Society often concludes that successful people are successful because they have all the answers. I’ve been blessed to hang with some extremely successful people. For 33 years I’ve studied successful CEOs and consultants and why they succeed no matter the conditions or the economy.
Here’s what I’ve learned: Contrary to popular belief, they don’t have all the answers, but they do ask the right questions. Savvy Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know the questions they raise are usually more important than the answers they derive. In some ways, asking quality questions calls for more intelligence, insight and experience than answering them.
The best answer is of no value if the question is wrong from the start. Think back to some of the depositions you’ve attended as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. That’s classic proof of this point. Have you ever observed an attorney muddling through a deposition because he’s not asking the right questions? Painful, isn’t it? It’s the quality of the questions that makes a strong deposition.
James Thurber said, “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” The questions we ask from the moment we open our eyes shape our thoughts, intentions and actions for the entire day. Only the right questions can lead you to the right outcomes. Wrong questions produce wrong outcomes every time.
Here are 10 game-changing questions every Certified Legal Nurse Consultant must ask:
- What are the gaps in my experience, knowledge and daring and who can help me? None of us arrives where we are completely on our own. That’s impossible. When I started my legal nurse consulting business the best advice I received came from my CPA. Fran said, “Vickie, as a business owner you will encounter challenges and problems that you won’t know how to handle. Remember, though, there’s always someone who has already solved that very problem.” This timeless advice has carried me through 33 years of business whether I’m dealing with an employee issue or incorporating new technology into my legal nurse consulting business. Leveraging the talents of others to grow your CLNC business is just plain smart. Ask “Who can help? ” Surround yourself with power-players, CLNC® Mentors and other business owners who will genuinely be on your team – people who don’t need or want anything from you. Create a CLNC Alliance of 5-8 Certified Legal Nurse Consultants who are like-minded regarding values, integrity and ambitions, but are different in specialty and geographic location so that you can genuinely share without competitive threat. You can connect through Skype, conference calls, Facebook groups, NACLNC® conferences or my favorite, an annual private retreat for your CLNC Alliance. Now that you’ve asked “Who can help? ” next ask “Who can I model after?” You can be mentored by just about anyone if your eyes are wide open. I’m often surprised how little people use this free, readily available resource. You don’t have to be in a relationship to learn from another person.People often ask me, “Vickie, who was your mentor?” My response: “I’ve never had a single mentor.” I’ve even had people challenge me with “Vickie, every entrepreneur has a mentor.” No, entrepreneurs don’t have single mentors.Entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs because they see the whole world as their mentor. They understand a single mentor can actually hold them back. One mentor can rarely take you to where you need to go as a business owner. Pay attention to successful people. What can you learn? What can you model?Finally, this is a really important one – ask “Who are my real friends?” You’re going to need them. I am so blessed to have five BEST women friends who want nothing from me, except the gift of my return friendship. They’re always there for me and keep me sane and grounded in my sea of business madness.Real friends also help you to ignore the naysayers. You know the ones I’m talking about – the unhappy people who try to rain on your parade when you’re climbing that ladder to success. A big mistake I see busy Certified Legal Nurse Consultants make is not taking time for friends. I don’t care how successful you are. Friends are one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
- Do I know what I don’t know? Oscar Wilde said, “I am not young enough to know everything.” Now that’s a powerful person who has the insight to know what she doesn’t know. Frequently I find myself sitting in our conference room with people who know a lot more about an issue than I do. That doesn’t, however, make them the smartest people in the room. I like to think that I know what I don’t know. And because I know what I don’t know, what I do know is how to ask questions and how to probe and challenge the experts to cut to the chase and cut out the B.S. That’s when progress gets made and the right questions get answered. When you’re consulting with attorneys they’re going to challenge you and your opinions. And that’s a good thing. I’d be concerned if the attorney didn’t challenge me. But better yet, you should challenge your own opinions and everything you believe you know as a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant. Another big mistake I see CLNC consultants make is taking on cases outside their specialty without hiring a CLNC subcontractor. Even if you’re successful, you still don’t know everything there is to know about every specialty.The smartest Certified Legal Nurse Consultants know what they don’t know and they know when to ask for help. Having that insight could make you the smartest person in a room full of very smart attorneys.
