Submitted by Carmen Rowe for Jessica Jensen Law
Lawyer, dog breeder, small cattle farmer … huh? What can those possibly have in common? Well, they are all a part of me and not just what I do, but who I am. I’ve had a revelation on how these seemingly different aspects of my life really, well, aren’t all that different, nor disconnected. Core values are core values, and seeing the connection between the important pieces of our lives – and fostering those – help us become whole. In becoming whole, in finding joy, we attract abundance. And who doesn’t want that?
Today I watched 2 week old puppies begin the magical evolution from eating and sleeping gerbils to little dogs. It seems to happen overnight…with their eyes opening and heads swiveling to take in this new world. Their tails start to wag while I watch clumsy (and hilariously cute) efforts to mouth their brothers & sisters in the initial dawning of the concept of play. I even celebrate when a few stood to, ah, well, take care of business on wobbly legs with intensely focused determination to stay upright. Each day, the whispers of their individual personalities take flight into full blown characters. I can’t describe the feeling I get when I start to get stares of curiosity at what is surely just a big fuzzy blob floating around (me)…there is a snuggle, and again that little tail wag that is such a natural part of being a dog. These first stages of life just reach in and squeeze my heart with the joy of it.
Ah, the miracle of life. It occurs around us in every moment of every day, but there is indeed a miracle in each and every moment if we stop to appreciate it. As I take a little time to balance the appreciation of (and responsibility for) these little miracles with my “other” work (that little thing we call career), and think about the fact I have an article I have been meaning to write, I realized that my life with my dogs is not so different from my life at the office. Every experience we have is a learning opportunity for each other aspect. There is so much that can be said on that topic alone, but for purposes of this little story, I’d like to share how “business” and “pleasure” really are not separate at all when you are your authentic self.
It may be a bit abstract for some, but I see a direct link with the miracle of this litter of puppies and the task of building a business.
I have been a lawyer since 1998. My occupation is an ongoing evolution. I practice in all forms of property law, construction, related insurance, small business … but the real business, at least for me, is in serving people. An admittedly subtle but important difference. It’s not all about “what” we do, but also “how” we do it… finding the essence of our gift if you will.
Regardless of your profession, it is all about developing relationships and building skills that in turn become a healthy business. Isn’t that what you “really” do? Learning how to create those relationships, build on them, and maintain them, from a holistic perspective, is essential for a successful, authentic and abundant life. This is my definition of true success.
They say “like attracts like”. Think about it. What happens when you encounter a positive person? Do you find yourself responding more positively to them than you would otherwise? Positive energy attracts more positive energy. What are you putting out there? How is it helping you build your business? Are you celebrating every victory (even if it is as insignificant as a tiny puppy standing up for the first time)?
So let’s have a little fun. Let’s play my life as a dog breeder against my life as a businesswoman. Perhaps you will find some nuggets within the story on how these two seemingly separate passions really are not separate at all, and that you really can “have it all” if you purpose it.
My passion for raising and living with dogs has extraordinary parallels to how I build my business. And it’s fun to talk about. In my lawyerly profession I recently had the opportunity to make a bold step into a new direction that brought everything together for me. It gave me the opportunity to adjust the traditions of my chosen profession to align with my greater philosophies of life, both for me, my colleagues, and my clients. I’m able to tap into the power of my passion, and have seen the success of that in the truest sense. Practical, yes, financial, yes, but it can also be so much more.
In my “non-career” life, I raise and breed Alaskan Malamutes. I have such a passion for them. This is partly because it is one of the oldest native breeds with an extraordinary history as a working dog. But mostly, because they have such darn cool personalities. It’s not the breed for everyone, but for the right person (and dog), the partnership with a Malamute is an incredible experience. The occasional litter is such a very small part of it for me; but also is a small part of how I strive to contribute to and perpetuate the positive aspects of the bigger picture.
For me, a brand new litter of pups illustrates beautifully the process of building a passionate and successful business. There are so many pieces of this doggie life that can relate, but given the miracle I’m enjoying in this particular moment, I think it important to look at the bigger picture of raising a new litter of puppies, against the bigger picture of building (or raising) a successful business.
