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Training yourself to think outside the box

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We all live in a box. The box is our comfort zone. It includes the things we do and only the things we do. The things we don’t do are all outside the box.

You can be successful inside your box but your success will be limited. You will only be able to go so far. If you want to go farther, get bigger, and achieve at a higher level, you have to step outside of your box.

You start by thinking outside of it.

Everything starts with a thought. An idea. And you can train yourself to have more ideas by asking yourself questions.

For example, “What if I did X?” or “What if I stopped doing Y?” “How could I do ABC better? Faster? More often?” “What would I have to do to get [whatever]?”

Of course, most of your ideas won’t pan out. Many will be absurd. But if one in 100 ideas causes you to try something different, or think about something in a different way, it might open a gateway to a brighter, richer future.

I’d argue that the crazier the questions you ask, the more likely those questions will lead to something. Or cause you to think something that leads to something.

Oh, you want examples? Okay, a few:

“If I could replace all my clients with new ones, what would they be like?”

“If I had a million-dollar advertising budget, how would I allocate it?”

“What’s one thing I could do that could triple my referrals?”

“How could I cut my workday to five hours and simultaneously increase my income?”

“What are ten ways to get one new client each month?”

“What would I have to do to implement a ‘client of the month’ program?”

“What (else) could I send or give new clients to get them interested in X?”

“What would happen if I quit Facebook?”

One for the road: “How much additional increase could I earn if I spend five minutes each week asking myself outside-the-box type questions?”

Want more clients? Read this and do everything in it

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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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Find out what people want and show them how to get it

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Legendary investor Bernard Baruch said the secret to getting rich is to “Find out what people want and show them how to get it”.

Ah, you thought you were supposed to “help them” get it. No, you’re busy. You can’t help everyone do everything (unless they hire you). You have a practice to run.

Show them what to do. Showing is easier than helping and nearly as valuable.

Give them direction and feedback. Point to resources. Refer them to experts. Show them what to do. When push comes to shove, they don’t really expect you to drive them to their destination. They will appreciate you for giving them a map.

On the other hand, don’t just “tell them what to do”. Anyone can do that. Anyone can post a list of recommended resources on their website. No, show them.

Talk to them and make sure you understand exactly what they want and why. Then, provide suggestions and recommendations specific to their needs so they can get what they want as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Explain why you recommend A instead of B. Give examples so they understand your rationale. Make sure they are ready to move forward before you turn them loose but let them know they can come back to you if they run into a snag.

Showing is less than helping but more than telling. Find out what people want and show them how to get it.

This is me, showing you how to get more referrals

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What were you doing one year ago?

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Author and artist Karen Lamb said, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”

So true.

A year goes by in about ten minutes. A year ago we were making big plans and setting big goals and here we are, one year later, having done nothing about them.

News flash: we’re not going to live forever. We need to get on with things before it’s too late and we shuffle off to the big after-party in the sky.

How can we do that? How can we accomplish more of our goals?

One way is to have fewer goals. Sure, make a long “someday” list but in the short term, pick a few things that matter most.

How about this: pick one thing you’d like to be, do, or have one year from now. Something exciting. Something you could start today and make happen in the next twelve months or less.

Make it something good. Something that makes you all tingly inside when you think about it.

Got something? Good. That feeling will help you to get started and keep going when you get distracted by other things.

But it may not be enough.

You’ve been down this path before. You had exciting plans last year and, well, here you are.

Why should this year be different?

Okay, here’s what you need to do. Instead of relying merely on your desire for gain, as exciting as it is, a fear of losing what you want is more powerful.

You imagine having it. You want it. It’s yours. And then it’s not.

Imagine it’s one year from now and you don’t have it. You’re not even close. You haven’t even started.

How does it feel to realize that you let another year go by and did nothing?

Disappointed? Sad? Angry?

Get in touch with THAT feeling. It will help you to make this year different.

Transform your practice by getting more referrals

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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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Paying full retail

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I don’t mind paying full price for things that provide value in my life. Things I appreciate and enjoy. Things I need. Even if they cost more than they “should” or more than I want to pay.

There’s nothing wrong with saving a few bucks but there’s also nothing wrong with buying the best or hiring the best and paying full price.

I deserve it. You do, too. It’s good to remember that.

We also deserve to be paid full price by our clients.

