Are you busy or are you productive? There is a difference between the two and while being productive can help you to be successful and generate revenue, being busy can actually hamper growth.
In this episode we discuss:
- Focusing on being productive, not just busy.
- Being intentional in all the work that you do.
- The acronym FOCUS: First define, Organize, Communicate, Use your discretion, Systematize
- First defining specific goals that are measurable, and how to reach them.
- Organizing and controlling your calendar at the macro level and then at the micro level.
- Communicating your schedule to others firmly and having ‘teeth’ in your rules.
- Using your discretion if deviation from a rule is required to handle a one-time situation.
- Systematizing to ensure a smooth work process even when uncontrollable situations arise, such as covid.
- How FOCUS can free you, giving you the ability to be productive and plan your productivity.
To contact Allison:
Website – https://lawfirmmentor.net/
Facebook – https://facebook.com/LawFirmMentor
Instagram – https://instagram.com/Law_Firm_Mentor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Law_Firm_Mentor
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
So whether you’re actually getting what you want or not, the feeling that you are moving toward what you want is almost like an addictive sort of internal feeling. And if you’re not careful and you’re not very intentional about it, you can be working really hard and feel like you’re getting a lot done when in fact you’re not. And you look up one day and you say, I have been working so hard for so long, but I’m only making one hundred thousand dollars or I’ve been working so hard for so long, but I only have two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in revenue. And I’m frustrated and I’m exhausted.
You go into all the ways that you can’t because you haven’t committed to whatever the goal is, because the reality is if you create a goal and you put it firmly in front of you, you write it down and you commit to it, then whatever comes into your mind as a way of achieving that goal, at least on the surface, has some level of ability to help you reach your goal. It doesn’t mean that every thought you have is going to be one that you follow from thought to completion. But it has some ability. And that’s because as soon as we start to direct our mind toward what we desire, the ways and means for us to achieve that goal is there.
00:51:38 – A bit long at 1 minute
When those types of major events happen, systems give you a level of continuity and a level of ease to be able to solve problems that you don’t have when you are flying by the seat of your pants. And most lawyers instinctively know that, which is the reason why most law firm owners don’t want to grow. They desire to grow. Right. They, and in their heart of hearts, they say, I want more. I know that I can help more people. I know that I can make a bigger impact. I know that I can make more money. I know that I can have a better existence. I can work nine to five Monday through Friday if I structure my business to be that. But it can’t be that. If I want it to be that, I could be nine to five Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and I take Tuesday and Thursday off with my young kids, or to just give myself thought work time, or to be with my family or to be creative working in another business. But I can’t do that. I can’t have that. I have all of the story wrapped in the I can’t. I won’t.
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Allison Williams: [00:00:11] Hello everybody. It’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We’ll help you grow your revenues, to crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:18] Hi, everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. And today we’re going to be talking about a topic that I think a lot of us need help with, but that we don’t always know the help that we actually need. And so, of course, we as lawyers, we’re very resourceful. We tend to be problem solvers. We look at the world from a lens of how do I solve this problem? Because that’s what we do in our profession. But there’s a lot of thinking that we have that’s very ingrained in terms of how to approach problem solving.
Allison Williams: [00:00:56] That skips what I consider to be the most important step, which is figuring out what it is that we want. And if we want it enough to find the way to make it happen.
Allison Williams: [00:01:09] And that sounds like it’s focused on the how, but it really is focused on the desire. What leads to the how much more so than the actual steps or the strategies or tactics that you have to use. So all of this really derives from this idea of mindset. And I’m sure we hear a lot. I know that it’s out in the marketplace. A lot of us have read books and have started the study of thinking about how we can optimize our mindset. But the mind set piece is not just about do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Meaning do you believe that the world is a linear box? Reality and you fit within the box or you do not fit within the box and you can only operate within the box, or do you have a growth mindset that says that borders are malleable and they can move and adjust as they need to in order to fit the objective of the person who is who is having the thought? And there’s different approaches to, you know, how we approach the world, whether you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. And for for most people, they will have a little bit of both.
Allison Williams: [00:02:23] And depending on how successful you are, will will probably be a good indicator of whether you have more of a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset. But today, I’m actually going to be talking about something that can fit within either of these two paradigms, and it’s called a scarcity mindset. So what is the scarcity mindset and why is it toxic?
Allison Williams: [00:02:45] Well, one of the things that comes up a lot when I talk to people is that they believe that they can only achieve what is possible to be achieved. And the possibility is the outer limit that someone has either taught them how to or that they have seen it to be done or it is a constraint around what they personally have available to them.
