Today I’m going to talk about how to tap into inspiration. I wanted to cover this topic because I know many people are wondering “Is this all there is?”. There is confusion about where we stand in life and a lot of that really does derive from a lack of inspiration.
Therefore, I am going to give you three strategies for how to tap into your inspiration – because at the heart of your inspiration you will find your purpose in life.
Tune in to learn more!
In this episode we discuss:
- Three strategies for how to tap into your inspiration.
- Being intentional in your search for inspiration.
- How doing things that are unusual for you can help you see new possibilities in your life.
- The importance of mental health in every lawyer’s life.
- Accepting that it’s ok to not be ok.
- Allowing yourself to dream out loud.
Allison Williams: [00:00:11] Hi, everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:25] Hi everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor, and welcome back to another episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast, where today we’re going to be talking about how to tap into inspiration. So I wanted to cover this topic because I’ve seen a lot of people asking the question of, is this all there is? Am I doing what I should be doing? How do you know if you’re just hitting a dry spell or if you should change careers or maybe if you should open a business or close a business and go work for someone else? A lot of confusion about where we stand in life and a lot of that really does derive from a lack of inspiration. So I wanted to go into a little discussion today about inspiration, in particular, to give you three strategies for how to tap into your inspiration. Because at the heart of your inspiration is where you are going to find your purpose in life. And when we talk about purpose, that sounds like a big, lofty, scary topic but really, you can have different purposes for different stages of your life, right? So, right, when you, when you first start your career, you might think, hey, I want to be a lawyer and I want to practice criminal defense. And that’s, I’m going to save people from the criminal justice system and that’s how I’m going to advocate and that might really light you up.
Allison Williams: [00:01:47] But at some point you might encounter some things about life and about yourself and about your relationships and about your friendships and about your business that you say, you know, where I’m being pulled right now is to help people to start their entrepreneurial journey and I want to be a business attorney so that I can help people focus there. Your purpose is not a one-time, one-time, one size fits all snapshot. It really can evolve over time and you can be pulled in different directions based on what is ultimately calling you. But one of the things that a lot of people stop themselves from doing is they stop themselves from actually dreaming and contemplating their lives. They just say, I’m not happy with what I have, but I know I’m stuck with it, so I’m trying to find a way of making it tolerable and I’m trying to find a way of making it the least painful that it is. So people that are not really happy practicing law, they say, I don’t like litigation, so I’m now going to become a mediator or I don’t enjoy family law, so I’m now going to go into personal injury law. But what people are oftentimes searching for truly is an inspiration. And sometimes a change of practice area or a change of business structure or adding or removing people from your life can help with that.
Allison Williams: [00:03:05] But at the end of the day, what you’re really going to be pulled to, what’s going to give you that satisfaction in life as a lawyer and as a law firm owner, or even as something else is going to be the inspiration that pulls you into something that’s a greater vision for your life. So, again, I want to talk about three different strategies for how to tap into inspiration, because most people have a conception of inspiration that is really just not healthy. So the first one, the very first strategy is that you should be intentional about seeking inspiration. So what does that mean? Well, at the core of it, it means that you should not expect that you’re going to walk outside one day and you’re just going to see a bright rainbow and instantaneously be inspired. Being inspired is something that happens from intentionality. OK, so it can happen spontaneously. You can just go out one day and I don’t know, let’s say a friend calls you up and says, hey, let’s go grab drinks and you meet up with your friend, you decide to maybe stroll along the boardwalk after your, your cocktail and you see something inspiring. Maybe you see a street artist or maybe you help someone. You know, an elderly person falls and you help that person get up and you’re inspired by having helped someone at that moment.
Allison Williams: [00:04:26] Right. You can have lots of different things that can all of a sudden draw your attention to something that’s really inspirational or it can be something very big and inspirational like you can have a desire to travel around the world and all of a sudden a colleague of yours tells you about a trip that they’re planning on short notice to go take off to another country and you finagle your schedule, you make it work so that you can ultimately go do that and then you have this wonderful experience where you’re seeing different cultures and history from around the world and you are going into places that you never thought you would. Maybe you’re seeing sights that you never knew existed. So it can be something big and it can be even something spontaneous. But when I talk about being intentional, I mean that you have to expose yourself to things that will shift your narrative of who you are, who you’re being, and what’s possible for your life. And when you think about what’s possible for your life, a lot of times we go into the restriction zone of there’s a little box that we put ourselves in. That little box is, is kind of a, it’s a container. It’s it’s almost like a safe space, right? It’s we, we kind of grow up thinking that there are lines that exist around what is possible for us and there’s an upper limit and a lower limit. And we think that we are either at the upper limit. So we don’t see that we can go further or we see ourselves as not worthy of something more than we have right now. So we don’t even conceptualize that there is a limit, we just say this is the, this is generally the framework that I’m allowed to stay with them.
