This is one of those topics that comes straight from the well of what I do here at Law Firm Mentor; coaching lawyers on how to look at things from a different perspective.
Oftentimes, it’s a little tweak in the way we approach something that can bring traction.
Other times, we have to do something grandiose; something far different than what we were doing before. Because the most power tends to come when we are being ourselves and doing what we already know — just a little bit differently — that can make a dramatic change.
In this episode we discuss:
- 3 key strategies for how to get out of your comfort zone that will lead you to grow.
- The risk of comfort is the notion that growth feeds itself.
- The main goal is what will compel you to do the work that will lead to growth.
- How your lifestyle will grow and evolve with inflation.
- Staying in your comfort zone will never satisfy your true purpose.
SEE THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW
Allison Williams: [00:00:05] Hi, everybody. It’s Allison Williams here, your host of The Crushing Chaos was Law Firm Mentor podcast. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you to grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:26] Hi everyone. It’s Allison Williams here your Law Firm Mentor and welcome to another episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast, where today we’re going to talk about the risk of comfort.
Allison Williams: [00:00:38] Now, this is one of these topics that comes from straight out of the well of what I do here at Law Firm Mentor, which is I coach lawyers on how to look at things from a different perspective. Oftentimes it is just a little tweak in the way that we are approaching something that can get us a lot of traction. And many times we think we have to do something grandiose, something far different than what we were doing before. Whereas the most power tends to come when we are being ourselves, actually when we are doing what we already know to do, but we’re just doing it a little bit differently. That can make a huge dramatic change. And so this is one of these topics. The risk of comfort is what we’re going to talk about today.
Allison Williams: [00:01:20] And this is one of these topics where I see a lot of people falling into old habits very easily, myself included. So I’ll give you kind of a little anecdote. Over the weekend, I was in another state. I was attending a conference for what will be my third business, and I’m not talking about the business right now. This is really not about that. But I’ve launched a third business with a partner and my partner and I were attending an education course over the weekend and I remember sitting in the audience, we were kind of being walked through a process to do certain things and then we were told, Just go do it right now.
Allison Williams: [00:02:00] And I remember like the immediate cringe that I felt inside was, Well, no, no, I need more information, I need more guidance, I need more time. I can’t possibly do this now. And my partner’s attitude was, yeah, let’s just go do it. And I remember thinking, Oh my God, I had to unlearn this tendency. I have to want more, and more, and more, and more information in order to get to a place of comfort. Because comfort never really comes. And it is through the doing that you build up your reservoir of comfort with new activity.
Allison Williams: [00:02:32] And so I decided I would push myself and go ahead and take the steps that we needed to. And I was really happy that I did. Regardless of what the outcome is going to be of that activity. So something similar happened recently with a client of ours here at Law Firm Mentor. The client was dealing with an employee issue and at some point in time the person presented with, you know, kind of a scorecard, right? We have, we have what we refer to as the, the culture scorecard that we have our clients walk through, which evaluates the attitude, aptitude, and fit of potential employees, but also current employees. And so this person scorecard wasn’t phenomenal, but it wasn’t awful. It was a lot of aptitude, right? This is something that we also do as lawyers. We tend to lean heavily toward aptitude. There was a decent attitude, but there just wasn’t the cultural fit, the component of kind of what makes someone your person versus not your person. That last element was missing. And for this particular person she really struggled with, Do I let the person go or do I continue to coach them up? Because there are certain things that you can coach a person on, right? A shitty attitude. You’re never going to coach a person out of. But if a person just doesn’t have the right attitude for approaching something, maybe they are very fearful. So when it’s time to market, they’re very resistant to doing that or maybe they have a, a less than admirable money mindset. And so when it’s time to have conversations with clients, they’re not willing to do that.
Allison Williams: [00:04:13] And so you have to think about where a person is as a human and consider the investment that’s appropriate, the return on your investment being that if you spend the time in the energy to coach them and train them and develop them, that they may ultimately pan out. But you do have to make that assessment based on the totality of their scorecard. So we help this particular person see that their employee really was just not the right employee.
Allison Williams: [00:04:40] And on the, on the tail end of that conversation, the person got to, yeah, I want to let this person go. However. Right. There’s always that however. However I can’t do that until. And then the until was always followed by an ellipsis. Right until dot, dot, dot. There’s some terminal event in the future. And what I urge the attorney to look at was if you want to set criteria as to when you’re going to enter or exit people from your company, you absolutely can and should do that. But what you shouldn’t do is allow yourself some broad, esoteric, defined, open-ended. I’ll let the person go when I don’t know when Mercury meets retrograde. So some, some standard that never really comes or is always open to change or is always flexible so that you can waffle on the decision.
