The Whole Truth

Nov 15

2009

Grieving the Dream

by Alexis Martin Neely - Posted in Pursuit of Truth |

doveThis past week at Ali Brown‘s Shine event, I had a big awareness during Anne McKevitt’s talk on branding.  Besides the fact that I found Anne to be totally off point for most of the women in the room, it suddenly hit me that I’ve let go of a big dream I’ve carried with me for a few years.    And I’m grieving it.

Anne was talking about building a worldwide brand.  Her message reminded me of what I once wanted to do.  And woke me up to the reality that I’ve let the dream slip away.

It’s funny how I didn’t realize it until that moment.  There was no point at which I said “that’s it, I can’t do it anymore.  I’m giving up on this dream.”  But, now looking back over the past year,  I notice this is the first real attention I’ve given it in several  months; it’s not something that will move itself forward on it’s own; and I want to spend more time with my kids now so I don’t see myself pushing it forward.  In fact, I’ve let go of a lot of things that require push.

I think I first started to let go of the dream when I was on the phone with one of my business/blogging/mommy role models, Penelope Trunk.  She must have been right in the middle of raising money for her company and unable to pay herself.   We had a brief conversation about two things I was working on: a reality show and writing the business plan to make this dream a reality.  She said I was crazy for wanting to raise money and develop a software program (a major component of the dream).  That I should do the reality show instead.

I wonder if she’d still say the same thing now that her company is at least partially funded.

Regardless, she was only reflecting back to me what I was already feeling.  I had spent two years on this big dream and I was tired. Exhausted really.  Feeling defeated.

I had just invested $15,000 and several months in a business plan that was not clearly capturing my vision and then I lost $10,000 to a couple of scam artists.  At the same time, the economic news was building to a frenzy and I realized I had an amazing business that was making a big difference for a lot of lawyers as it was and I needed to invest my energy in building the business I had rather than continuing to focus on the bigger vision.

I dreamed of making affordable access to a lifetime relationship with a lawyer™ readily available in every neighborhood of the US and Canada.  Think H&R Block or State Farm Insurance or Remax or TLC Laser Eye Care Centers.  But, for lawyers.

Every other profession – from accounting to insurance to medical to dental – has a centralized system the professional can plug into that is automated from soup to nuts so the professional can do what she does best and the managers can run everything from marketing to service fulfillment to membership management.

There is nothing like it for lawyers.  And, I was gonna be the one to build it.

The Personal Family Lawyer business I have built is a beautiful precursor.  Lawyers implementing my business model for attracting, engaging, servicing and retaining clients lawyers are transforming their practices.  They are moving beyond the failing, broken model and becoming trusted advisors to their clients. They are busier than ever, even in this shifting economy and making a real difference in their clients lives.

Just yesterday, I heard from a lawyer who joined our program to transition from a litigation practice that was turning him into someone he didn’t like into an estate planning lawyer who is making a positive impact in the world.  In his first month of seeing clients as a Personal Family Lawyer he has already engaged one client and has another 5 appointments on the books.  Unless you are a lawyer, you probably have no idea how amazing this is.

My systems work.  Sure, they’re not built on a centralized model like H&R Block, State Farm or Remax, and I’ve come to realize they may never be, but they are changing the world for the individual lawyers who are embracing a new way of being with their clients and grateful to have a proven business model for doing it.

I’ve gained new awareness about myself.  I’m an amazing coach, visionary, and communicator.  It turns out, I’m not so good at managing teams, hiring, negotiating, financials,  and all the other little detail things necessary to build a really big business.  I can do those things.  But, they drain my energy.  And they make me less good at what I’m really good at.   Plus, bottom line, they take time away from my kids and my writing and the self care that I need to be happy.

So, I’m grieving the dream.

At the same time, for perhaps the first time in my life as a business woman, I’m celebrating what I’ve built and discovering what it’s like to appreciate what I have without this intense, burning desire for more, more, more.

My business is built.  It brings in more than a million dollars a year and supports my family plus 6 of the most supportive, fantastic team members a girl could have.  I get to work from home, homeschool my kids and have started a secondary business coaching business owners who want what I’ve built with my honey.  We are making a huge impact in the lives of these lawyers and their clients as well as the business owners we coach.

I get to coach, write, and innovate.  It’s what I’ve dreamed about for so long and it’s all happening. My main job now is to continue to support the forward-thinking lawyers who have stepped out of their own comfort zones to adopt a new model of practice, keep innovating new campaigns to get the message out about what they are doing in the world and attract more lawyers who are ready for something better in their lives and their businesses and don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel to have it.

Really, what more could a girl ask for?

Sure, I’d love a ten (hundred) million dollar business.  And I’d love to be known as the woman who radically transformed the legal industry on a massive scale. And I believe I have the specialized knowledge to really do it right, but I simply will not do it at the expense of my family and my well-being.

My ego is pissed off that I’ve let go of the dream.  It wants to be seen as more than just a girl with a great business and a blog and a couple of kids.  But, that’s just further confirmation for me that letting go is the right thing for me to do.  I refuse to let some idea of what I should do an what I should be run my life anymore.

And even with all that, I’m still grieving the dream.