Allison Williams: [00:03:11] So a lot of people will believe that they are restricted by their race, their gender, their region of the world, their economic circumstances, their parentage, ancestry, their political beliefs. They’ll believe that there is only so much that can be done and they will only achieve up to the height of that possibility. And when you start to hear someone talk about what is not possible, oftentimes it is because they are focusing on the how and not focusing on a framework that we’re going to talk about today that’s actually going to give you the ability to start to see possibilities where you don’t currently see them.
Allison Williams: [00:03:50] So one of the things that I hear a lot is the fact that I want something doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Right. And if you grew up in America and you grew up in anything other than a very affluent family, you were probably told at some point in time money does not grow on trees. You know, we don’t buy something simply because we want it. We have to focus on our budget. We have to live within our means. And I’m sure you heard that not only from a perspective of someone’s belief system of what reality was, but you also heard it with an air of judgement that there would be something wrong with you or something immoral about you if you were to live outside of your means or not contemplate and focus on your budget when making decisions or if you were to step outside of the norm of what’s told to you for life, the norm of where to live, who to marry, what professions are appropriate.
Allison Williams: [00:04:45] And a lot of that thinking was very much from a place of protection. So it wasn’t that scarcity mindset was ever instilled in us because someone decided that it’s better to not have than to have. But really, people created paradigms for how we should exist in the world in order to keep us safe in the world, because depending on where you grew up, how you grew up, stepping outside of the normal pattern of behavior could be not only unhealthy from a from a, you know, a pure psychological perspective, i.e., if I go for something I want and I don’t get it, I could ultimately suffer the emotional downfall of that. But really from a place of safety. Right. Because as a woman, you were to step outside of your role in different times. That could mean social ostracization. That could mean being jettisoned from a community. That could mean lack of resources for yourself and your children. Certainly that applies with race. If you stepped outside of your role in certain race, in certain cultures, really throughout the world, but particularly in the United States is what I’m talking about, because that’s where I live. It would be physically unsafe for you because you would be subject to punishment.
Allison Williams: [00:05:59] So we know that people can very easily get into a mindset that says I have only so much wiggle room to do what I want here, but where we oftentimes miss this myth, the thought process that goes into this is that there are always people that transcend all of these limitations that we put upon ourselves, whether it is in our profession, in our daily life, or even in our law firm. And when we look at other law firm owners and we think about how successful they are, it is oftentimes our belief that they are exceptional in some way that we are not. So while they are telling us all the different things that they’ve been able to do and all the different ways in which they are making more money than we are or enjoying a different experience, having a better experience of their staff, getting more things done, helping more clients, shifting in different practice areas that are interesting to them. We often think, well, they could do that because they have something that I don’t have or they lack something that I do have that makes it easier for them. So we might look at someone and say they’re in a different part of the world. So it’s easier for them to make money in California versus Kentucky or they’re in a different practice area. So it’s easier to make money as a personal injury attorney than as a bankruptcy attorney or they’re of a certain age or a certain gender or certain race or a certain religion, or they have a network of people that predated their becoming a lawyer. That I don’t have something about them makes them unique. But the reality is there are people that have all of the privilege and benefit in the world who are not successful.
Allison Williams: [00:07:44] So when you think about that and you look at your classic icon of success, you know, if you see a white male in a suit and you look at that person and say, OK, he owns a law firm, he is inherently going to be more successful than I am. By virtue of those things, you would be missing the wide chasm of white men who own law firms who are not uber successful. So the question becomes, why is it that they have the privilege of being who they are and don’t have a significantly greater accomplishment in their law firm than someone who does not have those attributes, has a different experience in life, maybe a different gender, maybe a different race, maybe a different background, maybe a different network.
Allison Williams: [00:08:31] What is the distinction between the two and the reason why we can look at those distinctions and say, notwithstanding the fact that someone has a head start, they’re not destined to be successful, it’s because the destiny to be successful is not purely a product of our advantages in life. Many of us have advantages in life that we do absolutely nothing with, just as many of us have disadvantages of late in life that fuel us to become very accomplished. So when we’re looking at what it is that we want in our law firm, if we approach it from a scarcity mindset, whether that scarcity is wrapped around a person with privilege or it’s wrapped around a person without privilege, we are going to arrive at the same location based on the extent of that person’s desire.
Allison Williams: [00:09:20] In other words, a person who doesn’t really care about what they are doing or cares about what they’re doing, but is focused on the wrong pieces of the puzzle, they’re going to get a certain result because the law of cause and effect will ultimately culminate in their outcomes versus a person who wants something different and or pursues something different with a passion that comes from their internal desire. They’re going to land at a different location. And I don’t think we spend enough time really thinking about that, because I think we are in a world that says I am the product of my discrete characteristics. I am the product of my economic circumstances. I am a product of my marital status.
