November 23, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - The Importance of Perspective

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There once was a Taoist farmer. One day the Taoist farmer’s only horse broke out of the corral and ran away. The farmer’s neighbors, all hearing of the horse running away, came to the Taoist farmer's house to view the corral. As they stood there, the neighbors all said, "Oh what bad luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

About a week later, the horse returned, bringing with it a whole herd of wild horses, which the Taoist farmer and his son quickly corralled. The neighbors, hearing of the corralling of the horses, came to see for themselves. As they stood there looking at the corral filled with horses, the neighbors said, "Oh what good luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

A couple of weeks later, the Taoist farmer's son's leg was badly broken when he was thrown from a horse he was trying to break. A few days later the broken leg became infected and the son became delirious with fever. The neighbors, all hearing of the incident, came to see the son. As they stood there, the neighbors said, "Oh what bad luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

At that same time in China, there was a war going on between two rival warlords. The warlord of the Taoist farmer's village was involved in this war. In need of more soldiers, he sent one of his captains to the village to conscript young men to fight in the war. When the captain came to take the Taoist farmer's son he found a young man with a broken leg who was delirious with fever. Knowing there was no way the son could fight, the captain left him there. A few days later, the son's fever broke. The neighbors, hearing of the son's not being taken to fight in the war and of his return to good health, all came to see him. As they stood there, each one said, "Oh what good luck!" The Taoist farmer replied, "Maybe."

_______________________
 
According to Taoism, the true significance of events can never be understood as they are occurring, for in every event there are elements of both good and bad. Furthermore, each event has no specific beginning or end and may influence events for years to come.

Life is all about perspective. Expectations, I have found, do more harm then good.  If our expectations are too high we will always be disappointed because we don't allow for unplanned opportunities.  If our expectations are too low, we may never strive for greater things.
 
What's rocking our world today and the worlds of those we love, family and friends, are just current circumstances.  And circumstances change by the minute.  What impacts ever-changing circumstances is how we view them and how we act in the moment and going forward.  Do we roll with the punches, go with the flow?  Or do we absorb every punch and kick until we are knocked out, fight the tide until we are exhausted and drown or simply live our lives dodging bullets?  Or a combination of the three?
 
It's all about perspective.  What perspective do you bring to this adventure called 'solo practice'? And this adventure called 'life'?

Happy Thanksgiving. Hug your families and appreciate them.  Give thanks for whatever situation, no matter how dire, because with the proper perspective it may very well be the birth of opportunity.

I'll be back with new posts after the holiday.

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

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November 20, 2008

Going Solo; Confessions and Inspirations - Elaine Martin

This is a wonderful, honest and uplifting story....just in time for Thanksgiving.

Guest Blogger - Elaine Martin

Why I went solo.

https://www.apartments-vela-luka.com/imidjis-croatia/croatia-001.jpgI blame Croatia. Or perhaps I should say that I thank Croatia.

Just over a year ago, I was on a cycling trip along the stunning Croatian coast when I had a serious accident. I shattered my shoulder, fractured my skull, and needed stitches to my chin. The skull fracture damaged my facial nerve, which caused half my face to be paralyzed temporarily. I had to fly home early for surgery, and now have a huge rod and screws in my right arm. (Yes, I’m right-handed. No, it doesn’t set off alarms at airport security!). The surgeon said it was the worst shoulder break he had ever seen and his prognosis for recovering range of motion was grim (I was determined to prove him wrong).

Bizarrely, I’ve been much happier since the accident than I was beforehand. I don’t want to sound like some Reader’s Digest inspirational-invalid story. I’m not sentimental like that, and I’m not an invalid. I regained far more flexibility in my shoulder than the surgeon ever thought possible, and it’s still improving. My facial paralysis disappeared far quicker than expected, and the scar to my chin is barely noticeable. If you met me now, you wouldn’t know anything had happened.

