Hello — How are you feeling today? We don't ask that of each other enough, and it's something that's a must, so how do you feel today?
Excited, tired, overwhelmed, a bit anxious, sad? How do you feel?
This is something that helps us get in tune with what we need. It's also helpful to find out whether we're toughing something out or if we're making our life harder than it needs to be.
Only you know for sure, but I'm going to give you a few examples today that will help you make the distinction.
And by the end of this podcast, you can ask yourself a few questions to check in and see what you need to make your life easier.
Before we dive in, I wanted to say thank you to the people who attended my Masterclass last week. It was so much fun to teach new material in a way I've never taught it before. Maybe I made some new Greek Mythology or art history buffs. If you saw it, you know what I mean. If you didn't, don't have any FOMO.
A couple people emailed me asking if there was a replay of last week's Masterclass: Your Next Evolution.
There is, and you can watch it at dinacataldo.com/evolution
If you've been thinking about making change in your life, you've got to watch this.
In this Masterclass you'll:
- uncover your current patterns that aren't serving you
- learn the mindset you need to get outcomes you want
- define your next steps to make your next move
We can't get to the next evolution of ourselves with our current mindset.
To create something we've never created before, we must evolve ourselves to make it happen.
If you take what you learn in this Masterclass to heart, you will be a different person on the other side.
Alright, let's talk, my friend.
There's a difference between toughing it out when you need to do something hard in your law practice and making your practice harder than it needs to be.
The problem is to know the distinction.
Most of us think that our law practices are just hard and that's just the way it is.
We've followed the leaders within the firm, and they taught us the way they knew how to do things, and it was usually the way they were taught how to do things.
No one reevaluates because if you believe things are hard and that's just the way it is, you're not thinking about how you can make things easier. You're thinking about how you can push through to get to the “other side.”
This is burnout culture.
It makes sense that you would white knuckle your way through your law practice if you don't know another way. You don't have the tools you need to change things. We hit a threshold in our current abilities, and instead of getting a new perspective, our firms just tend to try to steamroll to get a result.
The result is always helping the client at the expense of the attorney.
This old paradigm is unnecessary.
You can still help the client. You can still make money. You can still have happy lawyers. You can have all of them!
And because most firms don't implement these tools on their own, it's up to individual lawyers to seek change. And hopefully, bring it into the firm's culture.
But we can't do that, when we can't recognize the difference between toughing it out and making things harder than they need to be.
Toughing something out is like saying, “I choose my hard.” For instance, it may be hard for you to speak up in court. But because you have a goal that includes speaking up in court, you choose that hard. Along the way, you make things as easy as possible for yourself. You prepare. You practice. You make time to prepare and practice. You ask for help. But you choose that hard because you want to improve your performance in court.
Or you may take on a case that's challenging. And you know that there are going to be times when you need to do additional research learn a new skill to make it work.
Making things harder than they need to be though, is a bit sneakier.
Because these things feel like they have to happen. But they really don't.
Let me give you a couple examples.
A client of mine, is a junior partner and was the second-in-command on a large and fast moving project. She's lead her team of associates and there was a partner senior to her in charge overall.
There were a few goals she had for scheduling, and we took a look at them. I was basically getting her wish list to help make her life easier.
On the surface they were things like: getting to go out to relax Saturday nights, getting sleep, not hating her life.
When we dig a little deeper, we got some specifics.
she wanted to create time for herself and her associates, so that Saturday nights they could have off without worrying about client demands and responding to emails.
she wanted to sleep on negotiation days instead of worry about having the client contact them late at night and need to work through the night on additional changes
she wanted more control over the project, so she wouldn't feel so overwhelmed when she thought about it
These didn't feel possible to her, so we did some coaching. Which I'll share with you in a second.
Before I do, I want to remind you that you need a new perspective if you want a new result. You can get this perspective by asking questions like,
“What if it were possible?”
“How might that work for me?”
“What can I do to make that possibility reality?”
You've got to take your brain there or nothing different will happen.
It takes practice.
Maybe you ask those questions, and you look at the situation and nothing changes. BUT a lot of times it does.
It's like, if you're not used to driving a car with a manual transmission because you've always driven automatic, you're going to wonder why the car overheats when you put your foot on the gas. You have to get used to the different gears and the sound the engine makes as you move from gear to gear.
We burn out because we don't take a look at the situation and ask ourselves the questions we need to change.
Okay, so back to the example. When we got the specifics, her brain told her these things that she wanted weren't possible.
This is normal.
Whatever we want to do that we're not accustomed to seeing or doing in our life seems impossible to our brain.
Think about the lightbulb. We already had the candle, so we could just tough it out reading with the candle even if they weren't all that bright. We tell ourselves, “Maybe we should just buy more candles or make the wick bigger. There were few people saying that there could be a better way. This is true for just about any invention.
So I asked her some questions.
What might get in the way of you creating time for you and your associates on Saturday nights?
Client calling Friday and wanting update.
What do you have control over that can mitigate that?
Having a client meeting scheduled for Friday, so they don't contact us Saturday.
From there she could schedule her team meetings and updates with the client.
Boom. Saturday nights are free.
Let's look at the second one.
She thought getting sleep during the week was out of her control too, but we took a look at that to see if there was anything she could get proactive about instead of just letting the pieces of the deal fall where they may.
I asked her what specifically she was concerned would happen?
She was concerned that they'd hold talks with the client all day, then they'd start doing work, turn it into the partner that night, then the client would want to have more talks late into the evening.
I asked something like, “Is that really in the best interest of the client or the attorneys on the project?”
No, she said. Okay, then what would be?
Getting sleep, working on the project and putting fresh eyes on it the next morning. Letting the client think more on what had happened during the day to address those with fresh perspective in the morning. Having attorneys get the rest they needed, so they could make it happen.
But then her brain said that the senior partner wouldn't make that happen. And I asked how she might be able to make that happen? The obvious answer was to talk to them and outline what we'd talked about.
Maybe the partner agrees, maybe they don't, but she can be proactive and try to get what she wants and what's in the best interest of all the parties involved.
The last part of the equation was feeling more in control and less overwhelmed.
When we coached on it, she recognized that she had all the answers there too:
write out what needs to get done or discussed
prioritize their order
schedule meetings as needed
communicate with associates
Look at the difference here.
Toughing things out in these situations would have looked something like this:
let the client run the calendar and your time, so you can't take time off
let the senior partner do whatever they normally do and take the chance that the client wants late night meetings that prevent everyone from getting sleep
push through the feelings of overwhelm instead of recognizing that they're just a signal that you need to get what's in your brain down on paper and get to work.
The problem is that most of us can't see that we're making our lives harder than they need to be.
I do it too, which is why I have a coach.
Your life can be so much easier if you begin noticing where you feel overwhelmed or stressed out and start asking yourself why. Then you can start uncovering whether you're deciding that you want to tough something out that can't be changed, or if you're making your life harder than it needs to be.
If you want help with this, book a call with me.
Speaking as someone who made my life a lot harder than it needed to be, I can tell you that there are so many ways that you can make your life easier right now.
It takes asking ourselves the right questions to start this process.
That's what I do with my clients.
Alright, my friend. I hope this helped you make your practice a bit easier this week.
I'll talk to you soon.