Allison Williams: [00:10:06] And we put all of these attributes together and say a person with all of this can only accomplish X, and we don’t really think of all the people who have those same attributes who accomplished much more than us. And when we do look at those people, we differentiate ourselves and we say, I’m not that person because I don’t have or that person has something that that I don’t have that I would need in order to be that successful. So I want to give you a framework for thinking about how you can move beyond your current circumstances. And when and when we’re having this conversation I’m going to direct it to the conversation of money, because that is what most law firm owners are looking to create more of in their world, whether it is to create more of it for their own personal benefit, i.e., I want more money because I want more for my family, more for my savings, more for my enjoyment, or they want more money because they want to do something specific with it, i.e. I want more money because I want to, I want to pour into a community, I want to give to charity. I want to create a larger business to become an icon of my community. It could be for status reasons, it could be for ego reasons, or it could just be for the sake of money.
Allison Williams: [00:11:21] Whatever the reason is, it really does not matter. The goal is that the person has a desire for more money and then ultimately feels that they are not getting there. For some reason. That is about tactics and strategies and the how to because frankly, it is never that, even though that is exactly where 90 percent of the lawyers that you will encounter will start in order to get more, I have to change my my strategy or my tactics. So for those of you that have been following the podcast for any length of time, you know that we have a Facebook group online called the Law Firm Mentor Movement. And in that Facebook group, I recorded a Facebook Live. Gosh, I think it’s almost a couple of years ago now where I talked about thought work.
Allison Williams: [00:12:07] And thought work is a framework for how to look at problem solving, that does not start with the tactic or the strategy. It starts with understanding that your circumstance is what it is. So we have to accept the circumstance. And if we cannot immediately change the circumstance, we have to then think about how we are thinking about our circumstances. Because our thoughts about a circumstance are going to cause us to have a certain feeling. And the power of that feeling is going to dictate what action or inaction we take that will lead to a result.
Allison Williams: [00:12:42] And so if we’re not happy with our results, the first thing that we intellectually think to do is to change our tactic or our strategy, but that that presupposes that all of our thoughts and feelings are going to be in congruence with the new tactic or strategy. But the reality is, if you did not change the way you thought about something and you just change the way that you were pursuing the activity, you may get a different result. It may be a better result, but that is only going to inch you closer to what you want, rather than completely cataclysmically change the negative result into a positive result. So you have to understand your thoughts and how you are thinking. And where we are going to be focusing today is on how to think about problems differently in our law firm so that instead of baby stepping tactic, strategy number one, number two and number three into a different result, i.e. inching ahead over years and years and years and years and years, you can make a seismic shift in the way that you are approaching things and have a seismic growth in your business and start to enjoy business much faster than you ever thought possible.
Allison Williams: [00:13:54] And if you think all of this is just anecdotal or a little woo woo, I want to give you just the the assurance that I’m not speaking this because I have learned this. I have and I’ve studied it. I have studied universal law now for the better part of a decade at this point. But I am a living example of this and I honestly didn’t even know that this is what I was doing until I had done it and started retrospectively looking back and saying, Huh, well, yeah, I changed things. But like here is where something dramatic happened and I immediately changed and I had a major growth spurt or where I made a concerted effort at changing the way that I was looking at something. And that had a dramatic effect on the results I was getting. So for many of you, you know, my story. My story is that I started a law firm in 2013 after being a lawyer for 10 years. And I was at a firm at the time that I made the decision to go out on my own. I had been a practicing attorney at that point for nine years and decided I was ready to be a partner. And I say I decided that I think everybody kind of has a mindset. If you come into private practice, you have a mindset that, you know, there’s a right time when you arrive at partner. But honestly, most people don’t ask the questions.
Allison Williams: [00:15:18] And I always ask the questions because I was always hungry to be successful. And I knew that bottom of the of the hierarchy was not the place I wanted to be. So I came into this job, which was my third law firm job, asking, all right, what does it take to be a partner at this law firm? And I got the vague answers that that the public hate getting from lawyers. I hate getting it. I’m sure you hate getting it too. The it depends answer. But it was couched as something that sounded concrete. Oh, you know, when we when you’re generating a certain amount of money, when you’re making a certain level of contribution, we’re going to elevate you to partner. And so even though I didn’t have an exact dollar amount and at that point in my life, I didn’t press for one. I knew that I was generating revenue. And I said, OK, I’m actually about to make a lot of money for this company or for some other company. So I am going to make sure that we’re in a place where I can produce and I’m going to produce like a rockstar and contribute positively in other areas. So I went about the business of trying to be, you know, America’s next top associate and started collecting money for the firm. They had an accounts receivable issue, like most law firms do, frankly, and, started helping in that area. I started revamping our website.