The amazing outcome of the accident was a new perspective on what’s really important. The overwhelming sentiment that I had after the accident was of being ridiculously lucky - lucky that I didn’t come home a paraplegic, in a wheelchair, given that I had a skull fracture. Lucky that I travel alone a lot internationally and speak a few languages, so getting back from Croatia wasn’t distressing for me, even in my condition (I’ve actually never been as happy to fly home from vacation!). Lucky that I don’t play tennis, volleyball, or other sports where raising my right arm high would be required. Lucky that my legs weren’t injured, since I’m a runner. Lucky that I had fabulous travel insurance, wonderful friends to take care of me when I got back, etc, etc.

I realized that life was way too short to spend it in a job where I was unhappy. I had become increasingly dissatisfied and disillusioned with my existing position, working for a large boutique immigration law firm. I had been there for over 7 years and felt that I was stagnating. It was good money and reasonable hours, but I realized that I was bored. Very bored, and consequently losing motivation and drive. I spoke to other law firms about joining their immigration departments, but my heart really wasn’t in it. Then I spoke to solo friends of mine who felt that I should definitely try going it alone, especially if I had any existing clients at all.

I had never had a huge desire to run my own business, even though my dad was a successful entrepreneur. I just never thought that I wanted to worry about whether we could afford a new copier or if we should change health insurance plans. Apparently I imaged a business with lots of employees and equipment, not just me and the PC! Once I realized that it could (and should) be just me and the PC, I got really excited about the prospect of setting up my own practice. I was in a better position than most: old enough to have lots of experience in my field, plenty of savings, and no debt other than my house. I didn’t have a family to support. I was in a field that allowed me to have clients nationwide - because immigration law is federal – so I could operate a “virtual” office.

I decided to keep my initial costs as low as possible, and work from a home office when I wasn’t working remotely. The biggest expense - and it wasn’t big - was the all-in-one printer, scanner, copier, fax machine, though I don’t use the fax. Some people still want to use fax, however, so I signed up for E-fax, at about $16 a month. I now have a fax number that I can access anywhere, and that doesn’t spew out reams of junk faxes. I have a Skype number as my work number, which allows for call-forwarding to my cell phone, conference calls, and cheap international calls (very useful in immigration law). I could even do video calls – yikes. I have a mailing address with a suite number that looks like a real office address. It’s a local franchise postal center – I figured that would look better than a PO Box address, and they accept FedEx. I got a PDA that has Word, Excel and PowerPoint, although I will get a laptop soon. I signed up for QuickBooks online, again so that I could work remotely, even on my accounting.

I created my own website, and had a web designer friend review it and help with the hosting process. I was very anxious to have a professional website in place as soon as I notified former clients that I had left the old law firm. Most of those clients were companies, and I wanted my contacts to be able to see my spiffy new online presence immediately. I imagine that I could get a lot of business via the web, given that I can and do have clients all over the country. However, I’m still working on search engine optimization. I’m hoping that I don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to an SEO professional, but maybe I will. For now, I’m learning as much as I can about meta-tags, keywords, bots, spiders, Google Analytics, and blogging to try to improve my visibility.

It has only been 2 months since Martin Immigration Law went live, however I’ve had cases to work on and I got 2 new clients yesterday. I’ve had lots of fun learning to be my own bookkeeper, webmaster, tech support, paralegal, marketing guru, etc. The wealth of information online about all these areas, including information specifically tailored to solo lawyers, is fabulous.

It’s a challenging economy to start a business, to be sure. However I’m so glad that I did it. I’ve regained my excitement for the practice, for networking, for marketing, and most importantly, for client service. Life is good.

Elaine Martin
Martin Immigration Law
6333 E. Mockingbird Lane
Suite 147-910
Dallas, TX 75214
Phone:  (214) 329-4148
Fax:  (214) 276-7476

November 17, 2008

Now Is NOT the Time For Blind Faith - It is A Time For Thoughtful Action

This post is about recession and the solo practitioner. It's long.  It's important. Don't skim. Bookmark and read when you have the time to fully absorb. There is no sugar-coating.  It may annoy you. I'm a realistic optimist.  But I can't be optimistic without the reality.  This IS the reality. If you don't want to be upset, don't read.  But if you want to know what you must do in the current (and future) economic climate to build your solo practice, then it might be wise to suck it up.

