Heather Moulder is a lawyer leadership and business coach, and she helps lawyers ditch stress, overthinking and imposter syndrome.
You’re probably thinking, “My goodness, that’s a lot,” but… it really isn’t.
It’s about learning how to manage your mind and emotions, and create a successful pathway toward the life you desire.
As a former big law partner, public speaker and host of the Life and Law podcast, Heather helps lawyers to become happily successful in law – and in life.
And today, she joins me to talk about mindset blocks; how to manage your mind and a way to think about what you’re doing in a way that eliminates stress.
In this episode we discuss:
- How to low stress to be more effective in your life and in your business.
- Having a successful mindset is empowering yourself to make better choices for yourself.
- How to stop overanalyzing, start making decisions and take action.
- There are processes like exercises that you can use to get your mind back in control.
Contacts – Social Media
Podcast: Life and Law Podcast
SEE THE FULL TRANSCRIPT BELOW
Allison Williams: [00:00:05] Hi, everybody. It’s Allison Williams here. Your host of The Crushing Chaos was Law Firm Mentor podcast. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you to grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:27] Hi Everyone, is Allison Williams here, and welcome to another episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. Today we have a special guest on the podcast. This is my, my esteemed colleague Heather Moulder, and I say esteemed colleague for a reason. She is another business coach that works specifically with lawyers. And you might be thinking, why would I bring someone on who actually could work with all of you when I am someone who I would like to bring to you as someone who can work with you?
Allison Williams: [00:00:56] Well, the reality is that we all know that there are different needs in the legal space and there are different approaches to how we help lawyers. And I know that I’m not for everyone because not everyone wants what I ultimately help people to do, which is to grow a law firm that will run without you. But I wanted to bring someone on who does help lawyers. She helps lawyers that are both solopreneur people that are in partnerships, people in larger firms. She helps lawyers, right? Not just law firm owners.
Allison Williams: [00:01:26] And the ways that she helps lawyers, I think, are very much aligned with the way that I think about life and law and the business of law. So in particular, Heather Moulder is a lawyer, leadership, and business coach, and she helps lawyers with ditching stress, overthinking, and imposter syndrome. So you’re probably thinking, oh my God, that’s a lot. But it really isn’t. It really is about toughtwork. It is about learning how to manage your mind, learning how to manage your emotions, and to create a success pathway so that you can have the life that you desire. She is a former big law partner. She’s a public speaker. She is the host of the Life and Law podcast, and she helps lawyers to become happily successful in law and in life.
Allison Williams: [00:02:14] But she’s somebody that I think very highly of. I had the pleasure of meeting her, ironically, when I was on her podcast, and through that, we have really found that we think a lot alike in terms of how managing your mind is the pathway to success for lawyers, we want that to be your pathway forward, whether you are growing a business or you’re escaping the law or what have you. And as a result of that, Heather’s perspective, I think is an interesting one and one that I was very, very happy to share with all of you.
Allison Williams: [00:02:43] Now, today, we’re going to talk about mindset blocks. And this is not positive thinking. I want to be very clear that what Heather helps lawyers to achieve is a way to manage your mind and a way to think about what you are doing in a way that eliminates stress, not 100%, but obviously, it takes it way down so that you can ultimately be more effective in your life and in your business.
Allison Williams: [00:03:06] So I think you’re going to gain a lot out of our conversation today. I certainly did. We kind of riffed in different directions. We did not follow a script at all because she just had such a wealth of information. And I find that when I have that type of guest on someone who really shares my worldview about the importance of managing our thoughts, that ultimately you’re going to get a lot of the conversation just kind of from the ether. But aside from that, of course, she does have resources and of course, you can learn about her and her podcast with the tools that we have from her in our show notes. And so, without further ado, Heather Moulder on today’s Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast.
Allison Williams: [00:03:47] Heather Moulder, welcome to The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast.
Heather Moulder: [00:03:51] Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.
Allison Williams: [00:03:53] I’m excited to have you here. You know, you’re somebody who I have had the pleasure of watching and listening to transforming lawyers across America with your, your what I would say is somewhat unique take on the complexities of lawyering in today’s world and the ways in which a lot of us will approach that. That is just not healthy for us and doesn’t lead to a happy life.