Allison Williams: [00:16:48] I started handling consultation’s differently and getting us more people in the door. And then I started personally marketing myself and next thing you know, a couple of years in, I’ve got a five hundred thousand dollar book of business and my thought is, OK, well, five hundred grand ought to warrant the title of partner. And here’s the crazy thing. At that point, I wasn’t even you know, I’m not a money hungry person, even though I enjoy nice things and I do certainly want a certain amount of money for the lifestyle that I want to live. But, you know, I wasn’t really chasing dollars. It was much more about the status, like feeling like I had earned the place where I could be my own person within this entity. And I was starting to get referrals from some pretty significant people in the legal community and some politicians and professional athletes and things like that. And I said, you know, I have a big enough reputation now that I really don’t want to be referred to as someone’s associate. So we need to change that. Approached my boss. Had my conversation. There were several partners in this firm. So the partner I approached was like, yeah, absolutely, you’re a great asset. We couldn’t do this without you. Love you. Let me go talk to the guys and get back to you. And when he got back to me with something other than. Absolutely, yes, here is when it starts.
Allison Williams: [00:18:04] I was a little flabbergasted. And I was wounded and I was hurt emotionally because I felt like I was investing in something and my value wasn’t being seen. And I realize now that that was really my own fractured ego. That was not about what they actually said or did. It was really about the disordered way that I needed approval and acceptance from other people at that point in my life. But I felt what I felt. So I said, all right. Peace, I’m out. And in a relatively short period of time, picked myself up, went down the road and me and forty three clients and my secretary who was supposed to come with me backed out at the last minute. So me forty three clients. And now I need to hire somebody instantaneously with no infrastructure and no business plan, none of that crap. I started a law firm and most lawyers that I counsel that are in my coaching company when they decided to go out on their own, their greatest fear is how am I going to get clients? Like I’ve got to figure out how to get clients. And my thought was, you know, almost to the opposite, I don’t need help getting clients. I’ve got too many clients, frankly, because I kind of capped out around thirty five clients. And at that point I had forty three and the numbers kept coming and coming and coming. And I was so fearful about where is my next client going to come from.
Allison Williams: [00:19:24] Even though I knew they were going to come, I didn’t know in what droves they were going to come. I was afraid now that I’m going to have to support myself and clearly have to get staff that I couldn’t turn down a client. And intellectually, it just never made sense to me to say no to a client. Even though we talk a lot about the quality of clients you might have. I just didn’t think I could say no to a client. Like the purpose of being a business is to serve people in business. So I kept taking on clients and pretty soon the number went to fifty to sixty. And I’m working and working and working and went through several very poor hires because I didn’t know how to hire back then. And next thing you know, I am working 60, 70, 80, 90 hours a week and it just keeps creeping up and creeping up and creeping up. And as the work increased, my work ethic increased. Now, that may sound like a winning strategy, right? When you have more to do, spend more time doing it. But what it was doing was it was urgently moving me forward because as I was so desperately trying to get to success. Right, I thought at some point this whole owning a business thing, you just figure it out and you arrive at a place of working a certain reasonable but hectic pace.
Allison Williams: [00:20:39] I’d always worked a lot of hours and I love to work. So my thought wasn’t I want to work a lot less. It was I want to work and get the work done. And I felt like I was working harder, but not getting the work done, because every time I was focusing on getting one thing done, something else was coming in the door. And what I didn’t realize at that point, and this is going to sound pretty stupid, so just humor me on this one.
Allison Williams: [00:21:02] What I didn’t realize at that point was that I actually was creating that success. Right. The work wasn’t coming through the door because I started a law firm, because people start law firms all the time. Right. Clients don’t just materialize because you say you’re in business. It was because I was living the experience with all of my energy and all of my urgent desire to be successful. I was living the experience of drawing people to me. I was always talking about business every single day. I was posting on Facebook. I’m here in the office at 5:00 in the morning at midnight. Here on Saturday. Here on Sunday. I am I am working, working, working, working. Because I’m creating my empire. I’m building my empire. Like, if you. Actually, search hashtags building my empire, there’s there’s hashtags of me saying that, like back in twenty thirteen, twenty fourteen, I was living that experience. Now I don’t say that to boast because that experience damn near killed me quite literally when I fell asleep driving on the highway, driving 90 miles an hour. I woke up one quarter centimeter away from a guardrail.
