Wow, it was like 7am in the morning and I had already learned 2 very important lessons.
First of all, I am reminded that growth, whether it is business or personal, requires us not only to work at it, but to do what is uncomfortable. Now when I say “uncomfortable” I don’t mean uncomfortable in terms of not following your heart and intuition (I think we should always listen to our intuition regardless of what others say), but uncomfortable in that we act anyways even when it is scary or uncomfortable to do so.
What I am referring to here, is the steps I had to take to grow my business, like asking for referrals, for example, despite how doing so felt so weird and embarrassing at first.
Secondly, I am reminded to not forget to thank those who have served me in not only the smaller things (being polite to your coffee barista, for example), but in the larger things. Telling someone else you appreciate that they helped you in some way, imparted their wisdom, or helped you struggle through something.
So, I was talking to my dear friend, Shona about my old business coach, Gabe. http://30000ft.ca/author/gabe/ I was telling her that there are things that Gabe suggested I do as part of my business plan and development that I thought were really over the top uncomfortable for me to do. As he was giving me direction my inside voice would be saying: “yeah . . . that is not happening.”
Gabe made a number of suggestions for my business, all of them clearly outside of what I was currently doing, and certainly outside what I felt comfortable doing.
For example, Gabe suggested that I be clear with my associate lawyers regarding the firm’s (aka my) expectations including billing targets, treatment of the administrative staff and clients. The thought about being so forward and, well, bossy, made my skin crawl. I wanted to hide and resume my old ways of complaining about why my associates were not living up to my expectations rather than being straight-forward and brave about it.
Gabe suggested that my law firm have clearly set out identifiable policies for how clients were to be served and how the office was to be run. Who has the time for that?! I thought. I have a legal practice to run, payables to make, client service to think about.
He even suggested I was engage in “educational based marketing” in that I was continue to develop myself as a leader and speaker in our community in the practice area of family law. My very loud internal voice was saying “Leader?! Me?! You have got to be kidding . . . "
Now, 3 years later, I see that I did ultimately get out of my own way and incorporate much of Gabe’s advice. We incorporated it so much, that I even forgot it was a challenge to begin with.
Our clearly laid out policies and marketing strategies incorporate the quirkiness of our team’s personalities and values. As I now look at our firm’s website, “Not Your Ordinary Law Firm” has become who we are and how we serve our clients: www.lawyersandmediators.ca/about.html
I regularly give legal educational talks that specifically provide our community with needed legal information. I spend one day per week on business development and working to find better ways that our firm can contribute to our community and be helpful to our clients.
Finally, I have learned that in order to appropriately run a law firm, even if a small one, I had to become a leader and demonstrate not only what I expected in my own actions, but also in terms of my communication with my staff and associate lawyers.
Do I work longer hours? Nope.
Do I work any harder than I did 3 years ago? Nope.
Are some days still really challenging? Yes.
Yet, a lot of what I would not be caught dead doing 3 years ago has now become a regular part of what I do as the owner of my law firm.
It turned my law practice into a business.
Then comes the part about the second lesson I learned today about showing gratitude. My friend Shona said, “Val, you should tell Gabe about how much you appreciate the work he did with you.”
When someone has been awesome for us, we should tell them they have been awesome.
I forgot to tell Gabe at any point how grateful I am.
So, here it is.
I learned a lot from you, Gabe. I am pretty sure my law firm would not have made it if it were not for your input, wisdom, advice, and coaching.
Hiring you was so worth it and I thank you.
(And yes, of course you can post this on your website).
By Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional