Why is more important than how

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I’m big on “how to”. I like learning how to do things and getting good at doing them. To be the best that I can be so I can accomplish my goals, feel pride in creating things and changing people’s lives.

So I read and study and practice the how-tos

But while “how” is important, it’s not as important as “why”.

You say you want to grow your practice by one-third this year? Why do you want that? What will you do with the money?

Pay some bills? That’s probably not enough to motivate you to do what you need to do to achieve your goal. Money in, money out, another day, another dollar.

On the other hand, if the reason you want to earn more money is to help your aged parents finally retire, because they worked hard all their lives and are still working to pay their bills. . . that’s a big reason why.

That’s the kind of “why” that will motivate you to make the calls or start a newsletter or do other things to bring in more business. It’s what will keep you trying new ideas, staying the course when things get tough, get past rejection or disappointment or fatigue that might otherwise cause you to give up.

Ask yourself what you want. And then ask yourself why you want it.

When you have a big enough why, you’ll figure out how.

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What would you buy?

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It’s been a rough year for a lot of folks. A lot of belt-tightening, deferring purchases, raiding retirement accounts. A lot of resistless nights, fatigue-filled days, and worries about the future.

Stimulus payments and PPP loans may help, but they’re not a long term solution. Building your practice is a long-term solution. For many lawyers, however, the client-pool isn’t quite as deep these days, given that many would-be clients have had an equally bad year.

And yet, there is more than enough business out there for you. I don’t know about the other guy, but for you, there’s plenty.

You just have to find a way to attract them.

I’m not talking about marketing. Yes, that’s part of it, but it might not be the key ingredient for attracting more clients.

What is that key ingredient?

You.

If you want to attract more business, you need to become more attractive.

When you’re feeling nervous about the future, worried, confused, skeptical, scared, or you are otherwise in a bad place mentally and emotionally, it’s difficult to attract anyone, least of all, people who are similarly situated.

Clients come to you because you give them hope for a better future. They need to feel like you can take them there.

It’s not just what you say or promise to do. It’s your music. How you feel and how you make them feel.

If your “music” isn’t attractive right now, you’ve got to change your music.

A simple way to do that is to use your imagination.

Humor me. This is the real deal.

Imagine what your life will be like when things are the way you want them. Or remember what it was like before lockdown living became the norm. Imagine a time when you have lots of clients and cases and money comes in like clockwork.

Get quiet and imagine a better future for yourself. A time when you don’t have to tell yourself you “don’t need that” or you “probably shouldn’t spend that”. A time when money is plentiful and you don’t have to think about it.

In that future, what would you buy? Where would you put some cash?

Would you upgrade that ancient laptop you’ve been lugging around? Hire another assistant? Advertise more?

Would you get some new clothes? Fix up your house? Give more to charity or help out a needy friend?

Would you start a passion project, get braces for your teeth, or hire someone to clean your house once a week?

Think about what you would do when you have plenty of money. More importantly, think about how you would feel.

Take a deep breath and imagine it.

Feels good, doesn’t it? Warm and fuzzy. That tightness in your gut is gone. You feel relaxed, centered, confident. You feel like anything is possible and you’re excited about the future.

Yes or yes?

The only thing left is to find a way to feel that way now, because that feeling is what will take you from where you are to where you want to go. It’s what will make you more attractive to clients who want that, too.

That’s crazy, you say? Woo woo nonsense. It’s just wishful thinking and you need a plan, something you can do that will bring in more money.

I just gave you that plan.

Give a try. Meditate once a day for ten or fifteen minutes and imagine things the way you want them. Do that for 30 days or 90 days. Make it a part of your daily routine.

Worst case, nothing changes, but for ten minutes a day, you take a mental vacation and feel great.

Best case? You change. Your confidence grows and you start taking action, inspired by your wishful thinking.

Your music changes. You become more attractive to people who need your help and they find their way to you.

Because the Law of Attraction is real.

If this is a message you needed to hear right now, if you are inspired by these words, realize that you attracted them to you. What will you attract next?

When you’re ready to take action, here is a great option

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Hard work is for suckers

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As kids, how many times did we hear about the value of hard work and self-discipline? How many times did we hear stories about parents or grandparents who sacrificed to make a better future for their family? How many times were we told that hard work is the path to a successful and virtuous life?

A lot.