Heather Moulder: [00:04:18] Yes.
Allison Williams: [00:04:18] So it’s been said, Happy wife, Happy life. I actually think, Happy mindset, Happy life. So with that, we’re going to talk today about one of, I think the most important topics of the hour, which is getting rid of those mindset blocks that will get in the way of lawyers being happy and successful contemporaneously in their legal careers.
Heather Moulder: [00:04:40] Yeah, because what’s the point of success that doesn’t bring happiness? I mean, if you can’t enjoy it, what’s there’s no point, right?
Allison Williams: [00:04:48] Yeah. So I’m actually going to start off in kind of a dark place. I’m not in a dark mood, but this topic brought to mind something that was once an experience that I had. I went through a very severe depression at one point in my life, like not turning on lights in the house until all the light bulbs in the house were literally out. And I didn’t replace them sitting in dark rooms waiting for the weekend so that I could drink myself into a stupor and not have to think about life. That, that was my life for many, many years. I hate to, I hate to own that, but it’s real, right? And one of the things that I remember about that stage of my life was that somebody said, you know, that stress, that negativity, that depression is all in your mind. And you just have to change the way that you think about life. And miraculously, that whole depression thing will go away, which, of course, we know is lunacy. A mental health condition is a health condition just like any other. It requires a very specific form of treatment. But there was something to this idea that your mindset determines your outcomes in life. And people believe when they hear that, that mindset just means positive thinking. And we know that that’s not the case. But I want you to put into your own words what is having a successful mindset in your perspective.
Heather Moulder: [00:06:10] So for me, having a successful mindset is really, empowering yourself to make better choices for yourself. And understanding that you really do have a choice at the end of the day, in the sense of nobody else can make you happy. Nobody else can provide the internal experience you need, right? You are within your own mind and only you can do what’s necessary and make the choices to do what’s necessary to help you see life in a better light. Right, and get through whatever it is you need to get through. So it’s not necessarily about being happy all the time.
Heather Moulder: [00:06:54] I get really irritated with, there’s a line of thinking out there a little I think a lot of life coaches take on that maybe aren’t very well trained but they, they go out and they just choose to think happy. Choose to be happy. You know it’s that easy. And I’m like, Well, yeah, happiness is a choice. But I think they misdefine what happiness really is. Because to me happiness isn’t about positivity and always feeling good. We’re human beings. That’s not how life works. Circumstances outside of our control happen.
Heather Moulder: [00:07:29] You know, things happen to us that aren’t good. I’m a cancer survivor, so I know very well what it’s like to go through something that’s really hard to deal with mentally and physically and how that can impact your psyche. And sometimes we just don’t feel good and sometimes we are going to be depressed and sometimes, you know, these things happen, right? So it’s not about always feeling good or up or being positive. It’s about understanding that you are the only one who can take control and make the choices to be on a better path. And sometimes that is to reach out for help. Sometimes, you know, those are the choices we’re talking about. That’s the choice that you have. And so to me, happiness is really more about understanding who you are, what makes you tick, like your values, knowing what your needs are, and making the best choices you can given your circumstances so that you can do the best for yourself in that moment. And be content with the choices that you’ve made. It’s more about contentedness than happiness. In my mind.
Allison Williams: [00:08:35] Yeah.
Heather Moulder: [00:08:36] And when you change, kind of how you view that, it empowers you to then make more and more better choices that make sense.
Allison Williams: [00:08:43] So I think contentment is probably a better aspiration for people than chronic happiness. Right. Because like you said, there’s a full range of emotions in the human experience. But you are what I would refer to as a recovering big law attorney.
Heather Moulder: [00:08:58] Yes, I am.
Allison Williams: [00:08:59] So having had the experience of big law, I love that for anyone that you’re going to get the link to Heather’s LinkedIn profile. Of course, in our show notes. But when you go to her LinkedIn profile, it talks about ditching the stress, the overthinking, and imposter syndrome. And I read that and I was like, Well, doesn’t that mean ditching lawyering? Because like, all of those things are so, so completely tied to lawyering. How would you help a lawyer who says, Yeah, I want to ditch stress, overthinking, and imposter syndrome, but I love to practice law. I don’t want to give up my law license. How can I actually achieve that at the same time as being successful in my career the way that I understand the legal profession?
