Transcript: Creating Your Process from Confusion with Dina Cataldo
Hello there —
I'm really excited about this episode. It's building on what we talked about in last week's episode “Indulging in Confusion.”
I'll walk you through how to create the process to help you move from confusion to achieving any result that you're after — whether it's growing your practice, improving a relationship, building your confidence or leadership abilities or anything else you can think of.
Your process will be your step-by-step how-to — your checklist — of actions to take to get the outcome you want.
What gave me the idea for these episodes was an interview I heard with Tim Grover who was a trainer for Michael Jordan, and for Kobe Bryant when Jordan retired.
Tim Grover created a process for basketball players who want to improve their game.
Unless the player sees a skill gap, they won't work with a trainer like him. The best players of all time always see a skill gap. They're always looking for ways to improve their game. Grover wrote letters to every player on the Chicago Bulls' team EXCEPT Michael Jordan. But the ONLY player to contact Grover was Jordan because he wanted to improve his game. Jordan was skeptical, but he knew he had gaps.
Here's an overview of one of the the processes Grover used to help strengthen players, and prevent them from being injured.
He watch the basketball game played live that day, then he'd rewatch the video of the game that night. While watching he'd count the steps Jordan took. He'd look for whether Jordan favored his right or his left side. He'd watch to see which areas of the paint he'd fall on most. He'd watch how he fell to see whether there was a technique he could show the player for falling to prevent injury. The player had a goal, then Grover came in and became the watcher. He watched everything about the game. Then he created a workout routine that night, so that Jordan would have a workout for the next morning to strengthen the opposite side of his body, strengthen any weak spots, and practice falls correctly.
This is like what I do as a coach. I'm watching my client in our call and listening to how they talk about their law practice, their time, their clients, and then I'm breaking down a process for them to strengthen their mind and make their lives easier. We're strengthening weak spots and working on mindset. It's like doing reps with a personal trainer.
Grover didn't have someone tell him what to do, he had to come up with the process on his own. There wasn't anyone else doing this kind of work.
What Grover didn't do was indulge in confusion and say, “I don't know how to strengthen Jordan's body or help him.” “He could be better.” “I've never seen a routine that helps.” “I wish someone would tell me what to do.”
No. He developed a process for the problem he wanted to solve, and I'm going to show you how to do that today.
Beyonce does this same thing with her performances. She re-watches her performances and goes back with a fine-toothed comb to see what she wants to improve, and creates a process for doing so.
All the highest performers in the world do this. If you're not doing this it's probably because you're indulging in confusion.
Confusion doesn't have to be a problem.
It can be a springboard to creating your process if you notice it and do the work we're talking about in this episode.
I was thinking about the material for this episode, and it's pretty high-level stuff.
If you notice yourself spacing out, tune back in.
What we're talking about likely isn't how you think on a regular basis, so your brain will want to revolt.
It'll tell you things like, “This sounds hard.” “I'm confused.” “I'm not sure what she means.”
Notice your brain if it tells you any flavor of “I don't know.”
If this is your very first time listening to Be a Better Lawyer, then you may want to try another episode first.
You'll definitely want to listen to last week's episode first because this episode builds on that one.
Then next week, I'm going to talk about how to overcome your brain's resistance to the process you create for yourself in this episode.
Because we all know making a plan is one thing, but implementing one is something else.
Before we jump in, I want to invite you to book a call with me.
If you're listening to this podcast, you want to grow. You value personal development. And you know you need something to help you move to the next level in your life and practice.
Coaching may be the next step in your evolution.
The only way to find out is if you book a call with me and we talk about what coaching one on one would look like for your specific situation.
You can book a call with me at https://dinacataldo.com/strategysession – that's https://dinacataldo.com/strategysession
Alright, my friend, let's start creating your process from the confusion.
A little recap about how you know you're in confusion:
You say anything that sounds like “I don't know” or have vague thoughts like, “I should be doing more” or “My relationship should be better.” That's a cue that your brain is being lazy and glossing over telling you the truth.
Another way to know whether you're indulging in confusion is if you put things off. I had a client who was putting off deciding whether she should add a new arm to her practice. That just showed she was having the thought, “I should have more experience,” and we needed to get clear on what that even meant. What constituted “enough” experience? What experience did she think she lacked? Was it true she needed to have that experience before she got started? What would the next steps be for her to get that experience.
I'll break down one of last week's examples, so you have another example fresh in your mind as we move forward:
The thought “I could be a better lawyer,” is a vague thought. If we stay stuck here, and just believe that thought hook line and sinker, then we're indulging in confusion. It's a dead-end thought with no benefit.
If we question that thought, then we're moving out of indulgence and into problem-solving mode.
Make your brain get specific. What does it mean to be a better lawyer? It may come up with a list of things:
– I'd know all the answers to my clients' questions
– I wouldn't feel nervous in court
– I'd be more organized
– even this is vague. What does “more” organized mean? Do you with you had your files organized alphabetically? Does it mean that you had a system for consults? Does it mean you have a dusted office? Write that all down too.