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For the majority, what is happening to us at this moment is a story that we will tell over and over as we discuss job losses, foreclosures, bankruptcies, inflated food costs, health care and more as we watch the 'economy' happening to our neighbors and friends and maybe even ourselves.  But the only way the story will change for us personally is if we change our approach to what we are doing.  And what most of my readers are doing is creating a business, a solo practice, in extraordinary times.  We can't wait for 'them' to fix it for us.  Our survival is no one else's job.  It is ours.  Very few of us will be able to close shop and 'get a job' simply because we didn't want to put in the effort required to succeed.  Very few of us will have other options.  So, if failure is not an option, then you must succeed.  The question then becomes, 'how?'

When a small (or 'micro' ) business succeeds it is because of the smarts, creativity and sweat equity of the entrepreneur.  A solo practitioner generally qualifies as a micro-business because they are a business of one.  And it is a business that creates a service, one that serves a very specific purpose.  It improves the client's life in a tangible way or helps 'facilitate' the client's business.

The responsible solo practitioner has an affirmative obligation to think strategically and for the long term. They must create business solutions (for themselves) capable of withstanding the next decade or so which will be brutal.  Listening to pie in the sky and 'delusional' statements like 'there is no recession' or 'American's are just whiners' will only help you to meander down a path of inaction and distraction, or worse, take you in a completely wrong direction when it comes to your professional career.

Being positive is critical. But most importantly you must be positive based upon reality. Reality, rather than wishful thinking, should be driving your business plan.  You must be willing to create a business plan based upon today's sketchy conditions and implement it with full faith it will succeed, being prepared to make changes as new challenges present themselves. This is a time when we must reactivate our long dormant survival gene and not rely on a 'hope and a prayer.'

Solo practitioners must focus on the following: (in no particular order)

  • Cash Flow: Do you have adequate cash flow for a defined period of time? (how long is personal)
  • Which of your current clients will more likely then not be unable to meet their obligations to you and what strategy or office procedures do you have in place to deal with this challenge?
  • Are you aggressively building a cash reserve for both your firm and yourself?
  • Is your marketing strategy to attract new clients effective in this economy/market?
  • Do you have adequate credit to withstand a shortfall in your income?
  • What can you do to increase loyalty from existing clients?
  • What do you need to understand about the economy and how it might impact your business that you don't understand now?
  • What cost cutting can you do today to take home more of each dollar you earn?
  • Who should you really be studying and listening to in order to maximize your opportunity and grow your business in this economy? There are way too many talking heads pitching products and services.
  • What are you doing to differentiate yourself in this competitive marketplace for legal services?
  • What are you doing to strengthen your 'brand' and introducing it to your target clients?
  • Is your current marketing/advertising bringing in the desired ROI (Return on Investment) even if it is 'time' on social media sites?
  • Are you embracing and learning new technologies and digital media that will allow you to extend and amplify your message specifically where your target audience is?
  • What can you do to get more more visible in the maddening crowd?
  • What dialogue can you create regarding this economy which will resonate with your clients?
  • How can you improve your client's experience making it unforgettable?

Now is the time for solo practitioners to go back to the basics of 'good' business planning and practice which includes great client service.  Be positive after you've taken the time to fully understand what is happening in our economy.  Be positive there is opportunity but understanding there is no shortcut and no handouts.  You have to be creative and hard-working to find and then cultivate those opportunities.  The landscape is changing and so must the solo practitioner's approach to creating and building their business.

What steps have you taken to address the changing economic climate.  Please share.

Related links of interest:

Still Fantasizing About That Big Law Job?  Snap Out of It!

When Times Get Tough, The Tough Solos Start Building Their Practices

Is Now The Perfect Time To Start Your Solo Practice?

