Is there an area of your business where you’re afraid of making decisions about what you really want because you can’t work out exactly how you’ll get that result? Stalling out on decisions is keeping so many people from achieving their goals, so if you’re undecided on what you want because you’re not sure how you’re going to get it, this episode is for you.
When you are dreaming and scheming for the future, plotting the course to your destination, it’s very important to keep your focus on the what and not the how. Generally speaking, people struggle with being decisive about the what because they’re convinced they need to know the how, and if they can’t see a clearly defined path to their goal, they end up downplaying the what.
Spinning in the how, just trying to see a path forward without getting clear on the what guarantees that you will undershoot every single time. So, if you want to take the easier, faster path toward your goals, listen closely this week to discover how you’re getting in your own way, and what you can do to get out of it.
I’m inviting you to a workshop called Reflect and Get Clear. I ran this workshop for my Mastery Group members, and now I’m making it available to everyone. It’s available on demand, and all you have to do to get it is sign up for my email list!
• Why you should always focus on the destination (the what) before deciding how you’re going to get there.
• My own experience of living in the how, so you can see where this is happening in your world.
• Why nobody truly knows the how of reaching a goal until they’ve reached it.
• How perfectionism is stopping you from focusing on your end goals and the importance of doing B- work.
• Why you always move faster when you approach the how with a little lightheartedness and agility.
• How to decide on the what, so you can deal with the pressure of figuring out the how along the way.
• Create space, mindset, and concrete plans for growth. Start here: Velocity Work Monday Map.
• Join Mastery Group
• Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo
Leave me a review in Apple Podcasts or anywhere else you listen!
I’m Melissa Shanahan, and this is The Law Firm Owner Podcast, Episode #182.
Welcome to The Law Firm Owner Podcast, powered by Velocity Work. For owners who want to grow a firm that gives them the life they want. Get crystal clear on where you're going, take planning seriously, and honor your plan like a pro. This is the work that creates Velocity.
Well, hello, everyone. Welcome to December. I am so thrilled that it's the December. I am looking at my window right now; the snow is falling. It snowed all night, so there's probably, I don't know, five or six inches of snow on the ground. It's just a cozy time of year.
I want to bet you guys will get a kick out of this. We just moved into a new home a couple months ago, and we just figured out how to turn on the gas fireplace. This home is straight up from, I was gonna say the 90’s, but it was built in 1989, and it hasn't been touched. Nothing in it has been redone.
Now, you might think, “Oh my god, that must be terrible.” But I'll tell you what, the people who lived here the entire time until we bought it, they lived lightly. So, the living room, which is the room that we hang out in the most, was their listening room. I don't know how often they listened to music, but there was a piano in there, and they had some speakers built in for the space. But that was the only thing they did in that room, was listen to music.
And, they were art collectors. My office is what they used as like a TV room, so they did hang out a lot in here. And this room is a little more worn, so to speak. But the rest of the home is like, just almost untouched, in some respects.
It's crazy, what greater condition the cabinets are in. The carpet, that is original, doesn't even feel like it's been used. I mean, you can tell it's older carpet. But it's like, clean and nice, and it's white. So, that's not gonna last very long with a toddler, but we're doing our best.
But it's just this magical, cozy, open home that was lightly lived in. Now, there's a lot of quirks to it, because nothing has been redone since 1989. The gas fireplace is just… We had to figure that out. Didn't take as long once we put our heads to it, but now we can actually have a fire in our home, which is fun.
So yeah, it's just cozy and warm and good spirits for the people that I get to interact with, clients and friends and family and our neighbors. Which we didn't used to interact, really, with many neighbors when we lived in the city. But here, the street that we live on, everybody's all up in each other's business. And I kind of love it, it's kind of great. So yeah, I'm just in heaven.
This is such a cool time of year anyway. But now, that we live outside of the city, it's more quiet. We have a lot more space here. And I get to sink into the work, that is sort of lit up in a more magical way at the end of the year. I mean, you guys know that my company is entirely centered around strategic planning every quarter. And, we do such great work at the turn of every quarter. And then in between, we honor the plans.
