggest successes occurred when I ignored my fears and “what ifs?” and forged ahead.

I wasn’t reckless. I considered what I would have to invest in the project and what I might lose if things didn’t work out. But I didn’t let that stop me.

Once I committed to starting, the key was taking massive action. By doing that, I was able to make enough progress so that when my fear kicked in or logic told me I was making a mistake I had enough evidence to prove otherwise.

I had people interested in hearing more. I had some sales or some clients. I had some work product in hand. I could see that things were happening and it didn’t make sense to quit.

The hard part, of course, is getting started. You do that blindly, not knowing anything about what is about to happen.

So, how do you do it?

You look at other things you’ve done that have worked out and have faith in yourself that you can do this, too. And you look at what others have done with a similar idea, knowing that if they can do it, you can, too.

Mostly, you don’t think a lot about what you are about to do, you just lace up your track shoes and run. You do that because you have a burning desire to do something or achieve something or prove something and you’re just crazy enough to believe that you can.

Take massive action. Do as much as you can as fast as you can and don’t think too much about what you’re doing. Later, when you know your idea works, you can sit down and analyze what you’ve done.

The simplest way to get more referrals

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Do you (still) work nights and weekends?

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When I started practicing, even though I had few clients, I showed up at the office every day, including Saturdays. I spent most of that time setting up form files and writing form letters I could use once I got some new clients, and doing whatever I could think of to try to make that happen.

When I finally got some new clients, I started staying late at the office and bringing work home with me. I thought that’s what I had to do to make it and I was too scared to do anything else.

Maybe you are where I was. Maybe you’re working longer hours than you need to, or should. Even if you are getting things done and making money, at some point, you have to ask if this is the right way to go.

What if you set up some boundaries for yourself? What if you worked a full day but reserved your nights and weekends for yourself and your family? What if you actually scheduled took a vacation?

In the short term, as you work fewer hours, you’ll probably earn less income. In the long term, probably sooner than you think, you might see your practice explode, as mine did when I made the switch.

All work and no play really does make Jack a dull boy.

Start living a little. At night, on weekends, read novels, play games, take the kids to the park and toss a ball. If you don’t have kids, start making some. You’ll have the energy now, so get busy.

Leave your work at the office. Turn off your phone. Use your free time to get in shape. Start a hobby. Take a class or join a club. Not only will you have some fun, you’ll meet some new people (who share your interest) and have something to talk about besides work.

You’ll be more relaxed. More interesting. And have more energy. You’ll attract new friends, business contacts, and clients. You’ll have time to work on taking your practice to the next level.

You’ll earn more without working more. And finally realize that work isn’t the goal, it’s how you reach the goal.

How to earn more without working more: go here

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When a herd of zombies is coming at you

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You hear it a lot in movies. The characters are having problems. Zombies are crashing through the gate. The bad guys are coming to take their stuff, and everything looks hopeless. Someone wants to give up and someone else says, “C’mon, we can do this. We’ll figure it out.”

And somehow, they almost always do. Although that might not happen until the next season.

There’s a lesson in less. No matter what you’re going through, whether you’re struggling to bring in business, your clients aren’t paying your bill, or a herd of zombies is coming at you, you just keep going.

Whatever the problem, action is the cure.

You can think. You can research. You can pray. You can ask others for help or advice. But at the end of the day, those zombies aren’t going to cut off their own heads.

Of course, building a law practice is very much like fighting zombies.

When I opened my own practice, I rented an office from an attorney who had an extra room in his suite in Beverly Hills. It was expensive but I had big plans and needed to look like I had something going on. Unfortunately, I didn’t. I had trouble paying the rent.

But I kept going.

After a while, I moved to another office closer to where my prospective clients lived. The rent was cheaper and gave me more breathing room. More time to keep going. And I did.

I continued to struggle and eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner, but eventually I was doing better and got my own suite of offices.

It took years but I made it.

Some of my success came from improving my legal skills. Even more came from learning how to market my services. But most of my success came because I didn’t quit.

I had problems. I made mistakes. I lost money. Hell, in my first year I had to appear at a state bar hearing (without representation) to explain to a panel how I wasn’t violating ethical rules by running ads offering to pay referral fees to attorneys. (The law had just changed to allow this and when I pointed out that I was abiding by the rules, I won the case.)

No matter where you are right now, keep going. Nobody’s coming to rescue you. But you can get through this. Just keep moving and I promise, you’ll figure it out.

Need clients? Here you go

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What’s new and exciting?

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If you’re like me (and you are), you get excited when you get a text message from Amazon, telling you there is a package waiting for you on your doorstep. There’s nothing wrong with old stuff that continues to work well, but let’s face it, new stuff is exciting.

C’mon, you know what I mean. Your shiny new laptop rocks your world. Your new car is the bee’s knees. Your new girlfriend? Excite-a-mundo.

New things, new people, new adventures. Makes you all tingly inside.

But here’s the thing. The other side of the excitement coin is fear. In fact, that’s why we’re excited. When we ran around in loin cloths, our fears kept us alert and alive. Anything new and different raised the hair on the back of our necks and caused us to be on high alert.

And that’s still true today.

We’re excited about the new laptop but part of that excitement is fueled by our fear that it might have issues, we might not like it as much as we thought, or that we spent way too much.

Same for that new girlfriend.

And God knows it’s the same for new clients who might write you a bum check or make your life crazier than it already is.

So change is scary, but scary is good. Our fears tell us we’re alive, and that’s almost always better than the alternative.

So, I propose that we all get a steady diet of newness in our lives.

What do you say?

Click the button in your shopping cart and place the order. Visit the car dealer after work and put yourself behind the wheel of that Tesla. Book that trip to Octoberfest, terrorists be damned.

More than anything, it’s time to get some new clients.

Picture yourself interviewing them, writing down the facts, thinking about what you will do. Picture them signing docs and handing you a big check.

Nice, isn’t it?

More, please.

Picture your phone ringing with a referral on the line. Picture yourself at an event, three people ask for your card, asking when they can talk to you. Picture yourself hiring another assistant to help with all of the new clients you’re bringing in.

Take a big whiff and smell the success.

Hell yeah, it’s exciting! Okay, maybe not as exciting as the new girlfriend but hey, it’s all good.

What’s your plan for bringing in new clients?

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