Whatever it is, developing business is the way to get it, or to protect it, or to build it. There isn't any other route.
Yesterday I was watching a DVD of the final movie in the Lord of The Rings series, The Return of The King. In one of the climactic scenes of the film, Aragorn, King of Gondor, is rallying his troops before the final, ultimate battle. He's wonderfully portrayed by Viggo Mortenson. In the film, this is really Armageddon, the decisive battle between good and evil. His men are facing a vastly bigger army, and every one of them is going to die. They're frightened. And Aragorn screams out this speech:
Hold your ground! Hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan. My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me! A day may come, when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of Fellowship, but it is not this day! An hour of wolves and shattered shileds when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, stand, men of the West!
And I was thinking about that last sentence, the one I've emphasized, and the phrase "By all that you hold dear on this good earth . . . "
What do I hold dear? What really, really matters to me? If I had to decide or say that my life, that I, was about something, for something, what would that be? For me, and I suspect for a lot of people, it would be my children. It might be something different for you. It doesn't matter.
I want my children to be safe, to be secure, to be happy, educated, protected and to have the chance to grow and thrive and live good lives. My parents gave that to me, and I want to give it to my children. Again, I doubt I'm alone in this.
And I cannot provide this -- I don't have a prayer -- if my business doesn't do well. Whatever else I do or don't do, if the business isn't strong, and profitable, and growing, I'm not going to get much of anywhere, and neither are my children.
Every time you think about doing something to strengthen your practice, to move you forward on the professional road towards a higher income, security, independence, even if the step is tiny, it's a step towards whatever really matters to you.
These are scary times, particularly for the legal profession. I exchanged emails with a contact who told me that membership in the ABA had declined 40%. That's astounding. I have no idea if it's true, but a lot of people are facing the loss of their incomes, their savings, their careers, maybe their famiilies. I had a telephone conversation yesterday with another colleague who was called into her boss's office on Friday and summarily fired. Out of absolutely nowhere. Another colleague owns several very heavily mortgaged properties here in the Bay Area. He's underwater, and has to figure something out, quickly, or his home, his children, his wife -- all are in trouble. This is a long list, and everyone's got one.
For a lot of people, the things they hold dear on this good earth are in real, serious danger. To protect them, to safeguard them, to reach them, you need a strong, healthy, vital professional practice -- a lot of contacts, a pipeline full of prospects, and the momentum all that brings. When you decide to do nothing, and hope that everything will just work out, or depend on the status quo to keep things as they've always been, you are risking a lot more than your income, or your career, or your professional reputation. You're also risking the things you really, really care about.