seeking significance, how to feel more confident, how to stop caring what other people think, Dina Cataldo, how to be a better lawyer, be a better lawyer podcast

#267: Seeking Significance

What makes you significant?

Is it your accomplishments?

What other people think about you?

Or maybe, is it something else entirely?

We all want to feel significant, but I'm sharing the most helpful way to think about feeling significant, so you feel energized instead of depleted.

You'll learn:

the different sources of significance

the problem with seeking significance outside yourself

how to fuel yourself with the feeling of significance no matter what your accomplishments or what other people think

When you learn the skill of creating significance from within, you'll have the confidence to take on anything.

Listen in to build this foundational skill.


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Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.

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Seeking Significance

Hello, my friend. I hope you’re having a great week so far. As you’re listening to this, I’m traveling with a friend back East to see a bunch of fun places including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which should be super fun. The best part is? I didn’t have to plan any of it. I’m just along for the ride.

That’s actually a them this year for my traveling adventures now that I think about it.

When I went to Argentina earlier this year to meet up with some coaches and mastermind about our businesses, the woman who lived there planned the whole thing.

And later in the year when I go to Sedona, the whole trip has been planned too.

I’m used to planning everything to the last detail, so this letting go of control is liberating.

Sometimes I need to take a breath and just let things roll because I am used to planning everything. It’s everything I can do not to ask my friend to list out his itinerary for every day we’re going, but I’m not saying a word. I’m sure he appreciates it because we’ve known each other for about 14 years now, and he knew me when I was over-working, stressing, and anxious. It’s fun to know someone that long and watch each other evolve.

That brings us to today’s episode, which is kind of related.

The over-working and control tendencies I used to have were linked to my belief that my work created my significance.

Today we’re talking about where you may be seeking significance instead of filling yourself up and giving it to yourself instead.

When we’re seeking significance, it’s always outside of us. There’s always something we need to do or achieve for us to feel significant and worthy.

When we create it for ourselves, it’s always available to us. We’re never trying to create significance. We naturally feel more confident. I’m going to be talking about creating confidence in next week’s episode, so make sure you’re subscribed wherever you’re listening to this, so you don’t miss it.

What is significance?

The Oxford dictionary defines significance as “the quality of being worthy of attention; importance.”

Where does significance come from?

Sometimes I’ll talk to clients, and I can tell they’re getting it from what their clients think of them.

Sometimes, they’ll tell me they get significance from their boss telling them they’re doing a good job.

If other people don’t actively tell you you’re doing a good job and they love you, you’re going to keep seeking that approval to feel significant.

You may do that by working later or trying to work faster.

Sometimes it’s from a project they’ve completed.

Of course, when you start doing that, you get a diminishing rate of return. Not only will your work product begin to deteriorate, you will begin feeling more and more disappointed and insignificant. You’re working hard but not getting the return you hoped for: significance in the eyes of others.

If you only allow yourself to feel significant when a job is done, what happens when you have an ongoing project or a trial that drags on? You don’t get to feel significant until it’s done. You don’t get to experience any of the progress you’re making on the project along the way. This feels horrible.

What I suggest to you is you start feeling significant now. I’m going to walk you through how I do it speaking as a lawyer who for years sought significance for working hard.

If this is resonating with you, I want to encourage you to book a Strategy Session with me.

I work with my clients on this, and when they begin filling themselves up and validating their work before anyone else even sees it, they enjoy their practices more.

One of my clients would not just say yes to all the client projects even though she didn’t want or need them, but she would say yes to every board that asked her to because she got her significance from what she believed other people thought of her when she said yes.

She thought they’d think she was a nice person and that they would refer her to people.

What she realized when we started working together is that seeking significance in this way short-changed her and her practice. This habit seeped into everything she decided included whether to discount her rates, deciding not to raise her rates, not charging for consults, not monitoring her employees when she suspected they weren’t doing their job.

When she started recognizing her value, the value of her services and the value of her time before she offered them to anyone, she started doing what was best for her and her practice in the long run. She raised her rates, charged for consults, stated saying no more often, and started communicating with her employees more effectively.

If you can relate to any of this, let’s work together.

You can book a Strategy Session with me at to get started.

Alright, here's what you need to know about creating significance for yourself instead of seeking significance outside of yourself.

First, you already have significance. You were born significant.

Everything you do in this world has an impact. You get to decide whether you want to see it or not.

How you talk to the people at your office or in the grocery checkout line matters.

You can either make someone’s day or you can be a not-so-great part of it depending on how you choose to show up.