Heather Moulder: [00:09:42] Well, that actually leads to some common mindset blocks that a lot of us lawyers believe. And when I say mindset block, it’s really beliefs that we buy into that are either untrue or are. Oftentimes these beliefs are grounded in some experience. That’s true, but we take it on as though it’s this rule for life and it’s not a rule for life. And so a couple of those that us lawyers definitely buy into are things like, I have to be a perfectionist, I have to make sure I’m always on everything is perfect. I provide the exact right answer, or people expect this of me, which is actually not true. And when we believe that we kill ourselves and create a whole lot of unnecessary stress, that is not necessary. So that’s one. And then I would say another thing. And so and that leads into like overthinking and constantly reanalyzing our decisions.
Heather Moulder: [00:10:40] And so we overthink to begin with so that we can supposedly have the perfect result. And then we realize later, oh my gosh, it wasn’t perfect because of course that was impossible. And so then we overthink what we did and what could we do differently, and we never let go, which just creates a ton of stress. And so that’s, that’s one of the things that I see a lot. Another thing I see a lot is the imposter syndrome, which I think I have a love-hate relationship with the whole concept of imposter syndrome. If you want.
Allison Williams: [00:11:14] Before you debunk it, though, I want to ask you, do you think that imposter syndrome is a lawyer’s challenge or a woman lawyer’s challenge?
Heather Moulder: [00:11:23] I think it’s not just a lawyer’s challenge. It’s a high achievers challenge. And I do think women tend to have more issues with it than men. That being said, I have met my fair number of male clients who have imposter syndrome. Something I’ve noticed is the language that we use around it is very different. Women tend to say, I have imposter syndrome, they identify it, they think of it that way. Men tend to think, Well, I just don’t feel as confident or I just I’m second guessing myself here. And when you go deeper and you ask questions around it, it’s the same thing.
Heather Moulder: [00:11:56] Language is different.
Allison Williams: [00:11:58] And I think it’s very important that you raise that, that you express that. Because I think a lot of times when you read Imposter Syndrome, it has become very coded language for woman, woman, achiever, woman businessperson, woman professional. And we have quite a few male clients in Law Firm Mentor and they don’t use imposter syndrome because I do think it has been coded for woman, but I think it is the same challenge that that disconnect between what the world sees us achieving and what we actually believe of our own achievements. And that is a human characteristic of a person who’s been taught that their value is wrapped up in their achievements.
Heather Moulder: [00:12:36] Correct. And also. It’s, it’s a characteristic of somebody who defines success in a particular way, often based on how others perceive them as opposed to how they perceive themselves, often also based on output as opposed to input. So I think lawyers especially we see and some of this is we’re trained for this, right? We were trained to win for our clients or get the exact result they want and so that’s always our focus. And we bring it into our own lives as well, where we think, well, everything has to come out exactly this way and that’s just not how things work. And what’s funny to me is that a lot of lawyers accept that stuff is going to happen, new information is going to come to light, and sometimes the outcome that our clients want isn’t possible. And yet we don’t overly stress over that oftentimes. We do the same thing for ourselves and then expect exactly the thing that we say isn’t possible for our clients, for ourselves. And that’s where we get really into a lot of trouble because, again, it causes a lot of stress, but then it causes that imposter syndrome.
Heather Moulder: [00:13:47] And I think what I see a lot, at least in my clients when it comes to imposter syndrome, is they, we think that we should always know everything. We think that we should never be learning. We think that it’s like you go to law school and you start practicing and you’re supposed to get to some pinnacle at some point and then you know everything and everything’s going to go perfectly well. And that’s not true. And in fact, I would suggest that would be a really boring way to work and exist. Right. And so I like to get my clients to kind of rethink it and say, you know, imposter syndrome, you’re actually supposed to feel that way upon occasion because you want to be learning new things. You want new things to get introduced to you and realize, Oh, I don’t have a handle over all of this. And that’s okay because this is exciting and interesting and new and I can learn something new from it, and that’s actually pretty normal. And so when we start to shift our thinking around it, then we see it in, perceive it very differently and it doesn’t impact us in the same way. Hopefully that makes sense.