But at the turn of the year, it's such a perfect time to be reflective in a deeper way, and to help facilitate that with members and with clients. We've just done a lot of work on… you know, having been through the year you've just been through, you have a different level of experience under your belt as an owner. And I facilitate, so that people can process lessons, extract something from those. So, that they can carry wisdom forward that they didn't have before.
A lot of it is based on getting back to facts and not feelings, and making decisions about what you want more of next year, what you want less of next year, and how to line yourself up with more of that and less of that. And, it's a deeper place. It feels important to facilitate that deeper work before we start making nuts and bolts plans for the company. So, I've facilitated that, with the members of Mastery Group.
And then, we have our group Strategic Planning Retreat in just a few short days, for 2023. Then, we have Office Hours after that, so that I can make sure to help everyone dial in their plans, get their questions answered, and all of that. So, it's a really exciting time.
Now, the reason I'm bringing up being really reflective, is two reasons: Number one, is that if you're on my email list, you will have gotten an invite. We are inviting you to a workshop called Reflect and Get Clear. This is what I ran for my Mastery Group members, and I'm making it available to the public. It will be on demand, and if you are interested in that just check your email.
If you sign up for the email list after you've listened to this, we will send out another offer for you to register for this in the coming weeks. So, I highly recommend it, because when you start to make nuts and bolts planning, which we're going to talk about here in just a second.
When you start to make nuts-and-bolts decisions for your business, if you have not done the work to make sure that you are aligning yourself up with exactly what you want to create, and there are specific questions to really pull that stuff out of you, then your nuts-and-bolts planning is going to miss the mark, in terms of what you really want.
And here's the thing, we set goals sometimes because we think that's what we really want. But we have blinders on when we're setting these things. And doing deeper work, introspective work, reflective work, before you make all of those nuts-and-bolts plans can make sure that you are really lining yourself up with creating the thing that you want to create, and not just the thing that you think you should create. So, it's important work.
If you don't do some of the deeper work before strategic planning, really, is ineffective; it is a part of strategic planning. Then, you will find that the ship has been off for a degree. And so, you know, over time, you will really feel the distant from what you were trying to create, versus what you did create.
So, that's why this stuff is important. I really do recommend that everyone spend some time reflecting about how can they stay true to themselves, and keep building what matters to them as they grow, so that they're growing in the right ways.
Now, today's topic, which we're getting ready to get into, is kind of the second reason that I was just mentioning. There are two reasons; this is the second reason: When you are dreaming and scheming for the future, when you are setting goals, deciding what destination, like what pin you're going to put in the map, it is very important that you focus on the ‘what’ and not the ‘how’.
What I mean by that, is the ‘what’ is the outcome; it is the dream, it is the goal. It is the end destination that you can see, right, not the end-all-be-all. But the next thing that you're really rising to shoot for, and that you want to create. But people can't do that very well, generally speaking, because their brain wants to figure out how they're going to create it. And if they can't see a path to it, then they will downplay or downgrade the end-game that they want to create.
And so, when you let your brain spin in the ‘how’ and try to figure it out, just try to see a path forward. Even if it's not totally nitty gritty details, but it's still you want to see the path there, you want to see the route there, you want to know the route you're taking there. Before you've chosen what you're shooting for, you will undershoot every single time.
If you're listening to this podcast, chances are you're the kind of person that you want to see what you're made of, you want to see what's possible. And that doesn't mean… I'm not talking like 10x everything, and set a 10x goal because I can't see my way there. But damn it, I'm gonna create it. Sure, some people are that kind of person, and they respond well to that.
But that's not even what I mean. I just mean, it can be simple, small things that you get in your own way, because you can't figure out how that would come to fruition. And so, you don't even set the goal.
I have a couple of examples I'm going to share with you, of what this can look like and how this can show up. Not just with setting revenue goals, that's not what I'm talking about, although certainly that happens when people are setting revenue goals. But there's other ways, in the inner workings of the business, where you don't make decisions because you're afraid, because you can't see the path forward.
