What absolutely motivates and fascinates you about the practice of law? If you’re not at least fascinated and thrilled about some aspect of our profession, it’s time to find something else to do. Seriously.
When you are in the zone, you’re doing work that few others can do as well. You’re not only good at what you do, you’re the best, and you’ve loving every moment. This, my friend, is the sweet spot that most of us ignore.
Even for those who are aware of their Unique Ability (“Unique Ability” is a registered trademark of The Strategic Coach, Inc.), very few of us spend time there. We hustle to court conferences, respond to motions and deal with the little emergencies that pop up, but for more than 90% of the time, we’re not living a life of design and intention…and that’s a damn shame. What would your law firm look like if you could spend all of your time doing the work that fascinates and motivates you?
Step #1: Finding Your Unique Ability
Begin by listing all of the activities that you are doing this week at work–not all activities are equal. Unique Ability combines your passion and superior skill. Do you have both passion and superior skill in what you’re doing? If so, you’ve found your Unique Ability.
Label each activity: “U”, “E”, “C” or “I”:
- “U”: Unique Ability (you have superior skill and passion)
- “E”: Excellent (you have superior skill, but no passion)
- “C:” Competent (you’re okay at the activity, but you don’t excel)
- “I”: Incompetent (you’re not good at this)
When you are in your Unique Ability, you not only have superior skill, you love doing this activity, and there is never-ending improvement. This is the epicenter of joy—you are doing the things you love and deliver superior skill. This is your Unique Ability and it’s special.
Your Highest Revenue Generating Activities
To get started, think of your five highest revenue generating activities, i.e., what do you do that brings money to your law firm.
My 6 Highest Revenue-Generating Activities:
- Daily updates to our referral partners on the status of a referred case,
- Documenting and implementing policies and systems for the operation of our law firm and case management,
- Writing articles for lawyers about management and marketing for lawyers, i.e., email newsletters, print newsletter and book,
- Weekly lunch dates with prospective referral partners and current referral partners,
- Quarterly strategic planning with our staff for marketing and management of law firm,
- Speaking at seminars and forming new relationships with prospective referral partners.
Your Unique Ability evolves throughout your life and keeps getting better the more you apply it. This is like being in the zone. Never delegate your Unique Ability.
Step #2: Spending More Time in Your Unique Ability
Build your weekly plan around your Unique Ability—that is the goal. Think of those activities that only you can do; if you’re only spending 10% of your time in your Unique Ability, it’s time for a change. All progress starts by telling the truth.
Begin by taking inventory of everything you do at work. Share your activity inventory with team and show them what your Unique Ability is. Your Unique Ability will get sharper and sharper—refine this as you go along.
“What is the single focus and activity that you would keep you absolutely fascinated and motivated for the rest for the rest of your life?”
Flat out stop doing certain things and be clear and intentional about what you’re doing. Constantly ask yourself:
- Why am I doing this?
- What can you hire someone else to do?
Do the work that you want to do, and don’t do the work you don’t want to do—it’s that simple. If it’s not unique ability, you need to hire it out. Delegate early and often. When you delegate, that’s an investment in yourself. The more time you free up, the more innovative and exciting your work becomes.
Schedule Focus Days
Once you’ve delegated everything that someone else can do, schedule a date to focus on the activities that fascinate you. Focus days are about productivity, where you get things done and work on things you enjoy. There are no interruptions and you focus on the works that matters the most. Plan and schedule Focus Days 2 to 3 weeks in advance.
My most productive time (a/k/a Focus Day) consists of:
- Zero Interruptions,
- Time alone in thought,
- Getting work done,
- Being proactive rather than reactive
Where does this happen? Not in the office—the workplace is full of interruptions that make it hard to be productive. Get out of your office and find a place where no one can find you, e.g., public library. Turn off your cell phone and internet and you have a block of 10 hours of uninterrupted time to work and think. And you will be crazy productive!
Step #3: Find Your Unique Ability Team
What is the most important asset your law firm has? YOU. Are you worth investing in? Sometimes we have a tendency to invest in ourselves last, but we should invest in ourselves first. Hiring the right team is an investment in your Unique Ability.
What do you hate doing? If you stink at organization and technology, find someone who excels in those areas. Let your paralegal respond to email, update clients and draft discovery responses and demands. Treat every minute of your time as if it’s precious diamond.
Build a team of superstars and be ruthless in enforcing your policies. Don’t micromanage your team—get the right people on the bus and let them do their thing. And when you find the right person, overpay them and eliminate the possibility that they will leave you.
Step #4: Getting Your Team to Work in Their Unique Ability
Productivity is all about your Unique Ability and the Unique Ability of your team. Everyone should be working, as much as possible, within your Unique Ability. Have your staff identify their Unique Ability and move their work into what they are most passionate about.
Ask your staff:
- What do you enjoy doing more than anything else?
- What is your idea of a perfect workday?
- How can I make your job easier for you?
Once you know what your staff loves doing, give them support, e.g., hire an administrative assistant for your paralegal. If your 20-year old receptionist spends her spare time on social media, ask them to post photos to your firm’s Facebook page and Google My Business profile. Help your staff find their Unique Ability, so they love coming to work (and know you care about them).
Step #5: Taking Your Unique Ability to Your Personal Life
This is not just for business—it’s your personal life too. What do you love doing more than anything else? Mowing the lawn and picking up the laundry? Not quite. Delegate everything you can to a minimum wage worker and spend your time on the things you love doing, e.g., spending carefree time with your spouse and kids on vacation.
“A Free Day is foundational to you being extraordinary. It changes everything.”
For 24 hours, there should be no business reading or thinking about your law firm and zero communication with the office. Plan these days in advance and plan vacations a year in advance. A free day might consist of:
- No work,
- No reading business books,
- No emails,
- No office communication
When you take your family on vacation, don’t check your email, not even once. Turn off your cell phone and give your time to those who matter most. Because at the end of your life, you won’t regret that you didn’t work more or make more money—you’ll regret you didn’t spend more time with your family.
Every day is a gift for you. If you want an extraordinary life, you have no choice—you must work in your Unique Ability, at least more than 50% of the time. When you spend 85% of your time in your Unique Ability, it is a virtual certainty that you will live an amazing life.