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Training is essential to your business development success. You'll never get good at something for which you don't put in the time and effort to train. There are no "naturals," and, yes, business development is a real skill, not something that one knows intuitively.

All the great champions -- Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali, Michael Phelps – they all understood the indisputable, inescapable, irrefutable truth that EFFORT is required for effective training. There are no shortcuts to success.

Are you content to dream, hope and wish that clients and business will fall into your lap? To the degree that it ever happened that way, those days are over.  Does your business development strategy consist of hoping you get lucky?

Those who know better will continue instead to train, practice, grow and improve. 

But, you say, "I'm not trying to become heavyweight champ, an Olympian or an NBA star. I'm just trying to get some good clients." Don't kid yourself. The competition for clients is every bit as fierce and unrelenting as trying to be an athlete.

The good news is that you don't have to be as good at business development as Tiger is at golf, or as MJ was at basketball. They were competing among the best of the best.

That's not where they began, though. At each level, they competed with their peers, trying to make their high school teams (which Jordan famously failed at on his first try). 

Your competitors in the lawyer business development realm are not BD pros, but relative amateurs. 

It's like the old joke about the campers confronted by an angry bear. One guy starts changing into his running shoes. His friend says, "You don't have time for that. We've got to outrun that bear." To which the first guy replies, "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you."

You just have to get good enough to succeed. Elite skills are a topic for much later.

There are three things you have to do:

  • Understand the game
  • Learn and develop the basic skills required to play
  • Practice, get coaching, and compete, improving continuously over time

Think of it as an apprenticeship, akin to the one by which you learned how to practice law.

Here are some thoughts from notably successful people:

  • "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.Muhammad Ali, heavyweight boxing champion and global cultural icon.
  • “It is only through work and strife that either nation or individual moves on to greatness. The great man is always the man of mighty effort, and usually the man whom grinding need has trained to mighty effort.” Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States, naturalist, explorer, author, and soldier.
  • "Success isn't something you chase. It's something you have to put forth the effort for constantly. Then maybe it'll come when you least expect it. Most people don't understand that." Michael Jordan, Hall of Fame basketball player, entrepreneur; arguably the best basketball player ever. 
  • "I figure practice puts your brains in your muscles."  Sam Snead, professional golfer, among the top players in the world for most of four decades.
  • "The more I practice, the luckier I get."  Gary Player, widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of professional golf.
  • "Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."  Aristotle, Greek philosopher, polymath, student of Plato, teacher of Alexander the Great.
  • "On the mountains of truth you can never climb in vain: either you will reach a point higher up today, or you will be training your powers so that you will be able to climb higher tomorrow."  Friedrich NietzscheGerman philosopherpoetcomposercultural critic, and classical philologist.
  • "First, do enough training. Then believe in yourself and say: I can do it. Tomorrow is my day. And then say: the person in front of me, he is just a human being as well; he has two legs, I have two legs, that is all. That is mentally how you prepare." Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopian track champion; twice Olympic gold medalist @ 10,000 meters; set 27 world records.
  • "A lifetime of training for just ten seconds.Jesse Owens, American track Olympian. Won four gold medals at the 1936 Games.

Mike O'Horo

To get started on the "understanding" part of the apprenticeship, subscribe to this blog, and to ResultsMailVT, my free weekly nuts-and-bolts marketing & sales tip, delivered by email.