The New Normal

Making a Commitment to Change and Opening Up ‘Endless Possibilities’

Posted Jan 4, 2012 2:30 PM CST
By Patrick J. Lamb

I was driving somewhere listening to ESPN on the radio. The host was John Kincade.

Kincade mentioned being a cancer survivor and that the experience led him to his mantra on life—“endless possibilities.”

Maybe because it was New Year’s Day, I was drawn to this phrase. It perfectly describes the state of play in the New Normal. Let me explain why I believe this is so.

The economy is not good. Unemployment remains depressingly high. We continue to fight a war, and the country’s deficit will choke our children. Many homeowners find themselves with a mortgage that is under water. Meals at home are far more frequent than before and the restaurants of choice now tend to McDonald’s instead of something more refined.

In the legal world, change is occurring and it is discomforting for most. The good old days seem farther and farther away.

This world’s situation is what it is. Each of us has a personal situation that is what it is too. Whining about it will never change it. So for each of us, the question is: What are you going to do about your personal situation? About the world’s? It seems that New Year’s is a good time for asking that question.

Seth Godin provided further impetus for this notion of “endless possibilities” in his post “The chance of a lifetime.” His post closed with this thought:

You get to make a choice. You can remake that choice every day, in fact. It’s never too late to choose optimism, to choose action, to choose excellence. The best thing is that it only takes a moment – just one second – to decide.

Before you finish this paragraph, you have the power to change everything that’s to come. And you can do that by asking yourself (and your colleagues) the one question that every organization and every individual needs to ask today: Why not be great?

Why not be great? The difficulties of the world and of the profession open doors to change that allow each of us to choose to do things that we love to do. But here’s the problem. Making the decision requires us to do something different from what we are doing now. There’s that word—change.

I’m not talking about New Year’s resolutions kind of change. I’m talking about the kind of change that takes it from an event to a way of life, the kind of change where you wake up and ask yourself what you are going to do today that will be different and better than what you did the day before. That is the kind of opportunity that the world as it is creates for all us. And the New Normal is about people deciding to walk down that path of change.

Change isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it. It takes a rare commitment, the unleashing of an inner passion many of us probably don’t even realize exists within us. If you want to start down the road of change, or if you have and just want some support, here are some questions that I have found to be helpful to ask frequently:

    1. Why am I doing what I am doing? (If it is simply to make a living, you’ve just put yourself in the same category as ditch diggers.)
    2. How can what I do every day be done better?
    3. If I was starting out with a perfectly clean computer screen, how would I design what I am doing?
    4. What are the “endless possibilities” I can envision today about my life, my career, my company?
    5. What can I do that would make my clients’ lives better?
    6. Why am I not doing it?

In my office, I keep a framed copy of my favorite quote from George Bernard Shaw: “Some men see things as they are and say why—I dream things that never were and say why not.” Let the new year be a time of dreaming big dreams, or even little ones, and unleashing the inner passion to make them so.

Patrick Lamb is a founding member of Valorem Law Group, a litigation firm representing business interests. Valorem helps clients solve their business disputes and coping with pressures to reduce legal spend using nontraditional approaches, including use of nonhourly fee structures, coordination with LPOs or contract lawyers, joint-venturing with other firms and implementation of project management tools to handle lawsuits or portfolios of litigation.

Pat is the author of the the recently published book Alternative Fee Arrangements: Value Fees and the Changing Legal Market. He also blogs at In Search Of Perfect Client Service.

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