Hello, there.

I hope you're enjoying your holidays.
I've decided that a new Christmas Eve ritual will be to go to a museum. There's an Impressionist exhibit in Sacramento right now that was fabulous. I'm a total art nerd who will spend days in museums when I travel. It's something that I started loving when I took an art history class in high school. I even briefly considered becoming an art history professor.
Art is one of the the aspects of my personal ecosystem that helps me thrive whether it's going to a museum or playing with paints or sketching.
Did you know that we have our own personal ecosystem? Our body is an ecosystem that has needs.
What it needs to survive is pretty basic: food, water, shelter.
What it needs to thrive is a different story.
The reason I decided to coach lawyers is because I wanted to help lawyers move from survive mentality to thrive mentality.
For a lot of years, I was stuck in survive mentality. I was stressed out, I never seemed to have enough time, and I couldn't work hard enough or long enough hours to catch up.
My ecosystem was completely out of balance, so it's no surprise when I look back on those days. I wasn't eating well, exercising much at all, and I wasn't giving myself time to even think about what I wanted much less act on it.
Humans thrive when our personal ecosystem is in harmony.
To do that, we must address what's happening with the whole human and find out what it wants. Then we need to give those things to ourselves.
When we do, we're a different person. We feel more in control because we aren't in reactivity mode. We notice what we're feeling and what we're thinking. We take this way of being through our whole day whether we're at the office or at home.
A lot of lawyers want to separate work from personal life. It doesn't work that way.
What's happening in our practice impacts our personal life and vice-versa.
It should be that way. We're humans and not machines.
We may have been good at compartmentalizing work and the personal, but it doesn't mean they're not impacting one another. We just don't see it. Snippy with your partner? Ask yourself how you felt about your day at the office? Snippy with your employee? What happened over breakfast at home?
This is just one way we've become disconnected from the natural flow of life.
Most of us don't live in the woods and forage for our own food, so it's understandable that we'd be a bit disconnected, right?
We were raised in, and we take part in, a society that disconnects us from the natural rhythms of our body and what we need emotionally and physically.
This is a process of conditioning that we need to recognize, so we can cultivate a thrive mentality.
We weren't meant to only see life in billable hours and books of business.
When clients first start working with me to get their time under control, they don't always realize how much thrive mentality work they're going to do on themselves. When we start working on reconnecting them with themselves, a lot of them can't name the feelings in their body when they have them. That's normal for lawyers who have spent years ignoring their feelings, so they can work later. They ignore their desire to sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise, and even go to the bathroom so they can get one more task done.
I didn't ask myself how I felt either until I started consciously asking myself what I needed in that moment whether it was a walk around the block, a few deep breaths, or say no to something I didn't want.
We've chosen a profession that doesn't encourage feeling emotions.
It's very much a “suck it up and get back to work” mentality instead of a thrive mentality.
A thrive mentality doesn't deny any feeling. It doesn't deny any part of our human-ness. It doesn't deny ourselves bathroom breaks.
In a thrive mentality, we feel every feeling and we give ourselves what we need instead of numbing out with work, alcohol or online shopping.
In a thrive mentality, we notice when something's out of harmony, and we take notice.
In a thrive mentality, we're kind to ourselves and recognize that we're humans and not machines.
If we deny our human-ness, then what's the point of living?
Is it money? The prestige of a title? A fancy office? The adulation of others?
All of those are external measurements of validation many of us use to tell ourselves that we must be thriving instead of asking ourselves what we need.
Once have all the external measures, it's not enough. We keep wanting more because the hole we're feeling is that denial of our human ecosystem and what it needs to thrive.
We haven't connected with the human and are being driven by what society has told us is important to measure as success. When we achieve it, a lot of us step back and ask, “Is that it?” Then we think that's all there is to life, and to suck it up and get back to work.
Let me tell you a story that illustrates the importance of living in harmony with our personal ecosystem.
In 1994, wolves were re-introduced to Yellowstone National Park from Canada because the natural ecosystem was out of harmony.
Elk and deer over-populated the area, and they over-indulged in the cottonwood trees that protected the waterways and gave rodents shelter.
When the wolves were restored, they kept the elk and deer populations in check.
More than that, they restored the natural ecosystem unique to that landscape.
Cottonwood trees grew back reinforcing the waterways, and shading the water making it cool enough for trout to return and grow larger.
Remnants of wolf kills allowed scavengers like bears to come back.
Rodents like rabbits had shelter and nourishment and in turn they provided nourishment for the endangered birds of prey.
It only took one element to be removed from the natural ecosystem to ravage the whole.
Our personal ecosystems are no different.
Each of us require all our unique elements in our human ecosystem to be present to thrive.
If you have children, your wish isn't that they merely survive.
Your wish for them is that they thrive.
You know instinctively this requires love, care, attention, time to explore their interests (also known as play), in addition to the nourishment they get from food and shelter.
I invite you to ask yourself if there's anything you're denying yourself that prevents your ability to thrive.
When I asked myself this, I discovered that I was missing play.
I craved it, but I didn't give myself time for it.
Walking my dog, playing guitar, painting, traveling, morning rituals, and even starting a business that helped people were all elements I needed.
These were some of the unique elements of my ecosystem that help my whole being thrive.
I didn't deny myself.
When I did, my ecosystem was unbalanced. I felt tense and resentful, and I took it out on people around me.
What are the elements of your personal ecosystem that help you thrive?
Check in periodically in your day and ask yourself how you're feeling to start integrating this practice. Take a breath, and start by asking how you feel, then ask yourself what you need. Then give it to yourself!
It's important that we continue to pay attention to what we need and reconnect with our body throughout the day.
As an epilogue and sad example of this, since 1994, there have been laws passed that threaten the balance of the natural ecosystems in states where wolves were reintroduced. The natural harmony is once again endangered.
Pay attention to your natural rhythms and when you're denying yourself what you need to thrive.
This bit of attention may seem small, but it makes all the difference in creating harmony in your life and the lives of those around you.
You can go after big audacious goals and live in a thrive mentality. My clients go after what they want BECAUSE they learn the thrive mentality. They stop denying themselves what they need and start asking for what they want. When they do, it leads them to naturally expand their practices, make more money, grow their confidence within the leadership at their firms, and more.
When we harmonize with ourselves, things start to shift for us.
If you're ready for that shift, work with me.
Imagine how much different your life can be just 6 months from now by learning the skills you need to not just survive your law practice but to thrive in it.
Start working with me at dinacataldo.com/strategysession
I hope you have wonderful rest of your week and a very happy new year.
Talk to you next week