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Melissa Shanahan

#177: The Reality of Being Held Accountable with Jake Kimball

Listen Now:

If you’re a regular listener of this show, Melissa’s guest this week won’t be a stranger to you. Jake Kimball is the cofounder and partner of Springs Law Group, a personal injury law firm based in Colorado Springs, and he’s here to share an experience that many of you will resonate with.

Melissa has worked with Jake and his partner Chris for over three years now, and it’s been quite the journey. The remarkable growth they’ve had, which didn’t happen without hard work, dedication, and commitment, is exactly why Jake is on the show today because he’s got a story to share that is the perfect example of the importance of honoring your plan and being held accountable to it.

No matter how successful your business is, settings goals and making a deliberate, well thought out plan to get there is vital. Jake is letting you in on his experience of struggling to honor his rocks, the pushback he felt when Melissa held him accountable, and what it took to get to the other side of having accomplished his goals.

Melissa is hosting an event happening on February 22nd 2023 through to the 25th for Mastery Group members! We’ll be workshopping and masterminding together, so if you’ve been wanting to work with her, this is the last time enrollment will be open before this event. Click here to join the waitlist right now to claim your spot!

Show Notes:

What You’ll Discover:

• Jake’s experience of struggling to honor his rocks.

• The pushback thoughts Jake had about Melissa holding him accountable to his rocks.

• Jake’s realizations about being stuck in victim mentality.

• How to navigate your excuses when you’re trying to hit a goal.

• The key to making a well thought out plan.

• Why the practice of mapping out your time allows you to go off track on your plan without a net negative result.

• How to build contingencies in your plan.

• The epiphany Jake had about the role of the stories you tell yourself.

Full Episode Transcript:

Download Transcript PDF

I’m Melissa Shanahan, and this is The Law Firm Owner Podcast, Episode #177.

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.

Melissa Shanahan: Hi, guys. You will hear, in just a moment, an interview with Jake Kimball and myself. Jake is a co-founder and partner of Springs Law Group in Colorado Springs. His partner is Chris Nicolaysen. They've been on the podcast a couple times together before. Chris has been on solo, and now we're having Jake on solo.

And the reason we're having Jake on is because of the scenario that happened that, you know, now we can laugh at, but when we were going through it, there was some tension. And he's willing to share his side of that, and his experience of that. So, you'll hear that.

But why I'm saying something before the interview starts is because, you know, we were on a bit of a time crunch towards the end of the interview. And so, I think I may have sped through the result for him, of getting it done basically. And, you'll have more context here in a bit. I just want to say that the part, even though we didn't spend as much time on the fact that he followed through, and he did what he said he was going to do, that is a really important takeaway.

And, I don't know if I gave it enough airtime on this episode. So, I just want to say, the whole episode, I think, is fantastic, and really reflective, and good for each of us to think through some of the things he's talking about, because we all have these voices in our head. But at the end, there is a part of me that just wants to acknowledge the work that he did, that he put in, and what he was able to accomplish. And each of us have that opportunity. So, enjoy today's episode.

Okay, welcome to the podcast this week, everybody. I am here with Jake Kimball of Springs Law Group, in Colorado Springs. Jake, do you want to introduce yourself, in case people haven't heard you on the podcast before?

Jake Kimball: Sure. Thanks for having me, Melissa. My name is Jake Kimball. I am one of the owners of Springs Law Group. It's a firm that Chris Nicolaysen and I founded back in 2017. My background is, I graduated law school, Ohio State, which is doing great right in now football, in 2005. And have been practicing in Colorado Springs since, so it's been 17 years.

I started out doing, so the first eight years of my career, mostly insurance defense. And then, switched over to plaintiff [inaudible] work, which I did for a couple of years before we started Springs Law Group. And now, I'm doing only personal injury law.

Melissa: Yeah, you guys are doing very well, also. I’m saying that because you've worked really hard over the last five years, and here you are. It's really cool to see what you guys are doing. If you have been listening to this podcast for any length of time, you've heard Jake and Chris on the podcast, because we’ve had them on twice, I think, together. And then, I had Chris on once, by himself. We talked about 75 Hard™, that was this past summer. And then, I asked Jake if he would come on to talk about something that is funny, and we're gonna laugh a lot about today.

Jake: Hilarious.

Melissa: Yeah, hilarious. But just an experience that he had, that I wanted him to share, if he was willing. And, he was totally willing. Which says a lot about just how great you are, and willing to share whatever. So, I'm glad you're here.

Jake: It’s more like, I've given up trying to hide my faults. I used to try a lot harder. And now, I'm like, oh, well.

Melissa: That's great. Well, the other thing that I wanted to mention, was in case you aren't familiar with Springs Law Group and with the podcast episodes from before, I have had the honor and the privilege of working with Springs Law for over three years, now. And so, I've seen it's been quite the journey. And pretty remarkable in terms of the growth that they've had, which did not happen without a lot of hard work, and dedication, and commitment.

