[Disclosure: I am business partner to the author of this book, though I have no financial interest in the sale of the book itself. I do, however, have a personal vested interest in sharing thought leadership to the benefit of attorneys and legal marketers, of which this book is a prime example.]
“Too many attorneys are unhappy.” What a lamentable, but I suspect true, observation. When my business partner wrote those words in a blog post for Attorney at Work earlier this year, the words jumped off the page and hit me in the gut. And they’ve remained in my head, echoing through the chambers of a mind that daily observes anxiety, despair and disappointment everywhere it looks.
I’m sure there are attorneys everywhere who have either a latent or expressed dissatisfaction with the trajectory of their careers (I hear the proclamations myself, firsthand), just as there are accountants, teachers, consultants and working professionals everywhere who grapple with their stations in life at various points in their careers. Lawyers are certainly not immune.
It wasn’t long after reading Jay Harrington’s post on career fulfillment that I was privileged to receive an advance copy of his just released third book, The Productivity Pivot. And while I can’t personally speak for the author nor his intent, as a reader it feels very much like Jay has taken up a mission to address—and possibly even eradicate—a sense of career stagnation among lawyers everywhere.
What’s at the Root of Career Fulfillment?
What I enjoyed so much about reading this book is how it sets out, first, to identify and address root cause, moves on to inviting and guiding the reader through a process to achieve the necessary mindset shift to address the root cause, then provides a practical and actionable process to execute a plan to implement that will begin to chip away at the underlying issue through a defined, disciplined approach.
The Productivity Pivot is broken up into two distinct but complementary parts. In the first, Jay guides the reader through an exploration of what’s truly at the center of the unhappiness he refers to in the blog posts I cited earlier. In his telling, it comes down to a simple but powerful concept: autonomy. Without it, lawyers are at the mercy, whims and service of others who dictate an attorney’s priorities—rather than sharing them—be they partners, other people’s clients, or colleagues’ workloads.
I suspect that’s accurate. It seems to be a universal truth that people are happiest when they have the greatest degree of control over their own destinies. It’s what makes entrepreneurs quit their day jobs. It’s why “people quit their boss, not their jobs,” as many assert. In fact, “self determination” was a central tenet to our nation’s very founding. The motivation to control our own lives and interests is powerful; and the counter (having those outcomes dictated for you by others) can be dispiriting, and even crippling at its worst.
So how does an attorney achieve the autonomy that will eventually achieve career fulfillment and overall quality-of-life satisfaction? In Jay’s telling, it’s all about an attorney building his or her own personal book of business. When “the firm’s clients” become “my clients” is when lawyers begin calling the shots, achieving the acclaim, and garnering the self-determination that unshackles them from the burden of constantly pursuing someone else’s priorities.
So How Does an Attorney Achieve Autonomy?
Part Two is where the philosophical becomes the practical. My second chief takeaway from The Productivity Pivot is just how practical and applicable the second part is for attorneys who embrace the concepts and requisite mindset shift laid out in Part One. Not only does the author guide the reader through an evolution to put an actual plan into execution, he provides the actual tools necessary to achieve the outcomes he portends for lawyers who are willing and able to carve out just one hour per day on their quests to achieve career fulfillment.
The book is full of useful, practical guidance, including embedded diagrams and worksheets right within the text itself. But the true power just waiting to be harnessed lies in the free companion tools and worksheets that are available for download and completion at no cost. As another reviewer put it so aptly, “This is not a grab bag of life hacks; this is a coherent and smart system that encourages autonomy, forward-thinking, and self-actualization, as attorneys build not only books of business, but careers.” (Roy Sexton, Director of Marketing at Clark Hill PLC)
Couldn’t agree more.
Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. (Feel free to discount that ringing endorsement to the extent that I count Jay among my friends, a business partner, and a perhaps unwitting/unknowing mentor to me, but it won’t change how valuable you’ll find this book, whether you’re an attorney, legal marketer, or some other professional looking to get the most out of life and career.)
The Productivity Pivot will change your mind. It will change your daily routine. And, yes…it may even change your life.
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