If you haven’t already read The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson, I recommend that you order it right now. It will change your life. The Slight Edge is about little choices that you make in your life everyday. If you make the right choices, you can change your life for the better. Make the wrong choices, and you are destined for mediocrity.
One of chapters discusses 7 Slight Edge principles. According to Mr. Olson, these are “seven specific and actionable principles that you can apply right now and use as a guidepost” to living a better life. I see no reason why you cannot apply these to building a better law practice for yourself, your family, your clients and your employees.
Seven Slight Edge Principles of Success
- Show Up. How often have we heard this? Show up and do the work for your clients. Work on your law firm everyday. It’s really easy, once you free yourself from having a boss or partner to account to, to sleep in, leave early, take long lunches, play around on the computer instead of doing actual work. You need to not do these things. Show up and do the work you need to do.
- Be Consistent. It’s not enough to just show up. You must show up consistently. That means everyday. Get up at the same time every day and pretend for a moment like you do work at a firm where someone is watching for when you come and go. Consistency leads to structure, which leads to results.
- Have a Good Attitude. Nobody likes someone with a bad attitude. Your clients won’t. Your associates and staff won’t. And trust me, your husband or wife won’t either. Along these lines, you need to beware of who you spend your time with professionally. You are going to start to develop a network of other young lawyers. Remember my post about you being the average of the six people you hang out with most? Let that information guide who you choose to hang out with, and make sure they have the right attitude.
- Be Committed for a Long Period of Time. Building a successful law practice does not happen over night. It takes time, effort and patience. You must be committed. If you are constantly sending out resumes or responding to ads for firm jobs, you are not committed and you will fail. Here is another nugget from Mr. Olson:
There is no shortcut to success. No matter what you are trying to accomplish, you need to ask yourself, Am I willing to put in 10,000 hours or more to get what I want?
You heard that right. 10,000 hours. If you do the math, that is 40 hours a week for 5 years. (Any wonder many states make you practice in a certain area for 5 years before you can take the board certification exam?) Are you committed to your practice for at least 5 years to build it to where you want to be?
- Have Faith and a Burning Desire. Even though this is listed as a Slight Edge principle, this one comes straight from the timeless classic, Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill. Mr. Hill wrote, “There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it.” You have to really want to build a law practice that will serve you – you must visualize what it will be like, and you must have faith that if you show up consistently with the right attitude for an extended period of time, it will happen.
- Be Willing to Pay the Price. Building a law firm is not easy – it is hard work. But if you ask me, if I would rather be slaving away for a partner 80 hours a week or building equity in my own practice everyday, the choice is a no brainer.
- Integrity. Here is the thing about owning your own firm, and I alluded to this earlier. Nobody is watching you. You are on an island in your own little office. You can do what you want, when you want, how you want. If you don’t have integrity, then you will fail. Mr. Olson defines integrity as “what you do when no one is watching… It is also doing the thing you said you were going to do long after the mood you said it in has left you.“
So here is a quick summary of the 7 Slight Edge Principles to building a successful law practice. Show up consistently with a good attitude for a long period of time. Have faith and a burning desire to do what you are doing, and be willing to pay the price to get it. Finally, you must have integrity and discipline to do the difficult tasks even when no one is watching you to make sure you do them.
As always, if you have a comment or would like to respond to this article about an experience that you have had with The Slight Edge principles, please feel free to add a comment below!
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