Being Treated Differently

Humans will be humans. They will make terrible mistakes and bad choices. And sometimes, even “good” people make bad choices about the things that they say or choose to believe. These thoughts are often unconscious. Habitual, automatic thinking.

These automatic, programmed thoughts and ideas don’t make them a bad person it just means that they have bad thoughts that they haven’t examined through the lens of implicit bias….the jokes that people make or that people laugh at, the automatic judgments they make about others without questioning those judgments. The reason this matters is because those small actions, those unconscious reactions, and judgments are what are keeping so many segments of our society from moving forward. It’s not necessarily explicit hatred of another group but it is implicit bias masquerading in a prettier outfit.

Most of us have our own experiences being treated differently. I remember a few years ago, I was attending an early morning meeting where I was the only woman. As background, I have two white Shiba Inu pups and anyone who knows anything about dogs knows that a person who owns more than one Shiba Inu is a masochist. A masochist who loves having dog hair all over every article of clothing they have as well as in their icebox, refrigerator, underwear drawers, deli meat, and attics. I ALWAYS have dog hair on me.

On this particular day, I was wearing a long black pencil skirt. As I approached the breakfast bar to grab some coffee and a bagel, I felt a presence close behind me. Then I heard an older gentleman speaking in a low, private voice right into my ear, I think your dogs left you a present on your skirt this morning. Embarrassed and confused, I turned to look and saw that my backside was covered in the white hair of my beloved pups. As I thanked him and turned to leave the room to redress the situation he smiled and said you have no idea how much I wanted to wipe that off for you. You just have to let an old man have his fantasies.

WTF

I was immediately floored by his comment but I told myself He’s harmless. He’s a goofy old man who doesn’t think before he speaks…I was so shocked and startled and I wasn’t sure how to respond but I knew I didn’t want to make a scene at 7:00 o’clock in the morning in a room full of men.

After the meeting wrapped up, I went back to my office and tried to put the strange encounter out of my mind when I heard a knock at my door. I looked up and found the same old gentleman standing sheepishly in my doorway and waiting for me to notice him standing there awkwardly.   This time he was apologetic and thanked me for not getting upside with him, “just an old man,” and the “stupid things” that he says. He begged me to tell him if I was upset by what he had said. I brushed it off, told him it wasn’t a big deal, and we moved forward with the relationship and our days.

At the time, I found myself confirming that, if someone else had made the same comment, someone that I thought intended to be suggestive or probing, I would have reacted very differently. I was so focused on the individual and my knowledge that he didn’t mean anything by it….he was a kind and goofy old man with no malice. But why did that matter?

Through this work, I now realize that my response is part of a larger problem. I was focusing on the intent driving the individual to act that way, allowing space for his ignorance. People’s actions are just as important as their intentions. This gentleman did not intend to sexually harass me but the fact of the matter is, his conditioned thoughts and his words went there. He was thinking of me and my presence in a way that was not acceptable or safe. Even if he wasn’t seeking anything out of line, his words communicated to me that as a woman, I will always, in part, be seen as a sexual object. By brushing it off and not acknowledging the problem with his words, I was trading his discomfort for my own. To avoid making him feel uncomfortable by calling out his actions, I swallowed the pill and felt uncomfortable enough for both of us.

I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable but it was okay for me to be uncomfortable.

Why? Because my predominant thought was “Let’s not make this a big deal….I don’t want you to think I’m overly sensitive or can’t take a joke.”

But the truth was, it was a big deal. The fact that I can still recall that moment so vividly and point to it as one of the many moments when I knew I did not belong is significant.

Those thoughts did not serve me at the time and they are not serving any of us today. Anyone who acts or speaks in a way that indicates you are not an equal in the workplace is a problem. It is not acceptable to stifle our concerns in favor of not making waves.

Instead of retreating in fear of confrontation and drama, I could have made better decisions and clung to better thoughts.

I want to feel angry when I feel like I am being discriminated against. I do not want to feel like “It’s okay.” I want to be open to the discomfort that comes with taking a stand and speaking my peace. These are essential emotions. I don’t want to feel good about these circumstances. I don’t want to pretend to be okay to avoid these negative feelings.