And so, I've watched this journey and I've facilitated pieces of it, and it's been a gift. So, I know them very well, is what I'm saying. So, that's why I really wanted Jake to come on this podcast. Because the experience we're gonna share, it's just a perfect example of; listen, when you have something you're committed to, it's easy to sort of step to the side or get busy with things, and you’ve got to come back to it.

You’ve got to honor your commitments. You don't have to, but you have the opportunity to, even when it feels like you can't. So, I guess we'll just share the experience, if that's okay with you? And then, everybody will know what we're talking about. And then, we can talk through it?

Well, you guys, it's your last retreat; end of June, we had a retreat. And you guys set your goals and Rocks like, we normally do in the retreats. And in September, on a call, we were doing a check-in on Rocks, and you said something like, “Melissa, that’s not gonna get done. It's been too crazy. It's just not gonna happen.” I think; am I correct so far?

Jake: Yeah. And I can give you a little more backstory. So, we're coming up on the end of the quarter, I know that you're going to give me shit at the next retreat. And our case manager, who's on the leadership team, at the leadership meeting she's sort of new. Her name is Amanda. She's been doing her best, as a new employee, to follow up with the partner who's not doing his Rock, but in like, a nice way.

“You know, just checking up on the Rocks.” And I'm just like, “Yeah, I haven’t done it. I haven’t done it.” So, it's already nagging at me, because like, you know, I've got my own conscience, as beat down as it might be. But then, she keeps bringing it up, and I'm like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Uh-huh, uh-huh.” And so, then, that's kind of in the background, in my brain. And I know you're gonna bring it up, and I’m just like, “Oh, here we go.”

So, like you said, we know each other very well. So, I usually know what your response will be. Also, like, I was really in a bad mood that day, too, when we had our call. So, you can go back to…

Melissa: Okay, no, I'm glad you said all that. And actually, I was just thinking, for those of you who don't know a lot or understand goals and Rocks, goals are numbers you're shooting for. Rocks are the… We set quarterly Rocks, they are the key efforts that are going to get done, in order to get yourself and make sure you're on track for the goals.

So, that's what people are on the hook for. Anyone I work with… The goal doesn't matter. You have to have a goal because you need something to line yourself up with. But, you know, the whole quote about the smartest people on the planet are always reaching for the next rung on the ladder. But they know it's not about the next rung. It's about the stretch; Rocks are the stretch.

Like, that's the work you're putting in, that you're doing, the intention behind how you spend your time, your effort, all of that. In order to make that next rung on the ladder, the goal, inevitable. So, that's what people are on the hook for when they work for me, is the Rocks. That's the accountability piece. Do you want to share what the Rock was, that project was?

Jake: Yeah, it was to create attorney performance standards. So, as we've grown, we have two associates now. And, it was just my backup. So, my role in the firm, is managing partner. So, I'm managing the two associates. And then, we definitely foresee hiring other lawyers.

We want to make sure that the performance standards are in alignment with our core values. That they're in alignment with our consciences. That the attorneys aren't cutting corners. That they aren't under-settling, things like that. So, we had identified, in the retreat, that we needed to create some performance standards. And, I was on board with the Rock when we created it. Yeah, so that was the Rock.

Melissa: Okay. And then, as we do the quarter… And you did have a crazy quarter, like with onboarding and hiring, and there were a couple of people that were…

Jake: Yeah, let me make a record that I had a lot of really good excuses. I could list them all out.

Melissa: Let’s share… I mean, there's one or two employees that left the firm,  or were removed from the firm, whichever.

Jake: Yeah, so by September 15th... And these are the things, when you started in on me about my Rock, these are the things I brought up to you. So, Gretchen, our longtime office manager, had recently left. And like I mentioned earlier, we had a new case manager.

And then, one of Gretchen's roles was doing liens, which in personal injury is a really big deal. And it's also, I felt like it has been our Achilles heel, it's been our weakness. It slows down the settlements. It sometimes diminishes the settlement value, because we don't take more than the client. So, if the liens are high, we have to reduce our fee.

And then, we've had cases where we've made a mistake on the lien, and so, then we pay out of our own operating account in order to cover that. So, [inaudible] the client doesn't get mad. So, liens are a big deal for me. Gretchen had been working on them; she's a great employee, she did a great job. When she left, I took over them, while we're looking for somebody new.

Then, we actually used a recruiter, who we really liked. She found a candidate that Chris and I loved. We hired the candidate. On the fourth day, she quit. Said that she was overwhelmed, and basically, she couldn't handle the stress of the liens.

We had sort of brought Gretchen on; Gretchen is going to law school, right now. But, you know, she's a kind-hearted person, so she agreed to train that person who quit. And so, then it was like, ugh, now we’ve got to train someone else.

I wanted to take a different tack on training, in the sense of like, alright, I want to slow this down. I want to be a little more intentional about the method that we use to train the liens person. Of course, in my hubris, I think that no one could do it as well as I can. I’m like, “All right. I'm going to do the training this time, and then I'm going to dig into it.”

