The number one reason most people fail

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Gary Keller, of Keller-Williams Real Estate and co-author of The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, said, “The number one reason most people fail is because they are unwilling to endure the monotony of success.”

Starting a new project or initiative is exciting. A few weeks later, when you’ve settled into a routine, the excitement will wear off.

Not much is happening. You’re bored. Going through the motions. Easily distracted. Ready to quit.

You’re being tested. Will you continue? Will you endure the monotony? Will you have faith and stay the course?

Success doesn’t happen all at once. It happens incrementally, sequentially, little by little. As you do the activities over and over again, they start to compound. Before you know it, you’ve reached a milestone.

You need to know that this is how it works before you begin.

If you’ve chosen the right goals, and the right activities to reach those goals, you will eventually reach them. It might happen slowly. You might not see it happening. You might get discouraged.

How do you keep yourself from quitting?

First, think about your goal and what it will mean to you when you achieve it. Meditate on it. Drink in the feeling. Understand that it may be hard but it is worth it.

Then, think about what it will be like if you don’t achieve the goal. Imagine how you will feel knowing you gave up.

Thomas Edison famously said, “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Don’t let that be you.

Marketing legal services is easier when you know the formula

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The year everything changes

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15 minutes a day. You’ve heard me repeatedly preach and pound on that theme. I’ve told you that you can make a lot of progress towards your practice-building goals with just 15 minutes of marketing effort per day.

“Put it on your calendar, as an appointment with yourself,” I’ve said, “and keep that appointment. If someone wants to see you or talk to you during that time, they’ll need to wait until you’re done with your appointment.”

So, are you doing it?

If not, it’s a new year and it might be a good time for you to start.

I don’t know how I could possibly make this any easier for you—it’s only 15 minutes, after all—but I’m going to try. But you have to meet me half way.

Let’s start with some affirmations. This is you talking:

  1. “I want to get more clients, and better clients, and increase my income.” Go ahead and say that. Out loud. Click your heels 3 times, and say, ‘there’s no place like home’. Okay, you can skip the last part.
  2. “I understand that marketing is vital to the growth of my practice and I am ready to do it.”
  3. “I can work on marketing 15 minutes every weekday and I am committed to doing it.”

Are you with me? Are you ready to do this?

Remember, I’ve said (more than once) that you can start anywhere–sitting and thinking about marketing, reading about marketing, writing down marketing ideas, names of people to contact, or anything else. And, if you don’t know what to do, it’s okay to do nothing. Sit and stare at a wall. Just keep that appointment with yourself and don’t do anything else during that time.

Yes?

Okay. I think you’re ready for the missing piece of the puzzle. The key that unlocks the door to creating your new habit.

Get out your calendar. Not your task list. This is an appointment, remember?

Open to the week view and schedule a 15-minute marketing block, for tomorrow, as the first appointment of the day. Make it repeat every weekday.

The key is to make this your first activity. Before court or any other appointments. It’s important, right? You’re committed to it, right? So it should be done first thing. That way, you’ll get it done. You’ll also affirm to your inner child (the one who doesn’t want to do this) that it is important and you’re doing it.

Now, keep that appointment. Do it for two months and watch what happens. I promise, if you do that, you’ll see amazing things happen.

Make this your new habit of the new year and this will be the year that everything changes.

Key marketing strategies

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What you read says a lot about you

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No doubt you’ve heard this before:

“Small people talk about other people. Average people talk about things. Great people talk about ideas.”

Think about some of the people you know. Family, clients, colleagues. I’ll bet you find this observation to be remarkably accurate.

On a similar note, a flight attendant recently related her observations about what passengers in different sections of the plane did with their time.

She said that passengers in economy class tended to watch TV or movies.

In business class, most passengers did work–reviewing and writing documents, writing emails, reading reports, making notes.

What do you suppose she said about passengers in first class? What do the preponderance do with their time?

If you said “reading books” you’re right.

Learning new ideas. Improving their knowledge and skills.

Although not scientific by any means, her observations make sense. Because, as know, “success leaves clues”.

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Asking questions

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You’re good at asking questions. You do it for a living. Questions help you discover the truth, open and close doors and get a grasp on where to go next with a case or a line of questioning.

Asking questions can also help you clarify your goals and what you’re doing to achieve them.

Look at your calendar and your task list. All of the projects you’re working on, upcoming appointments, meetings, calls, emails, things you have to research, documents you need to prepare. Your day is filled with work and you’re getting most of it done.

Things are good.

You’re bringing in clients, making money, building a future. Don’t stop there. Don’t settle for the status quo. You can always do better.

Make it a habit to ask yourself questions about what you’re doing. Start with the big picture:

How can I earn what I’m earning and work fewer hours?

How can I increase my income without doing more work?

How can I bring in more clients at less expense?

How can I bring in bigger cases or better clients?

Not, “Can I?” but “How can I?” Assume you can.

