Success in life doesn’t come easily. There are many obstacles and failures along the way to reaching your goals. There are all sorts of factors that contribute to success, but there is one that is often more important than all the others: Perseverance. The dictionary meaning of Perseverance is persisting in or remaining constant to a purpose, idea, or task in spite of obstacles.  

The world is full of stories of those that have “succeeded” only after years of trial and effort. Thomas Alva Edison, one of the great inventors of the 20th century, is famous for his invention of the electric light bulb, among other things. Edison had close to 10,000 failures before he succeeded in making the electric light bulb a reality. Edison was quick to point out that the thing that made him famous occurred after years of not being successful. Note- he never used the word “failure.”

I have always viewed unsuccessful attempts at projects as learning experiences, not as failures. OF course, some of my lessons were expensive, but they helped me reach my final goal and become successful.

Very few “successful” entrepreneurs, salespeople, law firm owners, or professionals can say they achieved success without some degree of trial and error, and usually many errors. In fact, many will admit (if they are truthful) that their success came to them after a long period of time, during which they did some pretty foolish things which cost them a lot of time and money.

In my law firms, I always preached to my associate lawyers that the only way to become a better trial lawyer was to go and try cases. Period. You learn from your mistakes (“learning experiences.”)

I believe there are Six Characteristics of Perseverance- that Every Law Firm Owner Needs in order to Build a Successful Personal Injury Law Firm.

Here are the first three: 

1. PASSION:  

Passion is the most important characteristic of perseverance. What I mean by passion is that you have to have that burning desire and love for what you are doing. It has to be fun. It has to be intriguing. When you get up in the morning, you must be excited about getting to work. When my children were in their teen and young adult years, I often told them that if they find something that they have a passion and love for, then I could easily find a way for them to make money from that passion.  

I used to tell my associates and staff that if they got up in the morning and dreaded coming to work, that they needed to come and see me. My job was to help them find a job within my organization for which they did have a passion so that they could look forward to coming to work and being a part of my organization. If there was no suitable seat on the bus for them, then both they and the organization are far better off without them- and their talents and abilities would be better served elsewhere. Unhappy and unmotivated staff bring not only themselves down but also the organization.

Over the years, I have often been accused of being a workaholic. But the honest truth is that I have always really enjoyed what I was doing. When I was building my law firms, I enjoyed the process. It never occurred to me that I was “working.” I was having fun and obtaining a goal for which I had a burning desire. Now that I am mentoring lawyers and facilitating Legal Masterminds through PILMMA, I experience immeasurable joy watching other lawyers reach and exceed the levels of law firm success that I have done. Even at 64, I still get up each day genuinely excited to go to work- Whether it’s recording podcasts, conducting webinars, mentoring or coaching lawyers, or facilitating Masterminds- I love all of it. I’m passionate about helping lawyers grow. 

Each one of us deserves to find that place in which our work feeds our passions.

2. POSITIVE ATTITUDE:  

Some people see the glass as half-empty, and some see the same glass as half full. To have perseverance, you must really be able to see the glass as half full. When faced with obstacles, you must be able to find the positive. You must ask yourself: What positive things can I take from this experience? You cannot allow doubts to cloud your perspective. Doubts are contagious. How can you motivate others to help you achieve your goals if they are full of doubts?

Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that your goals or ideas can’t work. 

I see successful entrepreneurs and people that are go-getters ignore the ones who say they can’t do it because of this or that. The negative individuals make all these lame excuses about why it can’t work instead of seeing how it can work.  

One key to keeping a positive attitude is to surround yourself with positive people. I have always dreamed and tried to avoid negative people and negativity in general. It’s a downer. Negative people bring down everyone around them.  

As my mother once told me: “You are who you have around.” One of the keys to having perseverance and being successful is to hang around like-minded people. And when I say like-minded, I mean people who don’t see the glass as half empty. Instead, these people see the glass as half full. They don’t focus on what can go wrong- they see what can go right!

Mark Twain said it most eloquently when he said: “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

3. DISCIPLINE:

Another important element of perseverance is discipline. You must discipline yourself to follow through and finish things. You must set goals and understand the necessary steps to meeting those goals. 

Setting benchmarks is one of my favorite things to do.

If I have a goal that is going to take three months to reach, I break it down by weeks and set mini-goals for myself. If it’s a project or task that’s going to take a year, then I break it down by months. 

Then I break the months down by weeks and the weeks down by days. This system disciplines you to get things done. It allows you to tackle a big project, one step at a time. As my father once told me: “The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”  

And don’t make excuses. 

I’ve never seen a successful person make an excuse as to why they couldn’t get something done. Successful people understand why something didn’t get done, and they fix it for the future.

Another key element to discipline is organization. I use lists constantly. At the end of every day, I sit down and write out a list of everything I want to get done the next day. I rank these tasks by “A’s,” “B’s,” and “C’s.” “A’s” are the things that must be done the next day. “B’s” are the things that need to be done, and “C’s” are the things I would like to get done, but that can wait. If you do this each day, your “C’s” become “B’s,” and your “B’s” become “A’s.”  

**Here’s the Secret to Getting things Done: Always do the hardest thing first! Tackle your biggest and hardest tasks while you are fresh. Once the hardest task is behind you, you will be even more motivated to knock out the other tasks on your list. When lawyers implement this method in their own practices, many tell me that they are amazed at how much more they accomplish- Many times, the things we dread the most and keep putting off because it is hard or difficult doesn’t typically take as long to accomplish as you originally thought. 

Sometimes you will find that you spent far more time dreading the task than it took to complete it! Discipline is key not only for following through but for the way in which you arrange your work each day.

** DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT NEXT WEEK’S BLOG FOR PART 2  

*** And if you are serious about surrounding yourself with the right kind of like-minded people, then click here to find out more about PILMMA’s Mastermind groups- It’s where lawyers connect with other like-minded successful law firm entrepreneurs to experience greater success faster than they ever could alone. Click here to learn more https://www.pilmma.org/the-mastermind-effect/