Monday, October 29, 2012

Take Control

As a follow up to last week's post about bringing courage into your career, I want to take a moment to promote another aspect of successful business people that lawyers can learn from - taking control.  One of the most successful business people I've ever met, Bob Parsons, has an air about him.  It's an air of authority.  A larger than life personality that fills the room even before he enters it.  A big part of that is how he takes control of every moment of his life.  It's a trait that a lot of entrepreneurs have - don't like your 9 to 5, quit and take control of your own financial future.

Now, we can't all be entrepreneurs for macroeconomic and microeconomic reasons.  Lawyers on a whole would make horrible entrepreneurs precisely because we have a hard time taking risks.  As counterintuitive as it sounds, taking control over your career is also taking the biggest risk one can make professionally.  It's no secret that I am the breadwinner in my family with three children depending on me, one of which requires extensive and expensive therapies.  So taking control of my career, and the risk that making a mistake may cost that stability is the scariest thing on earth to me.

But that doesn't mean that I, or you, should let our fears run our careers.  You're much more likely to gain the respect of your peers and your management team if you bring a little of that entrepreneurial spirit to your practice.  Take some risks occasionally  not just risks to the business by letting that indemnity clause go, but risks to you by speaking out against a bad business idea or setting boundaries to when and what you will do.  Control your career by branching out in speaking engagements, or social media.  Garner a name for yourself independent of your employer to make yourself a commodity worth keeping.  Understand your worth and offer proof of it to your employer on a regular basis - not just at review time.  Keep your options open.  In the corporate world today, loyalty is only so valuable.  You need to keep honing your skills and keep an eye on the job market.  Know what it's doing at all times and know how easily or how difficult it will be for you to find your next opportunity.  Don't be at the mercy of a bad boss, or a bad business plan.

Take control of your career in the way that serial CEOs do.  Like them, you'll find that once you control yourself, you'll start to emit an air of authority that creates a respect before you even enter the room.  With that, you can better control the rest of your world, all while still receiving a paycheck from someone else.

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