Cogitate on questions like these. There are answers. You will find them. But only if you ask.

More.

Before you start a new task, ask yourself, Why am I doing this right now? Maybe it can be done later. Maybe someone else can do it. Maybe it doesn’t need to be done at all.

Asking why helps you to prioritize.

That’s “how” and “why”. You should also ask yourself “when” and “what”.

What should I do differently? When would be the best time? What should I add or remove?

Don’t forget “who”. Who should I talk to? Who could help me with this? Who do I know? Who do I want to know?

Ask questions about everything. Perhaps you are in the habit of scheduling new client appointments at a time that’s convenient to the client. Is this the best policy?

I don’t know. Ask more questions. Does accommodating the new client interfere with something else you should be doing? Does it impair your ability to finish things you’ve promised to other clients? Does it send a subliminal message that you’re hungry for business?

Interrogate yourself about who, what, when why, and how. Use your skills to spot the issues. State the arguments, for and against. Yes, I know, you could argue either side and all sides, all day long. You’re good at that, too. But don’t get caught up in that. Make a decision. Take action. See what happens.

Then you can ask more questions.

More questions to help you decide

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Immediately, if not sooner

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In high school, there were lots of girls I wanted to ask out but never did. I was nervous and afraid they would turn me down and although I fully intended to ask them out “someday,” that day usually never came.

Apparently, there’s a scientific explanation. According to research, “The longer you hesitate to do something, the less likely you are to do it.”

And that makes sense. Your fear builds, you convince yourself that you can’t do it, you tell yourself that you’ll do it someday, and then you get distracted by other things (or other girls) and it’s easier to not do something than do it.

If you want to get a particular thing done, do it immediately.

If you can’t do it immediately, if you need to do research, for example, start that research immediately.

Find something you can do related to the project–planning, making notes, talking to someone–and do it. Immediately. If not sooner.

My grandfather used to say that. “Do it immediately, if not sooner,” he would say, trying to be funny. But there’s actually a way you can do things sooner than immediately.

You do that by deciding to do it prior to actually doing it.

You can decide today that from now on, you’re going to work out every day. You can decide right now that you’re going to invest 15 minutes a day in marketing (and put that on your calendar). You can decide tonight you’re going to ask that girl out tomorrow.

When tomorrow comes, you don’t have to think about it, you just do it. Because you already decided you would.

Decide now that you’re going to get more referrals

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Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want

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I’ve been doing some tidying up lately. Going through closets and boxes, getting rid of old papers and the like. I know, I’ve done this before but no matter how much I get rid of, there always seems to be more.

Anyway, since cleaning up is on my mind lately, I noticed an interview with Marie Kondo, author of the mega bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You have to admire someone who can write an entire book about tidying up and, I’ve learned, built an entire business around it.

In the interview, I learned that the KonMari method, as she calls it, can be applied to any are of life because it’s not just about paring down possessions and organizing what you keep, it’s a philosophy for creating simplicity and flow, leading to a more effective and fulfilling life.

Or something like that.

Anyway, one thing in particular caught my eye. Kondo was asked, “What’s the major error we make when trying to tidy and simplify?”

Kondo said, “The biggest mistake people make is to focus on what to discard instead of what to keep. If you focus on this, you look for flaws. . . and cannot appreciate the things you own. The correct mindset is to keep what you love instead of throwing out what you don’t like.”

That’s precisely what I did in my recent clean-up. I went through several boxes of old papers and got rid of two-thirds of them by setting aside the ones I liked. Notes I can use for current and future projects, some awards and photos, and a few other things that caught my attention.

I threw out decades of clutter by focusing on the few items that meant something to me.

It got me thinking about the digital clutter we all have residing on your hard drives, and the ideas they represent. We all have notes and lists and ideas that occupy space, like the physical clutter in our closets and drawers. I’ve got close to 9,000 notes in Evernote. Which notes should I keep? Which ideas should I start?

The ones that speak to me about things that excite me, of course.

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The little train that couldn’t

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From an early age, our parents taught us to ignore our doubts and fears, believe in ourselves, and take the first step. Somehow, we’ll be able to do what we think we can’t.

Like the train that thought he couldn’t climb the hill, just tell yourself, “I think I can,” and. . . you can.

Our parents were teaching us to have confidence in ourselves, that a lack of confidence is bad.

But is it?

I read an article this morning that posits the idea that a lack of confidence is actually a good thing. “A lack of confidence is not the problem; it’s actually the means to a solution,” the author said.

By recognizing that you don’t know what to do or how to do it, or that you’re not good enough, you can identify the cause of those feelings and take steps to improve.

If you lack confidence in your abilities to successfully handle your first trial, for example, instead of merely telling yourself, “I think I can. . .”, marching forward and embarrassing yourself, be honest with yourself and examine why you lack confidence, e.g., no experience, insufficient knowledge, etc., so you do something about it.

On the other hand, there’s something to be said for “Just do it,” “Act as if,” and “You learn by doing.”