And so, you just stall out on a decision. That is one of the things, stalling out on decisions here and there in your business, will keep you from the ultimate thing you're trying to do for yourself. But people don't understand why they do it. I mean, they have all kinds of justifications. And even some people are really hard on themselves for not just being able to make a decision.
But I believe that when you have an understanding of why it's so hard for you to make the decision, sometimes it's easy to just release some of that and make the call. But when you don't really understand what you are caught up in, in terms of your brain and how it's working and how it's working against you, your brain is using you instead of you using it.
When there's a lack of education or awareness there for an individual, of course, they stay stuck. But when you educate someone on what is happening and why, then it removes some of the fear and uncertainty. And you're just more okay with the uncertainty, because you see what's happening for what it really is in your brain. That there's really not a reason to be as fearful as what your brain is being.
I first want to cover a few points on why people get stuck in the ‘how’. The first reason people get stuck in the ‘how’, is because it's just a habit; they live in the ‘how’, they live in the logistics, they live in the figuring things out, overanalyzing, etc., etc.
Now, I am one of these people. I am one of these people. I overanalyze the hell out of things if my brain is just left to its own devices. And I know, I have practiced this stuff a long time in terms of awareness with my brain, that when I'm doing that, I pull back a little bit and just take a breath and lighten up. I think the living in the ‘how’ is a very tight way to live.
I've said it before in this podcast, I once had a coach say to me, “Please unclench your asshole.” And I was like, “What?” It's because I was so tightly wound that they… You know, just figuring it out. And there's a sense of perfectionism. Which we're going to talk about in a little bit. Things need to be right; they need to be done, right. I'm not interested in doing things if it's not gonna be done well, and with excellence; blah, all of that.
That is this tightening. Living that way is a very tight way to live. And so, I have an awareness. And when I am leaning hard into that, I just know, I've got to take a breath, maybe I need to take a walk. But I need to lighten up a little bit and step away, and just stop, stop. And I do have enough dominion, so to speak, over my brain that I can do that.
But it's really because I understand what is happening. That my brain has hooks, my brain has things that it wants to cling to. And it's not helpful, it's not useful, in the least. So, recognizing it goes a long way.
But people live in this space. Now, I would imagine three-fourths of the listeners live in this space, because it's very normal and natural, and you're lawyers. So, there's that, you kind of were trained to think a certain way and control outcomes to the best of your ability, etc., etc.
Okay, the second one is, which we’re kind of alluding to with this, not just being stuck in the ‘how’, and thinking through the ‘how’, and all the different things, and trying to navigate it the best that you possibly can, but there is this perfectionistic or control side of it. That is why people stay stuck in the “how’.
This really comes down to an unwillingness to just suck at it. Just go. Just go. Get it done. Be willing to do B- work, because done is better than perfect. And people who do B- work, they figure things out so much faster than people who are committed to the A.
So, this perfectionistic tendency will get in the way of you being able to name what it is you really are going for. Because if you can't see your way to it, and you can't control your way to it, and you can't see a perfect path to it, then you will stay safe by picking something so much closer to you; that is not really stretching you. It cuts yourself off from being able to just focus on the ‘what’. Just focus on what it is that you really want to shoot for. What is this end outcome that you’d really love to see come to fruition?
Even if your brain goes there for a second, if you have this perfectionistic tendency, you will pull back on that because you can't see the perfect path there.
The third reason that people have a really hard time just focusing on the ‘what’ before they focus on the ‘how’, is imposter syndrome. There are so many reasons impostor syndrome is a thing for people. And, that's its own podcast. I actually have some research saved to the side, because I want to do a podcast episode on impostor syndrome. And talk through it, because so many people deal with it.
But it comes down to a lack of belief in yourself. And there's all kinds of reasons why that lack of belief is there. Like, belief that you belong in the circles that you're in. Belief that you don't deserve the success that you have. Or, belief that the success that you have is just fleeting, it was just by chance, it was pure luck.
It really boils down to a lack of belief, or a lack of acknowledgement of your contribution to where you have gotten yourself; of your contribution to the results that have been created in the world. No one person can ever create something great on their own. So, it's not about saying you did this all on your own. It's more about being honest about your contribution, about how all this came together.