We hear it a lot today, too.

Leaders, authors, speakers, clergy, and everyone else, it seems, who has something to say about our human condition, talks about the sin of laziness and the virtue of hard work.

But is it all true?

Yes, many people have achieved great things by putting their nose to the proverbial grindstone. But just as many seem to accomplish as much without breaking a sweat.

We all know people who are successful without working hard or forcing themselves to do things they hate doing.

Could it be as simple as choosing the right career or job or business? Our grandparents may have had limited career choices, but do we?

If we choose work we love, we don’t need self-discipline. We do what we do because we love doing it.

But it’s not always possible, is it? Surely the sanitation worker doesn’t love his or her job?

Maybe they do. Or maybe they love that they perform a function society depends on, they are (relatively) well-paid, and they don’t have to put in the hours their entrepreneurial neighbors do.

Hard work is okay, if you want to work hard. But doing things that come easily to us, that don’t require self-discipline or sacrifice, is okay, too.

And, if we can’t find work we love, perhaps we can find ways to do our work that don’t cause us stress or strain.

As attorneys, we might not love all our clients or all of the work we are asked to do. But we can always find something about what we do that we enjoy.

Even if it is the satisfaction of helping people solve difficult problems and earning a good living doing it.

Working smarter means you don’t have to work harder. Here’s how

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A simple way to feel better about the future

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I spent extra time doing my weekly review yesterday. I dusted off some projects I had planned to work on last year and prioritized them to work on this year.

I consolidated blocks of notes I have been accumulating and made new lists about what to do next.

For a couple of hours, I ignored the current state of the world and planned my future. When I was done, I felt good.

I have things to do and I’m looking forward to doing them. No matter what the world delivers to my doorstep, I will adapt and move forward.

Because that’s all anyone can do.

I encourage you to go through your apps and lists and notes and make a new plan or update your old one. Make it simple and focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.

When you’re done, you’ll have a renewed sense of purpose and a picture of a better future, and you’ll feel good about that future, because you have a plan.

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Motivation follows action (not the other way around)

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YOU: I want to bring in more clients; I’ve made a list of 18 things I could do but I’m not motivated to do any of them. Do you have any advice?

ME: You’ve come to the right place, son. Pull up a chair and let me set you straight.

Now, the way I see it, you have 3 options:

Option 1: Make another list. Go find 18 more things you could do, and keep looking until you find something you want to do. There’s got to be something, right?

If not, go to option 2.

Option 2: Get out your checkbook. Pay someone to do something on your list for you, or babysit you and coach you while you do it.

If you don’t want to do that, you have option 3.

Option 3: Pick something on your list and do it anyway. Even though you don’t feel like it. Because research tells us that motivation follows action, not the other way around.

Pick something you hate the least, or pick something you hate the most so you can prove to yourself you were right, or pick something at random.

Just pick something, and start.

Do something, however small and insignificant, so you can say you started.

Because motivation follows action, not the other way around.

What will happen? Well, you might find it’s not as bad as you thought and decide to continue. You might find a way to make it easier or better. You might start to see some results, get excited, and say to yourself, “I wish I’d started this sooner.”

Or, you might hate it, in which case, you can choose something else and try that, or go back to option 1 or 2.

Those are your options. I hope this helps. I’ll put your bill in the mail.

How to create a simple marketing plan that works for you

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Do what you can’t do

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What’s holding you back? Why haven’t you achieved your goals?

The answer is inside your head.

You haven’t achieved your goals because you don’t believe you can have what you want.

There’s a voice in your head that says you don’t deserve what you want. You aren’t smart enough, talented enough, or hungry enough.

That voice is your fear talking. It’s trying to protect you by causing you to play it safe.

You have three options.

The first option is to listen to that voice and learn from it. It might be right. Hear it out so you can fix what it says needs fixing.

If it says you don’t have enough skills or experience, make those your priority. Do what you have to do to get good enough, and say “thank you” to the voice for being honest with you and pointing the way forward.

The second option is to confront the voice and challenge it.

If the voice says you don’t have enough talent, look for evidence to the contrary. Think about your accomplishments in similar situations and remind yourself of just how capable you are.

Let the voice know you’re not picking up what it’s laying down.

The third option is to ignore the voice and do what it says you can’t do. Go ahead and prove it wrong.

