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As we are about to officially rip the last page off of the 2012 calendar and declare the year “complete,” many of us are starting to get that annual, panicky feeling as we slink around the corner of the new year. You can’t really explain it other than you’re feverishly trying to recover from the “Christmas hangover” – the credit card bills will be coming soon, the out-of-town family is heading back home and the house is feeling empty, and you may be looking at a blank calendar without revenue generating activities. And in the midst of it all the glimmer of the new year is on the horizon… where things are going to be (have to be) better…right?
We get it. However, this is our third year of taking a very different approach to the year-end wrap up and New Year’s resolutions. It has made a tremendous difference and we’d like to share it with you.
We like to end the year with a declaration of the Top 3 things we learned over the past 12 months. These will launch us into 2013 with intentional determination and discipline that is filled with passion, purpose and permission to grow. Here’s hoping they will do the same for you.
The Top 3 Things We Learned in 2012
1. Less is more. In October we shut down and spent an entire day working on our business plan for 2013. Usually we would come out with our “Top 10,” but we quickly realized we would have been completely depleted by the end of month ONE, and not necessarily any richer or wiser, if we planned to operate that way. We gave ourselves permission to be completely honest with ourselves and committed to creating “4 Power Projects” – not 10. We did an analysis of what work would suck the life out of us and what would allow us to work within our passion keys, and very quickly we were focused on and committed to what we were declaring for the business. It wasn’t a “man oh man, it’s gonna be hard work, but we can buckle down and muscle through,” it was much more “WOW, that feels really light and exciting. And we’re still able to keep a work-life balance, make a difference and make the money we need.” We made a conscious commitment to focus on staring these routine fears straight in the face. For Molly it was public speaking and sharing with the world what she was up to. For Laney it was sharing her voice and creating a new work-life balance that will be necessary with a new baby on the way. All while enabling us to focus on the projects that allowed us to feel not merely needed but appreciated and celebrated, which will challenge us and keep us engaged and inspired.
2. We quit the school of Shoulda– In the past we’d receive a critical email and become paralyzed with doubt about ourselves and the value we provide. In 2010, we stopped beating ourselves up. We shoulda said this, instead of this. Maybe that was too harsh, so and so will think we were talking about them. In 2011, we stopped trying to retain clients who were not a good fit for us and focused on those who were. In 2012, we found our voice and spoke the unedited truth about the challenges we see businesses facing every day. Sometimes people were thankful for our message, sometimes they were offended. But we know what our soulful client looks (and acts) like and we will not accept anything but that – it is a disservice to them and to ourselves. And… it feels GREAT because it allows us to lock arms with like-minded people and support them every step of the way. And in 2013 we will cross the proverbial threshold with resolute confidence that we know when we feel the “Shoulda” bug, it’s just fear speaking. And we will strive to apply our high-level skill to shrug off other disappointments or judgments and choose our voice, the one that we know will make a difference in this world.
3. Permission to grow— This was a big one for us, both as a business and personally. One big lesson for us was to nurture our willingness to be a stand for ourselves. We are so used to being a constant stand for others, helping unleash the courage to share your true voice and gifts in order to grow. For us, it was our willingness to share our stories more, to put a voice to the words. This allowed us to truly connect with our audience and their darkest fears around business, team, life, and gave us the strength to shine a light on those fears and name them. Giving ourselves permission to receive the gift of people’s lives and businesses, something they really don’t even trust themselves with, and fulfill our promise to give it back to them in better shape than they could ever imagine. That is the true essence of permission to grow.
If you’re feeling like you need a launching pad to move into 2013 with anticipation, we recommend a book that we continue to read every year. “Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success” by John C. Maxwell. The theme of the book is: “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” Most of our stress, worry, indecision and hesitation come from the fear of failure. But Maxwell has learned to make failure his friend, and he does a life-altering job of sharing that in his book. Don’t let fear of failure be a self-fulfilling prophecy any longer and rob you of what’s possible for you in 2013.
