“Pressure is what you feel when you don’t know what you are doing.”
- Peyton Manning
This quote stopped me in my tracks. My first inclination was to disagree, because I sometimes feel pressure because of a deadline or because of the importance of some activity, even though I know what I’m doing. Digging a bit deeper, though, I think Manning has a point.
When it comes to business development, the lawyers most under pressure are those who don’t have a cohesive plan, who aren’t implementing their plan consistently, or who haven’t fully committed to one or more activities that are likely to help them secure work. Although they know what they’re doing on certain levels, there’s a disconnect between intellectual knowing and buckling down to do the work. If you know that you should request an on-site meeting with a client, for example, and you expect that you might well land more business or receive a referral or even deepen a valuable relationship, but you don’t ask for the meeting, you’re going to feel pressure.
In contrast, if you have a plan that you’re implementing consistently, though you may feel tension until you see results from your plan, that tension is different in nature. When you know what you’re doing, both in terms of the specific activities and the timing, you also know that you can shift your plan as needed to tweak your results.
You know that you have something that’s fundamentally workable. You’ve done your homework and you’ve prepared yourself and your plan.
Do you feel pressure about business development? If you do, take a few minutes today to get to the source of that pressure. You’ll probably find that it’s one of these issues:
- You don’t know what you’re doing (you don’t have a plan or you don’t know how to implement some aspect of your plan)
- You don’t know how to make time to implement your plan consistently (so you never have an opportunity to reach momentum)
- You don’t know how to perform one or more activities incorporated in your plan (and so you haven’t even started)
- You’re terribly uncomfortable about some aspect of your plan (you aren’t confident that you can engage in business development activity without harming relationships… or your ego)
- You need to bring in new business now and you don’t yet know that your plan will work (you haven’t implemented your plan and you’re focusing on the need for business rather than on your ability to meet that need)
Which of these issues underlies the pressure you’re feeling? Once you’ve identified the problem, you’re that much closer to solving it.