Allison Williams: [00:22:13] So clearly, that was not the way to approach this whole working in my own business experience, and I learned that relatively quickly and had kind of an emotional breakdown after a series of revelations came to me in the instant when I almost died. And they kind of hit me like a ton of bricks. But even beyond that, what I what I realized from that experience was that I was putting my energy and my desire and my effort all together in the direction of what I wanted. My energy, my effort and my desire. But it all started from a desire. Like my focal point was to be successful and I was focused on that to an extreme degree. But I was also an unconscious confidant. So I didn’t just have a desire and and pursue my desire, but I had a desire.
Allison Williams: [00:23:10] I pursued my desire and I pursued it with the right activities. And I didn’t know it was the right activity until I got to a place where I started to see it burgeoning beyond my wildest dreams. I mean, I went from in twenty thirteen having a couple hundred thousand dollars to having over 700 grand the next year and almost a million dollars the next year and one point five the next year. And it just kept growing and growing and growing because I wasn’t just working. Right, because a lot of us, we work our asses off and we say, why am I not getting there?
Allison Williams: [00:23:46] It wasn’t just that I was working, it was that I had a frame for I am going to be successful no matter what. That was my conscious effort and a lot of people do not have that thought. They think I’m going to be successful, but I only want to work nine to five. And I really don’t want to work on a weekend and I don’t want to work on a holiday. And there’s a whole mindset now around work life balance. And I don’t mean to denigrate work life balance right there. There are ways that you can carve out success with a frame of I am urgently going to pursue this during a set period of time and I’m going to create boundaries so that I have family time and so that I have rest time. And that ultimately is a healthier way to exist than to be a chronic workaholic.
Allison Williams: [00:24:33] But when I talk about the people that have the I’m a nine to five attorney mindset, I’m talking about people who say I will only be as successful as nine to five will allow me to be. Right. There’s still a constraint. There still is a box around how successful a person is willing to believe that they can be willing to pursue and willing to invest in because nine to five is a priority over being successful.
Allison Williams: [00:25:01] And that’s where there’s a shortcoming. But I don’t have that shortcoming. And so as I was creating more, I wasn’t seeing it. I was mired in the belief of, hey, you know, this is it, I’m working. At some point the work will stop coming, but it doesn’t stop coming because you don’t really want it to stop coming. Right. There are some people where they start working and they’re working their asses off and they put out a signal with their energy, their efforts, their words, their activities that says, I don’t want any more work. Right. That’s the reason why you don’t want an overwhelmed associate doing consultations in your law firm. Right. Because even if there are 50 other associates in the law firm who are going to be able to receive that case, to take that case, if someone is having a sales conversation and in the back of their mind and in their thought process in the ether is, oh, I’ve got so much to do, I can’t possibly service another person. Thank God this is going to go to someone else. The energy going out is I don’t want to fail. Right. And it’s the same with how you serve your existing clients, with how you market your law firm, with whether you market your law firm.
Allison Williams: [00:26:15] If the experience that you are having is one of physical or emotional exhaustion, then you are not going to do the things that are necessary to draw in more business. Even if on an intellectual level, you know, there is someone else in the building to handle those cases, whether it’s a contract attorney or whether you could hire somebody or whether you already have somebody that you could just hand the work to. And it is our belief that ultimately gets us emotionally invested and connected to the feeling because of our thoughts about our success or the circumstance that we’re having. It is those the culmination of our thoughts and our feelings that ultimately instigate our action. And those actions leads to our result.
Allison Williams: [00:27:00] And so when somebody says, I really, really, really want to be successful and I just can’t figure out why I’m not doing it, one of the first questions is, are you really desiring to be successful? And most people knee jerk. Of course. Of course I want to be successful. What are you talking about? I’m working so hard. But, you know, sometimes you’re not working so hard because you genuinely want success. You’re working so hard because you’re filling a paradigm. You are living out a story that someone gave you that said you have to be a lawyer or you have to be successful. Or you have to work really hard because that’s what moral, ethical, good people do. They work hard. You’ve gotten a version of truth and you have accepted it and now you are living out that truth. But that doesn’t mean that you are living in the direction and acting in the direction of your desire.