Champions for your continued success,
Molly and Laney
Do you find most of your days you lose control, no matter how hard you work to create your ideal day?
It’s frustrating to lose control of your day, but you can either throw your hands up or decide to “do the best you can” or decide to take charge, set limits, and refuse to let your day push you around. We receive phone calls daily from team members who want to know how do I “get my boss organized?” We always suggest they not try to explain to the boss all the things he or she does that drive them crazy. After all, we know first-hand that you aren’t trying to drive your team crazy on purpose. If you knew how to be more organized and get all your to-do items done, you would. But as an entrepreneur, that’s not always a strength of yours and quite frankly, it’s often why you hired team in the first place…for help!
Not sure if your workplace is controlling you or this blog applies to someone else? Take the quiz, “Is your Workplace Controlling You”.
Working harder won’t solve the fundamental problem. It will only leave you, and your team, more exhausted and strained. However, there’s good news. Typically, the boss is really only suffering from an unintentional lack of focus. It comes with the territory. Keep in mind, they have 1,2, 3 or more team members coming to them with questions. And clients and business associates. It’s easy for them to get overwhelmed and off focus with so much coming at them each day.
Often for the boss, it is hard to articulate and specifically say they want the team’s assistance or help. In reality they begging for it. If they could do it all on their own, they wouldn’t have hired team. The request for help usually shows up as comments like “I need you to step up.” The miss is that the team honestly doesn’t know what that means. They don’t know what that tangibly means they should do differently when they sit down at their desk in the morning. Successfully getting help, or team to “step up”, is dependent on the ability to articulate exactly what that means and bridging the gap between the vocabulary of a boss versus a team member.
We’ll share the fundamental secret with you. There is no specific day-to-day task that will allow your team to step up or run with the ball, because it’s not a “to do” item, it’s a change of mindset. We know deep down you don’t want the team to simply come in with a notepad and leave with a glorified “to do” list of your blow by blow instructions to follow. Deep down you know that alone won’t make a difference. It will just become a nag list for the team to bother you about. It, alone, won’t help you stay focused on your top three most important activities. It’s just moving around “To-Do’s”.
What every attorney really wants is a team to help them be able to focus on the activities that will produce revenue. In Don’t Be a Yes Chick, we share the Nine Ways to Respectfully Focus Your Boss that support this mindset change. One of our favorite of the nine is #2 – Permission Standards. For a free copy of this insight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Champions of your continued success,
Molly and Laney
I literally break out in hives when I even have to open up my boss’ calendar. Scheduling an appointment feels like a wrestling match where I never win.
“My entire world is on hold because of my boss’ calendar. I can’t get follow up time with him. I can’t get follow up meetings scheduled with referral sources. I am constantly apologizing and feel an unnecessary amount of embarrassment and guilt about not being able to help people. And we wonder why cash flow is a constant angst when we can’t we get anyone in here? Business would be great but for the boss’ calendar.”
We know from the boss’ perspective they understand this frustration…as they have the exact same frustration. Their unavailability is neither intentional nor working for them either. We hear, “It is what it is.” But we respectfully disagree. The successful entrepreneurs we work with do not subscribe to that school of thinking and you don’t have to either. You can solve the problem of “how to get it all done.”
We have found in most companies, business owner and assistant alike, react to what the day and week throws at them. Requests to “help out real quick”, tasks, your boss’ needs and your own obligations begin to fill every nook and cranny of your waking and working hours.
Here are some fascinating studies to drive the point home:
A study last fall by Basex, a New York research firm, found that office distractions ate up 2.1 hours a day for the average employee. Another study found that employees devoted an average of 11 minutes to a project before being distracted. And researchers Gloria Mark and Victor Gonsalez of the University of California, Irvine, found that once interrupted, it takes workers 25 minutes to return to the original task, if they return at all. People switch activities, such as making a call, speaking with someone in their cubicle or working on a document, every three minutes on average.
Betty Lin-Fisher (for Knight Ridder Newspapers), Houston Chronicle, 2/27/2006.
