Step outside your comfort zone! That’s one of the principles of the Dale Carnegie Institute. The idea is that once you start doing something you don’t usually do, you’ll conquer fears, discover new hidden talents and learn something about yourself.
How does this apply to lawyers? Somewhere in the distance, outside the comfort zone, hopefully well over the horizon, but still somewhere out there, lies a place called Possible Malpractice Heights, right next to Unsatisfied Client land. Maybe it’s best to stay safely ensconced in the comfort zone?
When to take the leap
Of course, being a lawyer encompasses many skills other than practicing law. I was discussing marketing tactics with a colleague, Sean, and he shared an idea that he was considering. Sean learned this idea from IT consultants who had adopted the practice of spending an hour before and after each job, cold calling on all the other firms in the building where their client was located. Sean wondered if this could work for his legal practice, as well. Of course, like most people, the idea of cold calling on strangers induced some fear. After all, we all hate rejection.
I thought of my friend, Mark. After practicing law for a few years, Mark decided to start a business. Part of his marketing strategy involved cold-calling offices to see if they would be interested in his service. Having never done anything like that, it was really outside his comfort zone! Mark’s business didn’t pan out, but he looks back on facing his fears of cold calling as an invaluable lesson that serves him to this day.
I told Sean about Mark’s experience. I told him how Mark related that just kicking his fears to the curb and doing something that was terrifying was a very validating experience. It was worth facing the rejection, just for the experience.
This brings me back to my original question: How do lawyers fare with stepping outside of their comfort zone?
Usually, not great, but here’s a story where one did: A client of mine is an excellent litigator. One of his clients approached him and wanted to acquire a small business. Acquisitions were not in his comfort zone, but he reached out to me and I helped him to serve his client. We worked on it together and the client was very satisfied with the result and the bill. Maybe he had read this blog.