What’s Your Passion?
If you’re going to try cases, it’s important that you take on the type of cases you care about. They have to really matter to you.
Before we get started, let me ask you a couple of questions. What do you enjoy doing? What would you like to do more than anything else in the world?
I ask this question because almost without exception, successful trial lawyers are usually those people who follow their passion. They’re doing what they truly enjoy doing. They’re pouring their heart and soul in to a project that means everything in the world to them.
So I ask you one more time. What is your passion?
For many, this is a tough question to answer. After all, passions can change as we go through life. Another thing to take in to consideration is that just because you’re passionate about one thing doesn’t necessarily mean your spouse or family is too.
Here’s my short story about how I found my passion. Hopefully it will shed some light on how the process just might work for you.
While growing up on a ranch about 20 miles outside of Tucson, my early passion was riding and racing motorcycles. The rest of my family preferred riding horses so every now and then, we had a bit of friction between family members.
But looking back, there was nothing I enjoyed more than getting up early in the morning and riding out in to the desert and later on, racing on the local tracks. I enjoyed the challenge and thrill of racing and challenge of learning new riding skills and techniques.
Scuba diving with my father in the Sea of Cortez resulted in life long memories. The feelings I still have when thinking about our night and cave dives still make me smile.
When I started college, my passion changed to flying hang gliders. I loved spending my weekends flying for hours above the tops of remote mountains or ridges in Southern Arizona. Our flying trips to Merriam Crater in Northern Arizona will never be forgotten.
After college and while living in Lake Tahoe, I enjoyed a couple of back to back 50 day ski seasons. In the summers, I began to enjoy windsurfing on the beautiful high mountain lake. The sport was relatively new at the time but my friends and I quickly started competing (and winning) the local races which included some crazy times on the San Francisco Bay.
Then I started law school. A new passion began to fester deep inside my core. The courses I was taking taught me how to help people with their legal problems. After graduating from law school and becoming a trial lawyer, I was able to apply what I learned in class to help clients win their cases in court.
I like helping people. I really enjoy winning trials and making a difference. These core feelings continued to grow inside me. I can now say that almost three decades later (that sure did go fast!), the passion I have to help others continues to be the most powerful passion I’ve ever experienced. It’s really cool. It’s fun and despite the long hours, it really doesn’t feel like work to me.
As a lawyer, I’m living my passion each and every day. With the advent of online social platforms, I’m also excited and passionate about the fact that with this new relationship making and building power, things are ongoing to get even more and more exciting. For me, it just doesn’t get any better than this!
So how about you?
Whatever it is, start to design a life around it. Begin to modify your behavior and goals to include your passion in to your daily activities.
Here’s an example…
Let’s say you’re a lawyer or any other type of professional or business person (insert your job or occupation here) and your practice involves helping people start new companies. Each week, you normally draft new corporations and update LLC operating agreements for your clients. You might counsel them on tax issues and every once in awhile, help them with their litigation needs.
The problem is, you feel overworked, underappreciated, and slightly burned out. You don’t really enjoy what you’re doing. You need to shake things up a bit but do not know where to start.
The internal problem that you’re dealing with is that you love baseball (again- insert any word that best describes YOUR passion) but you’re pushing corporate paperwork. You enjoy watching baseball but don’t have the time to take in as many Angel games as you’d like.
Truth be told, your perfect Saturday morning is coaching Little League. There’s nothing you’d rather do than teach kids how to field the ball, hit line drives, and practice good sportsmanship. Baseball’s in your blood and being in the office all day long doing paperwork is starting to become a bit draining and monotonous.
Here’s what you do. Incorporate your passion about baseball in to your everyday life!
Keep in mind that I’m using baseball as an example. This approach works with any type of passion you may have. Whatever your passion- photography, knitting, dancing or writing, it simply doesn’t matter. Simply insert your passion for the word “baseball” and take off running. Here’s what I mean…
Start a blog about baseball. Share your passion in the blog using videos, audios, and articles. Post video interviews that you do of local coaches and players. Write articles about the big weekend game. Baseball tips and tools—put it all in your blog.
Baseball teams and leagues all need legal counsel. Most leagues are corporations and many have more legal issues than they care to think about. Incorporation services, updating minutes, and resolving litigation all require good legal counsel.
On your blog or website, include a section about baseball and the law. Offer viewers an opportunity to watch your videos (or listen to your audio podcast or read your uploaded articles) discussing the latest liability waivers or about how incorporating a league can save money via tax deductions and accounting procedures.
Find and then genuinely interact and comment with other top baseball blogs. Setup social media sites and link them to your main blog. Include it in your email signatures. Share your new baseball related resources in your monthly “Baseball and the Law” newsletter to clients and friends.
Work on your new baseball passion each week. Heck, turn off the television and work on it each evening. Share your passion in your site or blog and good things will start to happen.
What you’ll find over time is that you’ll begin to engage with other people who have a similar interest and passion about baseball. New relationships will be formed. Clients will gravitate to you because you share a common passion about baseball or sports in general. It’s a synergistic process. It’s a process that works well.
Trust me, you’ll see.
Do this and you’ll by this time next baseball season, you’ll probably be closing your next big deal in the bottom of the sixth inning at the Angels vs. Yankees game in Anaheim. Design your life and then live it my friend!
And when you follow your passion there’s even more good stuff to come!
If you do things right and follow your passion, all of the work that you put in to building your new lawyer/baseball project will not feel like work at all. In fact, you’re going to have so much fun putting your blog and social media sites together and building your new empire that you’ll wish there were more than 24 hours in a day.
When it’s all said and done, that’s how you follow your passion. You think outside the box, take risks, develop a plan and then execute it with relentless passion.
Now don’t get me wrong. Hard work is what separates the successful from the “could haves” or “would haves”. But when you’re doing something you really enjoy, something you’re extremely passionate about, it truly doesn’t feel so much like work. Chances are, you’ll probably catch yourself smiling and wanting more just about the time others have had enough and are ready to quit.
Incorporate passion in to your life and you’ll be a better lawyer, spouse, parent, neighbor and friend. Don’t wait any longer. Take action and incorporate your passions in to your practice today! Do this and you’ll end up being a more effective and better trial lawyer.
Mitch Jackson has been a trial lawyer for 27 years and is a 2013 California Litigation Lawyer of the Year (CLAY Award) and 2009 Orange County Trial Lawyer of the Year. When he’s not trying cases, Mitch uses social media to help good attorneys become great trial lawyers and to show everyone (not just lawyers) how to be better communicators. His law firm website is JacksonandWilson.com and his communication tips blog is MitchJackson.com Connect with Mitch on Twitter @MitchJackson