A common challenge us lawyers face is the tendency to take on other people's roles and responsibilities — other people's jobs.
Whether it's in the workplace or at home, it's easy to find yourself overwhelmed, frustrated, and even angry when you internalize the roles of others.
In this episode of Be a Better Lawyer Podcast, I dive into how you can break this pattern and regain control over your life.
✅ managing employees
✅ and more
By maintaining boundaries and re-focusing on your responsibilities, you can reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.
This episode is a must-listen for more peace of mind.
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Thanks for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.
Whose Job Are You Taking On?
Hello my friends. How are you doing today? I was on a walk and as soon as I got home I had to sit down and record this because it's something that comes up time and again in my coaching sessions. And my job as your coach is to bring awarenesses and give you tools to help you remove the overwhelm, the frustration, and the anger, and start focusing on yourself and what you can change and what you have control over, and how you can make your life better, your practice better. And so things like what happened on my walk today and me kind of thinking about the problems that show up that are common with lawyers, I knew that I needed to share this with you. So one of the things we do as humans is we take on other people's jobs.
We take on the job of our coworker, of our partner, of our spouse, of our mom, of our dad, of our children, and we internalize how they're living their life and we have thoughts about how they're living their life and how they should be in the world. We take on their job. And you might be able to hear my dog in the background. He has found his toy and is gonna make some noise, but moving on. So what I really wanna share with you is this. So I was on my walk with Frankie, and it's so simple when you think about it with dogs, right? Because they're a dog. They have instincts. They're gonna do what they're gonna do. And so when he's going on a walk with me, his job is to look for cat poop and for snacks, <laugh> that are on lawns that people have left behind.
It's like it's just their job. The dogs go where the food is and then they eat, right? That's what they do. And then my job is to come in and to pull him away from whatever it is he wants to eat. Because I know that if he eats whatever it is, he could get sick, he could have some issues. And I don't want that to happen. So my job as his dog mom, for lack of a better word, is to come in and say, Hey, no, that is not for you. Right? And I pull him away, right? And his job is to fight me. 'cause He wants the food. His his mind is like, no, that's food. I, this is what I do, is I get food. And so his job is to be like, no, no, no, no, no. I'm gonna pull away from the leash and I'm gonna go towards the food.
And my job is to say no. And to pull him back and to keep redirecting him and redirecting him until he moves on. Sometimes it's easier than other times, but his job is always going to be to seek the food and eat the food. That's his job. And my job is always going to be to watch out for him and to pull him away from that food. That's it, right? That is, that is my job. And so what we do, what I could do in that situation is I could get really angry, right? I could get really frustrated. And that's happened in the past, right? Because I don't like it when he eats cat poop. I find it disgusting, <laugh>. And so I used to get really angry and frustrated about this. I'm like, how could you not do it? I've told you a million times.
Like I'm I what? I can't train you like what's happening here. But that all that happened is that I forgot that his job as a dog, even if I'm feeding him all the, the good, healthy organic foods, you know, whatever he gets, he's always going to seek out more food. Like that is just his job. So when I look at his job on this planet is to seek food and find food and eat food, and I look at my job as to look out for him, to redirect him. Those two jobs are very separate and they exist independently. We are two separate beings on this planet. My job is to take care of my emotions. So I could get angry about it. I could yell at him, I could pull him angrily away. I could let his job take on his job and let it affect me and my energy, my peace.
Or I could let him be the dog and then me be the human. And so let me show you how this applies and how you might see this show up. Let's start with an employee. You may have an employee who isn't behaving the way you want them to behave. They're not necessarily billing the hours that you want. They're not doing the things you would like them to do. Maybe they're making mistakes and that is their job, right? They're the employee. And you might have a lot of thoughts about how they should be doing their job as an employee, literally, right? 'cause That is their job. So their job is to do whatever it is that they're doing, making the mistakes, doing things that maybe you don't necessarily want them to do. Maybe they're taking longer breaks than you would like them to, right? Maybe they're not billing the way that you want them to.
That's their job. That's their job right now, as a being. Now your job is as an employer, and your job as an employer is very different. Your job is to observe what it is that is the work product coming from them just to observe it is to think about ways in which you can more simply explain things to them. Your job is also to look at where their systems may not be adequate to help them get the job done that you would like them to do in a way that is efficient, in a way that makes sense, and in a way that serves your clients at the highest level. That's your job, right? Your job is to create a container for them, for them so that you can help them do their job in the most effective way in your practice. Your job is also to continue to observe how they interact with your container and to continue to improve that container, whatever that may be.