Could you've done it without others? Depending on what we're talking about, no, probably not. But that's not the point. The point is you did what you needed to do, in order for these results to come to life. Really owning that, and not downplaying that. And just having this belief in yourself that you can continue to do that, with the next level and the next level and the next level.
This often, will hit if someone has experienced success rather quickly, which is very subjective, right? But if someone has experienced success, faster than they expected it to happen, you see this kick in a lot. I see this kick in a lot with clients. And, it's a worthy conversation. We do talk about it, and we talk about how did they contribute to the results that they've created? But again, I will do an episode on impostor syndrome at some point.
Okay, so that's the three reasons, the major reasons, that people get stuck in the ‘how’. And that doesn't really allow them to dream bigger for themselves, and to just name what they really want. They keep cutting it short, because they have just a habit of being stuck in the ‘how’ day-to-day. That's how they have always lived, really.
And perfectionism, or a sense of control. Which, those two are kind of intertwined. But just an unwillingness to do B- work for the sake of making progress really quickly and refining from there. You don't have to live in subpar work, you can create a level of excellence after you just get it done. You can refine and reiterate.
People have an unwillingness to just suck for a little bit until they create the next level. And then, they can iterate and improve based on that. And then the third, is imposter syndrome. Which really just boils down to a lack of belief in yourself, and in what you have contributed to the results that have been created.
So, now that we talked about the reasons, the main reasons people get stuck in the ‘how’, I want to talk about the ‘how’ for a little bit. Well, actually, so, maybe a reason I should have listed here, is people don't understand the ‘how’ part of it well enough to treat it the way that it should be treated.
The ‘how’ is your chance to play. The ‘how’ is, you know, you've thrown the bone, if the bone is the ‘what’. Like, you've thrown the bone, and you need to have fun running towards it. I heard one of my best friends say that recently on her podcast, and I loved that.
It's like, “Yeah, I'm all about throwing the bone.” But we need to have fun on the path to it. Now, not everything about running after the bone is going to be fun, but be light in chasing it. There is a light heartedness, that if you treat the ‘how’ with a light heartedness, you move so much faster. And so, people get caught up in this really heavy progress state. The striving is so heavy.
This comes back to the same quote, the smartest people on the planet are always reaching for the next rung on the ladder. They know it's not about the next rung, it's about the stretch in order to get to the next rung. It's the same kind of conversation.
But the stretch, you can either stretch from a really constricted, serious, heavy place. Or, you can stretch, or you can chase the bone, from a light-hearted, agile, learning, experimental approach; that matters. So, if you don't tend to treat the journey, so to speak, in this way that I'm speaking of, in a light-hearted agile way, then of course, you're going to get stuck in the ‘how’.
I can see where you get stuck there and you live there all of the time. And so, really understanding what the ‘how’ can be like is important. I'm realizing, as I'm talking about this, it's hard for me. I kind of get lost in these episodes. Even though I have an outline, I want to make sure that everybody understands what I'm saying.
The ‘what’ is the destination. The ‘how’ is the route that it takes to get there, the route that you choose to get there. And so, people don't set the destination far enough out, or high enough, or bold enough. It's not really what they want. They aren't saying what they want because they can't see how they recreate it, so they say something mediocre, honestly. And, that is what I'm trying to prevent here.
You have to be able to focus on the ‘what’ first. Then, once you've determined that and committed to that, then you get to work on the ‘how’. But people won't do that for the reasons that we're talking about here. And, if you are someone who doesn't really have a perspective about the ‘how’ you're going to get there, that space that you live in, then of course, you set the bar low. Lower than you would have had, if you just stopped thinking about the ‘how’ and just let yourself dream.
Just let yourself see the possibilities, and determine the ‘what’ that you're shooting for and commit to that. You will figure out the ‘how’. The ‘how’ is where you learn. It's where you figure it out. And, you will figure it out. I think people don't believe in themselves enough to think that they will figure it out; you will.
You'll partner with the right people. You'll join the right communities. You'll give space to think about it on your own. You'll commit to learning from the mistakes that are made. And the only way you will ever know how you create that end result, is when you get there, you'll be able to say, “Oh, that's how you do it.” That's it.