In those moments, I want to believe: This is an opportunity for me to be honest and develop my relationship with this human. I am not a victim, I am simply shining a light on the situation.

I am not trading my truth for your comfort.

The fear-based, glossing-it-over approach is not working. What does work is looking at people’s actions and challenging those actions where you see them. Rather than focusing on the person’s intent and formulating thoughts from there, shift your focus to the larger goal. I can address this and be honest with this person about what I think about what they’ve said or done. Demeaning words and actions, even ones that lack explicit malice, are indicative of tired thinking that begs to be challenged. If we keep condoning the actions and focusing only on the intentions, we sacrifice diversity of thought. We sacrifice honesty in our relationships.

In my experience, none of the people I have worked with were intentionally sexist/racist/homophobic. However, in my experience, many of those colleagues made sexist/racist/homophobic comments. They did not harbor hate but they did harbor ignorance and unacknowledged bias.

As humans in this world, we all have a role to play in fostering the evolution of thought. While that might mean we have to place ourselves in uncomfortable situations and call out actions that we know are not mal-intended. Unless we’re honest with people about how their words or actions impact our abilities to show up, to stand up, to speak up, we will never make the progress that our world so desperately needs.

Having trouble finding the words to speak your truth? Don’t make the same mistakes I made. Develop the tools to stand up for yourself and those around you. Coach with me and let’s make this journey together.

We need in every bay and community a group of angelic troublemakers. The proof that one truly believes is in action – Bayard Rustin

Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Trouble Being Still?

As women and as attorneys we are really good at executing. We multitask, we take on more than we should, we always say yes and we are often uncomfortable saying no. Admittedly there is a part of us that thrives in the chaos of practicing law. The unexpected will happen. Things will fall apart. Every best-laid plan will implode. From a biological perspective, this calls us to spend most of our waking moments living from our primitive brains. We’re always in fight or flight. Putting out fires. Running from one drama to the next. And we are really good at it. We have flexed the chaos muscle for so long that sometimes I find my clients have forgotten how to simply

be.

still.

Once we decided that we wanted to be attorneys, the journey was not that difficult. There’s a list. There are instructions. There is a long checklist of things that must be accomplished and done in order for this dream to take place. Once we get our first job, the instructions become even simpler. Say yes to all the work that comes to you. Do a good job. Don’t make waves. Just keep executing and don’t ask questions. So we spend even more years continuing to live in this fight or flight mode where we just move from one challenge to the next. Inevitably, we come to a crossroads where we catch our breath for a moment and start to wonder

what’s next?

Many attorneys come to me for coaching support because they don’t know what to do next. They are overwhelmed with the possibilities for their life and they want to know how to figure out where to focus their energies now that they have come so far. Having a law degree affords us many opportunities as to what we can do with our life. We can go down the partnership track…. counsel track….teaching at a law school….go in-house….go into business…..start our own firm…. When we start looking at all the options available to us it can easily become overwhelming.

But when we find ourselves stressing about where are we “supposed to” go next, the more important question we can be asking ourselves is

Is there anything wrong with just being where we are without having a plan for what’s next?

I recently found myself in a coaching session with a woman who was overwhelmed with the possibilities for her life and the decisions that needed to be made at some point in the future. In the future. Not now. There was nothing pressing. Despite this fact, she was incredibly overwhelmed and uncomfortable with not knowing what her long-term plan looked like. After exploring various possibilities and trying to get a sense of what resonated most closely with her, I finally asked her what if nothing is wrong here?

At that moment everything seemed to click for her and she realized that this need to have a plan and this desire to know the end result was creating a tremendous amount of discomfort for her. She had spent her entire life and her entire career living in fight or flight mode getting things done and now that she had found some space to breathe, she was uncomfortable just being where she was. No pressing decisions. Nothing urgent that needed to be done. Just a regular job. No family matters to attend to. No drama. No chaos. The calm following the storm of chaos that had comprised the early years of her career was causing her a tremendous amount of anxiety. She was uncomfortable just being in this space and not having a plan. In that quiet space, her brain wasn’t accustomed to being still, instead, it kept telling her that something wasn’t right, it needed a plan…she should be doing something more.