(And in case you didn't see, check out our recent faculty announcements at Solo Practice University.

If you enjoyed this post, why not subscribe to my RSS! If you would like to be part of a new educational and professional networking community for lawyers and law students subscribe to the RSS for Solo Practice University.

And you can always follow me on Twitter :-)

September 26, 2008

(OT) National Geographic's Top Pictures Of The Year

I will be away for a few days and decided to post some extraordinary pictures to take our minds off of the economy, the election, the price of gas, student loans, getting clients and whatever else may ail our psyches.  While nature may have its share of worries, too, these pictures from National Geographic remind us of the beautify of our magnificent planet. Enjoy.

 
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August 29, 2008

Staying the Course When Deciding to Go Solo (Part II)

In part one of Staying the Course When Deciding to Go Solo I talked about creating that mantra that helps you to work through your fears of starting a solo practice, those fears which inevitably surface after the initial rush of adrenalin you get when you first make the commitment to do so.

In part two we are going to talk about how to break habits which have held you back from achieving your goal of solo practice and replace them with new habits geared towards your success.

https://www.forgotten-ny.com/STREET%20SCENES/arches/rustic1.JPG1. Make a plan with a definite timeline:  We've all heard it before.  A goal without a plan and a timeline for achievement is just a dream.  We all have dreams.  But you have to have real goals with action steps that create a bridge between where you are today and where you want to go.  If you have a goal for a solo practice it's time to create that bridge, a plan and a timeline for success. 

But there is yet one more important ingredient.  You have to stay focused on the end game, which is not solo practice in and of itself.  The end game is achieving those 'dreams' solo practice promises.  Is it more time with the family, making your own schedule, building an empire, never having to ask for time off?  Whatever your idea is that solo practice promises...you have to stay focused on the end gratification in order to get you through the processes.  These very processes are the ones which can dishearten you and cause you to forget your motivations.

Regularly think about your plans for the future as it provides a powerful way to stay truly motivated.  It allows you to keep your engines revved, the same way you felt when you first decided solo practice was the right choice for you.

 2. Become Automated: As lawyers, we are very practical and analytical.  We have to be. But in many ways this doesn't serve us when it comes to opening a solo practice. (What, you're saying?)  That's right.  Opening a solo practice requires a certain leap of faith, faith in ourselves to not necessarily have all the answers but to understand we are trained to 'figure it out.'

So, on some level we have to silence our practical and analytical mind in the face of others' opinions, statistics and more.  We simply have to have a singular reaction when an obstacle presents itself (real or imagined.)  Instead of focusing on the immediate reaction,  'I don't know' simply tell yourself, "I'll find a way."  If you tell yourself 'there is no obstacle I can't address', you have pre-determined you will surmount whatever obstacles present themselves in order to succeed.

Sometimes it is as simple as putting our heads down and placing one foot in front of the other.  I've often had to do that when climbing a hill.  If I look up and see how far I have to climb, I stop and imagine all the reasons why I can't do it.  If I look at my feet and just place one foot in front of the other, I get much further along without distraction from my purpose. I quiet my thinking and just 'do.'

Stay Focused on the Long Term Goals:   Life presents many distractions designed to throw us off track. It takes commitment, discipline and a real desire to become an entrepreneur to stay the course.  Deciding to fulfill your own goals instead of those who write you a paycheck is a major life transition. It takes a certain spirit and tenaciousness, a change in mindset.

4.  Keep Your Goals in Context:

One of the hardest things to do is keep your goals in perspective.  The goals we set out for ourselves personally and professionally 5, 10, 15 years into the future are to help us improve the quality of our lives...but not just for the future.  They are also set out to improve the present.  If we focus solely on enjoying the fruits in the future we fail to enjoy the present.  Then we start to get angry and want to toss our long term goals believing our goals to be wrong.  No.  It's not the goals.  It is our singular focus on the goals.

Remember, building that million dollar practice and the tools to do so are the means to an end, not the end in and of itself  As you already know, freedom to do as you wish on your own schedule is one of the primary goals of most solo practitioners. And as a solo practitioner you should plan to start enjoying those benefits as soon as you hang a shingle.

August 22, 2008

Staying the Course When Deciding to Go Solo (Part I)

When you first commit to the whole concept of entrepreneurship, starting a solo practice, you are simultaneously ecstatic and frantic and giddy and fretful.  Once the decision is made, though, it seems you can't get started soon enough.  You want to realize your dreams of self-employment, the autonomy, the flexibility.

You may start by scouring the internet for resources, telling all your friends, fantasizing of how you are going to tell your boss and co-workers your plans, maybe hire a coach or join a listserv, buy a domain name and business cards. You think about how you are going to make a difference in this world, maybe even that one case which changes law and people's lives into the future. You even envision what you will earn and how you will spend it. Yet after a few weeks, or even days, your initial euphoria and energy dissipates and you start wondering if you're making or have made a mistake.  You question if you can do it.  More importantly is it worth losing the (false sense of) security you have as an employee with work handed to you versus what you envision solo practice to be all about. After all, a bird in the hand.....

How do you keep yourself motivated and on track if this is what you truly want to do?

When I work with clients we do a very important exercise: 

  • Envision where you want to be 5, 10, 15 years from now, not just professionally, but personally. 

This is not an exercise in fantasy.  It is creating a road map.  If you don't know where you are going, how do you know if you've arrived?  If you don't have a destination, how can you plot a course.  The destination can change as can the course, but you have to start somewhere.

Going solo is unlike working for another in ways you may not have considered.  Your personal and professional life must mesh seamlessly as whether you like it or not, you are 'on' 24/7.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  But what you must wrap your head around is this: in order for it to work there must be little to no tension between your work life and your personal life.  The way this gets done is by not changing who you are or what you want to achieve, but constructing a whole life that accepts who you are and respects where you want to go. Isn't it better to float downstream than to swim against the tide? It's certainly less tiring leaving more room for enjoyment.

So, back to motivation. 

1. Create an internal support system.  You need to change your internal dialogue (you know, those phrases you say to yourself which feeds your fear or defeatism) to a new dialogue which applauds your aspirations and challenges you to move forward through your fear. This will keep you on the road towards your goals because eventually this new internal dialogue will permanently replace the old.

2.  Find your inspiration -

It's very important to find your inspiration, that carrot which keeps you moving forward even when you don't feel like it or think you can't. I'll share mine because it left an imprint on my entire life.

high ropesMany years ago I went to a health spa, nothing fancy.  They had a climbing tower in the back.  Not a rock wall but a full fledged tower you climbed.  You participated as part of team to build trust.  Falling backward with your eyes shut, etc.  At the end we had to climb the tower and rappel down.  Great.  I was going to get to the top of the tower if it killed me. Nothing was going to stop me. We were told to pick a word or a phrase which we should call on for motivation, something emotionally meaningful, when we felt our strength waning or when we didn't think we could push ourselves anymore.  I knew mine.

I started to climb with enthusiasm and speed until I realized it was more difficult then I expected.  I got anxious, a little nervous.  I thought, "I can't do this."  I froze. I thought, 'this is as far as I'm going to make it." The coach said, " see if you can just get passed where you are now?  Are you further than you expected to be?"  I realized I was.  Then I thought, "Wow.  I can do this."  As I climbed higher and higher, I got more nervous.  I'd never been that high climbing straight up, the only safety net was this group of strangers whom I was asked to trust.  The coach said, 'don't look back or down.  Keep going.  Is your motivation to get to the top?"  Of course, it was.  So, I continued to climb.  Before I knew it I was just under the platform.  Now I had to swing over the top but it required me to use considerable upper body strength which I didn't have.  I kept trying and trying frustrated and miserable that I couldn't seem to do it.  Time ran out.  I didn't get to the very top and had to rappel down.

I said to the coach, "I didn't do it.  I just didn't have the upper body strength.  I failed."  She said, "you did?" Of course, I did. "No, you didn't.  The exercise wasn't to get to the top.  The exercise was to get you beyond where you thought you could go.  BINGO. I used my internal dialogue, my mantra, to encourage me to go beyond my perceived limits.

What emotional, yet meaningful mantra do you have to help push you further towards your goals?

I figure we all have enough of our own fears, so I couldn't let other people's worries get in the way of what I wanted to do."

-----Emily Kimball, age 76 who at age 61 rode her bike cross-country in spite of being told by everyone she was 'too old.'

In Part II I'll offer some suggestions to help you stay focused on the end game, your own solo practice.

August 19, 2008

Graduating at 80, Alice Thomas Will Open Her Legal Practice

This article is truly inspirational.

Alice Thomas is the only student at McGeorge School of Law who grew up during the Great Depression, the only one old enough to have worked as a waitress at a drug store or held down a job called elevator operator.

Perhaps the oldest law student in the United States, Thomas, who turns 78 next month, has designs on being a lawyer.

*****************

The big question is why? Why go through the notoriously difficult challenges of law school and why start a practice so late in life? Why spend her savings and take out loans just to pay for school? Why learn all you have to learn and do all you have to do just to pass the bar exam, if you're only going to use that knowledge for a year or two or three or four?

****************

"When you quit learning something new, you might as well crawl into a coffin and pull the dirt in after you," Thomas said.

When I was teaching at Quinnipiac University School of Law, one of my students was in her 70's and went back to school while she was caring for her terminally ill husband. She wanted the mental stimulation and an environment of young intellectuals in order to feel alive.

Interestingly, (and, please, this is not about me at ALL) my course was on hanging a shingle upon graduation. One day she came up to me and said, "In your life maybe you meet five people who will change the course of your life. You are one of them." I was looking at her with my mouth agape. She said, "I thought at this stage of my life it was more about looking backwards at what I had achieved. Now I know I can look forward to what I have yet to achieve. Thank you."

I was dumbstruck and felt the tears in my eyes.  She thought I gave her a gift.  She was the one who gave me a gift.

There are many law students who are of 'a certain age.'  It's a fantastic education to have to navigate through life. 

There really is no longer a 'right age' to go to law school..just the age that feels right for you.  And if you are graduating later in life, more power to you.

August 08, 2008

Inspiration for the Solo Practitioner - "Consider This"

Consider this when:

  • You want to innovate with client service;
  • You want to create a virtual law office (VLO) from your basement;
  • You want to get a virtual assistant a thousand miles away;
  • You want to break free from the billable hour;
  • You want to....(fill in the blank)

https://www.freewebs.com/chtfreak64/Beatles.jpgIn 1962,four young musicians auditioned for Decca Records.  The executives dismissed them saying, "We don't like their sound.  Groups of guitars are on the way out."  The Beatles left without a contract.

https://www.8notes.com/images/artists/elvis-presley.jpgIn 1954, Elvis Presley was fired by the manager of the Grand Old Opry, who said, "You ain't goin' nowhere....son.  You ought to go back to drivin' a truck."

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/10/Alexander_Graham_Bell.jpg/461px-Alexander_Graham_Bell.jpgAlexander Graham Bell, after inventing the telephone, was told by President Rutherford B. Hayes, "That's an amazing invention, but who would ever want to use one of them?"

https://www.floridata.com/tracks/ray/images/thomas_edison.jpgAfter it took Thomas Edison 2000 tries to invent the light bulb, a young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times.  "I never failed once," Edison said.  "It just happened to be a 2000-step process."

Even in law, or especially in law, there are new frontiers to conquer and the solo practitioner is free to forge ahead.Being a lawyer/solo practitioner does not limit your opportunities.  It multiplies them.  So, when others impose their fears or inhibitions or doubts upon you and your abilities, consider the above.