As Vincent van Gogh once said, ‘If you hear a voice within you say “You cannot paint,” then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.’

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You’re not that important

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You’re not that important and neither am I. Most people don’t think about us or care about how we feel.

Most of our blog posts and articles won’t get any comments, shares, or likes.

Most of the work we do will be forgotten soon after we complete it.

Most of our clients won’t send us referrals, testimonials, or thank you’s.

And that’s okay. It’s okay because that’s the way it is and it has to be okay.

Stop worrying about what people think. If someone says something positive about you, don’t let it go to your head. If someone says horrible things about you, don’t let it ruin your day.

Do the best you can do and let it go. Move on to the next case, the next post, or the next presentation.

You’re not that important and that’s okay. Because some people love you and that’s all that matters.

Email marketing for attorneys

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How to be successful when you’re not that good

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Look around you. Everywhere you look you see people earning a living, raising a family, and enjoying life. They have a job or own a business or practice, they buy cars and homes, they eat well, they travel, they have fun, and generally speaking, they’re happy.

They’re successful. And yet, most of these people aren’t doing anything spectacular. They’re average people doing average things.

How do average people become successful?

The answer is simple. They put one foot in front of the other and kept moving forward.

Consistency beats talent, luck, charisma, and hard work.

Most successful people became successful because they put in enough time.

They chose a career they liked and stuck with it. Their small, “average” efforts compounded over time.

How about you? You may not be exceptionally talented or hard working, but you can still build a successful practice and the life that goes with it.

Do the work. Stay the course. Eventually, people will notice. They’ll seek you out and tell others about you.

Now, if you ALSO have talent, or you’re willing to work hard (or smart), your odds are even better. You might get rich. You might be one of those overnight successes everyone talks about.

Keep moving. Your success is inevitable. Even if you’re not particularly good.

Marketing helps you get bigger, faster

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Whelmed

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You’re underwhelmed when you have too little to do or a list of nothing but chores and other boring, unrewarding tasks.

Not fun. No way to live.

If that’s you, do something new and challenging. Read a book you don’t normally read, get out of your comfort zone, do something that scares you. Or start working on your new side-business or your book or another adventure.

What’s more common, especially for high achievers and perfectionists like us folk, is being overwhelmed.

We often have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Or we don’t know where to begin. Sometimes we’re paralyzed by indecision. Sometimes we don’t want to do anything.

There are many ways to get out of the funk and back on track. Here are some that work for me:

  1. Do a brain dump. Get everything out of your head and write it down. Everything you can think of that you have to do or remember or decide. Clear your mind of what weighs on it and you’ll feel better, more in control. And, by writing it down, you’re taking action, which helps build momentum towards getting the next thing done.
  2. Schedule it. Go through your list and note anything that has a due date or an important start date and put those on your calendar. More control, more peace of mind.
  3. Tidy up. Do something relatively mindless but useful, like dusting your desk, organizing digital files, or uncluttering drawers and closets. While you’re doing that, your subconscious mind is working on your todo list, figuring out what’s important and the best way to approach it. When you come back from your journey to Marie Kondo Land, you should have some clarity on what to do next.
  4. Choose three. Go back to your list, quickly scan it, and choose no more than three tasks or projects. Put those three on a sticky note or somewhere else you can see them and put everything else out of sight. Work on those three things until you finish them. Progress!
  5. Work on one thing at a time. Single task. I know, it’s difficult to work from home and simultaneously watch your kids, but you have to make space for yourself to do your work. Even one or two hours of uninterrupted quiet time can make a difference.

So, there you have it. A few thoughts on settling your mind and re-establishing control.

AKA, achieving whelment.

How to write a simple marketing plan. Here’s how

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Under pressure

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Sometimes, we feel it when we’re starting a big trial or entering into a high-stakes negotiation. Sometimes, it’s when we’re dealing with an unhappy client. Sometimes, it’s not any one thing but the culmination of a lot of little things.

But there it is. And there it will always be.

How do you deal with pressure in your practice, or in your personal life?

Do you have a process you follow to steady yourself, prepare for unwanted contingencies, and reduce risk?

I just read what a brain surgeon does to achieve peak performance under pressure. It’s sound advice for any professional.

And, if you’re feeling under pressure right now, take a few minutes to listen to David Bowie and Freddy Mercury singing Under Pressure.

It’s could be just what the doctor ordered.

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