Personal Productivity for Lawyers
This quick-start guide to Getting Things Done and Inbox Zero also includes two shortcuts for those who want the benefits of GTD without having to learn the system.
A few weeks ago I introduced The Power of Acceptance, inspired by the following quote:
“The most profound choice in life is to either accept things as they exist or to accept the responsibility for changing them.” – From The Universal Traveler by Don Koberg and Jim Bagnall
We discussed some tools for consciously choosing what you accept as-is, and what you accept the personal responsibility to change. When you’ve defined the problem you’re going to solve, then it’s time to look at the dual nature of that problem and what solving it means to your life. You’re going to have to surrender something in order to receive the benefits of manifesting your solution.
“Surrender” was not always one of my favorite words. I didn’t think of myself as a “surrendering” kind of guy. I don’t like the idea of giving up. When I was in second grade, my wrestling coach made a big impression when he said (well, more like yelled), “You never surrender. You never give up. You never even sleep on your back.” I still have a hard time sleeping on my back and I still have a hard time giving up control. But when you really dig into the definitions of the word you’ll see that it means far more than just “capitulate.” It means to release. I’ve now figured out that being able to give something up does not mean the same thing as giving up. Being able to surrender something, to truly let something go, might be the most incredible power a person can wield.
Think about it. Which is more powerful – saying “no” to a client or problem you don’t want, or saying “yes”? The paradox of success is that real power is found in the people and businesses that can say “no.” Watch this the next time you’re in a meeting. The person with the most power in the room has the ability to say “no.” How does she make that decision? She compares the opportunity on the table to the problem she, on her own or as an agent of her company, has accepted personal responsibility to change. If the opportunity doesn’t advance her firm toward that goal, she simply exercises her power to surrender the opportunity creates space to receive an opportunity that does fit. Start now, go through your client list and see which clients no longer fit. Release them. Make space to receive better clients.
Amazingly enough, receiving can be even harder than surrendering. I’m no exception. I grew up poor and while we never had much money I still never wanted to be thought of as a “mooch.” I hated the thought of getting something from someone else that I hadn’t worked VERY hard to deserve. Before law school, one of my favorite jobs was as a sales consultant with a big expense account so I almost never let anyone else pick up the tab. My ability to receive atrophied even more and when I quit that job I had a very difficult time learning to receive.
I was working with a professional coach when the issue was illustrated perfectly. One perfect summer day she invited me to walk a couple blocks to the ice cream shop. I wouldn’t let her buy. I couldn’t even receive a small treat from a friend. How could I expect to receive anything larger? I had to learn how to make room to receive. I had to surrender the undeserved guilt and fear of being seen as a mooch in order to receive small blessings. Only then could I build a habit of happily receiving ever-larger blessings into my life. Now I let people buy lunch if they want. Now I let blessings in, because I’ve surrendered a transaction-by-transaction accounting of every situation. I still give. I still surrender my gifts to the world, but now I can let the wheel turn and allow the blessings to come back in. It takes practice, and that practice is immediately applicable to your business.
Practice receiving without guilt. Next time you go out to lunch with a client let them pick up the check. Next time someone offers you great opportunity to advance one of your goals, say “yes” even if it scares and stretches you, but remember your power to say “no” to opportunities that don’t fit. Our whole challenge in life is to grow and receive. Surrender the pieces that do not fit your life or your business and make room to receive the blessings and success headed your way.