No one knows how until you create it, then that's when you actually know how. So, people that need to know the ‘how’ before they create the ‘what’ are screwed, because you can't know the ‘how’ until you go through what it takes to learn the ‘how’. You're never gonna be able to sit at your desk and think through exactly how it's going to come together for yourself. That's not how it works.
That is like reading a book on how to swim and expecting yourself to be able to swim. No, it's just not gonna happen. You got to get in the pool, and you're gonna have to figure things out. You're gonna have to swallow some water. So, I think you get what I'm saying here; is that people try to figure something out and that is totally pointless. Because you will not ever, ever be able to be sure that you will figure out the ‘how’.
Because I'll tell you what, you'll spend so much energy on figuring out that “perfect” way there, and it's never gonna go as planned. So, why do we get so stuck to creating the perfect plan? And that is really talking about how you view the space that you're living in, and that you're working in, and that you're making progress in.
When you look at it from ‘it needs to be a certain way’, you will not only make things take longer than they should, but you will never be able to set the goal that your heart really desires to set. If you just can figure out the ‘what’, allow your brain to only be thinking about the ‘what’ part of things; what you're shooting for, what you want to create for yourself, what you want reality to look like in the future.
When you give yourself space to dream and scheme there, and then you decide on something and you commit to it, then you'll figure it out faster. But you're never going to figure it out, unless you get in the game. You pick the thing you're going for and you get on the field, and you go for it; play after play after play after play.
But you got to pick the ‘what’. You have to focus first on the ‘what’, and then you get to work on the ‘how’. And if you don't pick the ‘what’, if you don't have the guts to do it, because it does take guts sometimes, because you don't know how you're going to get there.
And you know what? It's not going to go perfectly. There's gonna be stuff that you don't like on the way there. But you will figure it out. And if you don't pick the ‘what’, then that means that the work you are doing is towards this nebulous outcome.
Who has time for that? Who wants that? None of us want that. We just have to get clear about it and be honest with ourselves. Do we have a pin in the map here? Or, are we just working for some nebulous outcome?
I want to give you a couple of examples, to help you see how this can show up in really small ways. But that are also very detrimental to your path forward. It's very easy to see how to apply this with, you know, focus on the ‘what’ not the ‘how’, when we're talking about revenue goals. Or, big things that you're aiming for in terms of maybe, a health metric that you'd like to see. So, it's easy to apply to that. And, it's easy to think about that.
But I'm gonna give you a couple of examples of how this showed up for me. And then, another example that wasn't me, that might give you some insight. Have you examined for yourself? Where is this happening in your world?
The first example, is from when I was working at the consulting firm, before I left to start Velocity Work. I was pretty certain I was going to build this company, it was going to be my sole job, and it was going to perform really well. I was going to grow it based on all the experience I had with helping business owners grow their businesses. It was just time for me to take the show on the road. That's what it felt like.
So, though I had a dream of building Velocity Work , it was still a pretty nebulous outcome. That seems concrete, but this is where it gets sneaky. Our brains feel like we're very certain on something, and we are, but then we don't actually put up a map. We don't actually put a pin in the map on exactly what we're shooting for.
What does it mean to build it? What kind of revenue do I want to see? Or, do I need to see, within the first year, how much of a runway do I have, before I need to see X? And whether that's a number of new clients, whether that's revenue, which was revenue for me, and I really believe that most people should have a revenue goal.
I didn't have that number in the map. It just kept being, “Just keep building it. Just keep building it on the side. Keep growing it to the point where you feel comfortable enough to leave.” That is not specific enough. I wasn't allowing myself to focus on the ‘what’. To name it for real, what it was.
Because I was so afraid of how, and the fact that I didn't know how to make that happen. I had the skill sets to make it happen, but I did not know the path to take to ensure that I could make that money within a certain amount of time, for example.
But because I was getting in my own way, with just being able to put an actual pin in the map, I stayed at that firm a lot longer than I needed to stay at that firm. And because of that, I kept spinning. I didn't lift the company off the ground nearly as quickly as it could have been. I kept doing it in the, you know, the night hours and the early morning hours, giving it attention then, and burning the candle at both ends.