Most people actually use 60% or less of available work time. When more than 38,000 people in 200 countries were queried about individual productivity, it showed that even though they were physically at work five days a week, they were only productively using three days.
Microsoft Survey, March 15, 2005
We can talk about goal setting, strategic planning, marketing plans and all that business “stuff” but if you plan your work but can’t work your plan with dedicated focus you’re dead in the water. How do we plan without making a project out of planning and be able to implement immediately…with ease? How do we get our week in order without revamping our lives?
The world of work has changed dramatically over the past 20 years. We live in the information age… the global marketplace that never closes. Instant communication (email, texts, and smart phones) has destroyed the once built-in boundaries around the workday. Most of us have lost the ability to accurately estimate how long activities are going to take before we commit to them and we over commit because we simply don’t know everything we have already committed to.
Eventually, relationships begin to suffer and your depleted vitality negatively affects the quality of your work, the referrals that come in, your team’s cohesiveness…bottom line your pipeline, current and future cash flow, and capacity.
The key is to not just declare what you’re doing with your time but create a weekly structure that supports accomplishing your goals. A world where it is possible to effectively use the time you have and control your calendar. Simply working more hours or adding more people to the mix won’t solve the problem.
If you and your team are serious about moving away from the “what’s next” reactivity and taking the first step to creating a manageable schedule we highly recommend you have your team contact us for our next 12 week team training program beginning October 10th.
It boggles our mind how often we attend conferences and witness lifeless, ineffective exhibitor booths.
We’re not talking about not having a fancy, expensive display or a pricy give away. We’re talking about a booth with an uninterested, unengaged person staffing the booth. Knowing how expensive it can be to exhibit at an event, including the value of the time out of the office to be there, it is insane to go through the expense and effort of an exhibit booth and not effectively run it. Trust us, a cute jar of candy with your logo on it won’t do the trick…you have to engage the casual observer.
Here are some basic techniques:
- Never stand or sit behind your booth table. Not only will you go unnoticed by bystander, but if someone does stop to talk you end up yelling at them across the table so they can hear you. Literally, your face is blocked by your display and people are much more likely to stop when you make eye contact which is difficult to do from behind the table.
- Never ask “How are you today?” Aside from being a bland question, it doesn’t engage the person. Most will answer “fine” and then you are stuck restarting the conversation. The few who do give you a detailed answer are typically worthless conversations of how they were stuck in traffic, spilt their coffee or got a parking ticket…all of which is irrelevant to the purpose of you being there. If your company is presenting at any event, ask “Did you enjoy our presentation at 9am today?” Or “Do you plan on attending the cocktail reception this evening? Everyone is looking forward to it!” Both of these prompt relevant response such as “I did enjoy it and I had a question.” Or “What reception? I never received an invite” Aha, an opportunity to explain what you do. If your company is not presenting, ask “How are you enjoying the presentations” or “How are you enjoying the exhibits here?” “Which is your favorite?” “What did you learn?” If you are at an event the presentations and other exhibitors are related to your industry and this opens up the opportunity to begin a relevant conversation.
- Know your call to action. And have ONE. Too often at an event we overwhelm attendees with too many calls to action or we offer none at all. We may offer the chance to buy something, sign up for an event, make an appointment or sign up for our newsletter. Too much! Have ONE call to action you focus on. And a back up if they decline. For example, your call to action can be to make a complimentary appointment. If they decline or hesitate, offer to send an invitation to your workshop on the topic. But don’t initially offer both. Offer your most effective offering, and then have a back up.
- Get people’s contact information. We’d go so far as to say that your SOLE goal is to get people’s contact information. For example, don’t just giveaway DVDs. Take one as a sample and collect information to mail out a DVD or email a video link. This allows you to follow up with the attendees.
- Keep your boss AWAY from the booth. If you have your boss at the booth, you are giving away the goods! Prospects will pick your boss’ brain rather than scheduling the appointment with them. It’s easy for team members to answer questions that need to be answered and defer questions that someone should HIRE you before you answer. It’s difficult for the boss to do this without coming across standoffish.
