All posts by - businesslawguy

Opportunities come from relationships

Everything is who you know is a true statement. This includes the company president and the janitor. You never know who will be important to you in the future or what that person may achieve. The company president may be important to you professionally, or maybe the janitor’s child had the same issue your child is having and has suggestions or connections that may help.

These are reasons to know many, people, as well as different types of people. Having relationships with a diverse set of people also can help you overcome implicit bias. Many times your relationships will take you farther and provide more opportunity than your brain. Don’t get me wrong, your brain can help you in life too, but sometimes you don’t get the chance to use your brain if a connection doesn’t provide the opportunity.

Make it a goal to expand your network and relationships. Don’t just make it numbers, but look for people from different backgrounds, types of work, etc. The more you nurture these types of relationships, the farther you will fly.

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Enjoy Life

Life goes by fast. As you age, people around you get sick, are in accidents, and even pass away. If you don’t stop to do things you enjoy, you will end up in the next day and have missed a chance to do something you enjoy, even if just for a moment.

Life is full of wonder. Do you notice? Live each day in a way that you can look back and point to the moments that were good, or even amazing. How much better is that than looking back with regret? We are in control of our thoughts and feelings, but also of our actions.

Smile at strangers. By the way, it doesn’t matter whether they smile back, though most will. Little things like this make life fun. Also, you never know when the person you smiled at needed a pick me up and things like this make people feel good. It will make you feel good too. Little things like this add up to make life better and more enjoyable, and to connect people and create community.

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Vision without execution is hallucination

I heard this somewhere and it stayed with me. Think about this and you will know it’s true. If you can’t execute, your ideas are useless. This may mean you need to work with other’s whose skill sets compliment yours, i.e, they are better with follow through and can execute. Or it may mean you need to work on your follow through and execution.

What to take from this is that it’s important to have self-awareness and know your strengths and weaknesses. This is the only way to assess what you need to work on. But know that working on your weaker skills may not help you. If not, you need to look to others to work with who are strong in areas you aren’t

The last thing you need to be is the person with seemingly great ideas who can’t act on them. Or maybe you are great taking ideas and turning them into action, but couldn’t come up with the type of ideas you like to work on even if you tried.

You need to figure out your skill sets, those you need to work on and then determine whether you can get there or not. It is okay not to get there because that is part of learning your strengths and weaknesses. As you learn about yourself, you can adjust so you can, whether alone or with the help of others, make progress executing and moving towards your goals.

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Be Yourself

Dance, go down the slide at your kid’s school, sing along with that song you love while driving down the road. The point is to do things that bring you joy as long as it’s not at the expense of others.

Don’t let other’s opinions control what you do and the choices you make. You know yourself and you should focus on what you think and like. If you are open to other’s opinions, you can ask people you trust what they think, but then make your own decisions, i.e. dance to your own drummer.

Life is short, so being yourself and doing things that are joyful is important. If you don’t, the moment will pass you by. You may or may not regret your inaction. If you do act, you likely will look back with fond memories and smile when you do. And who doesn’t like looking back on a fun memory and smiling to themselves or sharing it with others?

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Don’t judge

It is easy to judge others and many times we do so unconsciously. A great example is the person driving too fast and who may have cut you off. It is easy to just assume they are aggressive drivers who think wherever they need to be is more important than where you are going. I like to think they have somewhere they need to be, such as rushing to the hospital or something similar. It keeps my blood pressure down and changes what my potential reaction might be otherwise.

It is good to remember we all have faults and bad habits. And we don’t want to be judged on the (hopefully) outlier moment when we act badly. Maybe thinking this way can help us change behaviors or bad habits. Focusing on yourself is much more productive than focusing on others.

Sometimes I try to make not judging others a game. What I mean is I make up a story on why they are how they are, are acting how they are, or why they just cut me off on the road. I am sure what I think is not close to being accurate, but it keeps me in check and sometimes makes me laugh to myself if I come up with something really good. Such a reaction is way better than thinking in a judgmental way or thinking negative thoughts about others.

Next time that car cuts you off, think about the emergency they could be dealing with. Also think what others think when you drive like that because you are in a hurry . Then try not to laugh as you think about how everything is relative to where you are sitting.

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Acknowledge mistakes and move on

We all make mistakes. Sometimes others notice, sometimes not. When you do, find a way to learn from it and laugh it off. If you do so, it will pass faster and you can move forward instead of looking backwards.

The more you let mistakes roll off of your back, other people will forget too. The point is to move forward, fix what you can, or note what you did so you can learn from it. This includes acknowledging mistakes to superiors at work or your spouse, etc.

It doesn’t mean there won’t be a tense or stressful moment. If you are honest and apologize, and maybe explain what happened or that you have learned from the mistake, the faster you will move past it.

Remember, everyone makes dumb mistakes. Everyone. You aren’t alone in this. If you figure out how to deal with mistakes in a constructive fashion they will be in your rearview mirror as you move into the future with a clear conscience and free from the weight of the mistake.

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Be Kind

We all are moving fast through our days. Are you nice to the people who cross your path? You should be because how you treat people is what stays with them when they think about you.

The benefits of being kind outweigh the efforts you put in. Knowing this and acting on it will help you and your reputation.

In the same vein, do random acts of kindness. Bring in donuts (or maybe something healthier) to your office for your co-workers. Compliment someone. Be patient with those who make mistakes, whether a co-worker or the waiter or waitress at a restaurant.

Doing so is good for you in many ways. The feedback and reactions you get will brighten your day. What you do or say will brighten others’ days. Try it and see how good it makes you feel.

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Proofread. Proofread. Proofread.

Proofreading is important. We all know we should proofread everything we write, but we all are busy. 

I remembered this last week when I posted a blog that was repeated. Yes, you read what I wrote, and then you could immediately read it again, because it was there twice. You may be thinking “how did that happen because it must have seemed so obvious.” This is true, but the explanation I could provide doesn’t matter, only that it happened. And many of you emailed me to let me know it happened.

Of course, I immediately went and fixed the problem. The fact is that I should have looked at the draft one more time and it wouldn’t have happened. 

I have been working on trying to proofread everything I write, starting with email. Every time I slow down and do so, I find an error to fix or something I want to revise to sound better. It’s better than reading my original email after someone responds and seeing something I should have or likely would have revised.

Proofreading is another way to invest in yourself. You are putting something out there on which one or more people may be judging you or sizing you up. You want to put out the best written work you can, so proofread what you wrote one more time before putting it out there.

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Time flies so goals and planning are important

When I was younger, clichés such as “The days are long, but the years are short” kind of bugged me. As I aged, I learned that clichés are clichés because they generally are true for most people. I am reminded of how quickly time goes by each week when Shutterfly sends me an email with a few pictures and a subject line such as “Your memories from this week ten years ago.” Then I look and see much younger versions of me, my wife and our children, friends and families, and fun travels from the past.

My point isn’t to lament the passage of time, or of aging, but to consider it in a different light. I think how fast time goes by in the big picture makes setting goals and planning how to reach them that much more important.

I encourage you to make a plan. It can be for a year, six months or whatever time frame works best for you. You may combine personal and work related goals in a single plan or have different plans, but writing down your goals makes it more likely you will reach them. In doing so, you should turn your goals into SMART goals (this can easily be Googled) with action steps to reach them. This is the first step. Many people do this and then don’t look at their plans again.

For most of us this alone won’t help us reach our goals because you need to keep your goals in mind – yes, the cliché that comes to mind is “out of sight, out of mind.” Instead, you need to keep your plan where you will see it regularly. This could be a printout on your desk at home or work (or both), or as a file on your computer’s desktop where you will see it every time you start it up. Or maybe use it as the wallpaper on your computer monitor as a reminder.

Then, and this is big, you actually need to review it regularly. This allows you to see where you are and adjust steps or goals, if necessary. You can make it a part of your routine on whatever time frame you think works by setting calendar items or tasks so you are reminding yourself to review your plan. If you try this, it likely will become a default activity you make time for, which is the definition of investing in yourself.

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Never stop learning

Being a lifetime learner is important. Curious minds need new information like your body needs food and water. Similar to your body needing different types of nourishment, there is so much to learn, whether it is related to your work, hobbies or just a topic you find interesting.

For attorneys, we are required to take continuing legal education classes every year. I try to find topics that apply to the types of work I do. Sometimes the seminars are good, and sometimes not. I hope to  take one or two things away from a seminar. Sometimes my expectations are exceeded. I also read articles and new legal decisions to stay current on my areas of practice.

I have other subjects that interest me outside of the law. When I want to take a break and have some time, it is easy to find articles and information on those topics. Or it may include reading a biography of someone I find interesting, or who I think may have good and interesting insights.

The hardest part is all of the easy options technology provides for us to be unproductive. Of course I am looking at you Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, etc. It’s fine to spend a few minutes catching up on what your friends and family are doing, but it is easy to get lost in social media.

Similarly, it is fine to watch movies and shows, but if you do that, but don’t generally know what is happening in the world, it isn’t a net positive. You may want think about your priorities because I think it’s better to have a knowledge base that enables you to have interesting conversations with others, which I think is a great part of life.

The next time you find yourself thirty minutes into the Facebook rabbit hole or starting the fourth episode of some new Netflix series, do yourself a favor and take a break. Find something to do that stipulates you mentally and helps you to be a well-rounded person people want to know.

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