– I'd use a calendar
– I'd send out Christmas cards
– I'd have the proper forms organized for clients
– I'd have a system for (fill in the blank)
– I wouldn't snap at my associates
– I'd be better at delegating
– what does that mean? Is there something specific you notice that you're NOT delegating that you want to
You get the idea. Keep writing, then review your thoughts and see if you can make them more specific.
I went through more examples in the last episode.
OK, if your brain is numb from this, come back to me. If your brain hurts, that's a good thing. It means your brain is being challenged. The goal of these episodes is to challenge your brain to think differently.
Let's break creating the process you'll take action on into two parts. Part one is about questioning all of your thoughts, and step two is pulling out what's relevant, so you're taking the most impactful actions to create the result you want.
STEP ONE: taking that list you made in episode 193 and question everything about it.
This is what I do with my clients to help them prioritize their processes. You can't do everything, but you can do this work to see what may the most important items you want to work on.
This is what questioning every though on that list looks like:
Is it true that the best lawyers really know ALL the answers to their clients' questions? No. That's what Lexus and Westlaw is for. The best lawyers know how to look up the answer.
Is it true that the best lawyers never feel nervous in court? Probably not. In fact, I know that's not true. I was watching a homicide trial being prosecuted by the best lawyer in our office who was highly respected in the nation. After his closing argument he came up to ask me if I thought he did okay. I was taking notes on his presentation, and he was asking me if I thought he did ok. There's nervousness and self-doubt at every level.
Is it true that the best lawyers are organized? Maybe. It helps if you can locate your files easily. It definitely cuts down on stress because you're not wondering if you have the whole file. It's definitely more pleasant when you work in an office that's dusted and doesn't have files everywhere. It may be easier to have a system for consults. If you're noticing problems stemming from a lack of organization, be honest with yourself.
Do the best lawyers use a calendar? I've never seen a calm lawyer who didn't use a calendar, but maybe. Let's say it's true: the best lawyers use a calendar.
Do the best lawyers send out Christmas cards? Maybe. What do you want to do? You get to decide on all of these what you want to do.
Do to the best lawyers have proper forms organized for clients, have systems, not snap at their associate, delegate certain aspects of their practice. Let's just say yes in the interest of time and move on to creating your process.
You're cross-examining yourself. Don't trust the crap your default brain comes up with. Really take a look at your thoughts with a discerning eye.
STEP TWO is taking that cross-examination and pulling your priorities from it. This is going to be the process – your action plan — to get the result you want.
You're cross-examining yourself. Don't trust what your default brain comes up with. Really take a look at your thoughts with a discerning eye.
We're going to use the same example.
Is it true that the best lawyers really know ALL the answers to their clients' questions? We know that's not true. So your anxiety about this can be put to rest.
Now we ask a follow-up: do you feel confident using research tools to help you find the answer? If you don't feel confident, then you may want to take a class on this. This will be part of your process to help you with the result you want of “be a better lawyer.”
Let's do another one.
Is it true that the best lawyers never feel nervous in court? No. Then the question becomes, am I okay showing up knowing I'm going to be nervous? What can I do to help me perform at my best, so that I'm less nervous? Make a game plan: maybe you have a ritual for when you're in trial, I would go grocery shopping the weekend before and stock up on healthy foods or make meal planning a priority so i wouldn't have to think about what to eat or eat garbage. I'd schedule my workouts in the evenings, so I would release whatever happened in my day. I'd go to sleep early, so I could wake up early and prep. Make whatever you come up with for you part of your process.
The next topic that came up was organization. What does organization mean to you? What processes do you want to implement? Do you want to hire a cleaner? Do you want to train your assistant to file your files for you. These would all be part of your process or action plan. I'm using those terms interchangeably.
Then we talk about having a calendar? If you think the best lawyers have a calendar they stick to, then decide on a calendar.
And if you're struggling in this area, I highly recommend you download the Busy Lawyer's Quick Start Guide that walks you through the process of getting your calendar in order.
You can download it at https://dinacataldo.com/busylawyer
Do the best lawyers send out Christmas cards? If you said yes, then put it in your calendar now to buy cards, have your client addresses pulled, set time aside to write and mail the cards.
If you said yes that the best lawyers have everything else you listed, then come up with what you want your action step to be to fulfill that.
Do you see how when you get out of confusion you can begin problem-solving?
STEP THREE: Then you just pull out one thing at a time to work on from your process.
Your action plan/process in this would be:
– sign up for Lexis training
– create ritual for when you're in trial
– decide on a calendar system and get assistant on board
– place Christmas cards on your calendar this year.
– ask assistant to make a system for your files and implement
See how this works? Then when your brain offers you a B.S. dead end thought like this, you can see it and know you can figure anything out.