All those shoulds are indicative of how we value ourselves. Those shoulds come from our historical patterns where achievements and checking things off the list meant that we were doing well. It meant that we were good enough and that we were successful.

But when the list runs out and the goals have been achieved, we are left in this open space where we have to reexamine our worthiness.

In that space and on those plateaus where our brain starts telling us all the things we should be doing, it reveals a need for us to reexamine our worthiness and where we place our value. It is not a time to create a new goal and a new plan and something else to strive for. There will come a day where you will run out of plans you will run out of checklists and you will only be left with yourself. Those plateaus and spaces between the items on our checklists afford us the opportunity to work on that relationship because ultimately, that is truly the only relationship that matters. Those spaces force us to stop running and take a look in the mirror and that can be terrifying.

(Sound familiar? Grab a free session now and get support during your times of plateau.)

When our brains are used to living in panicked, fight or flight mode, it can be difficult to understand WHO we are if we are not busy accomplishing. It can be difficult to recognize our value if we aren’t busy checking things off a list. What’s more, for many of us it’s been so long since we’ve had the opportunity to explore that aloneness. To really consider our relationship with ourselves. We have lost sight of that relationship and so when we have reached this summit and find ourselves alone with no one other than ourselves, we panic. We feel like we have to develop some other goal and something else to strive for so that we don’t have to sit here in this stillness and take a long hard look at who we really are when we’re not focused outwardly. It’s easier to have something to be striving toward; it’s harder to do the work on yourself. It’s harder to challenge that voice that’s telling you that you should be doing more you and that you should be wanting more.

That’s the beauty of coming to these plateaus.

That’s the beauty of the stillness.

It reminds us that we’re not a long list of things to do. We are not achievements and we are not defined by our long-term plans. Where are so much more than that and once our current plan reaches that plateau rather than jumping into a new plan I urge you…no, I implore you to take that time to be with yourself and learn how to be still. At the end of the day when the race is over the only person standing next to you will be yourself. Those plateaus afford us the opportunity to rekindle that relationship and learn how to see our innate worthiness, without all the fluff.

Sometimes it’s okay to just be where you are.

If you find yourself uncomfortable taking an hour to relax on the couch or uneasy that you don’t know whether or not you want to make a partner it’s an opportunity to ask yourself

What is wrong with just being where I’m at? What is it about this place that makes me so uncomfortable? What judgments am I lobbying at myself when I am not frantically achieving and checking things off my list?

That my friends is truly where the work begins.

Snap Out of It

I love a good juicy, gossipy story. Unsurprisingly, I love terrible reality tv. I suppose this speaks to our human tendency toward the negative but there is something about having a good ranting and raving session with your girlfriends about the terrible thing that happened to you or someone else. It’s cathartic! But catharsis aside, when spending too much time extrapolating on the negative aspects of our lives, it can quickly devolve into what behavioral psychologists call the drama triangle.

Have you ever had that moment when your dramatic rant is abruptly halted by someone suggesting that the problem might just be YOU?

Blasphemy!

When we’re accustomed to dripping in negativity about our bosses or our jobs, it is jarring and somewhat offensive when someone suddenly stops playing along in favor of some new perspective.

It’s like that group of single girlfriends that spends every Saturday night together bashing their love interests and blaming them for their lack of happiness and then one night, one of the friends interjects, “What if the problem is us, not them?” Battle lines are suddenly drawn. The mere suggestion that the group perception of reality is skewed and subtly suggesting that they are co-creators of their imperfect reality, is blasphemous. It challenges the very foundation of their friendship and their understanding of who they are in their worldview.

Although the pursuit of a career is not the same as the pursuit of a meaningful relationship, our tendency to fall into certain patterns remains constant, no matter the circumstances. Our tendency to see ourselves as the victim and others as the villain is commonplace and often pervasive in professional environments. Overgeneralizations about dating like “all men/women are dogs” turn into “my boss completely ignores me.” In either case, we are playing a role in what Stephen Karpman calls the “drama triangle.”

Karpman’s drama triangle examines the connection between personal relationships and power in conflicts. The triangle identifies three characters that play a role in conflicts: the persecutor, the rescuer, and the victim. The victim is the primary character who interacts with the persecutor whom the victim blames for their suffering. Then, there is the rescuer who periodically steps in to try and alleviate the victim’s suffering.