- What is success for me, and how badly do I want it? When a new Certified Legal Nurse Consultant says, “Vickie, I’m ready for success and I’m ready to do what I need to do to attain it,” that is music to my ears. Success is different for each of us. 33 years ago legal nurse consulting success for me was getting as many attorney-clients as I could so I could pay my mortgage and bills, and have more flexibility and control over my life. Today I have the luxury of defining success differently than I did then. Today I don’t have to worry about my mortgage, but success does mean making payroll for 18 employees and countless subcontractors, plus being able to carve out quality time for myself and best of all, helping you grow your business as a CLNC consultant. However you define success today, in five years you’re going to have the luxury of defining it differently. As you evolve, so will your definition of success. Life is not a journey to success. It’s a journey in success. What does your definition of success mean to you and your life? What’s really important? Are your success goals in alignment with that importance? And for those of you who said you’re ready, are you willing to embrace all that comes with success, not just money and flexibility in your hours, but also the hard work, the aggravation, the change in a relationship or two?I know one Certified Legal Nurse Consultant who chose to scale down her CLNC business because she found the hassles of employees to be more than she wanted to handle. So she restructured her company to exclude employees and instead include only CLNC subcontractors. By honoring her definition of success, she is much happier.Don’t compare your success to anyone else’s. If you do you’ll usually come up short. You can look around you and fall short. Comparison is a trap and just one more reason, along with 50 Shades of Grey, to feel really bad about yourself. “Yes please!”
- What is my purpose? Your purpose directs your thoughts and actions, who you choose to hang with and ultimately who you are. Your purpose creates your today. Your purpose creates your tomorrow. A Course in Miracles says our only function is to be a light of the world. The Bible reminds us not to hide our light under a bushel. These are tall orders for any human. What helps me is knowing that my purpose is not about me. Self-absorption is never a formula for success or happiness. We’re all merely vessels for something bigger than who we believe we are. When you see yourself as a steward of a purpose or mission, that’s when you can accomplish so much more than even you believe you’re capable of. And you won’t be chasing happiness. Happiness becomes your natural state.
- What is the payoff for this action? Ask, “Does saying Yes support my success goal?” And ask, “What do I need to say No to? What can and should I let go of?” Can you let go of The Big Bang Theory? Can you let go of negative thinking? Can you let go of those things outside your circle of influence? Unsuccessful people are usually focused on what they have to give up in order to be successful. Instead of asking, “What am I going to have to give up?” Ask yourself, “What am I working towards?” That question softens the pain of what you believe you’re giving up. So often you’re not giving up anything of value. But you won’t know that until you master the art of not saying Yes by default. By that I mean saying Yes without conscious intention. Yes to TV shows that suck up hours of your day. Yes to yummy cupcakes that drain your energy. Yes to OCD complaining about how little free time you have because you’re complaining all the time. Pay attention to how often you say Yes by default and where that gets you.
- What did I accomplish today toward my audacious success goal? Where you focus is where you yield results. This year I knew I had some big goals and that I had to have total clarity about my focus. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to better manage email to open up the space for these big goals. Last year I let email kick my butt. Now, if you’re like me, you get lots of email. I get email directed solely to me, copies of email to others, copies of responses from others to the original emailer, copies of “out of office” auto-responders, reports, responses to reports, corrections to reports and responses to those corrections. Not to mention the occasional spam for performance enhancing drugs (which I do forward to Tom). Yes, please! So I started with minimizing the program. But even minimized, the reliable audio alerts virtually guaranteed a Pavlovian reaction instantly diverting my attention from the big project I was working on. So next I muted the sound. Even then, the pesky flashing reminders would catch my eye, and just like Pavlov’s dogs, I started wagging my tail and salivating over my unread email and went straight down the path of being reactive not proactive.Finally it occurred to me that the only way to banish email from my mind was to close the program entirely. And I did. And with that single stroke, I achieved a new level of productivity. Not to mention my stress levels are under better control because I’m getting my work done (not everybody else’s). CEO really means “Controlled Entirely by Others” if you let them.So there you have it. A major productivity increase for your legal nurse consulting business with one click of your mouse. For the record, I like email, but I’ve learned I can live without it at least for short periods. And you can too! Trust me.Going back to our original question: “What did I accomplish towards my audacious success goal?” When you ask that question, if the answer isn’t pretty, look to your daily habits. Email management is just one example. Don’t even get me started on social media.Modifying the smallest of habits creates the space for achieving your most audacious goals.