There's a direct impact on what's possible with revenue when that's the only time you have to give. It's not impossible to build something that way. But build what? If my goal was to make $30,000 in a year, I could have done it in those hours. If my goal is to make $200,000 in my first year, we're gonna need some time to do that.
So, there was this lack of having a pin in the map, that kept me in my comfy, yes, so uncomfortable space, at the firm. And I stayed, and I stayed, and I kept moonlighting. And I kept, really, though I was inching at progress, I was spinning my wheels a bit, in terms of creating real results that I wanted to create. But I hadn't named those results.
And so, when I hadn't yet allowed myself to focus on the ‘what’, then I can't then turn right and shift my focus to the ‘how’. And when the reason that I'm not focusing on the ‘what’, I'm not naming it, is because I can't figure out how I would create the ultimate ideal outcome.
And if I can't figure it out, if I can't have the perfect path in front of me, then we'll just stay here until I figure it out. That wasted a lot of time. Now, I don't actually look at that time as wasted. But I was just burning time, and spending my energy for someone else's company. When I really, my heart, wanted to do it for myself. But I was in my own way.
Because the very thing I had been teaching business owners for so long, I found myself dealing with at that point. At that moment, it just looked a little bit different because I wasn't a business owner, yet. But it was showing up. I couldn't figure out what, exactly, I wanted to create. What, exactly, my goal was.
And so, I couldn't line myself up with that goal. Because I couldn't figure out how. I wasn't willing to say what the pin in the map was. I wasn't willing to say a very specific outcome, so that I could line myself up with it. I was too freaking afraid.
Now, you may have heard the story before, because my husband and I told the story on a year-end review podcast we did, one of the last two years. One night, my husband and I decided, after about almost a year and a half of starting Velocity Work on the side, we decided over drinks, which, you know, liquid courage, that it was time, let's do it. Put in my notice. Let's go for it.
There were certain other life circumstances that felt like, “Yep, now's the time to do it.” So, we did; I put in my notice. And you know what happened right after that? My husband got laid off from his job. And, I found out I was pregnant. Now, this is not the ideal scenario, which, I just left my secure paycheck, my job.
So, what I realize now… I realized that then, but now, man, even more so looking back. I wasn't willing to put a pin in the map and say, “This. This is the number that I'm going for. And, this is the timeframe in which I'm going to go for it.” If I would have done that, I would have lined myself up with how. But I didn't do it because I didn't know how to do it.
I didn't know how, what path to take, or what was the recipe that was going to get me to a specific revenue goal that needed… It was pretty lofty, as someone who's just starting out. And if I had just decided earlier, that that's what I was going to do, then I would have gotten ahead of the curve a bit, of the news that my husband was laid off and I was pregnant.
Now, who knows, like hindsight is 20/20, and whatever. And who knows how life would have played itself out had I left earlier? But listen, what I'm saying, is there isn't a right time to just get the guts to put a destination in the map, and line yourself up with it.
Our job is to do that, as business owners. And that is the biggest lesson I took away from that first year of business; is I will never again not put a pin in the map. And it's, I know, it's not about reaching that destination, so much as it is, what it's going to require in order to figure out what it takes to get to the destination. And, that is the work.
Anytime I catch myself waffling on a decision, small or big, inside of the business, I nip that in the bud. And, I make a call. And, I go all in. I have my own back and I move towards it with intention.
It usually doesn't go as planned. And there's usually things that they don't line up how I thought they were gonna line up. That's all a part of the learning. And then, I eventually reached the goal. And then, I can look back and say, “Ah, that's how you do it.” Then, I can say with certainty for myself and my journey, “That's how you get there. That's a good way to get there.”
And now I know, I've learned all these things along the way, I could do it more efficiently next time. It is increasing the skill of you, as a business owner. It's increasing your capacity to think critically and to process lessons and carry them forward. It's to increase the skill of being able to rely on facts and not feelings.
