Motivational Triad

When it comes to practicing law, our minds and our internal conversations will be our greatest assets. It won’t be the accolades and background that make or break your practice. It all comes down to your relationship with yourself and the internal discussions no one hears but you. Given this, it seems that the greatest tool we must understand and hone is that magical mind of ours. Specifically, why is it that our mind sometimes goes rogue and makes it seemingly impossible to move forward?

Our mind will analyze the data before us, we must decide what facts are unimportant and focus on the primary issues to maximize our efficiency. At the same time we must manage our emotional impulses associated with stress.

Practicing law is grueling. It challenges our self-worth, our values, and our ability to honor commitments both to ourselves and our clients but also to everyone around us. It is an emotional and mental boot camp of careers of sorts–it even comes with those fun “drill sergeant” type characters who seem to relish in screaming at you letting you know how pathetic you are.

Surviving these challenges not only requires a good amount of grit but a simple understanding of our basic impulses and how those impulses interact with our brains can be a complete game changer.

We are all familiar with “fight or flight” concepts but many of us are not attuned to our basic, biological instincts: the motivational triad. According to the motivational triad, we are wired to prioritize the following:

Seek pleasure.

Avoid pain.

Maintain efficiency.

Within the realm of a law firm environment, the triad can be found in the following tendencies:

Try every way imaginable to squeeze a compliment out of the difficult partner (seek pleasure) even if it means being on call at all hours of every day

Do not stand up for myself when I am being thrown under the bus to the client by a partner that dropped the ball (avoid pain) because I don’t want to get his wrath

Stay at the firm that I hate because this is what I know and I don’t want to rock the boat (maintain efficiency)

Understanding our basic instincts will help you sift through the BS your brain offers you at times. When you desperately want to leave your job and your brain offers you 1,000,000 reasons why that’s a terrible idea, we can recognize that your brain is responding as it was designed. It is trying to keep you safe. It is trying to keep you in the cave, lest you be eaten by cannibal litigators.

When you want to engage leadership in discussions about your work environment but you decide that it won’t be worth it and won’t make a difference. Those. Thoughts. Are. NOT. True. Those are biologically driven responses. Fear-driven, flight responses. Your brain is trying to keep you safe. On the hamster wheel.

When you are contemplating doing something uncomfortable, your brain will flood itself with all sorts of reasons not to act. They will seem reasonable. They will seem perfectly logical. But we mustn’t be persuaded by these biological responses. In those moments we foreclose our own innate knowing. We put blinders on to the other possibilities. Our brains get to work compiling evidence to support those biological responses and will ignore any evidence to the contrary.

Knowing this will allow you to recognize those thoughts just as they are: thoughts. They are not facts. They are not truths. They are not more important than any other thought. They alone are not reasons to act or not act.

In a world where our brains are going to fight us to keep us safe and cozy in the cave, we must become practiced at asking the right questions and evaluating all the options. We cannot allow our motivational triad to push us to act from fear. To seek safety and avoid challenges.

“He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Some of the work I do with my clients supports them to examine their beliefs and the source of those beliefs. We analyze beliefs and thoughts to ensure that in anything that we do, or don’t do, we aren’t acting from a place of fear and safety-seeking unless that is our CONSCIOUS decision. I love helping my clients observe the motivational triad at work in their lives, then dismantle it! Sign up today, to start your own journey and see where you biological brain is holding you back.


Photo by Alex Iby on Unsplash

Having Difficult Conversations

One of the inevitable results of being a grownup in this world is that you will often be faced with the “opportunity” to have difficult conversations with other humans.

I like to think of these as “opportunities” because, despite being an attorney, I am not a huge fan of confrontation and I really don’t like upsetting other people. These are an opportunity for me to flex muscles I don’t use very often and operate outside my comfort zone.

I find that one of the reasons people avoid having difficult conversations is because they want the other person to like them. They don’t want to be thought of as a bitch or as difficult. They are afraid the individual will bad mouth them to others and they don’t want those other people to judge them too or, worst of all, agree that they really are a bitch on a power trip.

These conversations are scary because it forces us to let go of what other people might think of us. If the conversation is important to you, you like your reasons for having the conversation, and you are in a good emotional space to have the conversation (read: not foaming at the mouth), then have the damn conversation.

Stop worrying about what the other person will think about you.