If a client doesn’t appreciate what we do for them, if they insist on getting an unreasonable deal, they don’t deserve us and shouldn’t have us.

Remember that the next time you feel a little guilty for saying no.

There’s a cosmic justice at work in the world. You get what you pay for and if you try to cheat the system, the world finds out and makes you pay.

You want to be successful? You must pay the price. No discounts. No shortcuts. Put in the time, put in the effort, do what needs to be done.

“At the counter of success, everyone pays full retail,” goes the old saw.

That’s the way it is. That’s the way it must be.

Step by step: how to get more referrals

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Sprinting towards success

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Building a successful career is a marathon. It takes place over time, not overnight.

And, as professionals, we’re comfortable with that because we don’t like making mistakes. We don’t like it when things get messy.

So we take our time. We plan, we put one foot in front of another, and we stroll towards the finish line.

Ironically, it is the pedantic nature of that slow and steady process that often creates the mess we’re trying to avoid.

When you go slowly, carefully, planning to avoid mistakes instead of planning to make something happen, it’s easy to get stuck in the mud.

Slow is painful. You feel the sting of rejection. You get discouraged by poor or nonexistent results. It’s harder to try again. Or try the next thing on your list.

Speaking of lists, if you have a dozen things you want to do to build your practice over the next year, instead of doing one each month as you might ordinarily be inclined to do, my advice is to do them all this month.

This way, you’re bound to find something that works and you’ll be encouraged to move forward.

If you do it slowly, one a month, and the first five or six things don’t work or you hate them, you may feel like quitting.

Your career is a marathon but it’s made up of a series of sprints. Run, as fast you can. Like your future depends on it. Because it does.

This will help you create your list 

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Plan, do, review redux

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Success means different things to different people. And the definition changes. Your goals from three years ago might be very different today.

So today, review your goals and plans, to make sure you’re going where you want to go and you’re on track to getting there.

Here are some questions to ask:

  1. RESULTS: What does success look like for me? Imagine things five or ten years from now. What are you doing? Who are you doing it with? Big firm or small? How many clients? What type of cases? How much money? How much time?
  2. SKILLS: In order to achieve the results I want, what skills do I need to acquire or improve? Which tools do I need to acquire, upgrade or master? What books should I read? How should I continue my education?
  3. NICHES: Which niche markets should I target? What does my ideal client look like? What kinds of referral sources would be a good fit? What can I do to dominate my niche(s)?
  4. PEOPLE: What kinds of people should I associate with? Who do I want to meet, model, and work with? Who should I spend less time with?
  5. HABITS: What should I do more often? What should I stop doing or curtail? Which new habits should I acquire? How can I do them more consistently?
  6. SYSTEMS: What processes should I implement into my workflow? What checklists, forms, templates, and methods should I develop or adopt? How should I manage and track my tasks, projects, and goals?

Answering these questions will help you create a plan. Answering these questions again, at least annually, will help you evaluate your progress, correct course, and get where you want to go.

This will help you choose your niche market and ideal client

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How do you transition from lawyer to successful lawyer?

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Comes a question from a new-ish attorney who works for a firm in Kenya and wants to know how to transition from learning the law to applying what she’s learned and “thinking like a fee earner”?

It starts with acknowledging that practicing law is both a profession and a business and that you must wear both hats. Of course, that’s literally true when you go out on your own but its also true when you work for a firm because if you don’t bring in clients, you might find yourself replaced by someone who does.

It sounds like my Kenyan friend understands this. So, what’s the next step?

The next step is to educate yourself. Take classes, read books and blogs and newsletters on marketing and management. Learn something about sales. And work on your communication skills. Meet other lawyers who are one or two steps ahead of you and find out what they did to get there.

If you’re thinking about going out on your own, build a war chest. Save every penny so that if and when you make the leap you’ll have more staying power and more options.

On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for making the leap before you’re ready.

When I opened my own office I was hungry. Literally. I needed to bring in clients or I couldn’t pay for groceries. I had burned my boats behind me and to survive, I was forced to do anything and everything to bring in business.

Necessity is the mother (and father) of invention.

In retrospect, a lack of money wasn’t the biggest issue, nor was it a lack of experience. The number one challenge was a lack of contacts. So, if you do nothing else, focus on building a list of people who know, like, and trust you.

Do that and you’ll be golden.

Start your education with this

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