Whether it's creating new processes, whether it's an additional training, right? Those are your jobs. Your job is also after having observed how they are interacting with your container over a period of time to then make decisions about whether or not they are a good fit for your firm. That's your job. Now, you could get really angry with them and think to yourself, they're not doing what they're supposed to. They should know this by now. Why aren't they learning it? You could work yourself up. You could create anger and frustration and annoyance in your body and then take it out on them. And you could do that. Or you could recognize that they are just doing their job as a human on this planet. They are doing things the way that they believe they should be done. And what's different in this dog situation is that you can actually have a conversation with your employee, right?
You can actually, instead of coming from a place of anger and frustration, start coming to them from a place of curiosity and saying, Hey, like tell me why you're doing it this way. Like, tell me what your reasoning is. They may not have a reason, but they might tell you something that you didn't know before. They might say, well, the clients seem to like it this way, or it makes sense to me to do it this way. And then you can keep asking them, well, why do, why does that make sense to you? I'm just really curious. Not angry, not frustrated, but just like curious. Like, hey, like why are you doing it this way? And they might come to you with information you didn't have before, and you may decide to change your mind about the process that they're doing. Or you may say, okay, well here's my reasoning, just so that you can understand what's going through my head.
Because that's one of the biggest disconnects I see when I'm talking to my clients and we're working through leading their employees in their firm. It is not helping their employee see the business, see the work through their eyes to help them understand their brain and their thought processes. And that's because when they enter conversations about training, they are rushed. They believe that their employee should already know certain things, and they don't create refreshers, or they just assume that they know things because they've worked at prior firms. And you don't want to assume, you want to ask, you want to get curious, you want to know these things because you are opening a bigger conversation about how to, how for them to do their job better. Okay? So right now, in this moment, they are doing their job as humans. Are you doing your job? Or are you looking at their job and saying, it's not right.
You're not doing it right. You should know better and creating a lot of frustration and anger and taking on that frustration and anger as if you are doing their job for them, right? It's like, no, why can't you just do this? So you're not taking on their job, you are doing your job, you're sticking to your wheelhouse, which is the leader, the person who is coming in and observing and creating smoother processes and thinking through problems and communicating and being curious and understanding what they're going through. And then you are there to help them. And if they still cannot do the the job in terms of working for your firm, then that opens another conversation that may lead to them leaving, right? So you just want to look at what your job is. If you want to maintain your emotional peace, if you want to maintain your peace of mind, because you can be angry and
Recognize it and notice it and be with it and understand it, and then ask yourself, why am I angry? Because that's gonna uncover all of the thoughts you have about what you think they should be doing. But what's also gonna happen is, is that once you get that all out on a piece of paper, like, this is what I think they should be doing, this is what I want them to do, pause, breathe. Then go through that list and ask yourself, what is my job here? Well, my job is to create a better process for them, to get curious, to ask them questions and so on. So the anger can get you, and the frustration can get you to a point where you can make a list of all the things you want them to do and how you want them to do it. But then don't stop there.
Don't just believe everything that your brain has just told you that all might be true. But right now you're in frustration and anger. And two, approach a problem with those heightened emotions. It has a contradictory impact on how you problem solve. So when emotions are high, your problem solving abilities are low. When your emotions are calm, your problem solving abilities escalate, they're high. I want you to remember this because your job at all times in your firm, and maybe even in your life, we're gonna be talking about that in a second, is to solve problems. Okay? So next area of your life that this may be coming up, and I coach on this pretty frequently, is with children or spouses or ex-spouses.
Now they in your brain, right? You're like this, they're causing me a lot of frustration. Their behavior, the way they are in the world. It's I'm angry, I'm frustrated, they make my life impossible. All of those thoughts, like you may be feeling lots of anger and frustration. That's okay, right? We're human. I feel anger and frustration too, in case you think I'm like a monk sitting on a mountaintop. I'm not because I live in this world too. Two. And so my job and your job too is to recognize what my job is. And my job is to take care of my emotional wellbeing and to understand that other people are living their lives and they're going through their experiences and they have their job on this planet too. And a lot of it is above my pay grade, right? But I may not understand it is what I mean by that.