In the complicated world of practicing law, I often see my clients vacillating between the victim role and the rescuer.

In the former scenario, their partners/clients/bosses are the persecutor and in the latter, they become the rescuer to the poor planning/demands/needs of their persecutor. 

In one role, we are angry and suffering in our victimhood, and in the other, we are energized by our action as we imagine that our rescuing will “mend” the relationship with our persecutors.

On the one hand, we blame the persecutors for our experiences but then we shift to rescuers, aiming to please our persecutors and seeking some kernel of appreciation from our villains. The dynamic is incredibly toxic and co-dependent and many women that I work with feel compelled to seek out that positive feedback from their persecutors. They spend their entire career aiming to please the seemingly impossible to please persecutors–they are perpetually “rescuing” others in hopes that their value will one day be recognized.

The solution to the drama triangle is the empowerment dynamic developed by David Emerald Womeldorff. The empowerment dynamic asks the victim to take ownership of their lives. To creatively solution their problems and start focusing on what they want and what they can control. Similarly, the rescuer shifts to a coaching role where the codependency is broken and they offer detached support, no longer making the victim’s problems their own These shifts are the only solution to the drama triangle.

In either case, resolution of the drama triangle requires us to take ownership of what is ours and let others take ownership for what is their own. Period.

I work with women every day to recognize the roles they play in the power dynamics of their careers. My work supports women to take back their power and take control over their careers. We may not be able to fix the difficult personalities attendant to practicing law but we can stop blaming them for our unhappiness; we can take control and start taking active steps to create the life we want, the life we deserve.

The goal isn’t to find a perfect workplace, the goal is to do our best to make it work; to actively invest in our own happiness, and stop giving them all the control. Your happiness is worth it.

Sign up for a free consultation today and get the support you need to live empowered and escape the drama. 


Photo by Annie Gavin on Unsplash

The Biggest Lie You Tell Every Day

I don’t know. Have you ever noticed how often we use that phrase? When we think about verbal pauses, many of us immediately think of “um” and “uh” but we often forget about this funny little string of words that we throw around to fill awkward silences or to deflect our discomfort. In honor of the close of the ultimate year of uncertainty (2020, for those of you not following along), today I want to consider how these three little words, when used unconsciously in this manner, can rob you of your credibility and make you a liar.

When you ask a child what they want to do when they grow up, they will quickly offer all sorts of fantastical imaginings. Flying to the moon, raising a gaggle of unicorns, and becoming a fairy princess seem to be fairly obvious responses (both then and now — who doesn’t want to fly to the moon on a unicorn dressed as a princess?).

What is most interesting about fantastic childhood plans is not the plans themselves but a child’s commitment to making them happen.

Have you ever asked a child where they plan to find a unicorn, let alone an entire gaggle of unicorns, or how they plan to fulfill their lifelong dream of raising unicorns in every color of the rainbow? Such a question may be met with a variety of unique and interesting answers but, amongst those answers, you will not hear a child respond: I don’t know.

Kids don’t care about the how. That is an adult problem that we have gifted to ourselves.

Kids don’t care about how they are going to accomplish their dreams. They simply commit. When pushed, they brainstorm all sorts of ideas as to how they might accomplish this goal. Their little eyes squint with focused effort and their little brains hum away offering all sorts of solutions to the problem. They get to work solution-ing the problem, without hesitation or doubt.

The beautiful thing about watching a child do this is that it is a living reminder that we too are wired in this way. We too have the ability to solution all of our problems. The trick is that we must stop investing in the phrase “I don’t know.” Those three little words slam the door – no eye squinting with thought-exertion, no brain humming away to work. Just pure silence. Dream foreclosure!

Using those three little words suggests that we must know how something is to be accomplished before we can get to work doing it. In what realm does that make any sense? Why does it matter that you don’t know how to accomplish something?

Isn’t it simply enough to want it and chart your course from there?

(Get support charting your course by taking advantage of limited free coaching sessions that I offer every week.)

Our world is not filled with problems that have secret, solitary solutions that must be discovered. Our world demands that we must get to acting and crafting potential solutions before we know what will work. We must acknowledge that we don’t know the how and get to work sorting that out.

