The Importance of Execution

Execution is the critical component that unfortunately, in my experience and in the experience of many others, people often miss. I had a mentor many years ago who said to me, “To know and not do is to not know.” Having great information, reading tons of books and knowing lots of things is great. But until you actually begin to execute, begin to actually do the work, nothing happens.

This blog will discuss some tips on how to really improve the execution process. We all know that if you don’t actually do anything nothing ever gets done. You can think about digging a hole. You can stare at the hole. You can actually get a shovel. But until you actually begin to dig the hole, nothing happens.  I am going to talk about actually digging the hole or for many of us, digging out of the hole.

I think where a lot of people get caught up on the idea of execution is they feel like they need more information. They feel like they need to do or have something “else” or that they don’t know enough to move forward. It is my belief and having read many, many authors on these subjects, is that you do know enough. You know enough to at least get started. You know enough at least to begin the process. You may need to learn additional things as you go along. Sometimes you need to gather more information as you move forward. But you have enough information to actually get started.

For some reason, we have this hesitation. There is virtually an infinite amount of information out there. You can click on the Internet and you can search how to start a law firm, how to dig a better hole, how to fix your irrigation system, who hit the most homeruns in 1925. All of this information is at our fingertips. And I think sometimes what happens is we get paralyzed because we think we don’t have enough information to actually get going.

My suggestion is too have the faith that you do have enough information to actually start the process. Now, that doesn’t mean that you have all the information that you need to get to the finish. But as you begin the process, as you begin to execute, some of those questions will become clearer and then you can get better answers. And sometimes the answers will become clearer for things that you actually need to do.

It’s very challenging to map out an entire business model or what’s going to happen over the next five years. You may have a plan, “Hey, I want to become a millionaire in five years.” That’s a great plan. How are you going to do it? Well, if you wait until you have every single step mapped out, five years will have  already passed and you won’t be a nickel richer. So, you got to start executing.

The place to start, I believe, is you got to have a reason. You got to start with why is it that you actually want to accomplish this?

So, you’ve made a decision. I want to start a law firm, for example. I’m working for these guys or I’m working for the government or whatever, and I’m not satisfied and I want to start my own law firm. Okay, great. Let’s just use that as an example. Now, if you were to sit down and try to map out every little incremental thing that you have to do to actually start a law firm, you’d be paralyzed and you’d never move forward.

So, the first question that you really need to ask yourself is, why? Why is it that you want that? Is it that you want more income? Is it that you want to have more flexibility in your time? Is it that just you want your name on the door? Some people might laugh, but that was really important to me. Accuse me of ego, if you will, but that was really important to me. I wanted my name on the door. I’ve been practicing law for a long time and I felt like that was something that I had earned and that was something that I wanted. And in truth, part of the reason why I did strike out on my own is that the firm that I was with wasn’t going to put my name on the door.

You need to know why.  Why is it that you want to leave the security of a job and take the risks involved in starting a new law firm?   And then, especially if it is based on a financial motivation,  I want to make X amount of dollars, I want to make $250,000 a year. If that is your “why”, you got to start doing the math. You got to start figuring out what would it take to actually make that amount of money. How many clients would I have to have? What would I have to charge in order to get to that point?

Why is this important to have a clear “why”? Well, it’s really important because if you don’t have a roadmap, if you don’t know where you’re trying to go, it’s really hard to get there. As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might never get there.”

You got to know where it is that you want to go. And then, you can reverse engineer to get yourself there. But it’s also the juice, if you will, that will motivate you on those days when things are hard. And it is clear that there will be days that it will be just difficult. There will be days where you do intakes with clients and nobody signs up. There will be days where big bills come in that you didn’t expect. There will be days where things just don’t go well. It’s the nature of life.

Somebody way smarter than me said, “Everybody has pain. Suffering is optional.” Nobody gets through this life without discomfort and disappointment and challenges. The question is, how do you overcome those? And one of the best ways to overcome those obstacles is knowing where you want to go. What is your goal? What is the driving force? If you want to make a million dollars, for example, if that’s the goal, on those tough days, you step back and you go, “Hey, I want to make a million dollars.”

Now, just saying, “I want to make a million dollars,” probably isn’t going to be as motivating as going, “I want to make a million dollars, so I can live in a beautiful house that’s got a swimming pool and a view of the mountains and a music room and a three-car garage and all those things.” Now, if you have that kind of goal and you spend the time to really visualize it and feel it, what would it be like to live in that kind of home, then on those tough days, you just think back about, “Am I willing to go through this rough patch? Am I willing to go through these difficult times to obtain that?” Because the clock keeps ticking. Whether you do or whether you don’t, the clock just keeps ticking.

So, if you want that house or you want to go on that vacation or you want time with your kids or you want to be home for dinner every night, what would it take to make all of those things happen? Those are the things that are going to drive you. That’s the importance of goals.

I know I started this blog, stating “We’re going to talk about execution.” But the critical thing about execution is, why? Why are you going to work so hard? Why are you going to put in the time and effort and invest the money and the sweat equity and the disappointments and the challenges and work through all of that? Why are you going to do that?

