Seriously. I have some major badass catfish who keep me on my toes as I build Solo Practice University®. You should too. Let me explain.
This past winter I started pacing the floor about something I saw happening and started to wonder how it would impact an idea I was contemplating for Solo Practice University®. It was bothering me as I tend to (privately, of course) overreact and then vent because I know once I talk things out it’s so much better. But I was mostly annoyed that every time…and here’s the key…I wanted to take a brief respite and put SPU on autopilot…there would be another agitation keeping me forward-moving, quick-thinking and creative which always improves SPU.
In a SKYPE session with someone I like to vent with periodically, I started explaining why this particular situation was aggravating me and he then told me about catfish. He said, ‘let these events be SPU’s catfish.’ Yeah, I had the same reaction. What???
He told me he went to see a movie which at the end referenced the Japanese fishing industry and the process by which they export fish from Japan to other countries. During the long journey in cargo ships the fish were kept in large saltwater tanks. However, a significant percentage of them became lethargic and weak and ultimately died due to lack of stimulation. It was a perplexing and costly business problem.
The Japanese decided to put catfish in the tanks. Once they did an amazing thing happened. The catfish are constantly nipping at the other fish forcing the fish to stay active and ever vigilant. Due to this hyper-vigilance and continuous activity triggering their natural survival instinct, they arrive healthy after the long trip across the ocean (the irony being they ended up sushi, right?)
Businesses, especially solo practices, need catfish in order to survive. It is very easy to become complacent, weak, and die. These catfish are not necessarily friends. Nor are they enemies. They are not necessarily coaches or mentors. They aren’t even necessarily those you think are your competitors. You don’t even have to know them personally. But they are those people who provoke and stimulate and keep you on your toes as you learn how to practice law, engage clients, build your practice in a geographically highly saturated marketplace or in the clouds. They are those who would deliberately have you step on landmines and in avoiding those landmines you learn valuable lessons. When these lessons are incorporated into your practice, they keep your business healthy on its long journey to profitability and personal satisfaction.
Catfish come in many forms. You can look to those lawyers you admire or those who are doing the exact opposite of how you would do it. They can be nasty. They can be deceptive. They can make you cringe. Catfish can also be an event, a company brand. They can literally be anything or anyone providing it keeps you on your toes, ever vigilant, creative and competitive. Catfish help you to make better decisions when building your business. If you can identify people, businesses, or events that fit this criteria and you’ve responded accordingly by stepping up your game, you’ve found your catfish.
Have you identified the catfish in your life? It’s time to!