Allison Williams: [00:06:01] And we are often able to shift out of that when we first start to think about ways that we can be inspired, meaning what is going to give us that ignition, that light, that spark that we need and sometimes it’s not related to our practice at all, right? Sometimes it can be related to our, our leisure activity, sometimes it can be related to our physical health, sometimes it can be related to relationships. It doesn’t have to be a person or an activity, but it has to be that you are seeking it, right? You have to be on the hunt for things that are going to shift your narrative about yourself. So this can be doing something as, as grounding as getting into your body, right? It can be you take yourself out for dance lessons or it can be that you go on a tour of trying different foods in different cultures, right?
Allison Williams: [00:06:56] I was exposed to Ethiopian food only about five years ago by a friend of mine and I remember thinking, sure, I’ll try it, like whatever. And now it’s one of my favorite foods in the world, I love, I love the way that they eat, I love the handling of the food with your hands, I love the different flavors and textures that you don’t get in American food as often. And that was something that I won’t say it was a huge inspiration. I didn’t like go home and immediately change my life as a result of it. But I did start exposing myself to Ethiopian food in person intentionally over the next several months. And then I started making it a life practice. So you might say, well, how is this really related to being inspired so that I can tap into what I need to do for my law firm? And I will tell you that exposing yourself to different activities, things that are outside the rubric of what you’re used to, things that are unusual for you, things that make you think. These are oftentimes the activities that are going to get you into a state of seeing possibility in life. And they’re very, very small imprints on your mental fabric, but they are imprints that make a big difference. So as you are looking out into the future and you’re seeing all that’s possible in the world, you start to consider, is this possible for me? Right? We have a podcast episode. What if it’s possible? And I want you to go back and listen to that episode. If you haven’t already or even if you have, it’s a good reminder of thinking about life in the law and in a law business in particular in terms of what is possible for you, right?
Allison Williams: [00:08:33] How how can I really start to see that all that other people have that may inspire me, that may excite me, that may delight me. It’s something that I can have, too. And doing little experiences, right, little experiences like trying new foods or trying new exercises or taking new classes in dance or going to new concerts or traveling in a different way. If you’re used to hopping on a plane, hop on a train, hop in a car. If you’re just giving yourself the opportunity to see life differently, you will start to find that there are little bits and pieces of inspiration that you will find on the way. And that comes from being intentional about seeking something outside of yourself, something that’s outside of your day-to-day nine to five, Monday through Friday experience, that’s how you create in life and that’s how you create a life that actually for you is worth living.
Allison Williams: [00:09:26] All right, Strategy number two for tapping into your inspiration is that you have to be OK with not being OK. Now, this is kind of a heavy one, so I want to kind of give you a little trigger warning here. I have talked a lot about mental health on this podcast because as somebody that’s gone through a very severe depression, someone who at one point in time contemplated and got very close to taking her own life, I feel very strongly that lawyers are an underserved population when it comes to positive mental health. We are kind of the dumping ground of our society and we oftentimes take on the problems of other people and have that secondary trauma that we don’t have an appropriate framework for learning how to process. We simply take it on and for some of us, we work it out or we eat it out or we shop it out or we spend it out or we gamble it out. Right? We come up with all of these different, sometimes healthy, often not so healthy ways of dealing with that trauma. But there really is no strategic guidance in our legal education system or in our legal profession, once you become a member of the profession, that teaches you before you have that collapse, how to avoid having that collapse. And for a lot of us, not having that framework is what ultimately leads us into those dark spaces and some of us return from it and some of us don’t. And we all have heard of lawyers that took their own lives, we all have heard of lawyers that suddenly hit a wall one day and decided to go off and do something else.
Allison Williams: [00:11:05] And it really is baked into the way that we treat each other and the way that our system is adversarial and kind of being in the constant fight instead of the fight or flight mode in your professional life. So without going further into that tangent about the importance of mental health, I will just say that it is very important that you recognize that you are not broken, deficient, morally… morally defunct, or in any way damaged because you had been in the legal profession and you are experiencing a mental health decline as a result of it. In fact, it’s far more common than it is uncommon for hyper performers, hyper-successful people, lawyers, and particular lawyer entrepreneurs to experience these feelings. So the first thing I just want to give you about that is to just accept that you are just like everyone else if you are having any type of mental health experience, any type of negative association with your work and your life and your business. And the second thing I want you to do, to, to give yourself here is a little framework for how you can deal with that is to learn how to just float into the experience. Now, this doesn’t mean give yourself over to negative thought patterns or fail to take action. I obviously I’m a big proponent of seeking mental health treatment.
