In business, strategy is about making choices. I was reminded of this recently when I ran into Barry Horwitz at our racquet club.
Barry is a strategy consultant to non-profits and start ups. He writes a lot about strategy and the role it plays in building profitability or in helping a mission driven organization to have more impact.
Seeing Barry made me think about the choices I have made this year as a member of our club. It also made me realize that there is a connection between choosing how to spend my time and the choices I encourage my own coaching clients to make in managing their legal careers or in marketing themselves.
Our club is home to both tennis and squash courts. While I grew up playing tennis, as an adult, I have gravitated more towards squash. (It never rains on the squash court.)
In the summer of 2022, I did get on the tennis court a few times and by the end of the August, I had decided that in summer 2023, I would pick up tennis again in earnest.
Unfortunately, my back didn’t cooperate and by September 2022, I was unable to play either squash or tennis for over six months.
I tried chiropractic and physical therapy for a while. But it wasn’t until March (and several trips to the acupuncturist), that I was back out on the squash court. And by the time the tennis season rolled around, I was still getting used to hitting a squash ball.
I had a few outings on the tennis court as well. But I soon realized that I was going to be lousy at both if I didn’t choose. After four attempts to regain my tennis skills, I came to the conclusion that I’d rather improve my squash game and leave tennis for another year.
It was clear to me that you can’t be good at everything. If you want to grow, you are better off working on improving one or two things at a time. Focus is key in athletics.
Focus is also key in becoming a better and more successful attorney. If you try to serve everyone, you’ll be known for nothing. If you try to improve your skills in multiple practice areas at the same time, chances are you’ll be mediocre at all of them.
Do you serve fortune 100 companies, main street businesses, non-profits, or middle class clients? Or are you trying to serve everyone?
Do you focus on one or two industries? On a particular type of legal work?
Being strategic is important if you want to grow your practice. It is just as important to articulate what you don’t do as it is to say who you serve.
I decided a few years ago to drop recruiting and focus solely on coaching lawyers. My strategy includes only working with attorneys who are ready to commit to working on their goals for at least four to six months. I only bill on a flat fee basis. I don’t coach other professionals. And much of my own professional development is focused on becoming a better coach.
Having a strategy will advance your career more quickly. And you’ll feel more competent. So what’s your strategy for career success?