- Mingle. The other vendors are opportunities for you to create power partners with people in your industry. Often events we find weak on attendees are some of my most productive in the potential power partners we meet that turn into referral relationships and speaking opportunities. You can send your boss to mingle rather than having them at the booth (see #5).
- Doughnuts. We promise if you are allowed to take food nothing works better to draw a crowd than fresh baked doughnuts. The smell permeates the room and people come.
Hopefully this provides you some basics to running an effective exhibitor booth.
Promos and giveaways are great – but if no one can find your booth attendant because they are sitting behind the booth texting all the gimmicks in the world aren’t worth a hill of beans!
On this week’s “Don’t Be a Yes Chick” weekly tele-class a firm was sharing where they were jammed up and at the end of their sharing they paused and said, “Sometimes you ask yourself what’s it all for?”
How many of you have asked yourselves that after a week (or year) of back to back appointments, no time to “get the work done” , no silence or space in your calendar for thinking and at the end of month not earning what you were necessarily hoping for?
But how do you eliminate the “what’s it all for” mindset and feeling? It’s very simple. Not to eliminate the feelings of wonder and worry but to bring you and your team back to EXACTLY what it is all for and squash the hopeless position where there is no room for possibility of growth.
Here are 5 key elements to staying in touch with “what it’s all for”:
1. Intentional team meetings
2. An On Purpose schedule
3. Defined roles and goals
4. Quarterly retreats
5. Annual retreat
It sounds too simple? Maybe you’re saying, who’s got the time? Who can afford all these useless meetings when we’ve got work to do? We say not only can you but you cannot afford not to. In years of coaching over hundreds of law firms, the first step to get these five key elements in place starts with a comprehensive analysis of all resources including how you’ve been operating and communicating as a team. The five areas above are unquestionably involved in the analysis and we can 100% point back to the firms that were barely getting by, not being able to attract, find and keep “good people” and frustrated because whatever national organization, marketing firm, or system they just invested in “is not doing what they promised they would” all answered “No, we are not doing” to the five key elements.
In our experience, if you are actually right on track but you are not operating with the above formula in place, you are likely producing the frustrating, inconsistent results that leave you deflated and living in a world of wonder and worry.
How many of you have asked yourselves what’s it all for?
Let us help you build a support team to help you produce consistant results and keep in touch with “what it’s all for”. Register for our next Don’t Be a Yes Chick team tele-training series beginning April 10. Only 10 companies accepted. Email us for more info or to register – email@example.com.
Have you talked to your clients about your maintenance program all year and now you are wondering exactly what to do to fulfill on these services in 2012? Many firms we talk with are overwhelmed by the “getting started” process. While we fully advocate that a lot of intentional thought and analysis go into the creation of what you are going to offer and what you are going to charge, now that it is time to “deliver” – here are a few QUICK and EASY steps to do so.
(Our Disclaimer: By no means are we saying the suggestions below are the ONLY way to deliver a maintenance program. They are simply some EASY ways to get started for anyone who is overwhelmed and not sure where to start. Of course, you have to make sure your actions match up with your promises. )
1. Send out a package to your clients who are in the program. (Be clear on who IS in the program. In the program means they have either paid an annual fee or they have signed an engagement letter to do so next year. Do not go through all the preparation of a package for people you have only ‘talked to’ about the program.) Included in the package:
a. A confirmation of the names of appointed “helpers” to serve in roles in the client’s plan with instructions for the client to review and return with any changes.
b. A Funding Report – a spreadsheet showing their list of assets, how they should be titled, and a Funding Homework list with any remaining items you are waiting on or need. (Don’t be afraid of the Funding Report just because everything isn’t 100% complete. This is a GREAT opportunity to get any remaining items from clients you’ve been waiting on.)
c. A one page worksheet asking the client if there have been changes in any circumstances (i.e. death or divorce in the family, new family members thru marriage or birth, significant change in health and anything else you think would trigger a change)
d. A short memo with 2-3 legal or enhancement changes. If not, clients will say “oh nothing has changed on my end so I don’t need this program”. It doesn’t have to be a legal change, but can be an “enhancement” – something new to add to their plan or a new feature or option; your Legal Directives, Legal Vault or Docubank. It can be “making sure you fully utilize your Docubank membership” and a short checklist asking have they filled out certain things. Or let them know your Client Services Coordinator will give them a short tutorial at their meeting when they come in. Client also like anything to do with their personal property lists.