Allison Williams: [00:14:49] That makes perfect sense. And you know, it kind of it goes back to what you said earlier about overthinking, because I think what’s challenging is when you talk about imposter syndrome, you’re talking about a person who believes that they are not as great as other people believe them to be. Like it’s almost like they’re going to get found out. But I find that the converse is very much true with the overthinker. The Overthinker is a person who knows what they know, but yet they won’t step into the decision that’s based on what they know. It’s almost like they either want validation from others or they’re so afraid that if they make the wrong decision based on all of the knowledge and facts and intuition that they have at present, they make the wrong decision. What is that going to mean about me as a person, and what are other people going to think about me as a person if I chose wrong? And we see that a lot with lawyers that won’t make decisions that they know are in their best interest. Right. You know, you have not been able to get all the people who are calling your office scheduled because you haven’t hired someone or, you know, you haven’t been able to make the right strategic choice yet because you haven’t invested in the coach that you want, or you know that the next decision for you in your law firm is to completely transform the way that you’re spending money but you won’t sit down and look at the numbers. You intellectually know what to do, but you refuse to do it because you’re doing the wrong thing is worse than doing nothing at all. So you just do nothing and sit in the feeling of inadequacy that comes with knowing that you’re not moving your life forward.
Heather Moulder: [00:16:22] Yeah, it’s total analysis paralysis. They overanalyze everything and get to a point where no decision can be right. So therefore I won’t make a decision. And the problem with that, that they’re not recognizing and I would say most people have to get to this point right here before they’re ready to hire me, because they will not progress unless they’ve started to realize and acknowledge this. Not making a decision is a decision, that also creates results that you really don’t want.
Heather Moulder: [00:16:53] In fact, most of the time it creates the worst results possible. It is better to make a decision and start taking action and to find out later maybe that wasn’t the best decision then to do nothing at all, because the doing nothing at all just makes it worse in a such a bigger way, and often leads us to such a place of stress and anxiety and even depression. And that’s where a lot of that comes in that we end up with really bad coping mechanisms. There’s a reason why so many lawyers have drug and alcohol addiction issues. Right, and eating and there’s other things that people do and it’s all very unhealthy and it just spirals so quickly and it ends up changing us as human beings like we don’t, we’re not people that we thought that we were all of a sudden and we’re not on a path that we wanted to be. Whereas if you make a proactive decision and you start taking action, that’s new information that gives you better information to make better decisions. And so even if you choose later of it, maybe that wasn’t the right decision. But I learned something from it because I proactively made a decision and started taking some steps. Then you can start taking better steps moving forward. And so that’s, you know, that’s where I think a lot of people mess up. Because they think no decision is no decision when it really is a decision that has much more direct consequences often.
Allison Williams: [00:18:17] So there’s challenges in all of that, right? There’s challenges in making a decision that you later learn or perceive as the wrong decision or frankly what I see more often is it’s the right decision for the moment, but then you either change your desires, change your approach, or completely rewrote where you’re headed. So now the decision is no longer pertinent, but you’re judging it as the wrong decision.
Heather Moulder: [00:18:39] Which is ridiculous but yes.
Allison Williams: [00:18:40] Or having no decision at all, which is, as we say, a decision. But what’s really interesting is the thing that I’ve seen a lot with lawyers is kind of like the bouncing back and forth. I’ve decided, I’ve undecided. I’ve decided, I’ve undecided. I’ve decided, I’ve undecided. And what I tell my clients all the time here at Law Firm Mentor is the most detrimental thing you can do for yourself is to decide something and then undecide it. Because what you are doing is you are telling your brain by virtue of that exercise, you are telling your brain that there is no finality to what you’re deciding, so therefore you can’t ever truly commit. And when you’re not committing, you’re not moving your life forward, you’re kind of vacillating. And ultimately, that is the equivalence of not making a decision. Right?
Heather Moulder: [00:19:29] Absolutely. Yeah.
Allison Williams: [00:19:30] It’s like a false sense of security, like, oh, I’m doing something because I decided this, but then, oh, wait, I changed my mind. Right.