You can either show up for what you want 100% or you can show up for life feeling disappointed, resentful, or filled with regret.

I will offer to you that going after the life you want makes a difference in the world.

When you don’t, a part of you dies.

If I had decided not to show up for my dreams, I wouldn’t have the impact I do on the lawyers I get to work with and this podcast wouldn’t exist.

It’s not easy showing up for yourself and validating your dreams and desires. We get a lot of blowback from society and naysayers. Other people will tell us we should be happy. You have so much, why would you risk it?

The way I look at it, what I’d really be risking is my soul.

I look at it that importantly.

I was really risked was giving up on myself and what I knew deep down was possible for me.

I could have stayed a criminal prosecutor and been perfectly happy. But I would have regretted not seeing what I was made of.

When I started to cultivate significance for myself instead of seeking it outside of myself, I was able to do scarier things because I wasn’t relying on anyone else’s approval.

Part of the problem of seeking significance outside of ourselves is we’re at the mercy of circumstances.

We give up all power in our life. We need validation from people outside of us — a spouse, a friend, a co-worker — to tell us we’re making the right decision.

There’s no way someone else can know what the best decision is for us.

When I work with clients, I’m NEVER making a decision for them. I’m helping them see why they’re making the decision they’re making and whether that decision serves them in the long run.

I help them make decisions from a place of being filled up with their significant versus having someone else and their beliefs make their decisions for them.

Here’s what I needed to start believing and doing to start filling myself up and feeling significant.

1. I had to first open myself up to the idea that I was already good enough to do anything I wanted. I didn’t need to earn my worthiness from anything I did or anyone. Including me. I was already enough. It didn’t mean I didn’t work to improve my skills. It meant I wasn’t improving my skills to prove anything to anyone.

2. I started getting awareness of when I felt my ego being stroked. You know that feeling. When someone gives you a compliment, and you’re flattered. I stopped being flattered by what people said about me. What people say about you isn’t about you. It’s about them and what they needed. This is important to notice when you get that feeling of excitement that someone needs you to do something — a client calls you for a last minute project and tells you they’re going to refer you to all their friends, or a boss taps you for a project when you’re already drowning in work. You’ll immediately want to say yes. That’s a reaction to the urge to feel significant.

When I started noticing it, then I could press pause and say something like, “Thank you. Give me some time to think about it.” Because I knew in that moment I wanted to say yes, but I knew I was also saying yes because I wanted their approval.

Once I gave myself some space, I could make a decision from a calm place where I was thinking about what was best for me long term instead of in the moment.

3. I started saying no more. I practiced it without explaining myself. It was uncomfortable at first. I didn’t want anyone to feel disappointed in me. That was back when I thought I could create feelings in the people. People have thoughts and those thoughts create their own feelings. I’m not in control of the world. They get to feel however they want to about my decisions, and that’s okay. It sounds easy now, but it did take practice.

4. I joined coaching programs that helped me do two things: 1) be in the company of people who were going after what they wanted and could help me do the same — I knew they weren’t judging me because they were in the same boat as me, and 2) stay on track with my goals and spot when I was people-pleasing instead of going after what I really wanted.

5. I learned how to fill myself up by acknowledging myself for all my wins big and small. I told myself I was doing a good job, which keeps me going when I have a long project I’m working on. I remind myself to pace myself because it doesn’t all have to get done at once, and I’m on track. I also acknowledge where I’m still learning instead of beating myself up for perceived failures.

6. I stopped using goals as a measure of my significance. I used to shame myself when I didn’t hit my goals, which felt horrible and prevented me from doing what needed to be done to evaluate what happened, regroup and move forward. Now I just acknowledge the feelings I have and move forward because I’m filled up already. I know whether I hit a financial goal or a goal to help X number of people in my practice doesn’t mean anything about me or my value.

With that said, I have three questions for you  I want you to consider:

Where do you see that you’re giving your power away?

Where are you looking for significance outside of yourself?

And if you were to implement just one of the 6 suggestions I outlined to make change, which would it be?

I’ll outline them again for you:

1. Open yourself up to the idea that you’re already good enough as is.

2. Observing when you feel your ego is being stroked and walking away before making a decision to say yes.

3. Start saying no without explaining yourself. Allow yourself to feel uncomfortable.

4. Hire a coach

5. Acknowledge all your wins big and small

6. Stop using goals to measure your worth

And if you know you want to continue this work with me one-on-one, book a Strategy Session with me.

You can book at

Hope you have a beautiful rest of your week, and I will talk to you next week.