Let's put this all together with an example we used in the last episode. You can use this when your brain tells you that your relationship could be better.
Step ONE: Don't let your brain get away with being vague.
Let's say the thought you've been indulging in is something like, “My marriage could be better.” “Could be” is incredibly vague. What does that even mean? Ask your brain that. What does your brain think could be better about your marriage. Get specific.
– my partner could take out the trash without me asking them
– my partner could be more supportive
– I could be nicer to my partner
– I could spend more time with them
– I could make more time for date nights
– they could tell me about how they feel more
– we'd have more sex
Write down all of your thoughts.
Every single thought you have is important. Spend 10 minutes on this until your brain hurts trying to come up with more. Usually the last 30 seconds is when you get your best thoughts, so keep going.
For each thought your brain came up with that told you your marriage “could be better,” you're going to ask yourself, “Is that true?” Most of these will feel true to you because you've thought them over and over. Thoughts are just sentences in our mind. They're only true if we decide they're true. Sometimes you'll ask yourself if a thought is true, and you'll immediately recognize it's not true.
So for instance if you came up with, “My partner could take out the trash without me asking them,” you may immediately recognize that this thought is untrue because the last couple weeks he's been taking out the trash without you asking them. Or you might see, “It's not really true that taking out the trash would make my marriage better.” That seems silly right? Partner taking out trash doesn't make my marriage better. Why am I thinking that? Oh, it's because when they don't take out the trash, I think that they don't care. Partner not taking out the trash isn't a sign that they don't love me. It would be nice and make my life easier. But it doesn't mean they don't care about me.
You can see how this might take some time to unwind these thoughts. If you're a client of mine who's working through these episodes, bring your questions to our session, and we'll work through them.
Put this work on your calendar. 10 minutes a day working on one topic is perfect. I'm not going to lie, it's going to feel hard, but the end result is so worth it. You're taking so much responsibility over the outcomes you're getting in your life, and that's going to help you get what you want.
Let's try another thought: “My partner could be more supportive.” Get specific. What does that mean exactly? What do you want support in? Why do you want it? What does it mean to be supported? What exactly do you want them to do? What are you making it mean that they aren't doing exactly what you want them to do? Get even more specific. Do you want them to tell you that your money and business decisions are amazing or do you want them not to question your decisions? Do either of these really make your marriage better? No, they make you feel better because you're looking for outside validation for your decisions. What are you making it mean that they aren't doing what you want them to do.
You're probably making it mean something like, “They don't care,” when it really means they just don't know how important it is to you.
One more of these thoughts, then I'm going to move on. “I could be nicer to my spouse.” What does that mean to you? Does that mean you don't yell at them? Does it mean that you put your phone down when they talk to you? Get specific.
Now we're at STEP THREE:
After you've gone through each one of your thoughts and either debunked them or gotten specifics about what each of them mean to you, then you can get to work pulling out the process for having the better relationship you want.
– what conversations do you want to have around intimacy, sex, date nights, vacations
– connect with your partner and let them know you'd like to have a night where you can have conversations like this
– place it on calendar and prioritize it. maybe even make it fun.
– make a plan when you get home to place your phone in another room when you're with your partner
– put down your book when they walk in the room, whatever it is that you
You do this kind of problem solving in other areas of your life, I'm just showing you a system to do it in EVERY area of your life.
I'll give you one last example.
I'm building a cottage in my backyard. My brain likes to tell me it's hard, and that I don't know how b/c I've never done it before.
If I stay there, I indulge in confusion. If I decide to ask myself what it means to build a cottage, I get out of confusion. I ask myself what I want, and I get a laundry-list to get my brain moving instead of stopping me at a dead-end thought.
What does building a cottage mean to me? What do I want? What do I need to know?
– someone else is doing the construction
– I want it pretty with a large bathtub
– I want it to be usable as both an Air BNB or a conference room for groups
– I want it to feel roomy even if it's a bit small
Then I pull out my process.
I need to know
– who's going to do the work
– how big of a bathtub do I want?
– what's the measurements of my ideal plan
– find out if any building limitations
– how much will it cost
– measurements for floor plan
– measurements for appliances
– I can go to a similar sized apartment and see whether it feels roomy
STEP THREE: I pull out my process.
This is my process now. One by one I knock these down. I put them on my calendar, I find the people I need, I make them happen.
All of our problems come down to us thinking more effectively about them instead of allowing our brains to be vague or confused.
This is what it means to take 100% responsibility for our results. The good news is, we don't have to wait around for things to change or our partner to behave differently to have a better life.
We get to take charge of it with this work.
The bad news is, our brain is not going to want to do this work.
It's intense, and our brain often needs guidance when doing this.
If you want help doing this work, book a call with me.
I help my clients every week clear the clutter from their brain, so they can go after what they want with more clarity.
You can book a call with me at https://dinacataldo.com/strategysession
Alright, my friend. That's all for today. I hope you have a lovely rest of your week.