But what I also understand is that every interaction that I have with another being on this planet is an opportunity to learn something about myself, to learn a new way of really adapting, really reconnecting with myself and my emotional wellbeing instead of feeling stressed or overwhelmed or angry or frustrated. In fact, every time I notice I'm angry or frustrated with another human, I know that I have work to do internally, right? It is, it feels like a trigger, right? It's like this, boom, I'm angry. And then I take that and I bring it back and I say, oh, what's going on here? What's going on here? Okay, so let, let me give you an example of this. So let's say you have a child who's not behaving the way you want them to, right? Maybe they're not doing their homework right, or they get really frustrated and angry when they're doing their homework, and then you get frustrated and angry.
Or maybe your child isn't behaving the way you want them to, right? Maybe they're doing things in the house that you're just looking at and you're like, oh my gosh, like what the heck? Like how could they be doing that? And you become frustrated and angry, normal, right? And I'm not gonna tell you how to parent because you know your child best, you know yourself best. But when you notice the frustration and anger, that's the opportunity to problem solve. And we miss opportunities to problem solve, not just the problem that might be presenting itself with the child, but to problem solve how we are behaving in the world. And do we like the way that we are feeling and being in that moment, them, I know when I feel agitated and angry, I do not like it. I want my peace. So I am continually working to maintain that peace.
It is not one and done my friend. We are not living on a mountaintop. We have jobs, we have responsibilities. But one of our biggest responsibilities, I believe, on this planet, is to evolve continually. And the only way, again, and my belief system is to continue to redirect myself to my piece. It's not easy, but it is doable. So when you are faced, it's very similar to the employee, right? Like, so when you are faced with a child or whoever is not behaving the way you want them to, you're gonna feel the anger, you're gonna feel the frustration. Maybe you notice you're holding your breath, you feel tension in your shoulders. And then that moment, that moment that you're feeling it, stay with it. Don't push it away. Don't react to it. Don't yell, don't scream. Take a moment for yourself before you do anything.
So you can make a conscious choice in that moment. This takes practice because the goal here is to create more and more space between the anger and you taking action. When you first start doing this work, you'll feel anger and immediately react. That was me. I've been there. And then you feel anger, and then you're like, okay, I gave myself a millisecond and maybe I still reacted not the way I wanted to, but I saw it. I could recognize that was not how I wanted to be in that moment, and I didn't judge myself for it. When I stopped judging myself for it, that's when the progress really began. So you can't judge yourself. It's just a reaction. This is your job, right? As a human to observe. So then the more you observe it, the more space you're creating between the anger you feel or the frustration you feel and the reaction, and then you actually create enough time to stop and say, whoa, hold on, pause. What do I want to do next? Consciously? What is my next conscious move? Do I want to yell and scream? Do or do I wanna take a breath and say, okay, now you just need to go to your room. Or I need to take a moment. I'm gonna go step away and into the kitchen and I'm gonna make some tea. I'll be right back, right? You get to just make a decision in that moment, what you want to do next, whatever that might be.
So now your job is looking at yourself and saying, okay, now what am I frustrated with? How do I think they should be behaving? What do I want them to do? And you write it all down. And then you look internally and you say, okay, I want them to behave better when we're at dinner time. I want them to eat all their vegetables. I want them to do this, I want them to do that. And then you go back and you go, okay, that's their job. Their job is to not eat their vegetables. It's to fight you with the homework. Their job is to not do the things that you've explained to them 10 times. <Laugh>, right? Their job is to be the child who's fighting you tooth and nail because they have a job. Their job is to evolve too, and they're at a different level of awareness than you are too.
And so your job as the parent is to come in and problem solve, right? So it's like, okay, I don't, I want them to eat their vegetables. Okay? They're not eating their vegetables. I could continue to yell at them. Is there another solution? But you can't get to that solution until you calm your mind. It might be to have a conversation, or it might be to say, look, if you don't eat your vegetables, then you're gonna have a consequence. But you set up the rules. It's like me coming in with the dog. I can't have that conversation with my dog, right? And at the same time, like, I don't need to have that conversation. I just, Hey, no consequences. I'm, I'm tugging you away, right? I can't, they don't understand a consequence. So I can't do that with my dog. And then your child may not care about that consequence.
And then your job is to come in and find consequences that they care about. So don't give up on it if you're not seeing the progress that you want to make, because your job is different from your child's job. Your job, your child's job is to fight you. Your child's job is to yell and scream during whatever activity they don't wanna do, right? That's just their job. And then your job is to come in and redirect. Your job is to come in and teach. Your job is to come in and give consequences. And you can do that from two separate spaces. You can come into that from a reactionary, angry, frustrated space and yell at them and scream at them. And they may or may not do what you want them to do.