Because if you don’t have a good reason, it is really, really hard to execute. This is the reason why I think a lot of lawyers in particular want to have their own law firms and want to work for themselves. Working for somebody else, so they can have a Porsche, so they could have the nice house with the swimming pool and the view of the mountains. That’s not terribly motivating. Working for somebody else doesn’t have the same ring to it, putting money in their pocket.

Now, some people, like that nine to five. They like to have that steady paycheck. They don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night and wondering how they are going to pay the rent or where the next client is going to come from or is Google going to change their algorithms and all of a sudden, all the work that you put in your SEO on your website isn’t going to work anymore. As an owner, as a business owner, these are the things that keep you up at night. These are the things that happened, and you got to work through it. These are the kinds of challenges that I’m talking about.

But the ability to actually guide your own ship and to make the decisions and to have other people work for you… I will just tell you, in my experience, the ability to be super profitable is not just the hard work that you do but to get other people to buy into your vision and to work for you. Now, in order to do that, you’ve got to offer them something that will motivate them to do it. And you’ve got to pay them fairly, and you’ve got to treat them well. And you’ve got to give them the things that they’re looking for so that they can reach their goals. And then you take a fair share off of that.

So, the idea of execution is really based in large part on motivation. And the motivation is based on, what are your goals? Why are you doing this? Are you just working just to work because that’s what you were told to do? That is the what society tells us to do – go to school, get a job and work for some company. Well, all of you know that that is not the game plan anymore, that loyalty. Big companies will fire you. They’ll mess with your pensions and fire you when someone “better” comes along. The idea of loyalty just isn’t the same that it was 40 years ago.

So, I am finding more and more attorneys, in particular, want to own their own businesses, want to own their own practices for the very reasons that I’m talking about. They want to guide their own ship. They want to control their own destiny. And they want to benefit from their own individual hard work. But on those days that get rough, on those days that get tough, on those days that as the owner, you get paid last. If you do it all right, you get paid more but you also get paid last. So, on those months that are rough, on those months that the income didn’t come in, on those months where the client stiffs you and says, “I’m not going to pay you. Sue me.” You got to pay everybody else first. So, there are pros and cons.

This is one of the things that I help people with,  working through these processes to guide you through the tough times. But where we always start, where you always have to start, in my opinion, is you’ve got to start with the idea of, “Why am I doing this?” And once you get a clear picture of what it is that you want to accomplish, then other things start to fall into place.

Ask yourself, what is it that I want to do? I want to help people. In what way do you want to help people? Well, I want to help people, in my case, with criminal problems.

I’ve been practicing law for 36 years. In my experience, there are very few evil people, people who just do bad for the purpose of doing bad. Most folks wind up behaving badly because of some kind of stressor that occurred. Something happened in their life that threw them off track. And then, the question is, “Can we help them get back on track? Can we figure out why? What happened? And can we point them in the right direction?” So, for us, we send a lot of people to rehabilitation programs, mental health programs, guide them so that they can address the issues that got them in trouble in the first place.

As an example, I have a client who was in the military. He is a veteran. He got injured in the service, and the VA just pumped him full of opioids. And because of that, he started to behave badly. So, what did we have to figure out? Well, one, we had to help him get off the opioids. But the other thing is we had to help him or at least guide him in finding pain management? Because the pain, the injury that he had didn’t go away, so we had to figure out other ways for pain management. So, these are motivating things.

This is why I get up in the morning, so I can help people in this regard. It’s not simply showing up in court and arguing that somebody shouldn’t go to jail. There’s a whole lot more to it. That’s just an example of  what motivates me.

In order for me to do all of that, in order for me to have the resources to help clients like that, I needed to run a profitable business. And over the years, I figured out how to do that. I had a lot of great mentors. I had a lot of people who helped me. I read a lot of books. I invested a lot of time to learn all of those things so that I could be profitable, so that I could find ways to actually help people without worrying about how am I going to pay the rent and have the ability to get the house that I wanted with the view of the mountains.

I am sitting in my home here in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m looking out the window. And there’s the Sandia mountains. It’s absolutely beautiful. This is what I envisioned. This is what motivated me to execute. So, let’s get back to the beginning of this, execution. At the end of the day, nothing happens unless you execute, unless you actually do the work.

And in my opinion, you got to sit down and you got to figure out, “Why do I want to do this? What is it that I’m trying to accomplish?” And then, lay out a game plan. And allow yourself the flexibility to make changes as things unfold because rarely do things ever develop exactly the way we envision them. And instead of getting frustrated and kicking rocks and being upset, you do the jujitsu. You just go with it, and you make the modifications to make all that happen.

If you want more information, if you want a free consultation to talk to me and explore how I might be able to help you out, you can go to my website, or Or you can email me through there. We can sit down. We can talk about what is it that you want to accomplish. And let’s see if  I can help you

The other thing that you can do is you can access my book, LegalEase, The Ultimate Guide on How to Survive a Law Practice. That’s available on Amazon. And I do offer a 100% money back guarantee. If you get that book and you don’t think that there’s something valuable that you can use on that, I’d be more than happy to give you back your full purchase price. But I will tell you, nobody has taken me up on that because it is chock full of great information.

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