We found another new candidate. And so, I'm really spending a ton of time training. In addition to the ordinary responsibilities of the managing partner and the other stuff I'm trying to get done, I'm trying to do liens and also train a new liens person; more in depth this time.

And to be crass, in my mind I thought, “This Rock can go fuck itself. I don't care.” Like, and I'm not trying to be crass for the sake of being crass, I'm just trying to be accurate. That was my whole attitude, at that point.

Melissa: Yeah, totally. Okay, I'm so glad you just said everything you just said. So, we get on this call. And yeah, you said you'd had a bad day already, by the time this call happened. And I get to Jake…

Jake: Something else, which I'm sure Chris would shout “Amen” to the rooftops; I do not like to be told what to do. So then, when you're telling me, you know, “You gotta honor this and blah, blah,” I don't care for that. Like, I need it. Like, when I'm calm and not mad, I know I need it. But that doesn't mean I receive it well when it happens, you know?

Let's say that you struggle with your nutrition. And you know that nutrition is a problem, and you know that your body fat percentage is too high, and that you tend to eat junk food. And so, you're sitting there at a table at McDonald's®, and your personal trainer walks in, and he's like, “What are you doing? You should be eating salad.” I think I would probably tell him, I don't want to swear again, I would just be like, “Get out.”

That's kind of how my mindset is. And, you know, that's one of the things I want to talk to you a little bit later about, that epiphany I had on this. But I don't like to be told what to do. It's an issue, and that’s also….

Melissa: Wait. First of all, let's just be clear, I wasn't telling you what to do. I was just calling you out, for the thing you said you were gonna do. Correct? I wasn't telling you what to do.

Jake: All right. So, if we're gonna parse the language…

Melissa: Yes, let's do it.

Jake: I had already decided that I wasn't going to do the Rock. So then, you are telling me I didn’t do the Rock; you're telling me what to do. That's how I heard it through my filter.

Melissa: That's fair. But you know what's funny about that, is that we enter into this agreement. It's basically an agreement, at the retreat, that these are the things. We all understand that this is what's happening. You made a call, without… Like, I didn't know you made that call. I didn't know any of that. In your head, you just flipped the script. And then, you come on this call, “I am not going to flip my script.”

Jake: I'd already talked to Chris, my partner, and said, “I’m not doing this.”

Melissa: Ah, interesting. Yeah, yeah. Okay. So, you came to the call. And when it was, like, we're going around, I was like, “Okay, Jake, how's it going with your Rock?” And then, you're basically like, “It's not gonna get done. I'm not gonna do it. I haven't even started.” And I'm just like, why?

I can't remember what you said, but probably just shared everything that we've shared here, just the craziness of the quarter and all that. I don't remember my exact words. And actually, I could pull that clip and just see, if you want. If you don't want me to share it, I won’t, but we could.

Jake: I don't care.

Melissa: Okay. We could pull the clip.

Jake: Again, like I said, I'm done with the part where I try and cover up my weaknesses. So, you’re welcome to put it up, I don't have any secrets.

Melissa: So then, somehow, I mean, basically, the gist of it was, I was like, “You don't get to just flake out on a Rock. Like, that's not what we're doing here. If that's what we're… You know, why were we here, if that's what's allowed?” And I mean, I could tell you weren’t happy, for sure. But I don't think I knew how upset you were, or how mad internally you were, I just knew that you weren't pumped. But also, I have a job to do. If I don't do that job, you know… It would have been compassionate… And by the way, I wasn't mean, I was just stating like, that's not what we're doing here.

Jake: When you called me fat and lazy, I thought that crossed the line.

Melissa: I did not do that. That's funny. But here's the truth, in my personal life, I think, too often I'm very in tune with where someone is, and I try to make sure that they feel okay. This is like, a thing. It's not even necessarily people-pleasing, but just making sure everybody's feeling all right, and that they don't feel suffering or pain; and I'm really good at it. I can help in those situations. And I can make someone feel connected to, and all the things.

But when I have my professional hat on, if I had to do that people would not get as far as they could. Because no one is actually saying or holding them accountable, no matter how painful it is. And, I know that there's exceptions to that. It's not like, at all costs. But I have to keep that level of certainty and stability around what's expected. And if I don't do that, people won’t get their stuff done. Because we're all normal humans.

By the way, what you were saying about, you’re calling weaknesses, everybody has that, everybody, me included. I think coaches are important for that reason. If you care about something, having a coach to line you up with making sure that you follow through, and helping you overcome barriers and all that, I think it's important.

So, I could sense, and I remember feeling like, okay, he's pissed right now. But also, I can't say something different, because then I'm not doing my job. And I don't need to be mean, but I do need to be very matter of fact.

Jake: One of the things that I remember feeling in that call, is she doesn't get it. She doesn't understand everything I'm trying to juggle. And the reason I'm saying this, is because like, this is a narrative that I often have when people hold me accountable, right?