Heather Moulder: [00:19:37] Well, and something to note, though, is thinking about something is not taking action. You only take action when you act on it and you move forward. And the fact of the matter is. Action is what brings clarity. I get a lot of people who come to me like I don’t even know if I want to be a lawyer anymore. I don’t know if this is where I want to be. I don’t want and they’re constantly going back and forth. They’re in this state. Right. And they think they should know more because they’ve been thinking about it for God oftentimes years before they ever come to me. And I’m like, Well, you’re going to actually have to choose to do something here. You either move or you, you know, like there’s all these options and there’s a lot of options. A lot of times they’ve limited the options. It’s either this or this, you know, and they’re both extremes. And so I’m there to help them figure out, no, there’s a lot of other options and they’re not so extreme. But you do have to start taking action because that’s how you actually get clarity around, well, is this what I want, or is this what I want? And there’s no way to know without doing.
Allison Williams: [00:20:36] So since we’re talking about mindset blocks, I want to talk about one that I know comes up a lot, which is the person who believes that they have to do it themselves, the, the one, the reluctant delegator or what I refer to as kind of the tail end of that, which is the aggressive abdicator. Right? I’m either going to delegate nothing or I’m going to give it to someone and I’m going to walk away, wash my hands of it, and then be surprised when all of a sudden the person has questions or screw something up because I’m unavailable to help them. So when you experience a lawyer who is just not willing to take things off of their plate because they have an urgent need to control their derives from a lack of faith in themselves or lack of faith in others, or a lack of willingness to accept that someone else may have a better answer than they do. How do you help a lawyer to really evolve out of that particular mindset block?
Heather Moulder: [00:21:29] Well, oftentimes we start by identifying, you know, have you really ever let go? And they often figure out the either never have and or not by much. And so they’ve never allowed others with true opportunities. And then also, once we do identify, well, how have you done that if you have. They usually find that they do it in a way where they’re so like hovering that there’s no way this person could ever have done what they wanted to or they didn’t bother to learn what the strengths in that other person and the skills are and how they could best help. So there’s all these options, right? And so by kind of going through that and asking questions and we kind of dive deep into what have you done and how have you they start to all of a sudden see, Oh, Lord. I never really let go or I did it in a way where I set them up for failure from the beginning or,you know, or they also are those often are those people.
Heather Moulder: [00:22:26] And I find it they vacillate between never delegating to being that person who let’s just like do it all and don’t come ask me questions. And that’s setting up for failure in another way. Right? And so usually it’s through some digging and some questions where they start to make a realization on their own of, oh my. I didn’t do this very well, did I? There’s a better way. And so then they become more open to OK, How could we do this better? Like then they admit, I don’t know how to do this. And that’s where I can step in and help them with, like, putting together. And I know this is going to make you light up because I know this you love processes and systems and things that are really helpful in the delegating process.
Allison Williams: [00:23:12] Yes, my personal favorite systems, systems, systems. So let’s talk about how you help lawyers, because I know that when I, when I read your description of how you help people, the very first thing that resonates is ditch stress. I don’t know a single lawyer that hasn’t experienced stress, that hasn’t had a concern that they need to alter the way that they’re doing things because of stress, i.e., I can’t manage the load that I have without causing some health consequence or emotional consequence as a result of stress. And you talk about ditching stress. So when someone is in the vein of being a lawyer and they want to either continue to own a business as a lawyer or continue to practice as a lawyer, what do you how do you help them to deal with stress and how do they ditch stress?
Heather Moulder: [00:23:59] So it all starts with how they think and how they manage their own minds. And what a lot of lawyers I think, think around stress, is stress is primarily caused by external things. Other people, deadlines, pressure, all the external stuff coming at us is actually not the case. That’s not where most stress comes from. Yes, there may be a trigger, an external trigger, but the vast majority of your stress comes from within. It’s, it’s based on how you think about the initial trigger and then how you respond to it. And your response can cause a whole lot more stress than the initial trigger, even causes in the first place. So I guess I’m not saying you’ll never feel stressed ever, but what I am saying is you can get to a place where something happens, like, say a client calls up and said, you know, that two week deadline you thought you had, you’ve got five days. And I absolutely have to have this in the next five days. And there’s really a good reason and you realize, oh, my God, right, that’s stressful. You’re going to feel stressed for a moment, but you get a choice in how you deal with that, right? You can hang up the phone, rant, and rave, and go on and on and on about how unfair it is and continually just push through, scream at your team, cause a bunch of stress on them, still get it done but not feel very good in the process. Maybe, you know, give yourself an ulcer or make an ulcer, you already have worse.