Allison Williams: [00:05:38] So what this particular person learned through our coaching session was that ultimately they were holding on to the comfort of the devil that you know versus the devil that you don’t know. And we all do that sometimes, but we had to really focus this person in on recognizing the devil that you know is still a devil. Right. Let’s not go replace the devil that you know with the devil you don’t know. Let’s replace the devil you know with an angel that you don’t know, Right? And so we ultimately got that person to make a decision.
Allison Williams: [00:06:11] But I remember kind of contemplating that and really thinking about my own experience over the weekend through the lens of comfort. And it really is just such a hard-wired desire that we have for personal comfort that we oftentimes will block the blessings will limit our growth. We will stunt our own accelerated growth in a company by virtue of holding on to comfort. So those are two very small examples.
Allison Williams: [00:06:38] But I want to give you just a little framework to think about comfort and the risk of comfort so that when you are approaching challenges in your business, you will look at them through a different lens as well.
Allison Williams: [00:06:50] All right. So the first risk of comfort now, this is when I say comfort, I’m going to talk about comfort globally as a desire to stand still. Desire to hunker down, desire not to grow. Because as we have talked about many, many times on this podcast, if you are not growing, you are dying. So the question becomes, what happens if I am not growing in a particular instance? You know, should I push myself out of comfort to do something or should I kind of hold still until I feel ready? And so comfort can mean the failure to hire, the failure to fire, the failure to invest in marketing, the failure to launch a new sales initiative, the failure to take some defined activity that is reasonably calculated to lead to growth. If you are holding back on that because you are fearful that on some level you’re going to make a mistake, you’re going to be judged, you’re going to put your finances at risk. If you are so risk averse, that comfort is the instinct that you are perpetually going to, That’s really where the risk arises and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Allison Williams: [00:08:02] Okay. So the very first criteria I want to talk about when we talk about the risk of comfort is the notion that growth feeds itself. And what I mean by that is when you start growing, your desire will always be oriented toward more growth. Now, that doesn’t mean that if you start at a law firm of one, you, yourself, and you, me, myself, and I. Right. It doesn’t mean that if you have that, that you are inherently going to want a mega-firm in the future. Right. There is a an instinct to grow. But growing doesn’t mean growing your body count. Growing can mean growing your revenue. It can mean growing your free time. It can mean growing both. Usually, for lawyers, it is growing both. It can mean growing your, your reach, right? You could be taking on clients all across the United States, even all across the world, depending on what you do for a living.
Allison Williams: [00:08:58] So growing just means that you want more of something than you currently have. And that is a very real human instinct. We are always oriented toward more, and I’ve said this before, like even when we talk about kind of the minimalist view, the perspective that, Oh, I want to have a virtual law firm and I just want me and maybe a virtual assistant and I want to practice all over the world and not have to deal with people. A whole lot of lawyers have that mindset until they realize that even in that they are seeking more, right? They’re seeking more of what they desire, more of what they currently have, but not in enough quantity to make them fully satisfied. So that can mean you want more time. That could mean you want more freedom. It could mean you want more ability to travel. It could mean you want more enjoyment out of the sight of the location, the esthetics, the beauty of your environment. But whatever it is, you are still seeking more, even as you are eliminating things in order to get to that more for yourself.
Allison Williams: [00:09:58] But when you think about growth in general, growth feeds on itself. And the challenge that a lot of us have is that there is a, an attitude that we have, especially when you start talking about the middle-class mindset that says at some point you have earned enough, right? There’s a limited quantity. Don’t be selfish. Don’t be a pig. Don’t take more for yourself than you are entitled to. And there’s a whole host of problems with that attitude, right? If you don’t truly believe in abundance, then you won’t be able to create more for yourself, which tends to restrict more that you could give to and help others with as well. You’re cutting off the very source of the supply that you seem to feel is in limited quantities.
Allison Williams: [00:10:44] But when you think about the idea that growing for itself, right, growing your business, growing your personal wellbeing, growing your physical health, growing your emotional health, whatever it is that you’re focusing on, when you think about growing in that way, there’s always this dopamine hit that kicks in in the brain when you start down a trajectory and that trajectory starts to gain momentum, right? So if you are growing your revenue and you start to really count those dollars and you start to see it adding up, you tend to want more of that. And it’s not just because you have some defined goal.
Allison Williams: [00:11:22] I mean, oftentimes the goal is what will compel you to do the work that will lead to the growth. But the growth in and of itself is something that is exciting because you have started down a path of wanting more, so that achieving more than becomes the next big thing. And that in and of itself is not problematic. It really is the nature of the human being to want more. So you have to keep in mind that when you get, get to a certain point, right, you’re doing the activity, you’re creating a momentum. Once you get to a certain point of rinse and repeat, there will have to be some new iteration, some new activity that you haven’t yet done that will ultimately propel you to the next level. And it’s there that we get into the comfort zone or we try to hold on to our comfort zone.