Allison Williams: [00:12:29] And if you need it, there are resources that are available and you can always reach out to me personally. This is not to have a sales call, this is not to discover your business. This is really about you as a person. So if you ever have a need, you can always DM me on Facebook, you can always shoot me an email. I want to be here as a resource for the legal community in this way. But in terms of if you haven’t yet decided if it’s severe enough for you that you need to go out and seek a professional, the one thing that might help you is to consider your mental health as being the ocean right? When you’re in the ocean, it has a great deal of power to hold you up, but it also has a great deal of power to suck you under and I want you to consider your current state of mental health malaise, your current disenchantment, lack of satisfaction, lack of, lack of positive fulfillment in life as a riptide. OK? And I remember I grew up in Pensacola, Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, and I remember the first time that I encountered riptide like I had been taught how to swim in riptides. So I took swimming lessons, I actually could swim before I could walk, My parents took me to the beach really from a few months to, to present, We are beach people.
Allison Williams: [00:13:49] And my father used to have swimming contests to help build up for me and my brother our endurance. So we would have these races out to the sandbar that was at least a quarter of a mile away from shore and then we would rest at the sandbar and then turn around and you would race back. And there’d be times where one of us would get tired or one of us would have a cramp or whatever, and we had to learn how to deal with that. And the riptide was something that I didn’t really encounter with my dad, I actually encountered it with a friend of mine. She and I were at a beach, we were preteens at that point, and her mom had allowed us to go down to the beach. We had very specific rules about only at the lifeguard station, only X number of feet into the water. And of course, we didn’t follow that, of course. And but what happened was we’re playing in the water and then at some point I just decided to lay down in the water, I love splashing around, I love floating and I started to realize that I was going to turn around and I looked up and my friend was like, why are you going so far out? Come back! And I looked up I was like, Oh, I am pretty far back.
Allison Williams: [00:14:54] So I turned around and I started to swim and the next thing I knew, I felt like there was almost like seaweed, but like it didn’t, it didn’t feel like a physical thing, it felt like the water had become seaweed and it was wrapped around my ankle and it was really, really tight and I kept yanking myself, trying to free myself from what felt like an entanglement of water wrapped around me and then I suddenly realized, oh, shit, I’m in a riptide, that’s what this is. So, you know… I… Trigger warming comes up. I’m like, OK, Red eye, red flag, we have to like, go into the training, what was the training float into it? And that’s what I did, and I just allowed the riptide to have control for a moment. Now, this does not mean that I gave into the riptide, right? I did not put my head under the water, I did not try to swim into the water, I didn’t kind of relinquish or surrender myself to it, I didn’t say, hey, life is over because this water’s got me and it’s more powerful than I am. But I floated into the water, I floated into the riptide and just allowed myself to kind of turn over on my left side and, and float and kind of use my right hand to kind of keep my, my head above water and kind of tread a little bit.
Allison Williams: [00:16:10] So I wouldn’t tire myself out fighting it, but instead, I would allow it to be there and allow me to be there in it, and then at the right moment it loosened and I could just swim right out and it took a while, I don’t remember exactly how long it was because I’m not exactly timing it, but it felt like a long time and I remember I was quite a distance away from my friend. My friend, actually at some point I yelled out to her that I was in a riptide and I was just going to go with it and so she ended up getting out of the water and running along the shore following me as I’m being pulled aggressively by the water in the riptide. But as I was there, I’m in the water alone by myself and I’m in the control of this really, really massive riptide but I remember as soon as the moment hit, it was just like a moment like I, once I relinquished the need to fight it, once I let go of the idea that I could be stronger than Mother Nature in the ocean and I could free myself by my sheer will once I released that thought and then just allowed myself to go with the flow and say, this doesn’t feel right, right now, but it’s OK. Right? The ocean still held me up.
Allison Williams: [00:17:26] So there was still the positive underbelly that kept me alive, there was still breathing, keeping my head above water every once in a while, the riptide would get a little strong and pull me down a little bit and I would like go under and then I would lift my head back up and spit the water out and take a deep breath. And I ultimately was able to swim out of it and I was only able to swim out of it because I stopped fighting it, right? So what I mean, that I want you to if you can image that, if you can put a frame around that for yourself and think about your own mental and emotional well-being, I want you to think about you being in the ocean and you being held up by the ocean and if you just allow yourself to live with it for a moment, just be OK with not being OK. What that allows you to do is instead of fighting it the way that lawyers often fight it, you can actually start to see your way out of it pretty simple. Now, the way that lawyers tend to fight in this instance, we’re going to be thinking about this analogy of the riptide and pulling yourself out of the riptide or rather floating yourself out of the riptide. What Lawyers, tend to do is they tend to first recognize that they don’t feel great and then feel bad about feeling bad.
