NBH003: Finding Your Flow: Systems and Processes

We all want that feeling of flow in our lives and especially in our law firms – in our law practice and in our professional life. We want systems; we want strategies. We want to make our firm run like a machine.

I hear this all the time from lawyers. And we like machines, because we can control machines. At least we think so. We want something that we can control and something that runs smoothly. Wouldn’t it be nice to have everything running smoothly, humming like a refrigerator in the background, and we get to be the boss? We get to be the boss while all these things are happening around us. That is our dream (definitely mine), and with technology this is actually possible. Now more than ever, we can automate more things than we ever could before in our law firm – even a solo practitioner!

If you’re on your own, you can provide high-quality attentive service with all the tools available. And the client won’t know the difference if it’s you on your own, or if you work in a big law firm. We can outsource and delegate so much now. We can find experts in whatever they do (that is not what we do) and have them do it for us. However, there’s a danger in all of this. We can get hyper-focused on the systems and processes and then we actually lose sight of the flow that we wanted.

So what we really wanted was to flow, to feel easeful, to not have to worry, to feel like things are getting done, that things are moving, that there’s progress. We could take a vacation or even just step away. We can take a break and things keep moving along.

If we hyper-focus on the processes all the time, we are not in our own flow. We are basically obsessing about having this perfect flow, which actually has to flow on its own. We have to flow on our own, and that has to flow on its own. In pursuit of high structure and control, which we are good at as lawyers, we lose – again, we lose what we’re looking for – which is that flow, that fluidity, that flexibility, that ability to take on twists and turns – which is a lot of what we do right?

Like when something new comes in. We’re trying to prepare for every possible situation, and then obviously there’s going to be another thing that happens and that will throw us off. So we are losing sight of what flow means. Of course, definitely, a high percentage of the time we can, we should, have systems and processes and I love them and I’m constantly working on them. But let’s not forget the intention that we want to be flowing. So isn’t that interesting – we want ease, and we want flow, we want movement, but then we can get rigid and try to control things that are right in front of us.

To create flow in our lives in our law firms, we need to step back every so often – probably more often than you think – and really see what’s happening, feel what is happening. So step back from your systems, from your processes, from your desire to control, and see how are you feeling and how are the systems and processes working?

This happens a lot of the time, that we don’t look at how things are working because it’s happening so quickly; our law firms are growing so quickly. I see a lot of law firms, they get in flow and they’re able to grow the law firm. They’re hiring more people, taking on more clients and there’s really no time to look at the systems again. But really we have to be watching all the time how everything’s flowing. Because this is an all-the-time job, rest-of-the-life job. And when we have people working for us, we also need to be doing it for them because they are there just to do their jobs.

Just like the laws change (there’s an ebb and flow), so do systems and processes. What worked before may not work now. What worked for one employee may not work now, or for one client, may not work now. You’re different. The law is different. Society is constantly changing.

In order to be in flow, we have to keep flowing. And this concept has taken me a long time to really figure out as a lawyer, because I think we want things to happen a certain way. We think that if we put in enough effort we can manage, and we never do. We suffer because of that.

It’s taken me a while to really reconcile that even if things are in constant flux, we can also be managing them and be in control of them by flowing. If we understand that everything is in constant flux, everything is moving, we are always moving, and changing, and growing – this makes life a little more interesting, and it also helps us relax more, and helps us really see what everything in front of us is doing.

And it also gives us more expansion to come up with creative solutions -different ways of looking at things. It’s like, “Oh, wow. I didn’t even notice that because I was always focused on this. I didn’t even notice how this made me feel, or that other thing made me feel good for my law firm five years ago, but now I’m in a different place and I need more time in this other place, or I want this role in the law firm, and I don’t have it. And so I need to create that.”

That’s another thing. What you want now is not necessarily what you’re going to want later. To honor that will keep us interested, engaged, competent, and effective lawyers. So everything’s always changing. There will always be something new to discover and learn. Instead of avoiding that, and instead of thinking that things have to be certain, and that there’s some silver bullet, there’s some technology that you need to have, there’s some secret for making money or for having your law firm be successful that someone else has figured out – there really isn’t. So instead of having that thinking, think “what is in front of me right now, and can I look at it more from a place of curiosity, and can I make something better?”

It may be something small – “Can I make something better? Am I flowing?” That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Look inward. Are you flowing? If you’re not flowing, if you’re feeling stuck – take a step back. Adding more rigidity and structure is not always the answer, even though it feels like it is. I wish that would help us. So instead of being overwhelmed and frustrated with the change that’s going on around us, let’s embrace it. Let’s actually flow with it. And see what happens.

Thank you to our sponsor for this episode and blog post: Lodhi Law Office, PLLC based in Lexington, Kentucky. An immigration law firm accepting referrals for family based issues, removal and deportation defense, Mandamus claims, criminal law crossover, as well as possible T, U, and asylum claims. Lodhi Law Office can be reached at 859-514-0905 or https://lodhilawoffice.com/.

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