Not knowing “how” is not a stop sign, it’s the starting line.

We know this intellectually but yet our brains freak out whenever we are tasked with something significant that we have never done before. That freak out sounds like this:

I don’t know.

You DO know. You may not know the exact right solution but without a doubt you can brainstorm your first step. If you force yourself to imagine what you would do if you DID know, you will develop a first step. You will start learning what might work and what won’t work. In contrast, if you resign to a world of I don’t know, you will most certainly continue to not know because those words never spurred anyone to action.

In a world of balance — yin and yang, up and down, good and evil — everything has its opposite. Everything has its counterpoint. Wouldn’t it then follow that where you are “not knowing” there also exists in you the corresponding “knowing”? 

When you use IDK as a means to fill the space and avoid taking action, you discredit yourself and your resiliency. You communicate to yourself and those around you that you don’t have the ability to brainstorm like a 6-year-old child. Furthermore, you communicate to those around you that it matters that you don’t know the precise solution to the challenge at hand. It doesn’t matter! The only thing that matters is your investment in acting to discover a solution.

Lean into solution-ing like a child and give yourself space to be the problem solver that you are. No one is hiring you because they want you to know everything. People hire you because they trust you to craft a solution, no matter what it takes. That leaves very little room for “I don’t know.”

In sum, stop staying I don’t know and give yourself space to offer what you DO know. That is so much more truthful than “I don’t know.”


Photo by Bermix Studio on Unsplash

Doing the Hard Things

I have always wanted to be a yogi. It always seemed to “fit” with my personal vision for myself–I meditate every day, do some yoga-lite stretching, I am a reiki master, a meditation instructor, I love all this woo woo…. It just seems like a love affair that was meant to be! The problem? I just don’t want to do it. At all. I will do anything to avoid it. I will put it on my calendar and plan to go to a class and when it comes down to that make it or break it moment, I bail out.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my daily stretching routine that I lovingly think of as yoga-lite. I love connecting with my body and taking that inward time before I sit in my daily meditation. Whenever I muster up the fortitude to dive into a yoga class, I feel so good afterwards and sometimes I even enjoy it – the WHOLE time. I know it’s good for me and I know I always feel better once it’s done. So what’s the problem you ask?

I simply don’t want to do the hard things. I am in love with the IDEA of being a flexible, lithe yogi but, put simply: I don’t want to do the work.

I don’t want to hold uncomfortable poses for long periods of time. I don’t want to go to a yoga class. I don’t want to put my leg there or twist in such a way. There is something about it that I really detest. And yes, I know deep down that I should see this as a signpost that yoga is hiding something delicious for me. Somewhere within its depths is an awakening, a realization of some sort that I must find. But, here I am. Not a yogi. Barely a yogi-lite. Annoyed at the thought of it all.

I am in love with the dream but not willing to act on it.

I don’t want to do the hard work. I am rebelling against the discomfort. That’s it. There is no magic here.

I share this story because we all do this! We are so good at identifying all of the things that we want that we don’t have. We have laundry lists of skills and accomplishments that we want to attain or achieve. Most of us rarely chip away at those things because when it comes down to it, we don’t want to do the hard work. We just want to wake up one day and realize that the accomplishment was simply waiting to be unearthed all this time, it was always ours for the taking. All we had to do was wake up, go to that yoga class and suddenly the heavens would open up and rain down our dream.

We want the dream but we want it to come easily. We don’t really want to do all the work that necessarily precedes it.

This is why we don’t achieve our dreams. There is no secret here. We just don’t want to do the work.

Once we see all the work that comes with the achievement, we continue to *want* the thing but we stop taking any action to get there. Instead we resign ourselves to dreams of longing. I wish I could climb a 14-er…I wish I could play the piano…I wish I was really good at yoga. We are more than happy to lament our lacking. Rather than figuring out how to do the hard thing, we resign ourselves to being the victim of our circumstances, as if others were simply blessed with these gifts that we don’t have. For them, it was easy but for us, we just can’t do it. We live our lives with a laundry list of things that we want or wish that we had. If only we had more time…more money…more innate ability….