- What reality do my perceptions create? Studies repeatedly reveal that perceptions are unreliable. Perception is not reality. We can all agree on that, right? But perception certainly creates our reality. Everything we see means what we make it mean. Think about a disappointing breakup maybe at the age of 18. Or maybe you were a late bloomer and it didn’t happen until you were 23. Does that breakup have the same meaning to you today as it did back then? Of course not. We can all look back on those old prom pictures and say, “What was I thinking?” The relationship didn’t change, the breakup didn’t change. The only change was you and your perceptions (and hopefully your hair style). Don’t reinvent the wheel every day. Use your life experiences to deny false perceptions, which can hurt you. For example: When a Certified Legal Nurse Consultant comes to me and is flailing, I will usually advise to go out and exhibit. Almost every time it’s that person who’s flailing who says, “Vickie, exhibiting is too expensive.”What is expensive? I think it’s more expensive to flail than to exhibit, but it doesn’t matter what I believe. My perception is the CLNC consultant can make back the cost of exhibiting with one strong lead. And that strong lead can become a lifetime income stream. But, my perception is not what counts. It’s your perceptions that drive your behaviors.Aim to challenge and deny false perceptions about yourself such as “An attorney would never pay ME $150/hour.” When you don’t perceive the talent, education and experience of who you are, you will lack the daring to elevate yourself and your CLNC business to the next level.I mean it when I say: “We Are Nurses and We Can Do Anything!®”
- Does this thought expand me or shrink me? Every thought you have contributes to the world you see. A Course in Miracles says, “What you perceive in others, you are strengthening in yourself.” A negative thought about another person (even a thought that no one else can hear) is powerful stuff. Ask, “How are my thoughts serving me? Are these attack thoughts turning in on me? Or are these thoughts filled with the ingredients of success, love, compassion, gratitude?” Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” This quote applies to our thoughts as much as to the words we speak. Are you a great mind or a small mind? Thoughts are our constant companions. How would you rate your companions? Empowering or disempowering? Building your CLNC business or distracting you from it? Pay attention to your thoughts. They have the power to tear you down or to build you up.
- What is the truth of ME? The more successful you are the more you HAVE to know the answer to this question. I’ve had some vicious lies spread about me. But I know who I am. And it helps to remember the words of Oscar Wilde who said: “The only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.” So when people think they’re hurting me, I know they’re only hurting themselves by inviting negativity into their personal space. For the record, although I do like my steaks rare, I do not eat raw meat for breakfast, I do not breathe fire, I no longer bathe in the blood of virgins and I have never, ever, bitten the head off of a bat on the steps of the Alamo. Honestly, I think people are confusing me with Ozzy Osbourne or Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. I hear so many rumors about ME, I wouldn’t be able to keep ME straight if I didn’t know the truth of ME. T.S. Eliot said, “Teach us to care and not to care.” Caring is a beautiful quality, but when you know the truth of who you are, you also know when not to care. I can tell you this – you cannot afford to care about any attorney who says No to you. Caring about that attorney creates an inferior mindset and sets you up for failure. Care instead about sharing your expertise and the truth of who you are with the attorney who says Yes, or even Maybe.At the end of the day, when an attorney says No, who cares? Should one ignorant attorney ruin your day? Should one ignorant attorney ruin your legal nurse consulting career?If you know the truth of you, then you will know there are 1,687,829 more attorneys. Go get ’em!
- Why am I asking these questions? Challenge your questions. Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.” That’s not just because we operate off the same wrong solutions, we’re often not even asking the right questions. To paraphrase Eli Weisel, an Auschwitz Survivor, “Every question possesses a power that does not lie in the answer.” Your questions take you places. Pay attention to the questions you ask and where they take you. I want to share a story about two Certified Legal Nurse Consultants I know who both live in rural areas. The first is complaining about the lack of attorneys in her rural area. She’s asking, “Why is there no market?” Why? Because she can’t see past her fricking neighborhood. You can guess just how successful she is. The second Certified Legal Nurse Consultant recognizes that besides her and a couple of cows, there isn’t much going on in her neighborhood. But she ain’t sitting at home. She’s out marketing to attorneys in all of your neighborhoods. She is so busy she is struggling to keep up. All because she asked, “Where are the attorneys and how do I get to them?”Recently an RN asked me, “Vickie, is there really a need for Certified Legal Nurse Consultants in Iowa?” 33 years ago, if I had asked, “Is there a need for legal nurse consultants in Texas?” I wouldn’t be standing before you today. I’d still be starting IVs, cleaning up patient’s crap and complaining about the hospital cafeteria food.
Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. The right questions nudge you toward that edge. What questions are you asking as you grow your legal nurse consulting business? And how do the questions you raise stand up to the success you aim to achieve for your business?
I’m Just Askin’
P.S. Comment and share which of the 10 questions for your legal nurse consulting business was the toughest to answer and why.