And a few great quotes re: business and life:

"What use is it being a fast-walker if you don't know where you're going to?" (Senegalese proverb)

"No more effort is required to aim high in life, to demand abundance and prosperity, than is required to accept misery and poverty." (Napoleon Hill)

"It's true that success is the combination of belief and time. The more belief you have, the less time it takes." (Lisa Jimenez M.Ed.)

"It is not your customer's job to remember you, it is your obligation and responsibility to make sure they don't have the chance to forget you." (Patricia Fripp)

"Kids ought to have two bicycles, one to ride and one to rent." (Jim Rohn)

"When someone does something well, applaud! You will make two people happy." (Samuel Goldwyn)

"All successful people are people of purpose. They hold fast to an idea, a project, a plan and will not let it go; they cherish it, brood upon it, tend to develop it; and when assailed by difficulties, they refuse to be beguiled into surrender; indeed, the intensity of the purpose increases with the growing magnitude of the obstacles encountered." (James Allen)

(These quotes were compiled by Facebook connection Amadou M. Sall from Senegal.)

Now..........

Go for it.

-------->>>>> C-r-e-a-t-e.

INNOVATE!

Just Make It Happen.

July 25, 2008

Why Being A Solo Practitioner Can Actually Make You Happier

This very interesting article from the Psychology Today blog confirms that the quality of our work, more than our interpersonal relationships, determines our happiness:

One factor towered over relationships in its connection with happiness.  That factor was work. The evidence, for example, demonstrates that people who have jobs distinguished by autonomy, meaning and variety – and who show superior performance, creativity, and productivity – are significantly happier than those who don’t.

"Why does our work make us happy? Because it provides us a sense
of identity, structure to our days, and important and meaningful life
goals to pursue. Perhaps even more important, it furnishes us with
close colleagues, friends and even marriage partners."

This revelation, that quality of work more than anything else influences happiness, shocked even those doing the study.  But it is work distinguished by AUTONOMY and which provides meaning and variety that does the trick. Self-directed meaningful life goals are key. Welcome to the world of the solo practitioner.

Interestingly, those who are seem to be happiest (from my unscientific observations) are those who do not separate work life and personal life.  They just have 'life".  In order to feel successful work is an integral part of their everyday. And from this relationships blossom.

Anita Campbell, a very successful entrepreneur and author of the popular Small Business Trends blog, Tweeted once,

My work is part of who I am.  I'm not defined by my work, but it is integrated into the whole.

  I think she states it very well.  I feel the same way. Always have. 

And you?

July 04, 2008

"I'm Not Going to Risk Failure on the Possible Chance of Success."

Turtle Shell

It seemed appropriate to write this post on Independence Day.

Blogger James Chartrand of Men With Pens writes a very 'arrow through our entrepreneurial heart' blog post when he asks:

Are you setting yourself up for failure before even trying for success?

Think about it. How many times have you said, “Okay. I’ll try… but I don’t think it’s going to work.” You give it a skeptical shot. When your attempt doesn’t produce miraculous results, you throw up your hands and say, “See? I told you it wouldn’t work!”

**********

"Most people aren’t willing to risk failure, embarrassment or loss on the chance that success, pride and gain might occur.

Funny, that. We want the good stuff, but we aren’t willing to take risks to achieve goals. We avoid potential success because potential failure is worse.

So we protect ourselves with skepticism. We take no action because action is risky. We don’t put ourselves forward because where we are is okay. We don’t take chances because we can’t control the outcome. We won’t have faith because misplaced trust can be painful.

We don’t want to get hurt."

There are many people, myself included, who will help you dispatch the naysayers, those 'others', professors, colleagues, and more who will make you feel like you can't possibly succeed as a solo practitioner.  But how do you deal with your internal voice, that nagging voice inside your head which tries to quell your enthusiasm, your entrepreneurial spirit and rob you of those opportunities which present themselves, repeating over and over...'I won't succeed as a solo practitioner.'

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure."   Bill Cosby 

Taking any risk is never easy.  That's why they call it a risk.  There is a definable downside if you don't succeed.  But what is the cost to your spirit not to take calculated risks in this life?