Don't let your emotions get in the way. Don't let fear get in the way. Be able to dissect this stuff faster and move. And so, all of this to say, that my unwillingness to put a pin in the map was because I didn't know how to get there. But the problem is, I was never going to figure out how to get there unless I put a pin in the map. And when I finally decided to put a pin in the map, you know what happened? I rose to the occasion and I figured it out.
It didn't happen in the exact timeline that I wanted it to, but it was never going to happen unless I just put a pin in the map. And so, my husband and I deciding, “Alright, it's time to go. Let's go.” Then, I got a goal. Because, holy crap, I don't have anything to fall back on. I need to make a certain amount of money. I need to provide a certain amount of value in order to make that money.
So, then I could put a pin in the map. And when I did that, I created it. It took a little longer the first year than I thought, but I was pregnant. And I was really proud of myself for how I handled that whole entire pregnancy, lifting a business off the ground. But I got there, and I got there pretty quickly, relatively quickly. And it’s because I finally put a pin in the map. I aligned myself with something. I was serious about it. I was committing to the pin in the map.
Now, if I had done this sooner, I would have created it sooner; but I didn't. And I will never make that mistake again, at least not consciously. I always try to stay very conscious and awake at the wheel, about where I might be doing this to myself.
Now, I'll give you another example of something I witnessed recently. I was in a group of entrepreneurs, and we were all looking at our accountability charts. Accountability charts, for those of you who don't know, is basically a map of your business. It showcases the structure of your business, and it also showcases the roles and responsibilities within the business. Who owns what, who is accountable for what responsibilities and roles in the business.
Our objective was to look at these charts and to determine what things listed there, that our names were next to, the owner's names were next to, what did we want to have transferred responsibility, for that thing that we owned, in the next one to three years. Now, there are small things on the accountability chart, and they are big rolls on the about accountability chart.
And so, you know, we're focused on looking at the moment some of the big roles, and someone whose name was in a seat on the accountability chart in a major function. And they were in more than one place, right? Like they're the owner, and they're still growing. And so, they are in the CEO spot, or the visionary spot. They're also in the growth and marketing spot. And they also may be in another spot.
Really, just owning and driving that department, so to speak. And so, as we're looking at this, one of the owners had their name in a big role. And I think it was the growth and marketing role, in addition to other things, right. And the question posed was, “Within one to three years, are you still going to be in this role?”
It took some time to answer, and it just dawned on me like, why is this taking so long? What is happening here? And I realized what was happening. You know, there was just not a lot of talk. You could see the wheels spinning in the owner’s mind. You could see trying to reconcile that; they wouldn't be or would they be, in? You know, I don't know.
So, lots of thoughts, not a lot of words. And so, more questions came out. I’m asking, “Do you want to be sitting in that role, in one to three years?” And the response was, and I knew it before they said it. Because I worked with so many people that have this, and I have been here before in my own ways. They said, “Well, no, I don't want to be there. But I just can't see how it would look. I don't see how we would get to the place where I wouldn't have to be there.”
Now, as long as this owner stays stuck, because they can't see how to transition or they can't see how to replace themselves within this area, they will stay spinning in the area. They won't make moves to create space so that they can do other things, and give up the seat to someone who's going to care for it deeply and do a great job with it.
They'll never be on that track of finding someone to fulfill that role, because of this belief in this lack of certainty around ‘how’. So, they just stay here. They never make the decision. They don't decide that they're going to get themselves out of that main role, so that they can focus on the things that they really enjoy.
Now, if they were really to enjoy this, and this is where they wanted to spend most of their time, that will be a different story. But that wasn't the case here. And you can see how, with pressure applied, meaning just a conversation happening with others, they were struggling to be able to say, “No, I'm not going to be there one to three years.”
Or, “Yes, I will.” Like, there's no definitive anything. It was just this, you could see their brain just trying to figure out, in that moment, how on earth that could possibly look, to have someone else managing that department.
Now, this is very normal. There's no judgement at all when I'm talking about this, because this is what we do to ourselves. This is all because of a mismanaged brain or an unmanaged brain. If you can understand that this is very normal. Be onto yourself, and feel when you are stalling out on a decision. You can look at this and you can see why you're stalling out on the decision.