The truth is while we want these things, it is not our misfortune that we don’t have them: it is our unwillingness to do the damn thing.

I’m not saying that if you decide to climb Mt. Everest and wholeheartedly commit to doing all the work that comes with that endeavor, you will inevitably be successful. What I am saying, instead is this:

Wouldn’t it be so much more gratifying to say: I trained for a year to climb Mt. Everest but eventually opted for a summit where people die less frequently.

Or

I’ve always wanted to climb a mountain so I’ve recently started training for it. 

Those statements are so much more FUN and illustrative about our lives than to say I would love to climb Mt. Everest some day.

Why carry dreams around with you that you aren’t willing to put in the work to accomplish?

The next time you catch yourself expressing a wish/hope/desire for some unattained goal, stop yourself. If you aren’t willing to put in all the hard work that comes with that particular goal, is it really true that you want it? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to state:
 

Climbing Mt. Everest sounds amazing but I am just not interested in going through all that training and the risks!

Even THAT sounds more authentic than all that wishing and hoping and lamenting!

Why is this important? When we offer empty wishes and dreams to the universe without any commitment behind them, we slip into victim mentality. It’s as if we are wishing that we could be so lucky to accomplish such a thing. If only we had been so similarly gifted. Implying: we weren’t blessed with luck or gifts. We just don’t have what it takes. It is an energy of lack. An energy of dissatisfaction with one’s life and place. Is that really the energy you want for your dreams?

Dream from a place of abundance. A place where your words are more a forecast for your future than a condemnation of your present. Where your dreams are at your fingertips and not some vague hope.

The first thing I do with all of my clients is cast the dream: what is it that you want from life? From there we start planning and taking actions to bring that dream closer and closer. Interested in getting some clarity for your future? Ready to dive into some righteous discomfort? Sign up for a free session before they are all gone!

Asking for Help

By nature (or creation) most attorneys are notoriously terrible at asking for help. We are conditioned to do it all on our own and figure it out and so far, it has worked out well for ourselves. In the practice of law, however, this reluctance can not only be detriment to ourselves but also our clients.

In my opinion, this starts with the study of law. Law school and the pursuit of lawyer-dom is a solitary pursuit. We spend hours and hours alone, reading casebooks, working on our outlines, and reviewing class notes. It’s not that the solitude of legal studies is unique from other kinds of scholarly pursuits but it is unique in that, becoming an attorney means becoming a business of one. People hire an individual attorney based upon their knowledge and skill set.

There is some expectation that we, standing on our own, will have the answers.

Pair that implicit expectation with the study of law and those long hours of solitude and drop in the competitive gauntlet of the legal job market. Everyone is competing for positions at the top firms or clerkships; you have to lock down a job before your last year of law school even begins lest your career be over before you even graduate.

This solitary, competitive realm breeds attorneys who are silo-d. We get really good at the grind and problem solving. But this environment also breeds attorneys who are not very good at asking for help.

There are going to miscommunications and disconnects between you and the rest of your team. Partners will omit essential information and facts when giving you assignments. People will make false assumptions about your background or skills. When we resist asking for help or seeking additional clarification, we are ignoring all of those truths.

When we don’t ask for help we are choosing instead to believe that we have been provided all of the facts, communication was clear, and no one made any assumptions.

We ascribe absolute perfection to others involved in the project and assign absolute imperfection to ourselves. The wildest part about these scenarios is that we KNOW, logically, that the partner or assigning attorney is far from perfect. They may have a habit of omitting pertinent information or forgetting to provide key documents or they may simply have a reputation for providing terrible direction. But in the heat of the moment, we are so busy focusing on ourselves and our failures in the situation that we overlook the roles of others involved.

We provide no room for compassion toward ourselves. It’s so much easy to be hard on ourselves!

When you fail to ask for help it is usually because there is some nasty thing you tell yourself in that moment. You make asking for help mean something negative about you. The next time you find yourself spinning your wheels in confusion, ask yourself what you are making it mean if you went to ask for help or clarification? Do you believe that it means you aren’t good enough? You should not be an attorney? The partner is going to judge you and think you’re an idiot?

