Thoughts on Law and Life

The Official Blog of Astrab Legal Services LLC

Competence, Consistency and Character (Part I)

Good Morning from snowy Cleveland! Once again I have woken up to falling snow and crummy roads, but that is the price that I suppose one must pay to live in the paradise that is the North Coast of America. Moving onto more substantive matters, I am a big fan of personal development and believe that one should set aside at least a half-hour each day to improve themselves mentally so as to gain a better understanding of not only themselves, but the world around them. One of my favorite personal development outlets is a podcast/website entitled The Morning Coach (www.morningcoach.com). The moderator brings a new podcast every day and delivers some excellent development tools on his website. Over the weekend he discussed what he called the ‘Three C’s’ of personal development, specifically that we must ensure that we are competent, live a conflict-free lifestyle and have a solid character base. I’ll touch on those topics in today’s and coming blogs, but I’m going to swap out ‘conflict free lifestyle’ for consistency. I feel that these talking points are an excellent reflecting tool for ensuring that our moral compasses are pointed in the right direction.

COMPETENCE

We (hopefully in this economy) all have a means of securing income. It is crucial that each of us understand our job responsibilities and work every day to ensure that we are at the top of our games as far as professional competence. If we are not getting the job done, there is surely someone else out there clamoring to do the same job. If you are an attorney are you keeping up-to-date on the latest changes in the law or administrative codes for your area of concentration? If you are a nurse or doctor are you making sure that you are treating your patients in a manner consistent with the latest advances in medicine? If you are a small business owner, are you keeping track of advances in your industry in order to keep up with the competition?

Being competent means more than knowing the ins and outs of your particular field. It also means being able to convey your expertise to your clients or customers on a consistent basis. Keeping in touch with clients and letting them know that you are working hard for them is as much a factor in retention as is knowing what you are doing. You could be the smartest CPA in the world and know the IRS Code backwards and forwards, but if you are not conveying your knowledge on a proactive basis your clients will never know it. You may end up losing clients and/or lose referral opportunities due to your inability to maintain regular and consistent contact.

Some ideas:

  • Keep up with the latest developments/news in your field – make sure that you understand what is going on and take continuing education classes (if relevant) to hear from experts and thereby build your knowledge base.
  • Always have an opinion – nothing exclaims confidence like an immediate answer to the question “What do you think?” It does not have to be in-depth, but at least formulate an opinion on different issues in your field.
  • If you are a small business owner, get a web site. The site should serve as an adjunct to your business, not a primary business pipeline. With the proliferation of the internet today, if you don’t have a website many potential customers may think that you are not market-savvy or are not successful. Accurate? Perhaps not, but today perception is everything and you can be rest-assured that your competition either has one already or is in the process of getting one.
  • Offer to speak to groups on topics related to your industry. Speakers seem to be granted instant competence, deserved or not. If you are up speaking to groups you are not only promoting yourself and your business, but you are instilling confidence in potential clients/customers in the audience.

There are many other methods for building and exhibiting competence. The bottom line remains, however, that you need to take steps to ensure that you understand your job responsibilities and that you exude confidence to those around you. If you are lacking, then you need to step up and fix the problem now – it may be the difference between new clients or promotions at work versus seeing your job given to the new guy sitting down the hall.

In coming posts I’ll touch on the other two topics – consistency and character.

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January 20, 2009 - Posted by | Financial, Law, Legal, Life | , , , , , , ,

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