Most of the time, you're stalling out on a decision because you don't know how to move forward to create the ideal outcome. You want the ideal outcome, but you don't necessarily know how to do it. And so, you just stay here, and you don't give focus to it. You get focused to other things that are much easier for your brain to figure out. Your brain will always take the path of least resistance, always.
That is what was happening with me when I worked for the company. And that is what is happening with this owner, that we were just talking about. It will always take the path of least resistance, and when pressed, it will rise to the occasion. But it needs to be pressed. You have to ask of your brain to create and to think, and to move and to figure out.
You know, Marie Forleo, if you know who she is, she's sort of an internet celebrity in the online business world. She says that, “Everything is figureoutable.” I think that she even wrote a book on Everything is Figureoutable. And, that's true. But you won't figure it out until you're pressed to do it.
And, you have to apply the pressure. That's the thing. Sometimes, life circumstances will hand the pressure, too. I mean, it will create the pressure just because of what's unfolding. But here's the thing about developing yourself as a business owner, you have to apply the pressure.
You have to not be okay with indecision. When you are in indecision, it is you avoiding this resistance, that is going to be felt when you task your brain with figuring something out. And as long as it's okay for you to sit back, it doesn't feel urgent, there isn't pain involved, then you will sit back. And, it means that you won't put a pin in the map.
For instance, with this accountability chart, the pin in the map would have been me out of the seat in one to three years. Or maybe, you could be more specific; within three years, me out of the seat. Then, you can reverse engineer a plan to execute on, in order to get there. Your plan is not going to be perfect, but you still have to have a plan to work through.
And the only way you can line yourself up with a plan, is if you put a pin in the map. If you don't, you'll just keep trucking; you'll keep avoiding that thing. It's not too painful; doesn't really matter. This is why I'm bringing this up. Where are you, in your world, not deciding on the exact thing that you want? Like, naming what you want. Be very clear about what you want, so that you can line yourself up with it.
And ‘what’ being the operative word. Lining yourself up with ‘what’ you want; that's the operative word here. That's what I want you to take away. Where are you not lining yourself up with something specific? Where are you just kind of heading towards a nebulous outcome? And can you identify how that is not really serving you? It's not lining you up with efficiency, as much as efficiency is possible, towards what you really want.
You have to be able to name it. You have to be able to be very clear about it. Now, once you do that, then you can focus on the ‘how’. And you will show up for that ‘what’ that you are committed to. You will show up and you will keep putting one foot in front of the other. And having an open, willing, learning attitude all along the way.
And you will get there, you will figure it out. Once you achieve what you wanted to achieve, once you've created the ‘what’, once you're at the destination in the map, then you can look back and say,” Ah, that's how you do that.”
There's no one right way. There are many ways to get to an ultimate outcome. But you'll know what worked for you, when you keep putting one foot in front of the other. It's so important. You just can't do it, unless you name the thing that you're going after.
So, circling back to the whole point of this episode, it's okay that there's fear to put a pin in the map, to state very clearly what you want. But there's only fear because there's uncertainty involved in creating the very specific thing that you want. But I want to say, to just go forth and set out to create certainty, experiment, play; you will figure it out. And then and only then, is when you'll be able to say, “Oh, that's how you get to that destination.”
Have a look at your own life, right now, your own world, how you operate within the firm. What decisions have you been putting off? Where are you just not putting a pin in the map? Why are you not being explicit with what you want, period? Do that for yourself. And then, watch what happens.
All right, everyone, have a wonderful week. I'll see you here next Tuesday.
Hey, you may not know this, but there's a free guide for a process I teach called, Monday Map/ Friday Wrap. If you go to velocitywork.com it's all yours. It's about how to plan your time and honor your plans. So that, week over week, more work that moves the needle is getting done in less time. Go to velocitywork.com to get your free copy.
Thank you for listening to The Law Firm Owner Podcast. If you're ready to get clearer on your vision, data, and mindset, then head over to velocitywork.com where you can plug in to Quarterly Strategic Planning, with accountability and coaching in between. This is the work that creates Velocity.