Recently, my clients have been asking me for pixie dust. Boy, do I wish I had a magic wand or super power that could keep people motivated and effortlessly on track with their goals. Despite my regrettable lack of supernatural powers, that is, essentially, one of the reason’s that people hire me, to help them stay on top of their business development activities. They see themselves as undisciplined. Clients get distracted by billable work, partnership issues, firm management, etc.
One approach I take is to ask them where in their lives they ARE disciplined. Some are very consistent and disciplined about working out. Others consider family time as inviolable and are always home by a certain time. Most lawyers are very disciplined about certain aspects of their practice. Virtually everyone has some area where they exhibit the same commitment and consistency that they aspire to in the business development realm. Examining how we relate to one area where we are already successful can provide insight about what is required to be effective in another aspect of life or work.
Here is an example: My client Jason* exercises every day before work. This how he sees going to the gym: “If I don’t do it at least four days each week, I start feeling badly. My mind isn’t as sharp and I don’t have the energy to play with my kids when I get home. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t want to go to the gym. I’d rather just sleep later, but I don’t give myself that option. I just wake up and go. I don’t consult my feelings. If I did, I would never do it.” Jason distinguished that in contrast to his relationship to exercise, he lets his feelings interfere with his business development. If he wants to make a phone call or write a follow-up email he does it. Sometimes, he forces himself to do it anyway despite the feelings; but either way, the feelings are always taken into account and sometimes interfere. I’m not advocating discounting one’s feelings or ignoring them entirely. However, making decisions based on commitments, rather than momentary emotion, produces a much happier and more successful life.
Try this for yourself. What aspects of your life REALLY work well? Look at your internal dialogue about that area. If you examine it closely, you will probably find that you frequently put aside momentary feelings in service of a larger commitment, one that leads to a deeper level of satisfaction. This applies in the area of relationships, health, financial stability, and it also applies in the area of business development. Once we get focused on the big picture commitment and put aside the countervailing feelings, we get results. It’s not quite magic, and it isn’t always easy, but it is simple and effective. If you can't make this work on your own, give me a shout, and I'll bring out the pixie dust.
* Not his real name, of course.