Show gratitude always; the 2023 version

In a few days it will be Thanksgiving 2023 in what seems like a world gone crazy. In thinking about writing about being thankful or gratitude, I looked back to my posts from the week of Thanksgiving in prior years. I can’t say it better, so here is my annual blog for the week of Thanksgiving.

This is a good time of year to think of gratitude generally and what you’re thankful for specifically. At the same time, it’s a great time of year to spread good feelings, which you can do by letting others know when you appreciate something they have done for you. It may mean a phone call, email, or text, but it’s import to take the time to reach out, thereby investing in your relationships.

Those of you who have younger children (or older ones…) know you end up reminding them to say “thank you” all of the time. That is because thanking someone or showing gratitude is a learned behavior. If it came naturally or from observing others we wouldn’t have to teach children to do so.

Hopefully you remember to thank people as appropriate in your daily life. This may be thanking someone holding the door for me when I get to my office, for holding the elevator for me, or for making a pot of hot water so I can have tea and get that needed caffeine injection upon arriving for work. It includes thanking people on my team for their hard work to complete tasks needed to serve my clients’ interests. Many of these situations are universal to all of us, but I am sure we all remember holding a door for someone when they walked through without saying anything.

Of course, if you go through your day looking for when people should be thanking you, you will be disappointed. Instead, you should think about how you want to come across to others, as well as ways you don’t want to come across to others.

We all have bad days, but most days we should recognize when thanking someone is proper and appropriate. This time of year is a reminder to says things you may usually only think to yourself. Positive feedback is energizing, and hopefully the person you provide it to pays it forward. Plus, it has the added bonus of making you or the other person feel good, making it a great way to go through life.

Think about how to make gratitude part of your daily life and have a great Thanksgiving.

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Prepare, prepare, prepare

A recent experience reminded me why preparation matters to all of us heading into an important meeting, presentation, or even a networking event. I called a client to set up time to prepare for an important meeting. The client didn’t understand why we needed to meet and thought we would meet with the other side and see what they had to say. Even though this is a common misconception, it reminded me that many people don’t prepare and just wing it. Many of those people thinks that’s how most people do it. That’s how most people do it who end up not obtaining the outcome they hoped for.

Based on my client’s response, I had to explain why preparation matters if she wanted to achieve the best possible result. In this instance the meeting involved a negotiation between two people with a similar main goal in a situation where only one could reach it. The type of negotiation we were going to be involved in requires strategy and therefore calls for preparation and planning. As I explained to my client, why wouldn’t you prepare for such an important meeting?

It begs the question as to why any of us wouldn’t prepare for an important event or conversation. Defining your goals, knowing the message you want to communicate, and trying to roadmap responses to anticipated obstacles provides a foundation to work from instead of winging it. It allows you to make sure you and your positions are understood and will set you up to achieve your goals or desired results.

In the big picture, being known as someone who is prepared also will bolster your reputation and what others who deal with you think about you. And remember, reputation is everything.

So prepare, prepare, prepare, and see where it gets you. If not you stand a great chance of living what Benjamin Franklin smartly said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

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Find comfort in discomfort

I recently read a quote that said something along the lines of anyone living at the edge of their comfort zone has imposter syndrome and if they don’t, they need to go further. The point of course is to continually push yourself further and harder, to always be striving for more. If you’re comfortable you may remain so for a time, but someone will come along, push you from your perch and pass you by. Instead, enjoy your successes and then challenge yourself to do better, to do more.

In my world I live in a state of constant discomfort purposefully. I have to mostly reinvent my law practice every year by continually bringing in new business because most of my clients have discreet deals or issues and are not a source of continual business. Based on this I set goals each year on the amount of business I hope to generate and then have to go about putting in the time and work to do so. Even when my year is going well, I’m aware that it takes one or two slow months to knock me off track. I use this purposeful discomfort to keep focus on my goals and taking the steps and actions to put me in the best position to reach them. For me, this has translated to success, but I am well aware if I sit back for any period of time all of this long building forward momentum will quickly fade.

I challenge you to look at your circumstances. Are you in your own state of purposeful discomfort looking to challenge yourself and grow or are you just cruising along, relying on past success and taking what comes your way? There are always steps you can take to move your life out of neutral and drive forward. This is another way to invest in yourself. When you improve or have success you need to look back at your hard work and give yourself credit while at the same time knowing and acknowledging that those around you helped take you to the next level. This should be a rinse and repeat exercise as you reach one goal and set a new one.

By doing this you always should be moving through stages of comfort and discomfort. You should be reaching or exceeding your goals and then setting new ones. To do so you have to realize there is no top of the mountain to reach in business. It’s a series of hard climbs to a false summit where you can rest in comfort for a moment before taking on the challenge of the next steep section of the climb. Conquering the steep sections is what brings satisfaction and enjoyment when you reach a summit. The fact is it’s up to you how high that mountain is and how far you climb.

