AJS South Africa


Breaking Bad Habits that is….

And no, this is not set in Albuquerque, New Mexico and there are no “trailers” (or caravans, if you are South African) in sight.

But, if (at this point) you feel the need to say “Hi my name is…. And I am an (insert bad habit here)”, you would be kind of right. 

But the “bad habits” we are referring to are the ones faced in our own working spaces. Ones faced by our own misgivings and insecurities. 

But they are habits which can be turned around and broken. Just ask Maxwell Maltz.

21 days

Maxwell Maltz, an American plastic surgeon turned psychologist (and author) suggested, in his self-help book Psycho-Cybernetics, that a person requires 21 days to break a habit or to work in a new habit (alternatively). Just 21 days to get use to a different facial feature after plastic surgery, get use to the absence of a limb after amputation or to get use to a new house once they have just moved in. 

His book was published in the 1960’s and has subsequently sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. Many people consider Maltz’s book to be the bible of the self-image industry, the cornerstone of the psychological methods of training elite athletes and the initial “light bulb moment” behind most of today’s personal empowerment programs. Since its first edition. 

By combining his daily work experiences as a surgeon with his studies of the human psychology, Maltz came to the conclusion that our self-image is the cornerstone of our mental state, and therefore all the successes and failures that happen in our lives are a result of that mental state.

Here at AJS, we are all about self-empowerment and the bettering of the self in order to further benefit the business. It is how we operate daily. 

So we are of the firm belief that by taking some portions of Maltz’s core principles, we can help you break in and cultivate good habits for the betterment of your overall day-to-day business practices. And by doing so, we hope that we will enable you to cultivate good habits with your legal tech to further promote a successful legal practice.

We are not certain it takes only 21 days though. But we do believe that bad work habits can be broken – with the right amount of effort and adaptability. And all within your own time frames (and budgets).

Let’s get into it.

It’s all about self-image

Maltz’s book starts with the concept that everyone has a specific “mental portrait” that defines who they are and what they believe in. That mental portrait is the result of past experiences (good and bad), successes, failures, feelings and behaviour’s. 

As a result, this image represents the foundation on which we build our personality and our perception of who we are. The difficulty (for most of us), is that past experiences impact us in negative ways. 

In the legal tech world, most people automatically assume that by incorporating “legal tech” into their lives it will result in a Robot (or AI) taking over their job, as demonstrated in the article   Lawyers Beware: A Robot Will Take Your Job. The funny thing is, with the onset of the pandemic (still wreaking havoc in countries like Brazil), a major disruption to businesses across the globe occurred. Forcing businesses to not only institute remote working models, (something which forward thinking companies like Google, Apple, Airbnb and Twitter have stated is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future) but also forced companies to expedite their previous plans to innovate and become more efficient as quickly as possible. And that has been done. For the most part. 

But plans to move documents to the Cloud and automating document processes were only the beginning and that start has grown with rapidly growing enthusiasm. The lesson here? Take this negative idea about AI and legal tech taking over your job and throw it out the window. 

Instead – incorporate the convenience and efficiency it brings into your business. AJS with its suite of products, offering customizable solutions, will be able to develop a package that best fits your needs and your package. 

Self-image immediately improved.

Imagination (and innovation) is key

So, how do we actually go about reaching this new way of thinking? 

According to Maltz, the answer lies in imagination (and in our opinions innovation) – in some cases we imagine ourselves as the antagonist of our stories, actively opposing good ideas and creating hostility towards growth and progression. And we start to believe it. And become it. 

The crucial point here is that our brain doesn’t distinguish between imagination and reality. Instead, our brain reacts based on the information we send it. Sort of like Dumbo believing he could fly. But only if he had the feather (spoiler alert – he actually doesn’t need it)….

Thus, we need to imagine a new version of ourselves through our attitude and interpretation of various situations, “describing” the new paradigm to our brain which, in turn, will find a way to make that image come to fruition. However, to reach that new level, we must have a clear mental picture of what this new idea of ourselves and our business is. 

To do this we need to imagine that we are the protagonist of our own story acting as the champion of our particular cause, idea and our critical need to progress. But not just for progression’s sake. But because it is required. And ta-da our brain will believe it. And become it.

By regularly checking in on our mental picture, we make sure that every effort is directed towards being a protagonist in our own story. Ensuring we understand that technology is key to promoting an innovative mindset (innovation, after all, is a verb) where lawyers will be able to deliver innovative products and services to clients that are efficient and cost-effective. Finally reaching the realisation that the application of technological tools will actually assist legal practitioners to better understand and enhance the delivery of their legal expertise in the most efficient way possible.

And this is not progression just for progression’s sake. But for survival. Which, as we all know comes down to the fittest (and those properly armed with the correct tools to enable adaptation).

Sort of like realizing you can fly – without the feather! Just like Dumbo.

Your mind is your most valuable asset

Maxwell Maltz also believed that your mind is the most valuable asset you have. And whilst we agree, we also believe that notion to be slightly naïve. You see, without the necessary legal tech and structures in place, there is only so far (and so much) your valuable mind can go (and do). It also needs a little bit of help and support. 

We confess. These are not the “cliffs notes” to the full text by Maltz. Alas.

However, we do believe these to be some of the most important and most applicable points to the world we find ourselves in. A world that expects a lot from us, on tight budgets, on accelerated time lines and often under extreme circumstances. 

Next week, we will be discussing some of the other salient and most relative points from Maltz’s text (and their application in this new world we are living in). Don’t forget to “tune in” for further tips and advice…

As we close off for this week, remember one thing – you are not alone. In fact, you should never try take all of “this” on alone. And this is where AJS comes in. 

Think of us as your sponsors. Your wing-men and wing-woman supporting you as you shake off your bad habits. 

At AJS, we got you. 

Written by Alicia Koch on behalf of AJS

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