Allison Williams: [00:25:26] Right? Someone else and give someone else an ulcer.
Heather Moulder: [00:25:30] Or you can choose to take a few moments, bomb down, think more rationally. We don’t think very well when we’re under stress. Right. Calm down. There are actual science backed. Processes like exercises that you can use to get your mind back in control. And then figure it out, and then call your team in and say, okay, this is going to suck. There’s no way around this. But here, I need your input. Let’s figure out how we’re going to handle this. Who’s going to do what? What can we offload? What can we push off? Who do we need to call like? There are better ways to manage that, and a lot of it just has to do with your response. But then also how you choose to think of things. Because yes, sometimes things happen that aren’t fun, but they don’t have to be so stressful that they cause you to constantly be in a panic and feeling like you’re under the gun and massively under pressure. And I don’t know. Most people, when they are under a lot of stress, manifest it in their body in some way. Some people I always feel it in the pit of my stomach. Right. That doesn’t have to be there.
Allison Williams: [00:26:33] Right here. All of a sudden, those shoulders in there.
Heather Moulder: [00:26:37] Yeah. I mean, you can learn how to respond to that in a way where you quickly kind of let that go and then get to a place where you accept, Ok this might be harder. I’m going to work a little bit longer hours for the next week, but I can get through this. I’ve handled it, we’ve pushed some things off, we’ve handled it appropriately, and then also respond in a way where it brings your team together and it pulls people together and connects you better, and so that everybody is working more seamlessly. Or you can do it in a way where it just creates so much more stress than that. Everybody’s unhappy and you’ve got people quitting at the end of it all.
Allison Williams: [00:27:15] So revolutionary thought here and I can already hear the resistance from the audience. Okay. The idea that stress is caused by the way that we think about the outside circumstance and not by the outside circumstance itself, like that is mind-blowing moment. Because here’s the thing. Even though I teach this to my clients and I coach my clients on this all the time, I still very recently had the awareness of that exact principle. And it is that I am in physical therapy right now because I did something to my back. So I’ve been seeing a physical therapist now since July and over the course of that time I remember he told me that one of the things that he wants me to do to help the process along was to ensure that I avoided stress. And I said, Well, that’s really not a problem. He was like, Well, what do you do for a living? I was like, Well, I own a law firm. He’s like, Oh, is it just you and a staff member? I was like, No, there’s 20 of us. I have nine lawyers. And he was like, Okay, well, is that it? I was like, No, no, no. And I have another business. He’s like, Well, what’s the other business like? I have a coaching business and I have clients all across the country. And he said, Well, okay, is that like a small vendor? I was like, No, you know, that’s also a multiple seven-figure business. He’s like, So you have two seven-figure businesses like that’s not stress. I was like,
Allison Williams: [00:28:33] That’s not stress at all. Like literally, I come to work. There are challenges, there are issues, there are problems. We solve problems. That’s what business is. Solving problems doesn’t cause me stress. So he said, Well, is there anything in your life that causes you stress? And I said, Well, this was back in July. I said, Well, my boyfriend and I are about to introduce our parents, and I’m going to have two sets of things a set of 70 somethings in a set of 60 somethings together in my house. And, you know, I’m, I’m going to have to cook for these humans. I’m going to have to organize activity for the humans. And the humans are going to probably get on my nerves. And I don’t know if the humans are going to like each other. Like literally I can just feel the stress reading off, radiating off of you. You’re telling me this? And I was like, Yes. And now the pain in my back is unstoppable. I can’t function. I literally I left physical therapy more hunched over than when I got there, but that became the story. And I was like, you know that that absolutely right. Because the stuff of solving problems is now so commonplace for me that it doesn’t cause me stress. I know that there’s a solution. I know that I know that I will find the solution. I know that if I don’t find the solution, I have brilliant minds around me. They will find the solution. We will work it out, we’ll figure it out. But the idea of having to manage a very delicate orchestration of human beings. Right. And human beings that are interdependent in our lives.