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Weathering disappointment

We all experience inevitable setbacks and unforeseen challenges in various aspects of our lives. Much like weather patterns, disappointments are unpredictable and can come unexpectedly. These disappointments can manifest in personal relationships, career pursuits, or even everyday activities, causing you to feel frustration, sadness, or disillusionment. Weathering disappointment requires you to be resilient, adaptable, and maintain a positive mindset to navigate through the storm and emerge stronger on the other side.

We all have to come to terms with the fact that setbacks are a natural part of life. Just as weather conditions change, so do circumstances, and disappointments are an inherent part of the human experience. Embracing this reality can help you cope with setbacks more effectively, enabling you to bounce back with newfound determination and grit.

I regularly have to advise clients of good news and bad. One is more enjoyable to communicate than the other, but being able to communicate bad news is an important task and skill. The news I’m communicating can have a serious impact on my clients’ lives and businesses and may relate to a disappointing outcome for me professionally. Even when I am seriously disappointed with an outcome or situation that I may view as a professional failure or shortcoming by me or someone on my team, or a bad decision by a judge, I have to put that disappointment and frustration to the side and take the next step in speaking with my client, acknowledging how the news will impact them. These situations bring up other life lessons including expressing empathy and learning to walk in my client’s shoes.

Furthermore, disappointment often serves as a valuable teacher. It teaches you to be patient, flexible, and resourceful. Just as you prepare for unexpected weather changes by carrying an umbrella or wearing layers, you can prepare for life’s disappointments by developing coping mechanisms, seeking support from co-workers, family, or friends, and cultivating a positive mindset. In the face of disappointment, you can learn to recalibrate your expectations, set realistic goals, and find alternative paths to achieve your objectives.

Last night I watched the Arizona Diamondbacks get behind the Texas Rangers by a score of 10-0 in the third inning of the fourth game of the World Series. It was early in the game that, at that point, seemed like an inevitable loss. The Diamondbacks did lose, but by a score of 11-7. The team could have phoned it in and looked to the next game. Instead, they scored 6 runs in the last two innings, never giving up despite how disappointing it had to be to let up 10 runs to the Rangers over two early innings in the game.

Watching, I saw this as a lesson in knowing things can change fast and bring profound disappointment. Just as the Rangers had big innings, the Diamondbacks could too. Of course, in the game of life it also is important to know when to throw in the towel and move on, but that is a topic for another day.

When you weather disappointment it can foster personal growth and resilience. Adversity has the power to reveal your inner strength and character. Overcoming disappointments requires tenacity and the ability to learn from failures, leading to increased self-awareness and emotional intelligence. When you navigate through disappointments with grace and perseverance you often emerge wiser and more resilient, equipped to handle future challenges with greater ease.

Even though disappointment is an unavoidable aspect of life, learning skills to deal with it can make those moments easier to navigate and faster to pass. By acknowledging the inevitability of disappointing moments and embracing the lessons they offer, you can develop the resilience and adaptability needed to overcome setbacks. Weathering disappointment with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn will lead you to less stress and better outcomes in disappointing and frustrating moments in the future.

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Follow curiosity

Following curiosity in your profession or work can be transformative, leading to innovation, personal growth, and ultimately, success. Curiosity is the engine of learning, driving you to explore new ideas, technologies, and methodologies. It often leads to you asking the right questions, challenging existing norms, and finding unconventional solutions to complex problems. When you follow your curiosity, you are more likely to immerse yourself deeply in your work, which helps you uncover your hidden potential and discover innovative approaches that can set you apart in your career.

Embracing curiosity in the workplace also fosters a culture of continuous learning and development. When people are curious they are more open to acquiring new skills, adapting to changes, and staying updated with the latest industry trends, all of which benefit you and your business. In fast-paced and ever-changing environments, this willingness to learn and explore is invaluable. It enables you and those around you to remain agile and relevant, ensuring all are equipped to handle new challenges and capitalize on emerging opportunities.

I always am willing to learn and try new things. That is how I started writing this blog. I just wanted to try something new and write about topics that interested me. My thought (and hope) was that if I found the topics interesting, so would others. And I didn’t want it to be a legal blog discussing new cases and law, which would have limited the audience and who would find it interesting or useful. My tagline, “Some business, some law, some thoughts” has allowed me the space to write about so many interesting topics directly and indirectly relevant to my legal practice, as well as learning much along the way, and connecting with so many others interested in the same types of topics. This curiosity has created opportunities for me and resulted in great connections I wouldn’t otherwise have.