So, I've had personal trainers, and nutrition coaches. I've had you, in the past. Because this isn't the first time I’ve pushed back on you. And so, I had the this is a, I just remember what, so now I characterize it as this; at the time I didn't. But now, I look at it as like, I'm feeling like a victim.

The victim story that I had, in that circumstance, is, “I don't have enough time. I have a lot to do. And, she doesn't get it. This Rock is not as important as the other things I'm trying to do. I'm not being selfish. I'm choosing priorities. It's my job to look at the, you know, the things I'm responsible for and decide what is priority.

And goddamnit, Melissa doesn't get it. And so, she's giving me shit about this. Yeah, I get it. I agreed to it. Uh-huh. I've heard this before. I got it. Also, things changed. I didn't know, at the time I signed up for this, that the liens person [inaudible] after four days. That I was going to have to train a person. That I have…”

So, the problem with the victim mentality is, in my opinion, it is a form of surrender, like, you are surrendering to the forces around you. Well, I said, “I am surrendering to the forces around me saying that I cannot do something, and it's not my fault. I did everything I can do. It's not my fault.”

And so, it's, I think, in my opinion, my Jake's philosophy of life, victimhood is a way to avoid responsibility. So, if you can come up with a narrative, a story, of why you cannot accomplish a goal, then it excuses you from the choices that you made.

So even, you know, if I was lucid, which, when I'm in a bad mood and someone's coming at me, I don't believe that I'm lucid. It's a kind of form of like, I'm backed into a corner and I'm going to fight, because Jake needs to be right.

When I'm not like that, I can look back and I can say, “Come on, man. Like, I could go back through the last quarter and find plenty of hours that you spent, you know, getting ready for your fantasy football draft. Watch, catching up on, Ozark. You know, scrolling through Instagram® on your phone while your kids are run around. Like, there's plenty of time, and I just chose to spend it differently.”

So then, when I ran out of time, instead of saying, “Well, I made these choices,” I, you know, I took on the victim mentality. “I'm not responsible for this situation. This person, Melissa, doesn't understand my full situation. I'm trying to tell her, but she's not listening.”

So, that's a feeling that I get a lot. I don't care for it, at all. I usually don't recognize it at the time. It has to be that I cool off and I look back. Most of the times I get really, really mad. I'm not saying I was really, really mad with you, I was just annoyed. But most of the times in my life I get really, really mad. If I look back and I'm being a victim.

“My wife doesn't understand me. She doesn't get it. She doesn't get what I'm trying to do. You know, my business partner, he doesn’t get it. He doesn't understand this, this, and this. My kid, she doesn't get how much I sacrifice, and she's giving me attitude.” You know, it’s like the times when I get really mad, I don't sit and think, “Well, what did I do to contribute to the situation? What did I…? What could I have done better?”

It's usually just being furious that things aren't going my way. And actually, I have a four-year-old that is really good at being a mirror of that. So, I have six kids; she's my fifth kid. I've never had a kid like this, she is tough. She has these expectations for how people will act and be, and how the day will go. And if they're not met, she is furious.

At first, I was like, what is this kid? Where’d she come from? She's crazy. And then, I'm kind of like, “Oh no, I can see some parallels.”

Melissa: That's great.

Jake: So, yeah, I think it's a victim story. And I, you know, I can elaborate on that, when we finish with what happened with this.

Melissa: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, gosh, some of the things you said, really resonate with me. And I identify with that. Like, I'm hoping that everybody listening can see themselves in this, because I don't think any of us are exempt from this. I think some are better than others at default states; do they have that victim mentality, or do they not? But all of us have some of that. And, yeah, it's…

Jake: I think, like lawyers… I have the same feeling when you're telling me that you're holding me accountable or whatever, as I do when a judge does it. And I'm like, “This dickhead, he has no idea what's going on in my practice. He has no idea the stunt the opposing counsel is pulling, that I'm not going to bring up, because I'm going to take the higher road. He doesn't know that the insurance company has done this, this, and this.”

I get this sort of victim mentality, which is, “I can't control what this judge is going to do. And, he's going to screw us over for whatever. Or, he's chewing me out for something, and he just doesn't get it.” Whereas, if I had a cool head, I would think “Well, if I'd handled it differently this way, or I'd sent these emails, or if I, you know, met this deadline or filed this motion, then I wouldn't be here getting my ass chewed by the judge.”

It's the same... I think it's when someone holds you accountable, and you think you have… Well, I mean, I keep doing this, let me speak in first person. When I am held accountable, and I think that I have a good excuse, I get pissed at that person holding me accountable. Because it's just, they don't get it. They don't understand. They're missing this or that. Must be nice to sit up there in your ivory tower and judge me.

Melissa: I guess, what you're saying is your definition of a good excuse, can shift. Or like, what is a good excuse? I don't know.

Jake: Oh, that's a deep question. What's a good excuse? None, right. I mean, if you're really trying to get it, if you're really trying to hit a goal, I don't really think there's a… I'll bring up nutrition again, because this is something, it's a lifelong battle. I grew up whole husky. And for most of my 20’s, I just let myself go and, and I got really big.