Allison Williams: [00:27:55] Then there are other people who truly have a desire and they are moving in the direction of their desire. They are pursuing it with their fervent energy, but they just don’t have the right actions. And so what they do is they become a series of shiny object chasers. Right? Today, I’m chasing shiny object number one. I’m on it. Tomorrow, I’m chasing shiny object number two. The next day, I’m chasing shiny object number three. And all of those shiny objects don’t get the follow through that are necessary to see its course because there’s no faith that what you are doing is going to lead to the result, because you have a belief that says I can only be so successful, even though you may not be tapped into that belief. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:28:40] It might be a subconscious belief if you have a belief that I am going to fail or I will I will face a negative consequence if this does not work out. So therefore, it’s easier not to try. Even as you are consciously thinking, I’ve got to get this done, I’ve got to get more successful. I’m going to pursue this. The confluence of your disbelief in what you are doing and your action in what you are doing are going to collide and create a mixed result. So whereas a person who says come hell or high water, this is going to work because I believe that I’m going to be successful, has a different outcome doing the exact same behavior because the energy that comes behind the belief in what you are doing is a critical component of fulfilling your desire. So most of us will have a belief and then we’ll act, I believe I can do this, so therefore I will try. And not vice versa, and the problem is that it is not that seeing is believing. It is that believing is seeing. It is that once you have a belief in something, once you can see it in your mind’s eye, once you can have a vision of what it is that you want to create, once you have scripted out, colored out, put it in front of you. Some people are more visual than others, so it may not necessarily be that you personally have to draw it. But there is definitely something to be said for having in your mind this picture of where you want to go. And then believing that you will get there.
Allison Williams: [00:30:22] Now, here’s the framework I want to give you for actually using your desire to materialize what you want, OK, and again, this comes from my own experience of starting at one place, desiring to be far ahead of where I wanted to go. And by the way, when I first started a law firm, I thought it would be great to have five to seven attorneys. Like that was kind of that was the finish line. And that finish line was accomplished in three and a half years. Right. We got to a multimillion dollar business in that period of time. We got to that number of lawyers in that period of time. And then I started thinking that I should want more and I didn’t. Right? And it’s OK to not want more. But what I see a lot of people do is that they decide they can’t have more. So they convince themselves into wanting what they have, rather than being grateful for what you had as you are on your way to more. OK? So here’s the framework. In a nutshell, it’s four questions, OK, you’re always going to start with what is it that I want? What is it that I want to bring into my life? Once you have established that, and by the way, that question is not a casual question, right? Because a lot of people, when asked the question, what do you want?
Allison Williams: [00:31:35] They’ll say, I want more money. I want more free time. I want more vacation. I want more sex. I want more dating. I want more love. I want more time with my kids.
Allison Williams: [00:31:44] They’ll rattle off the checklist type responses. But I want you if you’re thinking about your law firm, I want you to really think, what is it that I want in my law firm? If somebody else, if my clients, my customers and my community members. Were looking at my law firm 10 years from now. what is it what are they going to say about it? And I don’t mean the superficial they’re going to say, here’s this building on Main Street that houses a law firm known as John Doe’s law firm. I’m talking about what are they going to say about its value? What are they going to say about why it matters to them to work there, to get their help, their their legal assistance, why it matters that people around look at it in a certain way? What is that certain way? Right. And what is that description? So once you have that and by the way, that description of what your law firm means should include what it means financially, because you are right now your own employee, OK, even if you are rising to the heights of or already functioning as the CEO of your law firm, you are attached to your law firm. So I’m thinking of you as an employee in this scenario, even if you are purely a shareholder. What do you say about your law firm? What does it bring to you? How much money does it generate and how much of that comes to you personally? And how is your life structured in a way that benefits you, whether it is, I take X dollars out and I keep X dollars in so that I can run expenses in a way that reduces my taxes or I’m attached to the business because I love doing a certain amount of work. So I get to take certain types of cases while still making a certain amount of income. And I don’t work as hard as I used to because I have people working alongside me.
Allison Williams: [00:33:39] What does that really look like for you? OK, so once you have what you want, the next question is, do you believe you can have it now? That is the most important piece, because even though there is a concern that runs through most people at some point that they’re going to have to figure out the how it’s not enough to just want something and to sit and live in and the wanting of it, you have to pursue opportunity to create what you want. And those opportunities have to be vetted in a very specific way. But you have to believe that you can have it, because if you don’t, what you’ll do is you’ll start to move in the direction of what you want. You will take actions toward what you want. But as soon as you hit a snag or someone quits or a mistake happens, your mind and your energy and your effort go right out of that vision and go back into the day to day stuff of running a law firm. And that stuff will keep you stuck if you don’t extricate yourself because you are focused on your vision over everything else. So you have to believe you can have it. The third question is, do I believe that I can have it more than I believe that I may fail? Now, this is a question of quantity.