Allison Williams: [00:12:12] The challenge, of course, is that if you don’t do the next thing, you’re never going to get to the next level. So you oftentimes will find that people will stall out at some point because they ultimately are just not willing to push themselves anymore. Right. They’re not willing to do that extra amount of reps in order to achieve the fitness goal. They’re not willing to hire the next person or invest the next amount of money in order to get to the next financial goal. There’s always something that will get us to a place of comfort, and then we look for the security in staying in that comfort zone. So you have to recognize that growth will always lead to more growth and knowing that going in can really help us when we start to hunker down for comfort, to remind ourselves, Oh, wait, this is me seeking comfort. This is not really the way it is supposed to be.
Allison Williams: [00:13:01] All right. Number two, the next thing I want to talk about when we talk about the risk of comfort is that your lifestyle grows with inflation. Now, right now and this is I’m recording this podcast in October of 2022, right? We have a significant amount of inflation. This is a high rate of inflation, higher than it’s been in a very long time. So when I talk about inflation here, most people would probably immediately instinctually think about the inflation that’s going on in our current US economy. But that’s really a concept that we’re talking about. It could apply in this time. It applied 20 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago. Inflation as a concept is the idea that over the course of time, goods and services will cost you more. Your lifestyle will also be growing as inflation occurs.
Allison Williams: [00:13:53] So the thing that I think is really important to keep in mind and we talked about this before in talking about the necessity of growth, is that you have to keep in mind that as you are investing in your business, what you do today is not going to be sufficient for what you will need to do tomorrow, in the next day, and the next day, and the next day. Right. Today’s dollar is not going to be worth the same a year from now, or two years from now, or five years from now. And similarly, your lifestyle is not going to cost the same today as it will a year from now, two years from now, five years from now, and so forth. And that is true know, I’m trying to say irrespective, but then I’m also thinking irregardless. I don’t know why. By the way, irregardless became a thing. Just a little tangent or a minute here. I’ve heard people say irregardless. It’s like regardless or irrespective. But either way, let’s not merge those two words.
Allison Williams: [00:14:46] Regardless of whether or not you have a rate of inflation, what you desire today is going to continue to grow as you are experiencing more. So I want you to think about this in terms of children. And I take it to children because children are the least restrained of all humans. By the time that you become an adult, you have been domesticated out of a lot of your natural instincts.
Allison Williams: [00:15:12] But when we think about our natural instincts, you see it most prevalent in children. And so when we think about a child, you start to give them an experience of things. And I have a friend who’s done this very, very well. Her daughter is now in college, and she very much wants the finer things in life, Right. When it’s time for her to get a handbag, she doesn’t want a handbag that you could pick up at Target. She wants a Louis Vuitton. Right. You know, despite the fact that she doesn’t have a job and mom and dad are going to be paying for the new handbag, that she has to have, that handbag minimally has to be a Louis Vuitton. And I remember watching some social commentary not that long ago when we were talking about how people now the low-end, high-quality handbag is considered a Louis Vuitton. But once upon a time it was coach, right? It was Michael Kors, right. Something in the couple hundred dollars range instead of the couple thousand dollars range. And at some point we will probably elevate to where it’s Prada, and it’s Gucci, and it’s Dior. Right. The, the few thousand dollar to five-figure handbag, because as you experience more as something becomes more prevalently available and more people can get access to it, then you have more people talking about it, more people desiring it, more people posting about it, bragging about it, advertising about it and so forth. And next thing you know, everyone sees it, everyone wants it.
Allison Williams: [00:16:42] Because we’ve talked about this before. No one wants to cap the Parcheesi club. Everyone wants the captain of the football team. So when you think about just generally how consumerism is one aspect of it, right? This is not just true in consumerism. It’s also true when you think about movements, right? Social change movements also feed on themselves because a person gets an idea, they share that idea, and then it becomes the popular thing to buy into that idea. That’s how political parties took power, right?
Allison Williams: [00:17:12] So it’s the idea that your lifestyle and in this instance we’re talking about lifestyle as a conglomeration of ideas and philosophies and experiences. Your lifestyle is ultimately going to continue to grow and evolve, and that is going to take more resources and it also is going to take more of your time.
Allison Williams: [00:17:33] So when you think about the idea that you can get your business to a place where you’re just satiated, right, we’re comfortable, we’re doing well, everything’s okay. And then it’s time to create more so that we can fund that lifestyle and not just for you, but also for people around you, also for your employees. Right. The idea that you’re not going to be able to keep up if you just stay still is a very real risk. And I don’t think that most lawyers like to think about it. I think we kind of marry ourselves into the idea that I’m okay today by virtue of having created what I created, that you will always require more tomorrow than you require today.