I always had a good excuse for it. You know, or I always had, like, just a reason, outside myself. And then, when I would actually try to fix the situation... So, let's say that I'm going to go on a diet, I'm going to restrict calories, okay? Or, I'm going to do keto or something like that. I'll do it, I'll start it, I'll do really well.

I mean, everyone in my head is on board that we need to lose some fat. And then, something comes up, and I'll make a little excuse; it's a birthday, I don't want to be rude and not eat birthday cake, right? Or, eat a piece of birthday cake. Oops, Freudian slip, I probably ate the whole cake. But I don't want to be rude and turned down birthday cake. Oh, it's Christmas. Like, part of the fun of Christmas is sitting around with your kids sipping hot cocoa and eating popcorn, watching a movie.

So, what is a good excuse? I mean, are those good excuses? I guess another one I use a lot with nutrition, is; I don't want to be like, a freak. I want to be like balanced. And enjoy the, you know… I don't want to just only eat grass fed beef and never enjoy it, you know? So, then you gave yourself a little ounce like that. I mean, that sounds reasonable.

But then, in three months, when I look back and I stand on the scale, and I'm the same way and I'm like, “What the fuck? Like, I've been trying really hard, but I'm the same weight.” And I'm like, “Well, have I really been trying hard?”  So, I don't know…

I would say a good excuse, in that situation, would be I got knocked unconscious, and then the people who are feeding me intravenous fluids, were giving me too many calories. You know what I mean? What’s a good excuse? All of them, and none of them.

Melissa: Can I offer my perspective on this? Which, by the way, I'm not perfect at, but it feels like truth to me. And, I'm curious what you think about it. I think part of making a well thought out plan, is deciding, ahead of time, what excuses get to make it.

Like, if there's a list of reasons why you are not going to do what you said you were going to do, and it's one of those, but you're deciding ahead of time, then it's okay to let it go for the day. Or, I don't know, I'm just thinking of, we could use it with nutrition, we could use it with Rocks. But if one of these things happen, maybe there's like two things, that you would feel full of integrity still, by saying I'm not going to follow through.

But you decide ahead of time, if those things happen, then it's okay. You decided ahead of time that you can set it to the side. But if it's not one of those two things. And then, you get through the quarter and you feel this pull to not do it anymore because of an excuse; but it feels so valid, it wasn't something you decided ahead of time, then you have to do it anyway. You’ve got to do it anyway.

So, I'm just thinking of the hot cocoa, for example. It could kind of be like, this is my protocol: If my kids want to have hot cocoa around the tree, you know, Christmas or the holidays, I'm going to do that. It's like a decision ahead of time. But even the birthday cake probably wouldn't make the cut. If you really think about. In the moment, it makes the cut, as an excuse that's that feels reasonable or justified. But ahead of time, you probably would have had a different list.

I don't know, I just think… Because I don't think it's black-and-white. We can't be perfect. But deciding ahead of time can be helpful.

Jake: Hold on. But if you decided those ahead of time, as exceptions, then you never violated your goal. Right? So, if I say to myself…

Melissa: Never violated your plan.

Jake: So, you know, this is an interesting philosophical question. Because a therapist I had, once challenged me to stop making goals. I’m just laughing because it sounds like the dumbest therapy. Like, what in the world?

But like, the reason is, I make goals. And then, when I don't achieve them, I go hard on myself.

Melissa: Beat yourself up.

Jake: It gets dark. Like, it's not even like funny ha-ha; it's bad. My self-talk gets nasty. And another thing related to that, that she pointed out with me is, “Jake, you set expectations at level 10.” Let’s say, I’m just picking a number. “And then, when you achieve level eight, even if it might be better than what you thought, or better than what someone else would do, you destroy yourself on the gaps.” She called it “the gaps.”

So, the difference between the eight and the 10. And so, her thing… And she said, “Well, when did you start making goals for yourself?” And I was like, I always made goals for myself. I grew up in, I don't want this to be about religion, but I grew up in the Mormon church and it's very goal driven. They push you to set goals and achieve them.

Stephen Covey kind of came out of that. Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, or whatever that book is, that I haven't read. He's LDS Mormon. So, it's very goal driven. And when she challenged me to not make goals, I said, “That's what losers do.” Like, losers don't set goals. It's losers who don't… And I'm like, I know that sounds really judgmental. I am very judgmental of myself.

And one of the things the specters, the ghosts, that I have, they’re the demons, is I do not want to be a loser. Right? Like, I don't know where it came from; I do know where it came from, but that's not for this podcast. I’m turning this into a therapy session.

Going back to the goal thing, it's something I struggle with a lot, because like, so, I've been trying this year really hard not to set a goal for my body weight. And, it's driving me nuts.

Melissa: I love that you said, “Trying really hard not to.” It's either you set a goal or you didn’t. “I’m trying not to.”

Jake: I keep setting it, and then I’m like, stop it. Because I know I have a little body dysmorphia. So, the nutrition goals, they will be endless. There's no end to that. So, I agree with her on that. But I think you have to find a balance, is what I'm getting at. It’s taken me a long time.

