Phil JacksonThe zen master, Phil Jackson (also basketball coach of the Albany Patroons, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Lakers), always coached his players to let the game come to them.

Phil’s advice to Michael Jordan, perhaps the greatest player ever, was to “Stop chasing the game. Let the game come to you.” You have to “Tone it down and let the game come to you,” Phil is known to have demanded of the Laker’s Kobe Bryant.

Phil, winner of 11 NBA championships, was coaching his players to be natural, not to try too hard. Rather than force plays, wait for an opportunity to make a play. Forcing plays results in turnovers and lost scoring opporunities.

I’m regularly advising lawyers that when it comes to social media, let the game come to you. You can’t rush it. Social media is all about doing what comes naturally to you, not someone else.

When beginning to use social media, you’re apt to be confused and feel ill at ease. Even the greatest athletes in the world had to begin somewhere. They had to be coached. They had to practice. And we’re not expecting you to win Wimbledon or a NBA Championship.

The art of blogging, tweeting, listening with an RSS reader, and engaging others via social media, though not the hardest thing in the world, takes time to learn. It may not feel natural for up to a year. That’s okay. Don’t force it, let social media come to you.

Euan Semple (@euan), who helps organizations and the people in them work with social computing to become more effective, wrote today about the power of the unassuming web.

There is so much bluster and marketing push around the whole social thing. But it is just the web, the internet, gradually creeping into our lives and into our work lives. Modest aspirations, modest claims. That’s the way to make social happen. Let it creep at its own pace. Be interested in its twists and turns. Let it find its level and pace – but don’t force it. It’s like water, stronger than rock. It takes time and it is similarly modest and unassuming.

New York City Criminal Defense Attorney, Scott Greenfield (@scottgreenfield), commenting on on earlier post of mine on engagement through blogging, nailed why the Internet for lawyers is all about being yourself, not pushing social media tools or jargon.

Yet the chatter about the tools continues, muddied up by more jargon slingers. Why not just say be yourself, be real, and if people think you’re not a blithering idiot or a pathetic jerk, maybe they’ll want to use you as their lawyer. Or maybe, no matter how many tools or how many sale jargon words you use, they won’t think you’re smart or won’t think you’re a swell person and will use someone else, who is also being himself and really but is smarter and less of a jerk than you.

Social media is all about interpersonal skills – listening, engaging, networking, building relationships. Though learning how to exercise these skills through the Internet takes time, social media is all about being yourself and doing what comes naturally.

Let social media come to you guys. No less than the zen master would tell you so.

Image courtesy of Flickr by CatulleL.