Allison Williams: [00:18:39] Right. Being mad at themselves for not, not being able, not being capable of not being diligent, not being on top of everything, not being in the mood, not being happy, not being satisfied, right? A lot of people have a lot of success, but they may have come from families where they are making the most money that anyone in their family has ever made and they are looking at themselves and saying, how could I do this to my family? How can I betray my family? And it may not even be a conscious thought, right? There might be some subconscious thought. Some of the conscious thoughts might be OK, when I go home at Christmas, I have to rent a car so they don’t see that I have a luxury vehicle or I might have to underplay the fact that I’d like to go to the expensive restaurant on the ocean instead of, instead of a more casual dining experience. But a lot of the deeper subconscious programming of I’m betraying my parents by virtue of being successful or I am harming my, my friends by virtue of pulling away from them because I have worked a lot of that internal dialog really is at such a subconscious level that we don’t even recognize that it’s happening. But for a lot of us, it is happening and when those things occur, we oftentimes can self-sabotage when we are on a path of doing something great for ourselves and creating a wonderful business that’s going to make a lot more money, help a lot more people, be a much bigger, omnipresent force in our community.
Allison Williams: [00:20:14] We start to pull back and we start to pull away and so a lot of that is inconsistent. I’m all in, I can’t believe this is wonderful, and then, oh, wait. I’m falling back and we see the fall back as that it’s a sign that we shouldn’t be doing it in the first place or that it is a sign that we weren’t capable enough in the first place and what it really is, is that it is a sign that you are exactly where you should be, right. When you are in your happy, in your zone, moving forward, making advancements, that’s where you are designed to be, right. We are all created as humans to be growing or dying. So rather than go back and forth between growing and dying and growing and dying and growing and dying, staying in the energy of growing is something that you have to practice if you are not someone who’s already rehearsed enough at it that you stay in the energy of growing every day that you’re alive. So I want you to just think about that when we start talking about being OK with not being OK, because you have to allow yourself the grace to say in this moment, I’m just going to not be OK.
Allison Williams: [00:21:19] Right? And recognizing that not being OK is not relinquishing, it’s not sacrificing, but it is seeking out mental health treatment. It is just doing enough to tread water to keep yourself floating for a moment and then getting yourself to the place where you are starting to see some positive movement in your mental health so that you can go back at it hard in the future. And that means you may have to relinquish goals that you put in front of yourself right now. You may have to press pause on some things that you wanted to achieve, you may have people looking at you with expectations of things that they would like you to do, that you’re like, uh, not doing that now, you can’t do that now and that’s OK. But you have to be OK with that so that you stop the ceaseless cycle of beating yourself up while you are going through something and not achieving.
Allison Williams: [00:22:07] All right, the third and final strategy for tapping into your inspiration is dream. OK, sounds pretty simple, right. But here’s the way I want you to dream I want you to ask yourself if money was no object and no one would object, how would I choose to live my life? OK, again, if money was no object and no one would say anything, I’d get no negative feedback at all.
Allison Williams: [00:22:33] How would I choose to live my life? Ask yourself that question. It’s kind of a fun question. And when you really take away the containers of financial lack, which is one of the major drivers of mediocrity that we see in our profession and the idea of being rejected by others, right? When we start to start to have that twinge of people saying things and people pulling away and people making snarky comments about us or people looking at us sideways, when you start to have those conceptions pulled away from you and you’re just focused on what you desire, dreaming out loud can allow you any number of different experiences. And sometimes those experiences will lead you into a new career path or a new partnership or a new relationship or a new experience with your children or a new business or more business that you have right now. Sometimes it doesn’t mean anything. Sometimes it doesn’t change what you’re doing it just allows you to be grateful for what you’re doing because you actually see the beauty in what you’re creating and you see ways to create more of it.
Allison Williams: [00:23:35] All right, everyone, I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. And on this week’s episode of The Crushing Chaos of Law Firm Mentor podcast, we talked about how to tap into inspiration for you in your law firm. I’ll see you on the next episode.
Allison Williams: [00:24:03] Thank you for tuning in to The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s guests and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice, or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you, join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement Free Facebook group. There you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours, and join the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firm and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day!
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications and money management in law firms.
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00:20:14 (32 seconds)
We start to pull back and we start to pull away and so a lot of that is inconsistent. I’m all in, I can’t believe this is wonderful, and then, oh, wait. I’m falling back and we see the fall back as that it’s a sign that we shouldn’t be doing it in the first place or that it is a sign that we weren’t capable enough in the first place and what it really is, is that it is a sign that you are exactly where you should be, right. When you are in your happy, in your zone, moving forward, making advancements, that’s where you are designed to be, right.