But with goal setting, and not allowing excuses, or only having certain excuses. Maybe you set your goal incorrectly; that happens with me, in nutrition, a lot. But I beat myself up when I don't reach a goal. And so, I think maybe, one of the self-defense mechanisms is coming up with “good excuses,” so don't beat myself up.

Melissa: I think you're probably right. That's a good way to put it. And again, you're not the only one that does it. That's why I wanted this podcast to happen, because I knew you'd have a lot to say around stuff that people deal with. And maybe, even right now, Jake, you're like, “Well, they don't deal with it like me. They don't understand the way it is for me.” But people have the same thing. I'm so glad you're willing to talk about it some more.

One thing that you, as we were talking about, I wish I would have said differently a minute ago, is that setting a goal, I think that can be really healthy. And, I'm not saying that you should set goals for nutrition. Everybody's on their own journey.

But when you set a goal, it's not the excuses along the way to the goal. I think when you set a goal, it's very, very important that you make a plan to get to the goal. So, for workouts and eating, making a plan for; how many days a week? What does that look like? What nutrition is off limits? All of that; setting that plan.

And then, the excuses are for deciding to not honor the plan. Like, on a day, and not an excuse to give up on the goal. That's not what I mean. And so, even with a Rock... You know, people set Rocks and these things are not easy; Rocks are big efforts. They're big projects; some are easier than others. And it depends on your bandwidth that you have to give to it, etc.

But part of what I teach, which I don't know, and we do not have to get into here, that you and Chris were like, my early peeps, that were a little eye-rolly at the Monday Map/Friday Wrap. But seriously, planning your time on how you're gonna get that project done, is pretty powerful, and pretty meaningful. And, maybe you do that in your own way.

But when you set aside time, like, I'm going to spend two hours a week on this. And this is where I'm going to do it; it's going to be an hour here, and it's gonna be an hour there, whatever. Then you can make your list of excuses, why you would allow yourself to be thrown off from honoring the plan. That feels more reasonable.

Where it's like a day where one of your bulleted excuses happens, then, without guilt, without worrying about it, you let that day go. Because it was one of the things that you said ahead of time. And then, you can keep, like you show up the next time for it.

But it's not like giving up on the end goal. And, that's kind of what I meant. I do think that's harder to do, than… It's easier said than done. But the practice of that feels worthy. Practice, not perfection. The practice of it feels worthy. Because then, at least, if you go off track, you knew ahead of time; that was a good reason to go off track for that day.

And then, the next day, you're supposed to show up. If it's not one of these bullets that you already said, these are my excuses, so to speak, and I’m putting air quotes around “excuses”, or like reasons why you wouldn't show up, then I think it also helps you live a bit more balanced.

Because you can put as many of those bullets there as you want, right? You get to decide ahead of time. But it doesn't have to be super strict. It could be realizing that net/net, it's going to be a positive. If you move through your plan and make these exceptions when they come up, that you've already dictated ahead of time, or you've already stated ahead of time, then you aren't going to be perfect on your plan.

And, you don't beat yourself up over it, because you already said, “I'm not going to be perfect in my plan.” It gives you more balance. You get to have hot cocoa with your kids, instead of having this internal struggle around, I shouldn't be doing this. I'm not going to do this. I shouldn't do this. But I want to do this. Like, that internal struggle goes away, if you decide ahead of time. At least, it helps it go away, if you've decided ahead of time.

Jake: Yeah, and I think that's a good point, with the plan, because a lot of times my problem is the plan. It's not the goal, itself. And I think that's why my therapist was sort of like, she didn't say never make a goal again in your life. She's like, can you please take a break?

Like, I was talking to her about New Year's resolution. She's like, what if you didn't make any? Because I think she wanted me to reset. But I think about this, for some reason, this is easier for me to see in the nutrition world. For example, I tried doing the ketogenic diet. So, if anyone, I don't know, who hasn't heard of ketogenic diet? But you can't eat any carbs, at all.

Okay, so, and I won't debate whether that's healthy or not, but it is, it does help you lose a lot of weight, at first. So, when I've done the keto diet, I've lost weight. And then, I've also always quit. And I now know, through reading and self-reflection, that the goal is to lose weight. The plan was to follow the keto diet.

My plan is flawed because I will never not eat carbs. I can go for a period, but I work out a lot, and carbs are really important for energy. And then, I'm just not David Goggins, I'm not a bikini model. I don't have that kind of willpower. So, setting up my plan to get to a goal is something I can't do for long term.

If my goal is to lose 20 pounds, and the plan is to do keto and lose it in a month, well, that’s shit plan. I'm just setting myself up to be pissed at the end of the month. And so, I have been trying to come up with a little bit better plan. And I think what you're talking about, where you build in excuses, that's building in contingencies in your plan.