The beauty of this is that it is an investment in the authentic you. The more you live with authenticity and stay true to your values other people will see it and grow to respect it. That makes it a lot more difficult for bad gossip to find traction. But regardless, we can’t control what other people say, do, or think. The only thing we can control is how we show up.

So the choice really becomes: are you willing to live accordance with your truth or would you prefer to continue living a lie (i.e., ignoring the issue, avoiding the conversation, and pretending everything is “fine”?).

In my experience, any time we try to ignore what we really think and feel about a situation, it simply compounds itself and grows stronger until we blow up. That’s an even better way to maintain your spotless reputation, no?

Don’t ignore the feelings. They will come back. We’ve all had those fights where the other party pulls 1,000 old fights and gripes out of their back pocket leaving you dumbfounded. You can’t fight a battle on 1,000 fronts. If it is important to you, discuss it with the other person or forever relinquish your right to bring it up at a later date as part of another fight. Period.

In that sense, having those difficult conversations now and foreclosing a future explosion is a kindness to everyone involved. Shifting your mindset to this is going to be better for our relationship and everyone around us will allow you to approach the conversation from a much healthier mental space. Often times, we convince ourselves This is going to go terribly wrong; this is going to be a huge fight and we waste so much time and energy ramping up for some battle royale that never comes. Appreciate that this is a positive exercise and that your intentions are to improve the relationship. Stop expecting the worst.

Focus on the WHY.

Whenever I am gearing up for a difficult conversation, I ask myself, What is it that I want? Why am I having this discussion? I usually can find that the true intention is to be honest and my “why” is usually because this relationship is important to me and I want us to have a healthy relationship.  I focus my energy there instead of ruminating about how frustrated I am about XYZ.

From there I can go into the conversation seeing the big picture and understanding why the exchange is critical. It allows me to approach the conversation from a place of curiosity and respect.

Stop worrying about what the other person is going to think about you or how they are going to feel if you are honest with them. You can’t control their thoughts or emotions so stop trying to.

Be in the moment with an open attitude and a sincere willingness to try and understand the other person’s point of view. Make a conscious effort to stop thinking of what you are going to say next and just absorb what is being said. Try to understand what is going on.

Just. Be. Curious.

I sometimes imagine myself as a behavioral specialist examining the other person and trying to understand what is going on with them. It allows me to remove myself from the situation and come to it from a different perspective.

Be quiet, be curious, and invest in the opportunity to be vulnerable and honest with another other person. You must flex the muscle to make it stronger!

Need support gearing up for a difficult conversation? Schedule a free consultation and clear out the mental chatter before you dive in. What do you have to lose?

Bravery

When you approach your present state through the lens of your future dream, taking action isn’t scary, it is simply the next logical step.

I recently had a client who is just getting started building her dream business. She has all the tools she needs for success, she is developing a following and she knows exactly how she wants the business to grow and progress. The problem? She still has a successful, prestigious full-time job that pays the bills. She is straddling both worlds and desperately trying to keep her “side gig” a secret. She is constantly worried that her current employer will discover her secret and she will get into trouble or get fired. So she keeps playing small. Keeping her side business under wraps and limiting its growth. She is not taking the actions she knows she would need to take to move things to the next level. She is consciously sabotaging herself.

When I work with clients in the space, I take a journey with them into their dream. When we project ourselves into our future self, into the person living the dream, we gain clarity for our present self. When you imagine yourself living your future best life, you can unwind that success and evaluate the steps that you would need to take at each point along the way. You can slip into the thoughts that created the confidence that moved you to that place of success.

That exercise allowed my client to see that her path to success would require her to be bold. To be afraid of the consequences but to take the actions anyway. Her future self would tell her to stop playing small. Her future self would tell her that she built her success by taking action toward her dream despite the risks and despite the fear.

We must approach every day as a page in our success story. When you look at you dream and your path to achieving that dream, where does today fit? Where does next week or next month fit? What steps were you taking at this stage of the journey?

We all have fears that are keeping us stuck—that convince us that we should play small. Consider the impact those choices are having on your ultimate dream?

Is your dream worth being afraid but experiencing the fear and doing it away?

Achieving our dreams is not easy. It is not without fear and personal risk. That is why so many of us relegate our lives to playing it small. If you could have a chat with your future dream self, what advice would you give yourself today? I suspect that advice would be simple:

Be. Brave.

Take the next steps in your adventure. Let me coach you toward your dream.