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February 04, 2008

7 Ways Solos Can Get Things Done

PicktheBrain has done it, again, with this terrific list of 7 Ways to Grow the Action Habit.  I've selected my favorites as they are most applicable to starting a solo practice

People at the top of every profession share one quality: they get things done. This ability supercedes intelligence, talent, and connections in determining the size of your salary and the speed of your advancement.

Despite the simplicity of this concept there is a perpetual shortage of people who excel at getting results. The action habit, the habit of putting ideas into action now, is essential to getting things done. Here are 7 ways you can grow the action habit:

1. Don't wait until conditions are perfect
- If you're waiting to start until conditions are perfect, you probably never will. There will always be something that isn't quite right. Either the timing is off, the market is down, or there's too much competition. In the real world there is no perfect time to start. You have to take action and deal with problems as they arise. The best time to start was last year. The second best time is right now.

2. Be a doer - Practice doing things rather than thinking about them. Do you want to start exercising? Do you have a great idea to pitch your boss? Do it today. The longer an idea sits in your head without being acted on, the weaker it becomes. After a few days the details gets hazy. After a week it's forgotten completely. By becoming a doer you'll get more done and stimulate new ideas in the process.

3. Remember that ideas alone don't bring success
- Ideas are important, but they're only valuable after they've been implemented. One average idea that's been put into action is more valuable than a dozen brilliant ideas that you're saving for some other day or the right opportunity. If you have an idea the you really believe in, do something about it. Unless you take action it will never go anywhere.

4. Use action to cure fear
- Have you ever noticed that the most difficult part of public speaking is waiting for your turn to speak? Even professional speakers and actors experience pre-performance anxiety. Once they get started the fear disappears. Action is the best cure for fear. The most difficult time to take action is the very first time. After the ball is rolling, you'll build confidence and things will keep getting easier. Kill fear by taking action and build on that confidence.

6. Live in the present - Focus on what you can do in the present moment. Don't worry about what you should have done last week or what you might be able to do tomorrow. The only time you can affect is the present. If you speculate too much about the past or the future you won't get anything done. Tomorrow or next week frequently turns into never.

It takes courage to take action without instructions from the person in charge. Perhaps that's why initiative is a rare quality that's coveted by managers and executives everywhere. Seize the initiative. When you have a good idea, start implementing it without being told. Once people see you're serious about getting things done they'll want to join in. The people at the top don't have anyone telling them what to do. If you want to join them, you should get used to acting independently.

This list resonated with me because when I talk to clients it is the fear which is causing the inaction.  Therefore, action can push fear aside. 

"Courage is not the absence of fear but the judgment something else is more important than fear." Ambrose Redmoon

I once engaged someone on a listserv and proceeded headlong into a heated debate about whether or not those who graduate law school and open a solo practice are seen as a desirable commodity by prospective Biglaw employers. (This is providing their solo practice doesn't meet the level of success they require or want or they now need traditional employment for any number of reasons or the offer is just too good to turn down.)  I was challenged that solos would be seen as failures and it would be much harder to find a job.  That's not only highly prejudicial, it's also bulls*#t.

" ..initiative is a rare quality that's coveted by managers and executives everywhere. Seize the initiative."

My personal experiences, the experiences of solos I have written about all have learned the same lesson; those who try are most desirable.  And the icing on the cake, I was recently contacted by a headhunter asking if I knew of a solo in Connecticut who would be interested in position with a firm who had older partners.  They wanted someone with proven initiative to build a business so they could train them to take over their business.  I also have a client who has been offered two similar opportunities 1) because one older solo sees him as a threat because of his family name and connections in his particular niche practice area and the other sees his agressiveness and smarts and would like to turn the business over to him as the managing partner in 5 years.  He's 26.  So, I repeat...bulls*#t.   Experience that shows you are assertive and a go-getter, have the ability to attract clients (whether you choose to stay solo or not) is a very important plus on your resume if a resume is what you need.  Always remember that.


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The best way to get anything done seems to be to turn off the internet and get back to work right now!
For me, anyway. Results may vary.

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