Melissa: Yeah, exactly. And, it doesn't mean you get to stop on your goal. It means, that the plan that you made, you get to skip for the day because of X, without beating yourself up. That's the thing. I guess that's the thing. Because some people can do that, and they can pick right back up. Most people don't. If they stop for a day they start to slip entirely. So, that's a thing.

All of that is driven by a narrative in our head. So, if you already sort of pre-decide what the narrative gets to be when these things happen, then it just, it's easier to stay on track. And especially when we're talking about, even with your business, it's never gonna be perfect. There's never this saunter into success. That's just not possible.

But setting a goal is important for business. Setting a goal is important. And making a well thought out, deliberate plan to get there, is important. And then, the third piece, is honoring the plan. So, it's like, if your plan isn't good enough, you can't honor your plan, because it sucked; it wasn't good enough.

It wasn't realistic. It wasn't going to allow you to get to where you wanted to go. And so, when I say well thought out, I really mean that, from even a time perspective. If you're supposed to spend time on doing things, you have to plan when you're going to do that. And, that's a really great thing.

It's funny, with private clients, I don't get up in their business about how they spend their time. I think that they are responsible for getting their stuff done. And so, they get to decide how they do that. But in Mastery Group, I do. The group people, it's a different level of work.

The private clients are higher level work; deeper work, bigger moves, bigger stuff going on. I'm privy to a lot more in the business, because I'm there with people, working on their businesses. But in the minutia, I'm less involved.

And the other group, it's like, they have more success with the minutia, because I'm more involved in it. And sometimes private clients don't want, I don't know, private clients, oftentimes are different. If they can invest in being a private client, they usually tend to have an attitude of like, just kind of like you. Where it's like, just, you know, “I got this.”

Jake: Yeah, I'll get there.

Melissa: Yeah, exactly. So, it's an interesting balance. But every human needs it, no matter how successful your business is. It's interesting for me, as a coaching perspective, there's two things that are interesting. From a coaching perspective, it's interesting to think about; how can I be more useful to people in this way, and help them learn about themselves and make better plans, etc.?

But then also, for myself, as a human, this is an interesting conversation. Because this is what I strive to do for myself, and I do for myself. Sometimes with success, sometimes with failure, and continuing to learn why. What isn't working about the plan? Or, are my excuses not enough? I didn't think hard enough at the front end? I don't know. But all of this is just brain food.

Jake: Yeah. And I think, you were talking about the difference between clients. I think different people need different things, at different spots in their lives. I talked to you about like my 20’s, where I was really inactive, and you couldn't pay me to exercise.

And now, if we're talking about a weight loss plan, at night, I think, “Oh, what am I gonna do tomorrow for the gym? I think I'm gonna do this, this and this.” I love planning out what my workout will be. But if you said, plan out your diet for the next day, I'd be like, “Fuck you.”

I think everyone has a different spot. It's not because I'm some, you know, evolved person. And I don't think that’s what you're saying, with the different groups, but it's just at different parts of your life, you have different challenges. And so, right now, if I had a personal trainer, I would need them following me around and slapping food out of my hand. But then, when it came time to work out, I'd be fine. I’d be like, “Leave me alone. I got this.”

Melissa: Okay, I guess we should tell everybody how this ended up. Basically, at the end of this call, you were like, “I made some points.” I'm like, why this is important to stick with?

Jake: I think I just conceded to get you to stop talking. I’m fine. I’m fine, Melissa.

Melissa: Oh. This is how he got me to stop talking, “It’s fine, Melissa. I’ll do it.” That's what he said at the end. I'm like, “Okay, let's go.”

Jake: So, that was a Thursday. And so then, of course, I didn't do anything on the weekend. And then, Monday morning, I can't remember exactly how I found out, but a water main had broken at our building, had flooded the parking lot, and the bathrooms were unusable, all this stuff. And so, we told everyone just work from home.

I barricade myself in my room, my bedroom, because that's the only place… I have little kids; the babysitter comes and watches them at my house. So, lock the door, my room sat down, and the funny thing is, I literally thought, “I don't really have anything to do today because, you know, I can't train on the liens, and I'm, you know, kind of…” I literally was like, well, what am I going to do?”

And then, with a horrified thought, I was like, oh yeah, the Rock. All my excuses were removed by the universe, which was just sort of fine. I actually did draft a whole set of performance standards, because it was just uninterrupted time. No one's calling me, no one's popping in the office.

So, I got those all drafted, and had a meeting with the attorneys to get their comments and their buy-in. And then, put them together and put them on Tetra Insights®, and finished the fucking Rock within like, I don't know, two weeks.

The epiphany I had with that, is… I think when I was talking to you about it, is I went to this self-help conference. Actually, Chris, Gretchen, and I all went to it. And one of the things that they talked about, that really hit me, was “what is the story you tell yourself?” When they first said it, I was like, “What are you talking about? Storytelling. This is stupid.”

That's how all new ideas are greeted by me. Like, that's stupid; defense mechanism. No, we don't want to change you. So, when you're stressed, and I think their phrase was “when you're in the shit.” When you're in the shit, what is the story you tell yourself? Because that is how you'll behave.