TIP: A great way to find changes is to scan the list serves or look at update logs for your software program and see what they have updated lately in the software.
e. The cover letter needs to be SHORT so they read it – everything else should be enclosures. It needs to reiterate clearly that these services are INCLUDED in their annual fee already paid.
f. The cover letter should explain that they should call your Client Services Coordinator to schedule an appointment NOW. Not to wait until they fill out all the papers, that you only have a limited amount of appointments (or workshops if you do a group update) each month. We suggest to reduce the back and forth of scheduling, include an enclosure that lists 3 appointment times for each month and the client can call in to schedule or check their top 3 options and fax or email in. Your Client Services Coordinator should call to confirm upon receipt. If you pre-set the appointment times it will make the scheduling more organized. If a client can’t do one of the pre-set times they will let you know and you can schedule accordingly.
g. If part of your program offering is doing “educational workshops” then schedule 1-2 workshops now and include a schedule. Trustee training is always a great one. Make sure it’s clear they can/should bring their trustees if possible. Or even as simple as an annual anniversary party you have on the firm anniversary date—maybe even just 2 hours where you serve cake and coffee and they can stop by to “cheers and visit” with you all. Or a birthday party for the attorney. Be creative and make it an “experience” for them. You can list of all your upcoming happenings: National Elder Law month or the health care directive events that you are doing. Clients love all of this fun stuff.
The events can be for later in 2012 but you want to announce them now in the package.
h. The clients need to return the items at least 2 weeks PRIOR TO their meeting so you can prep the docs. Your Client Services Coordinator needs to calendar to check and make sure the items were received 2 weeks prior to the client’s appointment and call to remind them if necessary.
i. Let them know they are welcome to bring their family (adult children, trustees, etc.) to their meetings/workshops. GREAT way to start working with friend and family of the client.
2. Your Client Services Coordinator should call each person who has not scheduled 2 weeks after the packages go out. This is new for clients so they might be confused or overwhelmed. Your CSC can walk them through the process.
3. CALL anyone who has not paid their annual fee. Don’t send them a 2nd bill or a reminder letter. If they haven’t paid they are simply confused about what the program is. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to be in it. It’s just something new and they may not remember exactly what it is, particularly if they registered for it months ago. This is not a bad thing. It’s a GREAT opportunity to call and re-explain the value of the program to the client.
Again, these are some general suggestions to get your program going, one small step at a time. Easy action steps can get things moving and then you can refine along the way. Remember, progress not perfection!
Champions of Your Continued Success,
Molly and Laney
Annual maintenance programs are always the buzz in the estate planning industry. As we close in on year end the conversation is on the top of most attorneys’ minds…everyone has one, wants one or is trying to get one! We work with a lot of firms and see many different varieties of annual maintenance programs – some that work and some that don’t. And there are a few great ones available for licensing on a variety of levels. All opinions aside, a plan that “will work” is a plan that involves the firm, as a whole, carving out dedicated time to think through the services you will provide, the annual fee you will charge, the time allocated in attorney hours and team hours per client to fulfill the included services, and any other hard costs you will incur. (Docubank, Legal Directives, Legal Vault, etc.) Then making sure you can deliver on the services you offer for the price you are charging. (A maintenance program is great marketing, a feeder for spin off business and trust administrations, and all that…BUT you can’t lose your backside delivering the services or it just ends up being a bottleneck you can’t deliver on.) So before you throw everything and the kitchen sink into your maintenance program offering, think through the price, the time involved and the resources needed to deliver on your promised services. Otherwise, the program is a breeding ground for client dissatisfaction while impacting your resources to bring in new clients.