Allison Williams: [00:18:15] And that’s a real threat. And so a lot of people try to restrict their expenses after a certain point. It’s kind of like, okay, I’ve marketed myself up to a certain size and now I have enough referral, and enough referrals coming in or enough repeat clients that I don’t have to worry so much I can cut back in certain areas, I don’t have to grow. And that might be true in the short term. But the reality is at some point your lifestyle, all the things that comprise how you’re living today as you desire more 2.1 you’re going to need more in point 2 to ultimately fund that lifestyle and whether that be through time or money or just the experience of how you practice law, that’s a very real threat. So you have to be thinking about how can I avert that threat? And growth is the way to ultimately achieve that.
Allison Williams: [00:19:04] Number three now, this one is probably the one that most people have heard at some point in time in the past they might have thought about in terms of their law firm, but it may not have sunk in. So I really want you to spend some time thinking about this point. Point number three, you are never going to satisfy your true purpose if you stay in your comfort zone.
Allison Williams: [00:19:28] Now, for some of us, what we think of as our true purpose may not necessarily be the practice of law, right? It may be the practice of law. For some people. They very much know that they love lawyering. They love being in the space of lawyers, they love being in the energy of processing transactions through the legal system or fighting for the underdog through the legal system, whatever your branch of law is, whether it’s transactional, litigation, or litigation, ultimately, you can have a purpose that’s connected to the law.
Allison Williams: [00:20:01] But for a lot of people, they went into law for some reason, separate and apart from a burning desire within. It may have been that your parents recommended it, or it may be that someone in your orbit said, Hey, I think you’d be good at this, right? You ultimately made a choice and now you’re here. So if you’re in business, the question becomes how can you optimize yourself in business to achieve what you want? What whether what you want is being more of the best lawyer that you can be or what you want is to do something else that requires the funds that can be generated through your business. Either way, it’s important that your business be the best it can be, so that you can be the best that you can be.
Allison Williams: [00:20:45] And so often I see people have a mindset that says, I don’t like whatever aspect of law I’ve gotten into, right? I don’t like this practice anymore. I don’t like these people anymore. I don’t like this service anymore. I want to run away. And if you can run away today and you know, and ultimately create the abundant lifestyle that you desire for yourself and the amount of time that’s required for yourself in some other mechanism, I’m never going to tell someone not to reach for what is ultimately in their heart. But for most people, it isn’t that you are trying to run away from your law firm because there is something acerbic in your law firm. Oftentimes it is that you are trying to run away from your law firm because the, the feeling of failure that you experience by virtue of not having it the way you want it, right, not being able to come and go as you please, not being able to generate a consistent high income, not being able to pay the people that you know, are doing very good work for you. The amount of income that you feel is appropriate to the level of skill that they’re bringing. Right. All of that tends to stew within a person to the point where they then feel a lot of resistance around what they’ve created. Right? I’ve created this law firm, but I don’t like it, right? I’ve created this law firm, but I have to work harder than I want to. And there’s all of these things that follow the but that you can correct around if you get the right help.
Allison Williams: [00:22:11] And I can’t tell you how amazing it is when you start to really look at and strategically align your thoughts around the idea that you can have so much more than you have right now if you only found the right strategy and we’re willing to implement the right strategy. You know, we just had recently one of our signature retreats. It’s called Thrive Tribe Tactics, and it’s all about people in law firms in lovely Saint Louis, Missouri, and following the event’s activities of day two, we had some of our clients give us testimonials for those that wanted to do so. And one of our clients talked about the fact that she had previously tried other programs. She was like, like a lot of lawyers, very resistant to spending money, wanted to spend as little as possible. I figured, I’ll read the books, I’ll download the premiums, I’ll get the, the marketing advice that’s online, and I’ll do it myself and get myself somewhere. And she had gotten herself to about a $300,000 law firm. But in a matter of the last two years that she’s working, working with Law Firm Mentor, she’s gotten herself well over $1,000,000 and still growing. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:23:22] So you think, okay, so this person was able to more than triple themselves in a matter of two years. How is that possible? Well, it really isn’t that challenging if you know what to do. But more importantly, it’s not just knowing what to do. It’s doing it. And having someone to hold your hand and walk you through as you are doing it. So that’s what we do here at Law Firm Mentor. If you want to learn more about that, you can click on the link below. We’d be happy to talk to you about what your business needs so that you can stay out of your comfort zone and do what’s necessary to take the risks that will get you to the next level.
Allison Williams: [00:23:55] All right, everyone, I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. You’ve been listening to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. I’ll see you on the next episode.
Allison Williams: [00:24:10] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast to learn more about today’s show and take advantage of the resources mentioned. Check out our show notes and if you enjoy today’s episode, take a moment to follow the podcast wherever you get your podcast and leave us a rating and review. This helps us to reach even more law firm owners from around the country who want to crush chaos in business and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor everyone. Have a great day.
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest-growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm by 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest-growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining, and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications, and money management in law firms.