Allison Williams: [00:34:55] Do you believe that you can have it is a yes or no? The next question, do you believe that you can have it more than you believe in you, that you can fail is one that gets you to a yes or no answer. But you have to weigh it out. You have to decide and really think through. If I’m looking at myself and I’m looking at my life and I’m looking at my circumstances. What do I believe in more? Do I believe in my ability to get what I want and that the universe is conspiring to help me get what I want? Do I believe that or do I believe in all of the roadblocks and all of the stalls and all of the failures and all of the missed opportunities and all the naysayers and all the different ways that I could fail? Because at any given time, there exists the opportunity for you to fail at any given thing you are doing, and it is only when you decide that if you fail, that’s perfectly fine. You will figure it out when and if that happens.
Allison Williams: [00:35:58] But you are focused on what you desire that you will ultimately answer yes to that question. Meaning? Yes, I believe I can have it more than I believe that I may fail. Now, the fourth and final question is also a comparative. And the question is, do I believe that if I fail, I’ll recover better off than if I had not tried? Right, so the significance of this question is that a lot of people will fundamentally believe that they can be successful, they’ll have a history of being successful. They will have graduated from high school, graduated from college, graduated from law school, taken the bar exam, got admitted to the bar, started practicing, won a few cases. Right. They’ll have that history. Most lawyers have that history. So the question then becomes, if that is your history, that is something that gives you evidence of your ability to succeed. But we also have all had some level of failure. So that could be that you started a partnership that didn’t work out. That could be that you got fired from a job. That could be that you secured a job and then didn’t enjoy it and left it, even though it was a high status, high paying job. There could be any number of things that you, quote, fail at, but you have to decide which is what you are going to focus on, the failure or the past successes. And most people recognize if looking backward is a way for them to analyze their likelihood of success in the present, that they were actually able to recover from the failures of their past.
Allison Williams: [00:37:42] So I was able to fail and I survived. But most people recognize that if they went through a traumatic experience in the failure, they don’t want to do that over again. Right. Let’s be real. If I was in a car accident, right, I’m driving a car and all of a sudden my car’s braking system stopped working and I ran off the road and into a ditch and my car flipped over and I was able to be extracted from the car with the jaws, with the jaws of life, and taken to a hospital. And I ultimately cracked a few ribs and was was was bloodied up a bit, but I was patched up, I survived. I went through physical therapy and now I’m walking perfectly fine. If that was your experience, most people wouldn’t say, sure, I’ll try driving a car tomorrow with no brakes because it worked out fine before. Right. So none of us is going to go out and replicate an experience of failure, saying it’ll be fine. But there are times when you pursue something. OK, so the first example I gave you was a shit happens type of example. OK, now we can talk about how you are actually manifesting that in your life. And that’s a whole different discussion for a different day.
Allison Williams: [00:39:03] But for now, let’s just take that example as the shit happens. Example. OK, now I want to move away from the shit happens example and go to an example where you pursued something with your diligent efforts and your plans and your strategy and it didn’t work out. And when it didn’t work out, your thoughts went to how am I going to move on from this circumstance? It didn’t feel good to fail. Let’s say, let’s take, you know, getting fired. Right. I know several lawyers that have been fired from from big law jobs. Right. So you step out, you get this great job, you’re working so hard and then you lose it and you say, oh, my God, that didn’t work out. You know, you have to be employed because you have to support yourself. So it’s not an option for you to say, I’ll never work again because working did not work out for me. But what you might say is I’m never going to work at big law again or I’m never going to work billing more than X number of hours again, or I’m never going to work in this region of the country again, or I’m never going to work in this practice area again. Because you have written the story that says that model doesn’t work. Not this instance of this model did not work. It was simply I tried it and it failed. So therefore it doesn’t work. And we don’t ask ourself pragmatically, are you better off because you had that experience? In other words, do we believe that this was done to us or do we believe that this was done for us? I mean, I can tell you unequivocally, I’ve been fired twice from two different law firms and for essentially the same reason. There’s there’s a leader energy that’s hard to suppress when you are put in the role of being a follower.
Allison Williams: [00:40:48] So I was always a much better leader than I was a follower. Be candid about that. But the second time that I was fired, one of the things that has happened from that is I absolutely adore the boss who fired me. I thought he walked on water when he fired me. So that’s the reason why it hurt so much. But years later, I healed from that. And then I went through a process of evaluating the the the you know, what could have done, what could I have done differently and how could this have worked out differently? And it occurred to me when I had lunch with him one day, not not many years after the fact, we probably… We met up a couple of years after I was let go from that law firm. And we were talking and I remember thinking this was the best thing you ever did for me. And so I had that thought. But it kind of slipped out of my mind. Right, because I was still thinking this is a very prestigious law firm.
