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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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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.

Referred clients are more likely to make referrals

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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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