Last week I did another webcast for Institute of Paralegal Education. I lent my insights, literally…that’s part of the title, as to how to exceed job expectations to become a valued professional that your law firm can’t function without. I wrote these principles to be applied in law departments all over the Country, I couldn’t help but wonder just how much happier we could be if everyone applied them in everyday life.
It is understandable that someone wants to be valuable to their employer, but life is more pleasant, simple, and artful when we move through it being valuable to all that we do. The beauty of loving yourself enough to bring value to daily life and exceed today’s expectations will be modeled back to you, setting off a loving and Universe altering cycle of incredible things.
I want that for everyone so much. Therefore, I have excerpt and re-modeled what I recently taught to paralegals to be applied to everyday life for anyone who choses to. What I seek to bring to law firms, I now seek to bring to all whom enter here. These principles when practiced, because they are a practice, keep you organized, polished, calm, and create the room that you need in life to be able to think creatively and proactively.
What the world needs the most of right now are individuals that are designing their own destiny with the time that they open up by doing away with crap and time wasters.
Oh what a great Segway…
Principle #1: Know the difference between being busy and being productive – This will take some honesty with yourself. Hamsters are busy running on their wheels, but they are not producing anything. The time spent on a task should return results. Either instantly like folding and putting away laundry, or over a long period of time like writing a book. Take action to make the time and effort that you spend yield a return that brings you closer to what your dreams are.
Principle #2: Know what is expected – What are your responsibilities? What is required of that volunteer position that you are being asked to take on? What is the expectations of that credit card agreement/contract/deal that you are considering? Once you know what is expected of you in any given situation, you can have a firm understanding of what will be required of your time and abilities. From there, look for any way that you are able to surpass them; due date is on the 10th? Have it prepared by 5th, finalized by the 7th, and in by the 8th. If you produce in these terms, no one ever has to wait on you. As a bonus, you create a buffer of time for yourself by default.
Principle #3: Know what your limitations are and make plans to evolve – There is not a day that goes by where I do not listen to several pod casts or watch several YouTube videos on topics that I want to grow my knowledge in. This is the information era and we are so lucky to have a plethora of information at our fingertips for the price of internet access. Just to prove this to you, here is a link to a resource guide by Marie Forleo that links you to 322+ Free Tools and Resources to Start a Business with No Money. Included you will see how the likes of Harvard and MIT give free access to nearly their entire course catalog. “I don’t know” is no longer a valid answer to anything. Seek to learn everyday because in this day in age there is simply no excuse.
Principle #4: Bring value and service to your tasks – When we operate from the mantra “what can I give to this space”, instead of what can I gain, the intention of value is instant. Going above and beyond doesn’t have to be dramatic or expensive. Simple and personal touches are the best and are so rare today. When I wrote my recent course, I presented an overview from the slides, but I wrote a 25 page e-book to go with the program so that attendees could download and save it as a reference. A few years back, when I went to my friend’s office for him to start the first phase of originating my mortgage, all the documents that he needed were in chronological order and separated by a blank divider. This made his tasks easy to accomplish relatively quickly, and he was able to move on to other things that make him money.
These things are tiny ways to present to the world that you care about what has your energy stamp on it. It’s simple to do and take only minutes but you would be surprised by how many people don’t bother. Bring service first, and everything else that you desire will follow.
Principle #5: Balance your time – At work I follow the 70/20/10 rule which for me is 70% of time on core responsibilities, 20% on housekeeping and ancillary matters, which includes initial or follow up communication, and 10% on professional and firm development. The same can be applied for the rest of my life; 70% of my time is dedicated to core lifestyle of family, home, horses, business. 20% of my time is for non-routine matters that need attention and 10% for development for personal, spiritual, family and business.
Some of what is developed in that 10% bracket of time will eventually make it into the 70% category. At that time, we evaluate what is no longer working or needed and that’s where the space comes from. There is plenty of opportunity to grow and change and add and delete. All it takes is being honest about what makes your heart sing and what no longer does. When you are edited all the way down to the absolute non-negotiable for your life existence on this planet, you have the time and energy to exceed any expectations.
Principle #6: Take yourself and your communications seriously – The one place that I far exceed expectations is in communication. I treat every email, phone conversation, meeting, letter, social media post, and encounter as if I’m going to run for office one day or that I’m on camera and that my child will eventually learn of it. I say absolutely nothing that I don’t stand and live by. I keep it succinct and professional in all scenarios. The best way that I’ve found to do this is to 1. Introduce yourself, 2. Indicate why and where you are calling/writing, 3. Ask for what you need, 4. Document what, if any, follow up communication will be and when they can expect it.
That’s it. I can’t tell you how long it takes me to get just this basic information from someone when they call me. Time is money ya’ll, get to the point.
Sadly, another low standard expectation in todays society when it comes to communication is the large amount of time spent complaining. Sometimes something big is happening and you do need to express yourself. But when I hear “I’m tired and I don’t feel well” every single time I ask someone how their doing, I’m no longer going to ask them that question just to save me time and sanity on the backend.
Principle #7: Be reliable and trustworthy – I have a person in my life who tells me so many tales of friends that will make plans and then cancel last minute every. single. time. I always ask her, why even bother calling her anymore? The number 1 way to exceed expectations is to show up 99.9% of the time.
Secondly, when someone tells you something, don’t repeat it without their permission. Gossip is not fun or funny. I know that we live in a society that makes it the norm, and for some sick reason we’ve fallen in love with the drama that it creates on these “reality” shows, but no one likes when it happens to them. Don’t participate in it and don’t condone it when it happens in front of you. You’ll instantly be set a part.
Principle #8: Take care of your home, health, and finances – Joking about “blowing up credit cards”, or eating a “heart attack on a plate”, or wanting to get “wasted” all weekend, or how messy your house stays isn’t funny. It may indicate to others that you don’t care about yourself or that you’re overwhelmed and unable to cope with life. Whenever I see memes about how hard and terrible living is, I get really sad for that poster because what they think is their attempt to fit in with the masses, I take as their subconscious crying for help.
You don’t have to be obsessive about organizing, frugal or healthy living, but you should take great interest in keeping your basic life systems orderly and functioning.
Taking care of yourself, your home, your possessions, your checkbook, and your mental and physical health is a personal thing. There are plenty of resources for help, but no one can do it for you. Set your personal standard of living based off of the life that you want and then don’t dip below that. From there start to exceed your own expectations at every opportunity. Life doesn’t just happen, we create it.
A bit of advice that I recently took to heart my dear friends; when you are tired, learn how to rest. Not quit. The above may seem like a lot but that’s only because we’ve kind of been distracted as a society. Putting the above principles in action more times during your day than not, shows yourself, potential friends, business partners, employers…others who need inspiration, you deserve to excel in life.
Now I’d love to hear from you: Which principle speaks to you so much that you would apply it starting now? Are there any that I missed that are part of your personal mission statement? I’d love to know!
Much success to you,
I’m a blogger that just can’t speak enough about all things simple living; business, equestrian, home, life, and time management; organization, and frugal living.
Give me a schedule, checkbook, home, law firm or a barn and it will be whipped into shape lickity split.