Legal Business Development: 4 Tips to Master Progress over Perfection

Perfectionist. It’s the good news and the bad news. It can make you a great lawyer, but it can also stop your progress in business development. Here are 4 tips that will help you make progress and keep perfectionism at bay.

1. Be Real

When you are building a book of business, it matters more that you are REAL and that you make progress rather than being perfect. I know lawyers find this VERY hard to embrace. I’m not talking about accepting mediocrity… taking a diamond with a few flaws not visible with the naked eye as acceptable… because the diamond is none the less beautiful. Seth Godin says it so brilliantly…

“Effortless. When John Coltrane plays the melody early in the track Harmonique, you can hear some of the notes crack. Of course, Coltrane was completely capable of playing these notes correctly. And yet he didn’t. It’s this effort and humanity that touches us about his solo, not just the melody.

Sometimes, ‘never let them see you sweat,’ is truly bad advice. The work of an individual who cares often exposes the grit and determination and effort that it takes to be present.

Perfecting your talk, refining your essay, and polishing your service until all elements of you disappear might be obvious tactics, but they remove the thing we were looking for: you.”

Yes… YOU! Let YOU come shining through to make it REAL.

2. Keep it Moving

What I see over and over again is the fact that many business development initiatives seem to get “stalled.” Why? Because they needed more work… the article was not perfect yet… the blog post was not substantive enough… and so on, and so on.

It is a very uncomfortable thought that you would put your name on something that isn’t perfect. But I ask you… “Whose job is it to judge if something is perfect?” Of course it seems that it is YOURS. When was the last time you saw a PERFECT anything? Not recently, I’d bet! Everything can be improved in some way… big or small. So, I challenge you to find a point that your business development initiatives are “perfect enough.” And let go! Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress! 

Learn from your initiatives and make them better the next time. Because as we know… business development initiatives need to be repeated to yield results. You will have plenty of opportunities to improve as you progress. But you need to do something in order to PROGRESS! So, as they say… let go and just do it!

3. Have a Little Faith

The one obstacle that gets in the way of progress for many of my clients is waiting for things to be “perfect” before they take the next step. Sometimes achieving positive results just requires a little faith in ones self, not perfection. Let me ask you: When was the last time you, REALLY failed at something? Yes, we have all made mistakes. But have you failed? Probably NEVER. You wouldn’t be where you are if you had. You are smart and have many experiences that will help you avoid pitfalls, so have a little faith in yourself and take the leap even if things aren’t perfect. Your instincts will guide you.

Let’s face it… PERFECT doesn’t exist anyway. Every single thing can be improved. When is an article ready for publication… after 40 minutes, 4 hours, 40 hours or 400 hours? If you are writing about what you know, it can take just 40 minutes. Some people work on an article for weeks.  If it is for business development purposes… stop!

Think about the results you could achieve if you take a leap of faith… then assess the situation, make adjustments, and try again. I have had the pleasure of watching many clients do just that and the results are amazing. So, you can choose to adjust and adjust until you think something is perfect OR you can choose PROGRESS.

4. You Don’t Have to Know The Outcome in Order to Begin

You don’t ask a question you don’t know the answer to. You want to be certain and be right. These are admirable qualities when it comes to the practice of law. But when it comes to business development… they can actually work against you! Every accomplished lawyer, acclaimed author, top speaker, or celebrated achiever in any practice area have one thing in common… they began when they were none of those things.

So, just begin… you don’t have to know the outcome. No one does! Don’t expect perfection… be real, keep moving, have a little faith, and enjoy the journey!