Or you can take care of your job, which is to take care of your peace. That's how I see my job. I take care of my peace. And one of the ways this has come up in my life, you know, in the last few years is being a caregiver for my mom. And my mom had some health issues that came up. And it was very frustrating for me because my brain was like, you're wasting so much time on these things. She should be able to do these things herself. Why are you doing them? And I had to pause and I had to stop, and I had to take a step back and I had to say, okay, what can I do to help her become more self-sufficient so that I am not constantly helping her with these particular things? And I, I couldn't get there from anger and frustration because otherwise I'd react, I'd yell.
It would not be something that, you know, I enjoyed in my body. It felt horrible. And so I had to come to a place where it's like, okay, yeah, there's some things that are frustrating me. What are they? Let me make a list. I didn't have to make a list. There were like two things. They were really big. And I was like, Nope, I am not doing those things anymore. How do I problem solve for this? And so it was then coming in and having a conversation and saying, Hey, this is what I need, but I can help you get the tools to figure this out, right? So I'll walk you through it. And I could only do that from a calm patient place. I couldn't come there from an angry place. And it's like communicating with your medical people. This is how you do it.
This is like, you wanna keep this organized? I gave them system, gave her systems basically, and then taking care of certain medical things. It was like, okay, I can't do this anymore, but I will help you set up a process and a system to help you get it done most effectively. Okay? So you have to look out for yourself in your job and not take on other people's jobs. And it's different for every category of people in your life. But I want you to just overall see how the other people in your life are behaving exactly the way they are meant to be behaving. That is their job. Even if you don't like how they're doing their job. And then your job is to take care of your emotional wellbeing and problem solving.
So this might feel completely foreign to you because we're so used to feeling like we need to control things and then we're so used to making other people responsible for how we feel. So in other words, well if only they would be behaving better, then I would feel better, right? And we're actually taught that growing up. It's like, well, how did little Johnny make you feel today? Like when he said those words, it's like, oh no, he can't actually make me feel that way. I have my job. My job is to take care of my emotional being. And Johnny's job is to say words that aren't nice, right? That's just, it's totally foreign to our society. Even if you watch this on the news, right? And you see all these opinion pieces, I try to stay out of that because it is a tox, it's toxic to our wellbeing to have all of that noise and beliefs that are spewed on the television and news programs and opinion pieces.
Their job is to do what they're gonna do, right? Their job is to say what's on the news, to say, you know, here, let me push out the worst news possible. That's their job because they're looking at marketing dollars on the commercials. Our job is to protect our wellbeing. And then we just say no to those things. We don't turn on the news first thing when we get home. We don't listen to the news on the way back from work. We take care of our emotional wellbeing. We pay attention to how we feel. And if we are not in wellbeing, then we take charge of our brain and we start to understand the problem and we start problem solving. That's our job. So whose job are you taking on? Who are you giving your emotional wellbeing to instead of problem solving? Alright? This is some of the work that I do with my clients, and it is the most amazing work we can do for ourselves because we become more connected with ourselves.
We start, stop trying to control the universe and instead look at what we can control and deal with ourselves. Because our job is to evolve as humans. I truly believe that to evolve into the best versions of ourselves and to continue doing that work. Because again, we don't live on mountaintops. We live in the real world where we have people behaving in ways that we don't want to want them to. And we see things that are unimaginable to our brains, unimaginable violence, the way people are behaving towards each other. And when we can look at our job as maintaining our wellbeing, maintaining our peace of mind, then we can problem solve for what we can control. 'cause We may not be able to control what's happening in other parts of the world. We may not be able to solve bigger problems that we see in our government, but we can always maintain our peace.
It's a practice. There's no perfection. This is about completely having compassion for ourselves and continuing taking one step at at a time, continuing to move forward. That's it. And every time we notice that, we feel anger and frustration, we just pause and we say, ha, I'm feeling that feeling again. Or anytime we react to that feeling, we don't judge ourselves and tell ourselves that we should know better. You just tell yourself, oh, that's my job. My job is to be imperfect and to keep trying. My job is to just be a human, do the best that I can in the moment. All right, my friend, if you want to continue doing this work, if you want to evolve, if you want to be a leader in your practice, if you want to grow your practice without the overwhelm, if you want to just live a better life, book a strategy session with me, you can go to dina capaldo.com/strategy session. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week, and I'll talk to you soon. Bye.