I’m not asking what about your return on investment. I’m asking what about your ripple of impact. How does who you are and what you do impact others and your community? If you don’t think this matters you are being shortsighted and missing the market.
Your impact on others reflects on you. Do you serve as a formal or informal mentor? Do you treat people kindly? Do you volunteer in your community? These activities matter. They help you, those around you, and your community. Mentoring younger or less experienced people at your company will make your people and company better. Treating people well rubs off and others are more likely to do the same. Volunteering on a non-profit board or at an event does good for those in need and lifts up your community. Of course there are many other examples, but I think you get the point.
What you do matters in both small and large ways. You never know when a simple positive action you take will result in someone else doing something amazing that wouldn’t have happened otherwise . It’s like looking at timing or a missed opportunity or realizing most times you won’t know when an opportunity has been lost. If you regularly behave in a manner that results in return based on your impact you won’t have to wonder because even if you don’t know for sure, good things are likely to happen.
Discipline helps you get done what you plan and need to each day. This is part of doing what you say you’re going to do. This provides stability because it allows others to know how you act or respond in various situations.
This could be my clients knowing I try to return or respond to calls and emails within 24 hours at the outside, or that when they are communicating with me I’m focused on them and whatever they are dealing with. They are not my only clients, but I can make them feel like they are by exercising discipline to focus on them and their issues.
It’s my understanding the single biggest complaint made to the Arizona State Bar by clients is attorneys not timely communicating with them or responding to communications. This is such a simple thing even when you’re busy. When hyperfocused on a project we all need a break. When I am doing this, I often calendar time every hour or so to review emails and voicemails, as well as responding to a few for 10-30 minutes. It allows you to give that strong focus a break and stay up on what is happening in real time. Doing this takes discipline and planning and, for me, has bee a work in progress for years. Done in the right manner your other clients will never think about you spending most of your day focused on other clients’ matters because you timely respond to and interact with them.
These type of actions make you look stable and your business static no matter what you do for a living. Of course there will be times you can’t do this, but, with discipline, you can adjust. It you’re in trial, in a closing, or on vacation you can let clients with pending matters know ahead of time you won’t be able to respond as fast as usual. You can set up an out of office reminder for email and change your voicemail message too. Setting expectations generally and in relation to your current goings on will prevent misunderstandings and frustrations on the part of others.
The point is for you to determine where you can use discipline in your daily routine and work. Even when you think you have discipline, spend time thinking about how you can improve. We all can if we try.
I saw this somewhere in the last few weeks and it rang true to me. The choices we make define us, always. Some may be smaller and some larger, but together they show who you are. Sometimes the choices that seem smaller show more than you think because they are choices you make on a daily basis.
How long do you take to return phone calls or emails? If you’re like me, you receive a large number of calls and emails. It’s easy to tell yourself you will get to them when you get to them. But in my case the calls and emails mainly are from clients, opposing counsel, and potential clients. If I delay responding to clients, how do you think they will feel about it? Maybe they will think they and their issues aren’t a priority compared with other client’s matters. If I delay responding to opposing counsel it delays whatever I’m working on for my client. And clients want matters moving forward toward resolution or completion. If I delay responding to a potential client, I likely will not be retained and they will find another attorney to work with. This is an example of day to day choices you can choose to deal with in a manner that reflects well on you or not.
Of course big decisions are easy to look to because, well, they’re big decisions. I think big decisions rest on the shoulders of the small decisions that lead to the need to make a big decision. By this I mean the daily choices you make define you and will align with the big decisions you make later on because such choices will be seen as being in line with how you consistently act in making any type of decision. In most situations those who really know you would likely guess the decision you would make given the potential choices. This is because your choices define you.
If upon reflection you think you need to make changes to your day to day decisions and how they reflect on you, make a plan. You can change how you do things and the choices you make. It will be hard, but what important choices aren’t.