The daylong flight from New York to Bangkok gave me time to reflect on the workshops I’d just conducted in Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York. I had the chance to sit across from 40 lawyers working hard to take their businesses to the next level. Many are crushing it, but many others are struggling. Running a business while keeping the clients happy is a complicated exercise of juggling chainsaws that have been set ablaze. It’s tricky and, if you’re not careful, you’ll lose an arm or worse.
There’s one thing that always jumps out at me when I listen to lawyers telling the stories of their successes and their struggles.
There’s one element that differentiates highly successful practices from others.
Early on in the workshop, I express my regret that we don’t have more time to focus on the creation of a vision. The process—the thinking required—to form a clear vision of the law practice you’re building requires more time than we have in a single-day workshop.
Formulating a vision requires talking to yourself and listening to yourself and imagining things that don’t yet exist. It requires digging deep, asking questions, reflecting, considering, and contemplating. It’s not something we can do in a workshop setting. I provide some basic information, tools, and ideas about the process, but the thinking—the deep contemplation—takes time that we don’t have in our day together.
But creating a vivid vision is the most important thing we’ve got to do to build a firm foundation for a successful business. It’s essential.
The vision informs every decision we make. The vision drives us. The vision inspires our team.
Without a vivid vision, we wallow around in the mix of serving clients, trying random marketing tactics, and implementing disparate technologies.
Without a vivid vision, we lack focus, direction, and a clear path from here to there.
Some, but not many, of the 40 lawyers at my workshops have clarity. They see it. They know where they’re going.
The difference between them and the others is remarkable. They’re the lawyers making the greatest strides. They’re the lawyers moving the fastest and going the farthest. They’re getting the job done while they grow and grow financially, intellectually, and emotionally. They’re not being dragged backward by doubt, indecision, and uncertainty. They see their path, and they’re following the deliberate course they set for their future.
Being able to see your vivid vision of your business at a future date is essential if you’re not satisfied with your current business. You must stop, think, and force yourself to see the future. You won’t get it exactly right, but you’ll move forward, and you’ll refine along the way. The vision inspires the road map required before you start moving.
If you’re lost, feel overloaded, and lack certainty about what to do next, then do these three things:
- Appointment. Make an appointment with yourself for thinking. It’s next to impossible to dream/think/imagine the future while working in the day-to-day messiness of client work. You’ve got to stop, go somewhere quiet, and think.
- Let go. Give yourself a blank slate. Disconnect from the expectations of others. Let go of what other lawyers are doing in their businesses. Think about yourself and figure out what matters to YOU. Figure out what you need from your business. Decide what’s important to you and build backward from that understanding. Many of us do what we believe we’re supposed to do instead of what we want to do. Figure out what matters to you.
- Think. Take the time required, over a period of days or weeks, to see it. Fast-forward 10 years and see what you’ve built. Then fix it. Tweak it. Twist it and turn it into what you need it to be to meet the requirements that matter to you in your life. Don’t rush it. Don’t expect it to come easily.
Creating a vision is the last thing most of us do. We’re busy. We’re on overload. We do the urgent. We don’t have time in the present to think about the future. Most of us worry about the future only when it arrives. That’s not likely to get you what you want.
I wish I could guide you personally through the process of creating a vision. But you don’t need me for that. In fact, too much of me might leave you with my vision and not yours. A vision that you don’t own, that you didn’t create yourself, and that you can’t see clearly isn’t helpful. Your vision is made more powerful by the struggle required during its creation. The vision is powerful when it’s yours.
If you’re looking for more guidance for creating your vision, go ahead and visit or revisit Rule Two of the Rosen’s Rules series. The questions provided in the lesson will get your head in the right place for dreaming up your answers. They’ll head you down the path for determining what matters to you as you move forward.
Sometimes it’s essential to stop juggling. Sometimes it’s imperative to put down the chainsaws and stop the doing so we can do the thinking required to plot our course. By taking the time to figure out where we’re going, we find the most direct path for getting there. The vision provides the map. The vision gets you what you want. The vision illuminates the path. Without clarity of vision, it’s next to impossible to head toward our desired destination.