So, I realized, just reflecting on this, and then going back into sort of similar epiphany I had in high school, which is the story I tell myself is; I don't have enough time. I don’t have enough time. There's not enough time in the day for me to do the things I want to do, or I need to do. This is a false story.

The epiphany I had in high school, was in, I think it was 10th grade. Tenth grade, I wasn't getting very good grades. I was sort of, you know, I was one of those kids, it's like, smart enough to get good grades without trying. But it was starting to catch up to me, and I was pulling some C's in high school.

And I was just like, I don't know, like, I don't like doing homework, blah, blah, blah. And then, I turned 16, and where I was, you couldn't get a job till you turn 16. And so, I turned 16, right before my junior year, and I got a job. Because we didn't have a lot of my growing up, so I really wanted a job. And it was working…

Right after school, I had to go immediately home. I didn't have my own car and shared with my siblings. Go home, and we would carpool to this job, where I would work. And then, I'd get home at like 6:30. My first thought, then, was, I'm not gonna have time to do homework. And, you know, I kind of was freaking out about it. I think I talked to my dad and he couldn't talk me down. But I never had better grades. I got straight A's, because I had to take control of the situation.

I studied for the ACT (American College Test), got a great score. It really turned things around for me, for my whole life. Because then, I got into a good undergrad university, which then, I got into a good law school. So, the story that I was telling myself is just… Which is funny, because now, I hear my kids do this.

My elementary school kid will say, “I don't have time to get all this work done.” And my junior high kid will say, “Oh, wait till you get to junior high. It's so much harder.” Then the high school kids will be like, “No, it's so much harder in high school.” And then, of course, the parents are looking at each other like, “Ha-ha, these kids have no idea how much being an adult sucks, right?”

Really, they're all telling the same story. But their point in the story is the one ‘where it's really hard’, right? And so, adults are like, “No, it's really hard when you're adult; you don't have enough time.” Well, we all know that's not true. Look at how much money streaming services are making, right now. Like, we all got time. We just aren't spending it the way we should.

It’s just that the story, what is the story you tell yourself when you're in the shit? I think it's kind of like, what are the excuses? But it's more like the narrative you have about yourself. The narrative I have about myself is; well, I have six kids. A partner in a law firm. And I take guitar lessons, and I go to the gym, etc. I don’t have enough time for this. I have to get rid of one of them.

I just did it this morning on the way, because I haven't practiced been practicing guitar, and I got a guitar lesson. And I'm like, “I don't have time for this. I need to like… What am I doing?” It's the same thing, but like, what did I do last night? You know, I watched a couple shows on Netflix.

Melissa: Right. I can just hear people saying, “Yeah, but I need space to relax. I need downtime.” Yeah, and that is true, but there's some sort of unawareness, like lack of awareness that happens, or unconsciousness that happens, consistently, repeatedly, with checking out.

Jake: And the times when I have buckled down. I've never had a time where I buckled down and I thought, in the past, “Wow, I was so miserable, I never had any time for myself.” You find the time.

Melissa: And you're still pumped about whatever results you’re getting because of the work you're putting in.

Jake: And I'm sure there's some people who are workaholics, who do need chill out; my dad. But I think generally, for me, and I'm trying really hard not to be judgmental of other people. So, let's say for me. For me, I have a story that I tell myself when I'm in the shit, and it is usually false; this story that I tell myself.

I start out with this, say I’m a husky kid, right? I was a husky kid. There's the story I tell myself. Well, I'm always gonna be a little pudgy, right? So, sometimes the stories we tell ourselves are correct, I'm sure. But I think most of the time, it's bullshit.

Melissa: Well, it's not necessarily about right or wrong, or correct or incorrect, it's more about, is it useful? Does it inhibit progress?

Jake: Yeah. Or, is the story, you're telling yourself, that you're a victim of time? Or, the universe? Or, your spouse or your partner? Or, your children? Or, are you going to actually take some responsibility for the choices that you made? I think the story I tell myself, is to absolve myself of responsibility.

Melissa: Uh-huh. This is such a good conversation. Thank you for coming on, and for being so transparent.

Jake: Yeah. You're welcome.

Melissa: So good.

Jake: I hope that helps.

Melissa: That's what else was like, one of the just couple times you’ve been, at least ,in the moment, very annoyed and pissed at me, but I knew we'd be all right. I didn't know that you would get your Rock done. So, I was super pumped that… I mean, you came and you got it done before the retreat. It was awesome.

Jake: You know, it’s funny, I almost didn't want to tell you. Because I'm like, ugh, she’s going to be like, “I told you, so.” Just kidding.

Melissa: I would never say that. Well, thanks, for coming on the podcast.

Jake: You're welcome. Thanks for having me, Melissa.

Melissa: Talk to you soon.

Jake: Alright, thanks.

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 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 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 where you can plug in to Quarterly Strategic Planning, with accountability and coaching in between. This is the work that creates Velocity.

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