In my experience, curiosity also can lead to interdisciplinary thinking. What I mean is that when you explore topics outside of your immediate field, you can draw connections between seemingly unrelated concepts. This interdisciplinary perspective can lead to groundbreaking ideas and solutions that might not have been apparent to you within the narrow scope of work you focus on daily. Many innovative ideas can lead to breakthroughs and new connections when you follow your curiosity beyond the boundaries of your expertise.

In addition to personal and professional growth, I think curiosity also fuels creativity. When you are curious, you are more likely to experiment, take risks, and think outside the box, such as when I decided to start this blog, not knowing for sure what I would write about or where it would lead. This type of creative mindset can lead you to the develop unique ideas, products, services, or processes, giving you a competitive edge in your line of work and therefore the market. The point is to continuously being trying new things.

If you follow your curiosity you will find that your work is not just a pathway to leveling up or seeking more income and power; it is a gateway to innovation, creativity, adaptability, and opportunity. By being curious yourself and encouraging a culture of curiosity, you can help others you deal with and your company to thrive in the face of challenges, thereby fostering a dynamic and innovative work environment that drives you and your business to continuous progress and success.

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Living “everything all at once” is harder than you think

I recently heard someone at a networking event I attended seemingly trying to impress others in a conversation by forcefully stating how he lived the mantra “everything all at once” as if he was trying to win a race. My first thought was if you have to say it out loud and in that manner it likely isn’t true. My second thought was about what that phrase really means generally and in relation to my live and of those around me. It caused me to reflect on how I and others I know live trying to balance numerous aspects of life simultaneously, whether it’s managing work, family, social obligations, personal hobbies, or self-care.

The statement “everything all at once” captures the essence of modern life, where the pace of change and the demands on our time and attention often feel overwhelming. In an era of constant connectivity and rapid information exchange, all of us are bombarded with myriad tasks, responsibilities, and choices. Think about your day today and what’s ahead of you. Are you going to be singularly focused on a task or person or are you going to be trying to finish multiple projects while keeping up with email, texts, answering phone calls, and questions from your team?

This phrase or concept speaks to me about the challenges of multitasking in our fast-paced world. You may find yourself juggling multiple roles and responsibilities, often feeling stretched thin as you try to excel in your career, nurture relationships, pursue personal passions, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The pressure to excel in every area of life leads to stress, burnout, and a sense of inadequacy, as we each struggle to meet the high standards set by society and, more likely, ourselves.

On the positive side, for me, “everything all at once” also encapsulates the spirit of ambition and the drive for success. It embodies the mindset I want to have because it speaks to taking on challenges, embrace opportunities, and pursue goals with passion and determination. It speaks to the human capacity for resilience and adaptability, as each of us finds ways to navigate the complexities of life and achieve our goals despite the overwhelming nature of day to day life.

This phrase also brings to mind the importance of balance and prioritization. While it’s impossible to do everything simultaneously, each of us can learn to manage our time effectively, set realistic goals, and prioritize tasks based on importance and impact. By focusing on what truly matters and letting go of the unnecessary, we each can strive to find a sense of control and fulfillment amid the chaos.

With the complexity of modern existence, where we all are constantly pulled in multiple directions, we have to face the challenges of managing diverse aspects of life while embodying the human spirit of resilience and ambition. If you can strike a balance amidst these demands, which I think is crucial, you can better navigate the intricacies of life successfully.

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You have to play to win

This is a fundamental truth in business: success doesn’t come to those who sit on the sidelines, but to those who actively participate, take risks, and make strategic moves. In the competitive arena of business, companies and entrepreneurs must be proactive, innovative, and willing to engage in the market actively. This means launching new products, exploring untapped markets, and embracing change and technology.

One crucial aspect of this concept is risk-taking. Business inherently involves uncertainties and risks. Those who fear failure and avoid risks might miss out on potentially groundbreaking opportunities. Calculated risks, backed by thorough research and analysis, often lead to innovative solutions and significant advancements. No one becomes successful by playing it safe and not taking risks.

This applies to all of this. For an attorney like me, it means investing in myself though my time and efforts. This could take the form of networking and business development activities, getting to know those I work with better to be better able to cross-market, or even learning ways to us AI in my practice. Doing this has lead to interesting work and success.

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of a proactive mindset. You must continuously evolve to meet changing customer demands and market trends. Those who rest on past successes without adapting to new challenges risk becoming obsolete. Embracing innovation and being open to change are vital strategies for long-term success. There is another saying, which is either you change or you die. Of course, this is in a business sense, but you get the idea.

Networking and strategic partnerships also play a crucial role in this context. Engaging with other businesses, forming alliances, and participating in industry events create opportunities for collaboration, learning, and growth. By actively participating in the business ecosystem, you and other businesspeople can leverage each other’s strengths and create mutually beneficial outcomes.

I view networking and business development to be contact sports in that if I am not in contact with people inside and outside my firm I can’t expect work to just magically come my way. Instead I view it as a challenge along with staying up to date on the inevitable changes in business and the law.

