For things to change, you have to change


We all see the world through a lens of our experiences, beliefs, and habits. We see what we want to see and (mostly) do what we want to do. Our lives follow a familiar pattern and unless we do something different, we continue to get the same results.

No change, no growth.

Jim Rohn said, “For things to change, you have to change. For things to get better, you have to get better. For things to improve, you have to improve. When you grow, everything in your life grows with you.”

Change starts by acquiring new information and different experiences.

Look at the books on your shelf or in your Kindle. Are you reading the same types of books you usually read? How about exposing yourself to some new ideas?

Look at your weekend calendar. Are you going to the same places and doing the same things? How about trying something different?

Look at the people in your life. The odds are you share many of the same opinions and beliefs. How about making some new friends?

Change can be difficult. Painful, even. But you don’t have to take a giant leap and hope for the best, you can ease into it by first changing your perspective. As Dr. Wayne Dyer put it, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”


Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better


Jim Rohn famously said, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better.” I don’t think he was speaking to lawyers musing about the challenges of building a law practice in a highly competitive field or market, but he might as well have been.

If you’re in a seemingly oversaturated market, wondering if you should get out because there are too many lawyers who do what you do, take my advice: don’t. At least not until you consider why your field or market is so crowded.

The reason there is lots of competition in a given market is not a mystery. It’s because there are a lot of paying clients in it. Lawyers are making money in that market, which means you can, too.

Compare that to a market or practice area with very little competition. You might strike gold in a market like that but the market is unproven and it is more likely that you’ll go broke. (If there’s enough business in the market, you would see other lawyers in it.)

So rejoice that you are in a market with lots of competition. There are clients to be had and money to be made.

How do you stand out? How do you compete with all those lawyers trolling for clients in the same pond?

You know the answer. Marketing. Do a better job of it than your competition and the business will come to you instead of them.

Fortunately, that’s not hard to do. Most lawyers don’t know much about marketing and those who do often do it poorly. If you know what you’re doing, they’re easy to beat.

What if they have millions to spend on advertising and you don’t?

No problem. You have other ways to bring in clients. And those clients will be more profitable because you don’t have a big advertising budget (and the associated overhead) to cover. Your clients will often be better clients, too, because the kinds of advertising done by the big firms tends to attract the lower tiers of cases and clients.

Anyway, you know I’m preaching the truth. You also know that you don’t have to be a marketing genius to win the battle for new clients. You only need to be better than other lawyers who don’t know what you know and can’t be bothered to find out.

Start here


Working part time on your fortune


Personal development legend Jim Rohn advised us to, “Work full time at your job and part time on your fortune.”

Your job pays the bills. It keeps the machine running. And most people need to spend most of their time doing that. But not all of their time. Some of their time should be invested in their future.

Your future might be where you want your practice to be in five years. It might be a side business or project you’re working on that will allow you to slow down, retire, or enter another phase of your life. It might be your investments, a cause that excites you, or something else you dream about.

How much time should you invest in your future? That’s for you to decide, but 20% seems like a good place to start. If you work an eight hour day, spend 90 minutes working on your fortune, and the rest earning a living.

If that’s too much, if you need a full eight hours to do the work that pays your bills, then for the next few years, you might have to work a 9 1/2 hour day. Or, work on your fortune after your work day ends, in the morning, and on your lunch break. That’s what I did when I started my publishing and consulting business.

And hey, don’t go looking for the time. You won’t find it. You have to make the time. Look at your calendar and block out 90 minutes a day, or two 45 minute periods, or six 15 minute periods every day.

Don’t forget commute time or exercise time. You can make calls in the car or dictate letters and articles at the gym. I dictated the first draft of this post while I was on my morning walk.

If 90 minutes is too much, start with 30 minutes and work your way up. Whatever number you choose, make sure you do it every day. If you don’t, if you skip days, you are telling your subconscious mind that your dream isn’t important. Before you know it, it won’t be.

Whatever future you desire and dream of, if it’s important to you, you will make it a priority. You’ll get up early or stay up late, and you will do what needs to be done. If it’s not important, you won’t.

In a few years, you’ll either say, “I wish I had,” or “I’m sure glad I did”.


Has the “Law of Association” Been Repealed?


W. Clement Stone said, “Be careful the environment you choose, for it will shape you; be careful the friends you choose, for you will become like them.”

Our parents, teachers, and spiritual leaders always cautioned us about our associations. If my parents didn’t approve of someone I was hanging around with, they didn’t hesitate to let me know.

Some say we become like the (5) people we associate with most. We are influenced by them. We adopt their habits, behaviors, and opinions.

It’s called “The Law of Association,” but perhaps the word “tendency” would be more accurate than “law”.

If you spend most of your time around people who smoke or drink or have poor eating habits, does that mean you will adopt those habits? You might. But then through your example, you might be the one who influences them to clean up their act.

If your friends are all negative people who complain all the time and see the dark side of everything, it doesn’t mean you will become a negative person. Environment is important but it’s not everything.

But while the people we associate with may not change us, the right ones can expose us to better ideas and better opportunities.

If you associate with successful professionals and business executives, for example, you can gain insights into how they think. You can study what they do. You can model their behavior and their language. By watching them and by seeking their advice, you can learn how to avoid mistakes and improve your outcomes.

Successful people can also open doors for you. They can introduce you to prospective clients and referrals sources, help promote your practice, or point you towards profitable investments.

Who you know, and who you spend time with, does make a difference.

As I mentioned in a previous post, you do have a choice. You can choose to associate with positive people who inspire you and help you grow, and you can disassociate from people who don’t.

But you may have some work to do, first.

People tend to seek out people who are like themselves. We prefer to be around people with similar habits, viewpoints, income levels, and hobbies. Birds of a feather do flock together. And therein lies the challenge.

If you want to associate with successful people who can provide you with better ideas and better opportunities, you have to earn the right to do so.

Why should they associate with YOU? What are you bringing to the table? What better ideas and better opportunities will you be able to share?

There’s another law at work here: The “Law of Attraction”. Like attracts like. Birds of a feather flock together because they are birds of a feather.

If you want to be around successful people, you have to attract them and to do that, you have to become them. You don’t necessarily have to have achieved what they have achieved, but you must have similar philosophies.

That’s why personal development is essential to success. That’s why Jim Rohn said, “Work harder on yourself than you do on your business.”


The ABA Journal wants to know what lawyers think about the economy. I don’t.


How’s business? The ABA Journal wants to know. They are surveying lawyers on the job market and the state of the economy. They’ve asked me to mention this on my blog, so here it is:

Surveys are interesting, but guess what? The job market and the state of the economy have no bearing on your life. Unless you believe it will.

If you believe the economy will materially affect your practice or job, it will. If you believe it won’t, it won’t.

Does that sound naive? Some kind of new age hooey? Well, if you believe that, then for you, that’s exactly what it is. But I have different beliefs. I believe we create our reality. I believe we can choose to be successful in the face of adversity or we can choose to capitulate, wring our hands, and suffer along with everyone else.

It’s our choice.

You can choose personal responsibility. You can choose to be optimistic. You can choose to see opportunity when others see Armageddon. In the Depression of the 1930’s, unemployment was twenty-five percent and millions suffered. But many made fortunes. I guess they understood that periods of great change create opportunities for the status quo to change. Of course that’s also why many previously wealthy people jumped out of windows.

Business philosopher, Jim Rohn, said, “It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” How are you choosing to set your sails?


Update: In case you’re interested, here’s a link to the survey results: