DLTS Law. From the Ashes of the Recession.: D’Egidio Licari Townsend & Shah, APC’s unusual beginningsspark evolution of... How to Create an Email Law Alert. Powerful Marketing Tool Replaces Printed Newsletters.: Thanks to email, you can now write and distribute a weekly Law Alert without buying a... 8 Sure-Fire Tips for Enticing Readers In Your Marketing Materials: Because I’m a copywriter, my opinion is likely a little biased, but I truly feel the... 5 Tips to Improve Back-Office Processes: Are you contemplating streamlining, centralizing or outsourcing some or all of your law... 4 Reasons Prestige Doesn’t Justify Your Rates. Your Law Firm Proposal Needs Better Differentiators.: There you are, in your office, the night before your proposal is due, cursor blinking on... 4 SEO Tips Law Firms Can Implement Today: Law firms need clients to survive, and the Internet has changed the face of business... McIntyre’s Civil Alert. Organized Succinct Summaries.: CALIFORNIA COURTS OF APPEAL - Appeals - Chango Coffee, Inc. v. Applied Underwriters, Inc.... Sales and Marketing are Not the Same: There is an understandable confusion among lawyers about the difference between Sales and... From Business Owner To Business Owners’ STRONGEST ALLY: Anderson Reynard, LLP’s Managing Partner John Reynard‘s experience as a CEO,COO, and... How to Divide Law Firm Partnership Income: One of the quickest ways to silence a roomful of lawyers is to raise the question of how...
Cole Casey - small banner

Learning to Learn

Many lawyers struggle to learn business development skills, in no small part because they don’t embrace the need to get better at it. Oh, sure, they say all the right things, but when it comes down to setting aside time (and sometimes money) and committing to learning, applying, getting feedback, and practicing, they have lots of reasons why it can’t happen. It brings to mind the quote by entrepreneur Jim Rohn: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.”
I borrowed today’s title from an article in the March 2016 issue of Harvard Business Review, which points out that today’s pace of change forces us to understand and quickly respond to big shifts in the way companies operate. The author talks about “resisting the bias against doing new things, scanning the horizon for growth opportunities, and pushing yourself to acquire radically different capabilities—while still performing your job. That requires a willingness to experiment and become a novice again and again: an extremely discomforting notion for most of us.”
We know from the seminal work of Dr. Larry Richard that lawyers’ low resilience score makes this discomfiture particularly acute for them.
The HBR authors identified four attributes required to surmount this:

  • Aspiration
  • Curiosity
  • Self-Awareness
  • Vulnerability

We must truly want to understand and master new skills; see ourselves very clearly; constantly think of and ask good questions; and tolerate our own mistakes as we progress along the learning curve. Here are some mental tools you can develop to boost all four attributes.

Aspiration
It’s easy to see this as a fixed, binary thing: You want to learn a new skill or you don’t; you have ambition and motivation or you lack them. But great learners can raise their aspiration level from resistance, where we focus on the negative and unconsciously reinforce our lack of aspiration, to embrace by focusing on the positive—what we’ll gain from learning— and reaping the rewards of progress. Shifting your focus from challenges to benefits is a good way to increase your aspiration to do things that are beneficial, but that you don’t really want to do.
When I discuss goals with the lawyers I coach, I ask “Why do you want that? Why is that important? What will it do for you?” Visualizing the practical result of reaching a goal makes it real, and increases their willingness to do what’s necessary to get there.

Self-Awareness
When it comes to the need for learning, assessing what we know and don’t know, what skills we have and don’t have, we come up short. In one study, 94% of college professors reported that they were doing “above average work.” Statistically, almost half must be wrong. Only 6% saw themselves as having a lot to learn. When you don’t perceive a deficiency, you have little appetite for improvement. This is known as “Unconscious Incompetence.”

Curiosity
Curiosity makes us try something until we can do it. Instead of focusing on and reinforcing initial disinterest in a new subject, ask yourself “curious questions” about it and follow those questions up with actions. You can increase your willingness to tackle necessary tasks by thinking about how you could do the work differently. In other words, shift from “I don’t like BD,” to “How might I do it differently to make it more interesting?”
Take just one step to answer the question: Read an article, query an expert, find a teacher, join a group—whatever feels easiest. Ask “Why are others excited about BD?” Seek out the answers. Find just one thing about BD that sparks your curiosity.

Vulnerability
Lawyers are reluctant to do things they’re not good at. (There’s that resilience issue again.) The idea of being bad at something for weeks or months; feeling awkward and slow; having to ask “I-don’t-understand…” questions; and needing step-by-step help and coaching over and over is scary. However, to progress, you’ll have to accept that beginner state. The ideal mindset for a beginner is both vulnerable and balanced: I’m going to be bad at this to start with, because I’ve never done it before. However, I know I can learn to do it over time. Acknowledging your novice status will make you feel less foolish and more relaxed.
The ability to acquire BD skills and knowledge quickly and continually is crucial to success in the modern law business. Try some of these self-talk techniques to help you overcome inertia and get started.

Mike O'Horo

Mike O'Horo is a serial innovator in the law business. His current venture, RainmakerVT, is the world's first interactive online rainmaking training for lawyers, by which lawyers learn how to attract the right kind of clients without leaving their desks. For 20 years, Mike has been known by lawyers everywhere as The Coach. He trained more than 7000 of them, generating $1.5 billion in new business. Mike can be reached at mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com

More Posts

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
en.pdf24.org    Send article as PDF   

Filed Under: Featured StoriesPractice Management

About the Author: Mike O'Horo is a serial innovator in the law business. His current venture, RainmakerVT, is the world's first interactive online rainmaking training for lawyers, by which lawyers learn how to attract the right kind of clients without leaving their desks. For 20 years, Mike has been known by lawyers everywhere as The Coach. He trained more than 7000 of them, generating $1.5 billion in new business. Mike can be reached at mikeohoro@rainmakervt.com

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply

  • Polls
    Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.