If you’ve been reading my “stuff” over the past five years, you know that I always try to provide valuable takeaways and tips to improve your business development. This article is going to be a little bit different, in that I’m going to help you, the reader, figure out if hiring a coach to help grow your law practice is a good idea or not. After reading this, you should have some level of clarity on where you stand on the subject (if you’ve ever wondered). The easiest way to do this is to share characteristics of lawyers who will simply not be successful working with a coach. As a public service announcement, hiring a coach is a very personal decision and is not right for everyone (especially the people with the traits about to be named).
Type #1. The narcissist
If feelings of empathy and being humble escape you, you may have some narcissistic tendencies. That being said, if you do, you wouldn’t admit to it anyway. People who know everything and feel the world revolves around them are not good candidates for coaching. Working with a coach involves being vulnerable, opening up about weaknesses that are holding you back and accepting advice or ideas that might vary from your own. Generally speaking, a narcissist knows everything already. Just ask him.
Type #2. The objector
“Your Honor, I object!” Skillfully objecting in a courtroom to aggressively represent your client is one thing but may be problematic when working with a coach. If you find yourself being closed-minded and negative about most things, hiring a coach to make improvements in your life/business might be a challenge.
A way to see if there’s hope for you yet is to ask yourself, “Am I an optimist or a pessimist?” If you’re the latter, it may be good to surround yourself with someone positive and inspiring to help you turn a more positive corner. If you hated this last sentence, then coaching is still not for you.
Type #3. The excuse generator
Did the dog eat your homework? Did your car “break down?” Were you too busy to call back that client? One of the reasons people get value working with a coach is the accountability. However, if you are an excuse machine, you may be too broken to invest in coaching. Maybe try a psychologist.
One of the main benefits of coaching is that you have an accountability partner who can help you get stuff done. Just today I obtained a commitment from my client to send out five emails before the end of the day. The bcc’s will be in my inbox by 5:30 p.m. or else! I’m not sure what “or else” is, but he’s on board. Not knowing or understanding how to do something is fixable. Creating excuses and blowing off commitments is unacceptable. I’ve fired a few clients in my day for wasting my time and blowing smoke up my you know what.
Type #4. The short-sighted
Would you step over dollars to pick up pennies? Most attorneys do that every day when working to build a successful law practice. Sometimes I actually do the math with a new prospective client so he/she can understand what’s at stake. Think about it, your time is literally money. It’s what you’re selling. Ask yourself two questions:
- “What is my time really worth?” Some of the lawyers I’ve worked with invest hundreds of unproductive hours a year doing business development with little to show for it.
- “What’s the opportunity cost of missing or losing new business opportunities?” Whether you’re looking for $3,500 dollar estate plans or $500,000 litigation matters, not having a proven system for locking up that business could be costing you big money every year.
- Use this formula: P + F = T (Past $ + Future $ = Total dollars lost). It’s not just the past years where you’ve lost business/opportunities, but the future as well.
Being short-sighted means that for years you’re choosing to struggle– or just maintain– on your own. One of the key benefits to coaching is learning better processes and efficiencies that cut back on your “self-taught” learning curve.
Type #5. The penny-pincher
No joke, my 14-year-old son thinks this is me. I try to explain to him that I’m all about the value of things, but he’s too young and immature to know the difference. My own family matters aside, ask yourself, “What’s a good return on investment for me?” The state of the stock market at the end of 2020 was about 16% growth. Wow, pretty good. If you put in $10,000 dollars, your return would be $1,600. Not too shabby. What about investing in your own career? What are the possibilities?
In a recent BE THAT LAWYER podcast interview with a local recruiter, he shared the difference in income between a service partner and a rainmaker with $1 million year in originations. It’s staggeringly different. You must look at working on yourself as an investment greater than any other. It’s all about unleashing your best self and creating best practices to live and work by.
I’ll wrap up with a word of warning. All coaches, advisors and mentors are NOT created equal or may not fit your personality. You need to find a coach who is a good fit for YOU to ensure success. Be sure to properly evaluate and qualify before engaging. A good idea is to speak with a few of their past clients to hear their stories or ask if the coach will provide a one-time coaching session to test the waters a bit. Coaching can be a game-changer for you if you DON’T possess any of the five characteristics mentioned in this piece. I can tell you from experience that I wouldn’t be a successful coach today had I not invested in many top coaches for myself over the past 20 years.