Allison Williams: [00:41:46] This is an amazing managing partner. And I had him on a pedestal. So I thought, OK, well, yeah, yeah, I’m thinking it was better for me, but life wouldn’t have been so bad if I was still making X dollars and doing Y work, right at this law firm. But just just a couple of years ago, you know, this happened this happened many, many moons ago now, over a decade now. But just a couple of years ago, he and I again had lunch. And what was amazing was he said words to the effect of it was hard to let you go, but it was easy to set you free. And I thought about that and I thought, yeah, it really was the best thing that ever happened to me, that I was set free because then I got to become more of what I was intended to be in this world by virtue of having to figure it out. But if I didn’t experience that failure, I would have never gotten to that place. So again, I want you to start thinking about your circumstances. I give you that example because I want you to apply it to your own life. And I want you to think about your past failures and the ways in which those failures have truly set you free and are making you better off.
Allison Williams: [00:43:04] But when you are thinking about your present circumstances and you’re asking the question. Do I have what I need or do I lack in some way? In other words, I want to pursue something and I just don’t have the resources. I want you to ask if it’s really what you want. If you really believe you can have it, if you believe that you can have it more than you believe, you may fail. And that if you fail, that you’ll recover better off than if you had never tried. If you can answer yes to those questions. Then you have a growth mindset and one that will allow you to step into the tools, the strategies, the opportunities necessary for you to get what you really want in your law firm. Now, if you answer no to any of the last three questions, so questions two, three or four, if you say no, I can’t have it or no I don’t believe I can have it more than I believe I can feel. I believe more in my failure than in my possibility of creating what I want or no, I don’t believe that if I fail, I’ll be better off than if I hadn’t tried. In other words, the risk of trying is more dangerous for me from an emotional, psychological subconscious perspective. It’s more dangerous for me than simply letting sleeping dogs lie and staying in a place of lack of satisfaction or accepting my own limits. Then you have a scarcity mindset. And having a scarcity mindset is cultural. It is baked into the core of what we do, especially in the legal profession. We’re all about stare decisis, right? We’re all about doing what we’ve always done, and inching ahead a little bit when the mores of the time to quote Benjamin Cardozo start to, you know, impress upon us that there might be a different way of doing things.
Allison Williams: [00:44:59] But if you don’t want to wait 10, 15, 20 years to get to a place where you are happy with the life that you are living after, you are too old to enjoy it. Or frankly, don’t have the stage of life where you’re able to physically or emotionally or financially enjoy it because you have other priorities, and you want your success today, then it’s time to get out of the scarcity mindset so that you can ultimately get yourself to the place that you want.
Allison Williams: [00:45:30] All right, everyone, I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. If you want help with this, if this is something that you’re interested in, I invite you to join our Facebook group. We have a lot of resources in there, but I have done a lot of Facebook Lives talking about success mindset and scarcity mindset and the ways in which we can overcome those particular obstacles. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor everyone. Have a wonderful day.
Allison Williams: [00:46:06] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s guest and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you, join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement Free Facebook group. There you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours and join the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firm and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day!
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is The Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a Business Coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. It helps lawyers to grow their revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Law Firm Mentor was born out of Allison’s experience starting a law firm and scaling its revenues into a multi-million dollar business in only three years. She shares her extensive knowledge of business, mindset coaching and entrepreneurship alongside her team in Law Firm Mentor.
Allison is also Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law. Allison is a member of the New Jersey Board on Attorney Certification (NJBAC) – Matrimonial Committee, a New Jersey Supreme Court committee that determines eligibility of candidates to be certified as a recognized practitioner in the field of matrimonial law.
Allison has been named a Rising Star Attorney by the New Jersey Super Lawyers franchise continuously from 2008 – 2013, and has been named a Super Lawyer by that organization for 2014 – present. In 2016, she was featured in the Super Lawyers publication (Williams v. The Rubber Stamp), she has been named one of the Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in New Jersey from 2017-2020 and in 2019-2020, was voted in the Top 100 Super Lawyers and Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in the State of New Jersey.
Allison is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. She won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Allison was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Allison won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Allison created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications and money management in law firms.
She received her B.S., magna cum laude, and her M.S., summa cum laude, from Florida State University. She received her J.D., cum laude, from Syracuse University College of Law.
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