You are sitting at your desk working on an important client matter. All of a sudden you get an email from a friend about going to an event over the weekend. Do you continue working and ignore the email? Or, do you stop, read and answer the email and then go back to your work?
I believe the most successful lawyers in 2018 and beyond will be those who are able to stay focused and not be easily distracted.
Years ago, I gave a presentation on career success and life fulfillment to 250 Dallas Junior League members I began:
Can any of you tell me the date today?
Several in the audience called out “October 9th.”
I continued: “As you will read in the handout materials, October 9th in 1978 was a defining moment in my life. Our daughter, Jill was born 6 weeks prematurely that day and the Doctors didn’t know if she or my wife Nancy would pull through.
I asked the group.
Why am I taking you back to 1978, other than to remember our daughter’s birthday?
It was easier to have a successful career and a fulfilling life then. It was easier to stay focused on what was important in your career and life.
Think about it, we had no smartphones, no tablets, no text messages, no ATM machines, no email. We didn’t even have computers on our desk. Our assistants were still typing with carbon paper and using white outs to erase. I think our firm may have gotten it’s first IBM mag card typewriter that year.
Our office was very formal. Mr. Martin was the founding partner. I called him Mr. Martin. His assistant was Miss Johnson. I called her Miss Johnson.
It was easier to “be in the moment.” Arguably, in 2018, we have too much abundance, but not nearly enough time to enjoy it. We have too many choices, and not nearly enough help to make the right ones. We have too much technology, and not nearly enough freedom from it. And, we focus too much on outward success and not nearly enough on inward fulfillment.
I told the group:
Today it is more important than ever to take control of your career and life. Over the next hour I will give you a roadmap on how to do it.
Over the hour that followed, I talked about focusing on priorities in your life and career, being willing to say no to things that are not priorities, putting together a plan that includes career goals and life goals and making time for items on the plan.
So, today I ask: What are you focusing on? Are you really focused, or easily distracted?