Doing What’s Uncomfortable: Lawyers Need to Be Challenged

So, this morning I got my ass kicked. Not by a local neighborhood bully or in a bar fight, but rather by my Pilates instructor. Just being honest in sharing that my abs (or lack thereof) feel like mush and my triceps are aching from my 7:30 a.m. class this blustery Saturday morning in Chicago. The real question is, why am I putting myself through this punishment in an uncomfortable place, with a room full of women, and doing something that doesn’t feel good (yet)? I’m not sure if you’ve heard the expression, “embracing the suck.” 

When I meet with lawyers, as I do daily, to talk about legal business development and growing that all mighty book of business, it’s clear to me that I’m asking lawyers to do the very same thing as I did Saturday morning. You have the billable hour, difficult clients, challenging cases, as well as for some, management responsibilities. Now throw on top of that your personal lives with family and friends, and for most it’s utterly overwhelming. Many rainmakers know that when you build your originations and develop your own clients, you can take control of your hours and your life in many ways. Let’s look at the similarities of me taking Pilates and you having to embrace the suck that is legal business development.

Comparison #1

When I go to my Pilates class, it’s all women and me. Every class, every time. While this might seem intimidating, it gets worse. They’re all better than me. Sometimes I must take a break near the end of an exercise, as my abs break down. Super embarrassing. That all being said, I know that over the next month or two this will change. I’m listening closely to the teacher and following her instructions to improve form and engage muscles that will ultimately make me stronger.

Like Pilates, business development can be uncomfortable and challenging. You may have to attend networking events, travel to a conference, or meet with a client, not knowing if any of your non-billable time will pay dividends toward new business.  So, like Pilates, you must learn new approaches to be more effective in those scenarios. As you know, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. So read my books and articles (like you are now), listen to my podcast BE THAT LAWYER and build that business development muscle. If this isn’t doing the trick, email me and we can discuss coaching to get you to the next level.

Comparison #2

Since I’m sharing some personal details about yours truly, I may as well mention that I’ve had surgery on both of my feet and had my left hip replaced. This is important information in Pilates, as the teacher must work around each client’s personal physical issues to make the exercises safe and beneficial to each participant. Knowing where you’re strong or weak is very helpful to enjoying the classes, versus feeling nervous or unsafe.

In developing business, you, too, have strengths and weaknesses that must be considered and addressed before investing too much time doing what you hate or are not very successful with. For example, an introvert attending a big networking event with hundreds of people. Probably not playing to their strong suit. Think about what you do enjoy and lean into it. This might be more one-on-one meetings or small group events. For me, a good example is playing paddle tennis. I get to kick some ass and have fun, while also getting to know lawyers from other racquet clubs. Whatever the case, be honest with yourself and focus on activities you enjoy or have had past success doing. 

Comparison #3

One of the most important elements of Pilates is, simply, breathing. Thinking about one’s breath is unusual, as we breathe all day never thinking once about it. The reason this is so important in Pilates is because it facilitates correct muscle activation and increases the safety of the exercises. Wow, probably more than you wanted to know there. The point, dear reader is that we all need to find our breath, and that doesn’t just mean when exercising. 

There are two unique benefits to breathing in developing your book of business. First, there’s literal breathing, where you stop the madness of your day and just take 8-10 seriously deep inhales and exhales to regain your focus. Most people don’t do this, but if you do, you’ll feel better and more focused directly afterward. Additionally, take a breath by getting away from the office, home or otherwise to rethink your plans for the month, quarter, or year to come. Most people just go year to year doing the best they can, never stopping to think and plan a growth strategy for what’s to come. This is a huge misstep in developing business because a failure to plan is a plan to fail.

The most important element in this article from my perspective is to make improvements in your life, as you only get one shot at this thing. For me, playing better paddle and winning matches is important. Taking Pilates will help me accomplish this while also improving my overall health. I’m already embracing the suck and feeling better every day for it. Think about what you need to do to live your best life and be the best version of yourself. My guess is that it’s not about squeezing in a few more billable hours, but rather the importance of being happy with balance and control over your time and destiny.

If you’d like to discuss your practice with me, I’m always available to meet and offer advice and guidance. My email is steve@fretzin.com and my website is www.fretzin.com

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