With that said…here is our “low down” on two major maintenance program misnomers:
1. Proactive updating versus “call us when you need us”: The downside to not proactively providing service during the year for maintenance program clients is that many clients will receive their annual invoice and say “oh I didn’t use this service this year – I don’t need it.” If you proactively provide services/value, clients realize things DO change, rather than depending on the client to know they should pick up the phone and call you about a change. Many programs out there do not offer proactive updating of documents, instead basing the program on the law firm being accessible for questions or changes upon a request from the client. We are sure it can be done successfully in this format, but we’ve seen retention be a problem in this scenario. (If you have a different experience please share!). It’s a simple plan of proactive vs. reactive living. We’ve seen it done very easily and successfully in the world of “proactive”. Not to mention it really is a ton of fun once you have the system down.
2. Your maintenance program is part of your marketing program: Meeting with clients for updating purposes, in a group format or individually, can be a TREMENDOUS way to obtain client referrals. When Laney worked in a firm their client referrals increased over 150% after fully implementing a maintenance program. (NO exaggeration. She tracked incoming referrals very aggressively.) It also allows you to learn about additional needs your clients have and allow you to provide those services. You learn mom and dad aren’t doing so good and need planning – you learn daughter just had a baby and needs a plan, etc. The voice of the customer IS your marketing message, so essentially you are getting paid by the client to market to and through them!
With some intentional deliberation and analysis, a maintenance program can be a great addition to your firm. And it doesn’t have to be that hard! We believe you would agree that it would be a nice feeling to wake up on January 1 knowing you already have money in the bank from your annual maintenance program fees. In our next blog, we’ll share some easy steps to kick off your maintenance program in 2012. Stay tuned!
Overwhelm is a state-of-mind and a way of being. It is NOT a set of circumstances. It is resistance to what is. It is NOT loving what is going on. The distinct difference of how to stop overwhelm is what you are willing to do about it and taking the responsibility for it.
Lingering in a state of overwhelm can
• Increase your risk of burnout
• Reduce productivity and effectiveness
• Add unnecessary stress on your team and staff
• Decrease your overall happiness and well-being
• Increase your work hours and
• Cloud focus, clarity, insight, and ability to make critical decisions
So how can you move from overwhelmed to overjoyed? It requires a little attention and a different mindset.
First recognizing that while you could try to do it all on your own, actually doing everything yourself is practically killing you. Step one is acknowledging all the assets that exist within your team and staff and then utilizing those assets to the fullest. That means you stop delegating your tasks, and start giving out ownership for assignments.
Second, you need to ensure that you have the right people in the right positions. Sure, your office manager knows how to handle just about every thing in the office, but it doesn’t mean she’s the right person to do it.
The next part is trust, training, and team. Working together as a team, and learning to trust and depend on one another for tasks – when the right person has the right assignment – it means the work will get done. And it won’t just get completed, it’ll be done right.
You see it all boils down to people. The people who support you, who are on your team, and who are there to help grow, sustain, and maintain the business for you – so you can work in the role you enjoy and do so well.
If you are curious as to HOW this can happen, it starts here. Molly Hall and Laney Lyons have been team members for business owners who were just like you.
Now, they are sharing all their dirt in how you can:
• Turn Your Key Team Member into a Consistent Star Player
• Create More Value for Your Business with Proactive Employees
• Generate More Profit with Increased Bottom-line Thinking
• Eliminate Time Wasters, Energy Vampires, and Other Destructive Time Thievery
In their book, Don’t Be a Yes Chick!, Molly and Laney teach your employees how to:
• Get Your Team to Love Their Jobs, Feel Respected, and Improve Productivity
• Understand What Your Boss Really Wants & Needs
• Do More of the Work You Love and Are Good At
• Build Your Dream Team of Talented and Proactive Team Members
This book isn’t just for YOU, the business owner to read, this book is for your TEAM to adapt, implement, and finally gain the courage and the skills to lead like you’ve always dreamed they would.