If you’re already working and living this way you know this, but if not, it’s a powerful reminder to you that success is not a passive outcome but an active pursuit. It encourages a proactive, innovative, and risk-taking mindset, essential qualities for thriving in the dynamic and competitive world of business. By actively engaging with the market, embracing change, and fostering strategic collaborations, you can position yourself for long-term success and growth.

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Mood follows action

This statement encapsulates a powerful psychological principle that emphasizes the direct connection between your actions and your emotional states. This phrase suggests that your emotions are not just passive responses to the world around you but are also influenced by the way you choose to behave. In other words, your actions can shape your moods and overall emotional well-being.

When you engage in positive actions, such as exercising, helping others, or pursuing hobbies, your brain releases neurotransmitters like endorphins and serotonin, which are associated with feelings of happiness and contentment. Conversely, when you engage in negative actions or behaviors, such as procrastination, dwelling on negative thoughts, or avoiding responsibilities, your mood can plummet, leading to feelings of stress, anxiety, or sadness.

Understanding the concept of “mood follows action” empowers you to take control of your emotional states. Instead of waiting for the right mood to strike before taking positive actions, you can initiate those actions regardless of how you feel initially. By doing so, you can break the cycle of negative emotions and create a positive feedback loop. For example, even on days when you feel low, forcing yourself to engage in a physical activity, spend time with loved ones, or do something that brings you joy can uplift your mood significantly.

This principle is particularly valuable in the context of day to day live. When you are finding it challenging to muster the motivation to engage in activities, taking positive actions can directly impact your mood. It allows you to find the strength to initiate small, positive changes, which can gradually lead to improved emotional well-being.

Living in this manner serves as a reminder that you have the ability to influence your emotions through your behavior. By choosing positive actions, even in the face of negative emotions, you can proactively work towards improving your mood and overall quality of life. And this is a good goal to work towards each day.

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Don’t compare yourself to other people

This concept sounds so easy in theory but is very difficult for many people. It carries great significance in personal development and mental well-being. This simple yet powerful mantra encourages you to focus on your own journey and aspirations without getting caught up in the trap of constant comparison.

It seems obvious that comparing yourself to others can be detrimental to your self-esteem and self-worth. It’s easy to fall into the cycle of feeling inadequate or envious when you perceive others as more successful, attractive, or accomplished. This negative self-comparison can lead to feelings of insecurity and anxiety, hindering your ability to reach your full potential.

Everyone’s life is unique, and your circumstances, experiences, and goals differ significantly. Comparing yourself to others is often an unfair and unhelpful exercise because it ignores the complexities of your own path. Embracing your individuality and recognizing that your journey is distinct can lead to greater self-acceptance and personal growth.

In the realm of personal and professional development, focusing on your own progress and aspirations is essential. While it’s natural to seek inspiration from others, it’s vital to remember that your goals and timeline are unique to you. By concentrating on your own growth and milestones, you can channel your energy and efforts into continuous self-improvement and success.

The fact is that not comparing yourself to other people encourages a healthier, more positive mindset. It promotes self-acceptance, reduces stress, and fosters a greater sense of contentment. Embrace your individuality, set your own standards, and measure your success based on your unique journey rather than constantly comparing yourself to others. This perspective can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

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Don’t play the hypothetical game

You need to focus on the present and concrete realities of a situation or event rather than getting lost in speculative scenarios. Constantly dwelling on hypothetical situations can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. People often waste precious mental energy worrying about “what if” scenarios that likely will never come to pass. By not playing the hypothetical game, you free yourself from these burdens and can concentrate on addressing actual challenges and opportunities.

Similarly, businesses thrive on informed decisions based on real data and situations. Engaging in hypothetical discussions in your mind or in a group setting without a solid foundation can lead to confusion, wasted resources, and poor outcomes. Leaders and teams should prioritize objective analysis and practical solutions over endless conjecture.

For years I used to playout how important conversations or a hearing in front of a court could play out. In not one of those experiences did the reality match any of the hours I wasted creating and playing out scenarios in my mind. It took me a long time to stop playing the hypothetical game, but in the years since I stopped it has saved me countless hours and unnecessary stress. Instead, I plan well, outline, and use other tools and ideas to be prepared for whatever happens.

Avoiding the hypothetical game also encourages accountability. When individuals take responsibility for their actions in the present rather than deflecting blame onto hypothetical circumstances, it fosters a culture of ownership and problem-solving. This mindset is crucial for personal growth and success in both personal and professional spheres.

When you make the conscious choice to not play the hypothetical game you stay grounded in reality and make decisions based on facts and actual situations. This promotes mental clarity, reduces stress, enhances decision-making, and fosters a culture of accountability. Embracing this principle will lead you to a more effective, efficient, and fulfilling life, both personally and professionally.

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