Both are the fruit of long and continuous planning, involving development and tailoring of your personal goals, global or larger picture goals, and ensuring you keep the essence of what it all means and what you really want (“your joy”) close at hand.
What does success truly look like? I am a lawyer, but building that occupation into viable business is not isolated from the other passions in my life. This is a service profession, and to be a true “career” or “profession”, you have to take a more holistic view of what it means to be “_____” (fill in the blank for what it is you do). How do you tap into the joy of it all and develop that joy into a sustainable “business” or “litter”? Both a business and a litter require nurturing, guidance, attention…you get the idea.
Let’s look more carefully at the parallels of raising a litter and raising a business.
1. What is the big picture?
Before you get quagmired in the fine details of your planning, take a look at the big picture…build up your knowledge of the specifics of your profession, yes, but ask yourself what is it that you want to do, and what impact do you want it to have? What is your “ultimate goal”?
With the dogs, the bigger picture for me involved countless hours (read: years) developing knowledge on the breed, and all things related. A wonderful side effect of my time spent building this knowledge, is that it also grew my “sphere” of influence, which became my “big picture”. I am now a resource not only to myself, but also to owners, prospective owners, other breeders and the dogs themselves. Even more than that, my knowledge enables me to carefully plan for breeding of the pups based on what I know “globally” about the impact a new litter may have. I am able to work sustainability into my breeding plans. I am able to positively say that I understand the positive and negative impacts of “breeding down the line”. I’ve even taken on a few “dog” cases in my law practice as a result.
With my career as an attorney, the bigger picture for me was developing a plan for how I could use my knowledge of the law to make positive impacts on my client’s lives… Early in my career, I realized that my passion and focus really is in serving the client, not in “no holds barred litigation”. I want to ensure that I share the knowledge I have of the law and that I consistently offer unique solutions, preferably outside the courtroom, to help my clients overcome whatever legal situation they are facing. Don’t get me wrong… I love to dig into the details of a case, and ferret out the very best possible scenario for my clients, and I don’t mind going to court if that is the best course of action, but for be the big picture is always looming…is the advice I’m offering my clients keeping their overall best interests in mind? Have I offered them enough information to make an educated decision about how they wish to proceed? What are the possible positive and negative ramifications for my client, and for the “community at large”.
You see, both in raising dogs, and “raising” a business, the first step is always getting clear on what the overall goal is. What the “big picture” is. The details will work their way in, as they always do, and that is a topic for another day, but first, get a firm handle on what your “big picture” is.
2. Find your joy.
The next step in raising your business is finding your “passion” or “joy”. For many, the passion may come first, and be interwoven into their “big picture”. When it comes to breeding dogs, I found my passion in learning the specifics…understanding genetics; understanding health; understanding different lines; understanding the science (on multiple fronts); understanding the history, function and related necessary traits of the breed…etc. It really is such a fascinating process – which is what every person wants, isn’t it? To be fascinated by what they do? To well and truly enjoy what it takes to learn about what you do? To be excited, engaged, and passionate? To be so involved that all of the time and energy you invest, is a joy. To bring that all into “a job” – which can be so much more. You want a business, not just a job, right? And even better yet, a vocation.
I began raising dogs almost naturally, driven not by the end result of some sale or transaction, but by a true passion for the breed and more global community of both humans and dogs. That led to more and more involvement, and ultimately took on a life of its own. It’s a source of rich satisfaction – which can also lead to good business.
This depth of knowledge, the ongoing quest to learn, and the true desire to pass on that knowledge all play a role. I realized somewhere along the way that I want to have the same passion for developing my legal profession. Not just the law, but how it plays in practical terms for the people I serve. It seems to me there is no reason I can’t allow the same principles in one passion or part of my life to model the other. It’s just a matter of choices, and an open mind. Building knowledge and joy is the foundation of building a meaningful profession. Have fun with it. Don’t stop. If it is truly a passion, pursue it. There is a way to mix business and pleasure…to get joy out of what you do. I’m living proof.
Watch next month for more key tips on building your joy into a thriving business!
Photos provided by Dinea DePhoto
Carmen Rowe is an attorney at Jessica Jensen Law PS in Olympia. Her holistic, collaborative practice focuses on all things real estate related, construction defect, insurance defense, and small business. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-705-1335.