The principle of accelerating acceleration


In “The Slight Edge,” Jeff Olson talks about the power of doing “the little things” over and over again, consistently, over time, until the compounded effect of those small efforts produces dramatic change. Brian Tracy, in “Create Your Own Future: How to Master the 12 Critical Factors of Unlimited Success,” calls this same phenomenon, “the principle of accelerating acceleration.”

Tracy, who sees the principle as a corollary of “law of attraction, says, [page 48], “Whatever you are moving toward [i.e., a goal] begins moving toward you as well.” His characterization of how the principle operates should be given to every attorney who is about to start their own practice:

“When you first set a new, big goal and begin moving toward it, your progress will often be quite slow. You may be frustrated and think of giving up. The bigger your goal, the further away it will seem. You may have to work on it for a long time before you see any progress at all. But this is all part of the process of goal attainment.”

“The 20/80 rule helps to explain the principle. . . . For the first 80 percent of the time that you are working toward your goal, you will only cover about 20 percent of the distance. However, if you persist and refuse to give up, you will accomplish the final 80 percent of your goal in the last 20 percent of the time that you spend working on it.

“Many people work for weeks, months, and even years toward a big goal and see little progress. They often lose heart and give up. But what they didn’t realize is that they had laid all of the groundwork necessary and were almost at the take-off point. They were just about to start accelerating toward their goal, and their goal was about to start moving at a great speed toward them.

“This principle of accelerating acceleration seems to apply to almost every big goal that you set for yourself. You must therefore decide in advance that you will never give up.

So, as you contemplate how you might create your own future in the new year, start with your long-term, visionary goals. Decide now that they are worth the effort you are about to make. Get used to the idea that you probably won’t see most of the results you seek for a long time. And then, and only then, when you tell yourself (and anyone else who will listen) that you won’t give up until you get what you want, you might actually believe it.


Is your legal career deeply fulfilling?


One of the hallmarks of a successful career, according to Steve Pavlina, is "making a meaningful positive contribution to others." Indeed, many lawyers say they went to law school in order to "make a difference" or "to help others." I know that was important to me when I started my career. Unfortunately, looking back on twenty years of practice, I can’t say I made the kind of difference I thought I would when I was starting out.

Pavlina is writing a series of articles on how to create a fulfilling career. He begins with the premise that no one should settle for anything less than complete satisfaction. We deserve to "have it all" and have it now, and we can, he says. "Almost" isn’t good enough, and neither is "working towards". Either our careers are fulfilling or they aren’t–there is no in between.

Someone once said that life follows three distinct phases: learning, earning, and returning. A deeply fulfilling career, the way Pavlina defines it, is one that combines all three elements right now. Contribution ("returning") is something we do every day, not just when we retire.

It took me a long time to admit that I wasn’t fulfilled in my career as a lawyer, and even longer before I was finally able to extricate myself. Oh, I know I played an important role in the legal lives of many people, and there were other aspects of my career that were satisfying (e.g., intellectually, financially), but, on balance, my career wasn’t anywhere near what I would call deeply fulfilling.

I like to tell myself I had to go through what I went through in order to get where I am today (and to appreciate where I am today), and I’m sure there is some truth to that. But only some. Today, I know you don’t have to settle. Now I understand that you can have it all, and you don’t have to wait. If you’re not completely fulfilled in your career, I hope you don’t take as long as I did to find that out for yourself.

If you are interested in making some changes, if you would like to be able to learn, earn, and return today, not someday, please contact me. I’m working on a project with several attorneys who feel the same way and it might be a good fit for you, too.