You are none of those things. You already are an attorney. If you weren’t able to do the job, you wouldn’t have made it through the LSAT, 3 years of law school, the bar exam, and landing your first job. Don’t let something as simple as a miscommunication or misunderstanding erode all of that value.

Approach the situation with curiosity–why am I struggling? Why am I confused? What am I missing? And get to work sussing out that information.

That may require you to seek some additional support and follow-up with the assigning attorney. Remind yourself that the other attorney is not perfect either and it is possible they omitted something or miscommunicated something. In fact, that is more likely true than the possibility that you are an idiot who shouldn’t be practicing law.

Open yourself up to alternative possibilities and stop making it all about you!

Your team and your clients are counting on you to put aside your ego and get the job done.

Take advantage of an opportunity to take this work deeper and apply it directly to your practice. Sign up for a free one-on-one coaching session with me. I would love to help you reconnect with your value and get your career back on track.


Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Finding Your Purpose

So many of my clients come to me telling me that they are confused. They feel lost. They don’t know what they are supposed to do with their life. They come to me looking for answers and my response is always the same: I offer them a mirror.

We have been taught from a young age that our purpose is the same as our job. What’s the most common thing people ask children?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As if these kids are supposed to have any idea. What’s more, there is a tremendous amount of pressure and judgment that accompanies that question. If the child says “I want to be a lawyer,” people automatically think wow, the parents must be doing something right, good for them. If the child says, “I want to be a trash collector,” the parents cringe and the audience tries to keep their faces neutral while they smugly think good luck with that one, big dreams there, kiddo, my kid wants to be a doctor, etc. So convoluted.

Your purpose often times has nothing to do with your day-to-day job.

Your purpose should be what gets you out of bed everyday. Your job should be what pay the bills so that you can have time to enjoy your purpose. Sometimes those two things merge but only when they merge organically: when the purpose is pursued with honesty and love. Trying to force your purpose to pay the bills is a good way to ruin that joy your purpose used to give you. Enjoy those things that light you up and see where the path takes you. Don’t contaminate it by trying to make it something it doesn’t have to be (e.g., a formal profession).

This then begs the question, how do you find that purpose? Your purpose is what makes you tick. What makes your heart sing. That is not something anyone else can find for you — hence, the mirror.

When my clients are unsure about their purpose, I offer them an experiment. Years ago, I was struggling with life inside the machine that is a corporate law firm and I just couldn’t put my finger on the problem. I didn’t hate my job but I didn’t love my job. I was feeling blah about the whole thing and I couldn’t figure out why. I was completely unmotivated, just going through the motions.

So, for one month, at the end of every day, I would spend 5 minutes thinking about my day and writing down the things that made me happy that day and the things that got my blood boiling. After doing this for one month, I realized that the things I loved the most about my days were the moments that I was able to spend connecting with the young associates — talking to them about their challenges, their goals, their development. I relished the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with them, to learn about them and their struggles, to offer them support and gentle guidance. That lead to a larger evaluation of myself. I realized that this fit into my disdain for small talk. I hate it and I’m terrible at it. The way I see it, is that if we aren’t going to talk about something deep and meaningful, I would rather not talk at all. Let’s not chit chat about work and the weather. Let’s talk about what moves you, what excites you. So naturally, I love those people who overshare within the first 5 seconds of a conversation. Those people who put it all out there right away for public examination, the good, the bad, the ugly, the inappropriate. I LOVE skipping right over the pleasantries and diving right into real life and getting our hands dirty. I LOVE having deep and meaningful conversations with perfect strangers about their struggles and challenges.

You can see how this realization lead me to where I am today. That woke me up. I realized that those true connections and partnerships were the only part of my job that I was truly loving. So, I switched jobs to enjoy a steadier and less all-consuming career so that I could make space for my purpose. This purpose. I realized what moved me and I made room for it. I have never looked back.

So here’s your challenge . . . For one month, spend 5 minutes every day thinking about what you liked about your day. Were there parts of your day where you felt alive? Where you were excited about something? What parts of your day sapped your energy and left you feeling drained?

Only you can find that for yourself but you won’t find it outside of yourself. Do the work. Spend time within yourself. You will be amazed at what you discover.

Need help finding your path and taking that next step? Sign up for a free coaching session with me and let’s see what we can do together.