Kakorrhaphiophobia….are you immune?

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A picture of a cute kitten often gets an audience hooked in….but why have I used one here?……read on.

You do what you do and do it well, right?

The new things you are learning to do you don’t do so well just now…well because you are learning.

If you talk about the things you are learning to do, my guess is you do this apologetically. When we are not very certain about what we are doing, trying to find our feet we are often worried about what others might be thinking.

The questions in our mind…the “What if I….”

do it badly

fail altogether

look silly

look amateurish

get ridiculed

lose face

drives us often to stop doing or worse still, not even begin.

Kakorrhaphiophobia is a fear of failure. Probably far more extreme than your own fear since in a clinical sense it is an abnormal and irrational one.

The effects of fear do however drive us to avoid doing new things.

Doing things badly at first

Children have to learn. Falling off the bike for the thousandth time is no bar to another….just one more go…attempt. That attempt may be the defining one.

And do you suppose that a unicyclist did not risk grazed knees or broken ankles to perfect his skill?

A magician’s act which goes wrong will generally still command applause – the act of trying is what gains recognition, support and encouragement and provided the outcome is not catastrophic in terms of loss of life or limb the magician will be back the following night to try again.

Failing altogether

Who cares? Really.

And how do you define a “fail”?

True failure is surely not making the effort in the first place.

Looking silly or amateurish

No one is watching you.

This will dent your ego but….very few people are thinking about you or what you do at all.

Even if they happen across what you are doing why would they criticise you for it?

Besides, your skin is tough. You have been here before. Did it penetrate and damage you? No.

Brush the naysayers aside, slush them off with ice cold water and get back to it.

Ridicule and face saving

Catagelophobia (the real reason I used a feline image!) is fear of ridicule in an extreme and debilitating sense.

Being laughed at is not within most peoples list of desired outcomes (unless we are back to the unicyclist analogy) so they avoid the risk of that and feel (if they dare to stray into potentially dark uncharted waters) elements of panic and reluctance nibbling at their psyche.

Why all this theoretical claptrap then?

Well being afraid of failing is natural but fruitless.

When you try and when you succeed those that laughed will be laughing on the other side of their faces.

Try something new just for the sheer bare-faced challenge. Strike out with a bold statement of intention and a dramatic flourish.

Either that or stayed hidden like a petrified kitten.

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13 truths about lawyers….for lawyers

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Let’s not pussy-foot around.

Here are a list of truths about lawyers:

1. They work long hours;

2. They had to study hard to get qualified;

3. They are not universally satisfied with their career as it is or the trajectory for it;

4. Litigators have had to weather so many storms – the CPR, fixed costs, case tracking, removal of legal aid and have more to come potentially with the Online Court Service for low value claims and the Civil Liability Bill;

5. They have no actionable marketing plan…..by this I mean one that will work;

6. Marketing and sales are dirty words which have no relevance to the work they do;

7. Billable hours are all that matter;

8. Partnership is a goal;

9. Their work is not recognised;

10. All clients are a negligence claim waiting to happen;

11. Their clients can get hold of them just 5 days a week;

12. Networking events never realise as much as they or others want, demand or seek;

13. Almost every tiny thing they do is risk assessed or subject to constraint, control and scrutiny.

How many nail heads did this list hit with you, dear lawyer?

The list is a collection of things I know. Mostly from my own experience as a Legal Executive then Solicitor at the coal face of litigation but also from what I see today.

The thing is that the profession is indeed “professional”. By this I mean a valued and respected contributor to the society we live in. It manages itself in a well regulated way. Most clients are happy with the service they get.

But, most complain about the costs of using you (even if they don’t make that known they certainly think it). Some moan. Some sue. Most just use you for the thing they need and move on.

Move on. Yes. Many clients will not use you again.

An increasing number will turn to the internet for help. The knowledge available and the resources for people to do the routine administrative side of things for themselves is expanding. It will continue to do so.

The problem is you.

It isn’t personal.

But ask yourself this: what are you for?……what is your purpose?

You see the newspaper industry thought it was immune. So did the travel industry.

You think you are.

Here is the news….you are not.

You are going to have to do something new. Something different. Something to effect a change.

How will you find work. Good, interesting, rewarding, ground-breaking, life-altering work?

If you want something new then you will have to stop doing the old stuff first.

Here is a list of old stuff lawyers do:

1. Wear suits (not intended to be gender specific – “formal attire” if you prefer);

2. Speak to clients when it suits the lawyer best;

3. Barricade themselves into their ivory towers;

4. Contend that the client knows less than they do;

5. Charge too much for what they actually do;

6. Confuse;

7. Use the wrong language;

8. Have the same list of “legal services” as every other firm in the street;

9. Have corporate blue colouring on their website or other “hey look I am a law firm” cliches;

10. Talk;

11. Do not listen;

12. The same marketing they have done for years;

13. Place ads;

14. Run seminars or events;

15. Print business cards for their personnel;

16. Employ a receptionist to screen calls and new business;

17. Send out questionnaires after they complete work;

18. Sponsor a club or raise money for charity.

19. Spend good money on ad campaigns nobody cares about.

I could go on.

I don’t mean to be disparaging but invite you to look in the mirror.

How many nail heads did this list hit with you, dear lawyer?

It is very confusing in the World today. The pace of technology, media in all its forms, the demands for expenditure on placement, ads and corporate functions and events.

You need a plan. Not the vague one you have in your mind nor the detailed line-by- line analytically exhausting one that the marketing personnel prepared for you.

No. I mean an actual plan that looks at (another list coming right up):

1. The change you want to make;

2. What the beliefs are of those you seek to speak to;

3. People.

It is demanding. It is extraordinarily difficult. It isn’t what you know about is it?

Above all, the plan…the work you absolutely must do….. will not do itself. It cannot be done by outsourcing to a marketing team. It has to be done by you.

Sure, enlist help – you must do this – but this is your career, your livelihood, your business.

Beyond all of that, it is your future as a lawyer.

The alternative – you have no future as a lawyer. Your professional world as you understand it will continue to crumble. No demand for you will = No reward.

Step up.

Do it now.

Not later.

Do it now.

Not tomorrow.

Do it now.

Not next year.

Do it now.

It’s about discovering the great and rare work you do. Getting the word out about your value and building something that the clients you want to help actually care about.

The legal service you offer is not a “thing”, a gadget that people decide they must have.

It is a scarce and special life-changer that the World needs.

Not the whole World but the people for whom your story and the work you do, gives a fairy tale ending.

Get yer kit off

….and write.

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It isn’t compulsory of course but apparently, from time to time, Victor Hugo liked to put pen to paper in his birthday suit.

Pen. Paper.

How much great literary good, thought provoking and life changing text has arisen from the union of these two. Without each other they are capable of a lot less….a bit of origami, a paper aeroplane….

Together they can change the world. Relativity, Origin of Species, Penicillin, Les Miserables – ink on wood pulp.

There is a connectivity when you use these old tools. Your handwriting is a thing of natural beauty however appalling it might look on the page.

When did you last do a piece of creative handwriting? Get back to it for some of the things you use a keyboard for. Creatively it is quite different.

Lawyer screwed by robot

It’s official.

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Lawyers are being replaced by AI.

Already individuals can virtually conduct their own cases, do their own conveyancing, write their own wills by using information, forms and abundant information available in the ether.

Exciting times for them…the solicitors, I mean.

Well the ones that realise they must change. And find a meaningful way to do so.