So, it depends.

Max Depree, of the Herman Miller furniture company, said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” So do that. Because you can’t fix something if you don’t know it’s broken.

If you lack confidence in yourself, ask yourself why. If there’s a good reason, do something about it. If not, if it’s just your inner child expressing fear, tell yourself, “I think I can”. Who knows, maybe you really can.

I think I can get more referrals

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A simple way to make important decisions

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Lots of options. Lots of things you could in the coming year to reach your goals.

Which one should you choose?

Should you work on Project A or Project B? Should you overhaul your website or start a newsletter? Should you work on meeting new professional contacts or write a book? If you have more than one book idea which one should you choose?

You’ve only got so much time and so much energy. How do you decide?

Everything on your list is important and valuable. In making your list, you gave a lot of thought to these options and you want to do all of them.

“I have the entire year,” you say. “I will do them all.” Maybe. Remember last year at this time? All of your ideas and plans? How many did you accomplish? How many did you start?

So don’t count on anything. Don’t bit off more than you can chew.

Instead of planning to everything on your list, choose one thing and do that. When you complete it, you can decide what to do next.

Okay. Which one should you do?

The easiest?

The most challenging?

The one with the highest payoff?

Should you stop listening to me ramble, pick something, and get on with it?

No. Do this: relax, close your eyes, and imagine it is the middle of next year. Look back at the time that has passed and where you are at that time. Think about your list of projects. Which one would you be most disappointed about not completing?

Choose that one.

The possibility of regret for not doing something will bring everything into focus. Whatever you are contemplating–work projects, career choices, schools, partnerships, where to live, when to retire, or any other important decision, unless there is a compelling, logical reason to move something to the top of your list, let your subconscious mind choose for you.

Once you choose, start immediately and don’t second guess your choice. Your subconscious mind is never wrong.

Need to get serious about marketing? Let your website do most of the heavy lifting

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Are you overly analytical?

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You’re a lawyer. Being analytical is part of your job. But if you’re overly analytical, you may want to consider a different modus operandi.

Continually weighing the “what ifs” and “on the other hands,” re-doing your research “just to make sure,” and scrupulously avoiding any and all risks, can easily do you more harm than good.

While you’re figuring out what to do, opportunities are passing you by.

What if instead of analyzing everything to the nth degree before taking action, you take action first and then analyze?

You’ll make some mistakes. Suffer some losses and embarrassments. Have some sleepless nights. That’s the downside. The risk.

What would you gain in return?

Opportunities for big breakthroughs. Amazing profits. And some wild adventures.

By accepting some risks you open doors to life-changing gains.

Now, I’m not saying you should “shoot first” in every situation. You have to use common sense. Look at the facts before you jump in. Gather enough information to know if what you’re considering is possible.

Has anyone done this (or something like it) before? If so, why can’t you?

It may be difficult. The odds might be against you. But if you believe something is possible, or at least not impossible, go ahead and take a leap of faith.

If you stumble, get up and try again.

Success always requires action. Always. Thinking is important but you can’t accomplish anything until you do something.

Once you do it, even a little, you will learn something. You’ll either be empowered to do it again (and better) or you will know it’s not going to work and you can do something else.

But you won’t have to guess or agonize about being right or wrong, you’ll know.

Act, then analyze.

Your plan for building a successful practice

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Step back and look at the big picture

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Yesterday, after my walk, I was cooling down in the park, and saw a bird perched near the top of a tree. I watched him move higher until he was sitting on the highest branch where he sat and actively looked around.

I wondered what he was looking at, or for. His mate? Scouting for predators? Searching for food? Or was he just enjoying the view, naturally climbing higher because his instincts told him that this was the safest place?

From his higher perch, he could survey the land and decide where to go and what to do next. I thought this was an apt paradigm for a human life, that is, the value of periodically stopping and looking at the big picture.

We need to get our nose out of books and away from our devices. We need to hang up our phones. We need some time and some distance from our routines so we can assess where we are and where we want to go.

I do a lot of thinking on my walks. But they aren’t long enough to explore much more than my day or my week–what I’m working on now or what I need to do next.

No time to asses what I’ve done this year, or contemplate what I want to do next year or in the years to come.

Maybe a longer walk would help. Maybe a retreat. Or a few days off at a resort (with room service) where I can think and plan.

I know some folks who take a couple of days off every year to decide on their goals for the coming year. It gives them clarity, they say, and allows them to focus, plan and manage their future.

“The Getting Things Done” methodology talks about the need to look at your life from the 50,000-foot level, and all the way down to the “runway” level where we work and live day-to-day. Other methodologies do something similar, having you first determine your long-term vision and then working backward to map out your yearly and then monthly goals, and finally your daily activities.

However you go about it, it comes down to stepping away from the minutia of daily living, to look at the horizon, asses the threats and the opportunities, and decide where to go next.

Make sure you also have a marketing plan

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