Move out of overwhelm and into overjoyed when you grab your copy of Don’t Be a Yes Chick today at http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Yes-Chick-Babysitting-Transform/dp/0615478956/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1308745801&sr=8-2
The answer is quite simple, get passionate about your work and share that with those you have
involved in your firm.
How to Get Passionate about Your Work.
1. Surround yourself with the right people. The job of your dreams, straight from the page of your passion, can be unfulfilling if you aren’t surrounded by the right people. These are the ones who not only call you to be the best that you can be, but refuse to let you be any less. The right people don’t let you sell yourself short. They believe in you and encourage you to believe in yourself. They may be mentors or role models, or you may be in a leadership position to them. These people don’t expect perfection from you, but they do expect greatness over the long run. No flame of passion can ignite or continue to burn in a vacuum. A workplace full of negative, passionless, and going-through-the-motions people is toxic. Like a vampire, it will suck out any passion that you have.
2. Get your life priorities straight. The “big rocks” in your life are the things you love such as your family members or outside passions, and your job should support them. Does your work environment allow you the flexibility to take time off to attend your child’s school functions? Or, if your big rock is traveling around the world, does your job allow you to take three weeks off at a time to travel to faraway places? Maybe your job isn’t your “passion,” but it can allow you the opportunity to comfortably enjoy the passions you do have in life.
3. Open the toolbox.To be passionate, you not only understand what you’re doing, but you have confidence in it as well. If you don’t have all the tools and resources you need to get your job done, ask for training. Be a lifetime learner and enroll in a “passion-feeding” educational event every quarter. Commit to one new workshop outside of work to expand your toolbox. Whether it’s a communication class, a technology workshop, or simply attending a two-hour speaking engagement by an author who inspires you, it will enliven your passion.
4. Enlist others’ support. Discover what motivates you. If you can’t do this on your own, ask for help from those around you whom you trust and admire. It may be the last person you would expect, or even someone who
Here’s a story from Laney that serves as a good example of this scenario:
I had been working at a law firm for four years, and I liked my job. I worked with people who encouraged me, pushed me to grow, and helped me develop self-confidence. I had the training, resources, and knowledge to do a good job. I started thinking about growing further in this same workplace I loved so much, and I began to seriously consider attending law school to become an attorney. That achievement would have allowed me to have unending growth in my current workplace with more responsibility and more money. I shared my desires with my boss. He had already been very supportive of me going to school, so I knew that wasn’t a problem. But I wanted his opinion. Would I make a good attorney and what would it mean for my growth opportunities at the firm? He answered with one simple question of his own: “What do you love about your job?” That was a hard question. I loved my co-workers, and my work was a lot of fun. But I had to think, what was it exactly that I loved about my work? “I love talking to our clients,” I answered. “I love hearing about their lives, especially their kids. When we discuss estate plans, they tell us about all their hopes and dreams for their children, and you can see their eyes light up. You get to hear about their children’s accomplishments. You get to hear how the husbands and wives met each other, and all the wonderful, even heartbreaking events that they’ve shared together. Every time I talk to a client, it’s not just about a document they want or a legal question they need answered; I hear the love they have for their children, spouse, or community.”
My boss wisely answered me. “You don’t need to be an attorney to do that,” he said. He went on to advise me that if I had answered that I loved the law, the research, and the technical and legal aspects, he would wholeheartedly encourage me to go to law school. But I didn’t need to go to law school to hear the clients’ stories and to help ensure that their estate planning wishes were carried out. Since then, I’ve moved more and more into working directly with clients and prospective clients of our firm. In fact, they like that I’m not an attorney. I’m a layperson, just like them, talking to them about how planning can help them and their families, and why our firm is the team they should use. I employ the skills I enjoy, like writing, public speaking, and event planning. I help write books, newsletters, and marketing materials for the firm. And I get to plan parties and conferences. One of the fundamental keys to unlocking my passion—making a difference for the aging population and their children—has been fulfilled. I talk mostly with elderly people—whom I genuinely enjoy and learn from—about helping their children or grandchildren grow up to be successful, loving people. Through my clients, I help make a difference in the world.
By being asked the right questions and by not just following the logical next step to a bigger paycheck, I found some keys to my passion, and they were right in front of me! And as I grew, rather than being molded by my job, I expanded my job description to include skills I enjoyed, like writing and public speaking. Now, many years after that crossroads, I’ve made a difference by helping the community, like organizing golf tournaments to benefit the educational needs of underprivileged children, and taking my first trip to Cambodia to volunteer with children and seniors disabled by polio and landmine explosions. If I had gone to law school as the next logical step in my career path, who knows if I would have found my passion? Maybe I would never have really looked for it, thinking I had made a right career choice. I may have “followed the job” rather than making the job follow me.
Now, don’t go into the office tomorrow and say, “I don’t like that we sell computer services, because I’m not passionate about it.” Take responsibility for how you communicate. Laney loves to teach, but who could see that as a possibility in a law firm? At first, it may have seemed as though she would have to quit, but she found a way to teach—she teaches the team and the attorneys by training them on the firm’s systems and processes. Even at the law firm, she found a way to express her passion. She didn’t need to leave to fulfill her dreams—everything she needed was right there.
The best entrepreneur to work for is someone who has developed a business they are passionate
about—who’s doing what they love—or someone who has found a way to express their passion.
The ideal workplace is one where you feel you make a difference for others, know that you are
accomplishing something meaningful, while maintaining some control over your future.A good example of this kind of person is our friend, Jennifer, who’s an attorney. She’s not really that passionate about law; that alone doesn’t motivate or rejuvenate her. However, through her law practice, she has found a way to empower, teach and coach her clients and referral sources, and that unleashes her passion, fills her up and inspires her team. Ironically, her firm has not only reached their monthly revenue goal, but even exceeded, ever since she uncovered how to incorporate her humanity into what she “does for a living.”
A different example is another lawyer friend, a hip young guy named Lane, who has always had a passion for the law and being a lawyer. Lane LOVES to fact find, research and problem solve cases. However, he isn’t necessarily excited about the “people” stuff. We have a saying for attorneys like this, “business would be great but for the clients”.
Laney has passion for law. However, this isn’t enough to run a successful business i.e., make money. Not to mention it was impossible to enroll his team to take ownership in their role in “getting clients in the door” and servicing clients when he, as the attorney, wanted to hide out behind his desk. Lane knew there was something missing, but he couldn’t pinpoint it. after several months of analysis he finally made the decision to hire a coach from his local networking group to support him with HOW to practice law (which he loved) in authentic way that connected him with his clients and oh yeah, generated revenue.
In both of these instances, before the attorney found a way to find their passion within their job, their team shared with us thoughts like “I don’t understand, if she just DID the few things I need him to do we could collect the final check and be on our way.” and “I don’t believe him when he says he will do it, he never completes anything, he must not need this firm to succeed.” These comments were from hard-working, committed support team who were simply frustrated at the lack of focus, motivation and energy their attorneys were showing up with. They felt like they were forcing the attorney to do something they hated and that they were being fought every step of the way.
After a few evaluations, the root of the problem was the mere fact that the attorney was struggling with connecting with their passion for the “job”. There was little that was exciting them to show up motivated and energized. They often felt they were continuing down a path called “obligation and duty” that was for the sole purpose to serve their clients and the team members they employed. Most attorneys we know have a very strong work ethic and sense of integrity, though they seem to somehow constantly frustrate their assistants by not getting certain things completed.
Getting real, authentic and in line with your passion – and finding a way to express it in your job gets you off the wheel of working hard and allows you to produce results that excite (and pay) you. It brings back your energy, your hope and your focus. And it consolidates and motivates your team. Most support team will go to the mat for their attorney and their firm. They just need a leader to align them.
If you want to learn how to get in action and stay in action…on a path that incorporates that which you are passionate about with that which pays you, call us for a complimentary passion evaluation. Stay tuned for our next blog, How to Get Passionate About Your Work.