Heather Moulder: [00:30:03] Yes.
Allison Williams: [00:30:04] That caused me such stress because as I like to tell people, they don’t often believe me. But I’m not a people person. Like I would much rather be with a spreadsheet than a human. And the idea of having multiple humans to make happy all at once is really stressful for me, and it is because of how I think about it and I know that I have to that, that’s the, that’s my next growth edge.
Heather Moulder: [00:30:26] And I would tell you. Yeah, I mean, you can get to a place where you don’t stress over that. Those are the types of things I used to stress over pre-cancer. And something happened during that journey where I was just like, you know what? Why, like, why am I putting myself through this? This is not worth it. Life is too valuable. And not to say I never stress because that’s just not normal. Right? But when I feel. And I know, I know very quickly. Ok, this is something that’s starting to trigger me. I step back, I analyze it, I acknowledge it. That’s part of it. Because a lot of times we try to like I don’t want to think about that right now, which is actually one of the worst things you can do because it doesn’t go away. It stays in your subconscious, creating more stress without you realizing it.
Heather Moulder: [00:31:09] And, you know, I acknowledge it. And I, and I ask myself, okay, what can I do? What do I want to do? How do I choose, how do I choose to believe, you know, in moving forward in this moment? Do I, do I know I can handle it if the worst happens? Yes. I may not know all the answers, but I’ll figure it out. I figured stuff out like this before. I mean, there are ways you can approach it. That massively take that stress down. And so it’s not that you, I guess 100% ditch stress, but you kind of do because you view it so differently that it doesn’t impact you in the same way in such a negative way. And so, like one example I give a couple of years ago, not long after I started this business, my website was hacked. Yeah, right. And I remember getting it being very clear and I figured it out very quickly. And I gave myself 20 minutes to freak out. Like, seriously, I’m like, I’m taking a 20-minute break. I got to go freak out over this for a minute because this is like a big deal to me. And then I stopped. I’m like, all right, I’m ready to deal with it. And I took a few moments. I took my breath. I like, settle down. I’m like, okay, there are people out there I can hire to clean this up. There are people, you know.
Heather Moulder: [00:32:23] And so I took steps and a half hour later, I’d hired a company who does this for a living. I knew they were going to take care of it. They promised they’d have everything back up in less than 48 hours. They actually had it up in 24. It was all fixed. Now their stuff is on the back end. I’ve never been hacked since because they monitor everything for me and the key was taking care of it wasn’t the end of the world, you know, I was offline for a little over 24 hours as a result.
Heather Moulder: [00:32:48] So, you know, I think, yes, stress happens, but the vast majority of your stress relates to how you choose to deal with all the triggers that you see as stressful and then the responses that you have, which can cause worse. Like how many times we’ve all done this right? We’re under stress. We’re under a lot of pressure. Somebody comes into our office, or maybe even worse, we walk home and our kid or our spouse comes up and they want to talk to us. They’re excited, we’re home and we just snap. And it has nothing to do with that person, right? It has to do with how we feel because of the stress we’ve been holding on to. Well, then that causes all kinds of issues, which then cause us more stress. So.
Allison Williams: [00:33:28] Well, you know, it’s interesting that you say that, like I, I think there’s there’s something really profound about recognizing that what you’re really talking about ditching, it sounds like, is the attachment to stress. Like, I think there’s an identity crisis that lawyers go through when it’s almost like, who am I without the stress? And I think so many of us attached to the idea that our superpower is solving problems. And if we don’t have that urgent sense that something is wrong all the time, we’re not going to aggressively pursue the solutions, and therefore we’re going to be less effective and less successful.
Heather Moulder: [00:34:05] Yeah, I hate that.
Allison Williams: [00:34:06] Or your frame around that like the no, no, no. You don’t have to have stress, right? Yes, you will. You will experience an instinctual reply to whatever stimulates coming in at you. But then you choose right very quickly after you have the experience you choose. And that choice is so empowering because that allows us to really create the life that we want.
Heather Moulder: [00:34:29] Yes. And I think we also falsely believe that and I’ve heard this a million times. I’m sure you have. I’m better under pressure. I work better under pressure. That’s bull. And I’m sorry, but that science backs it up. You do not think is creatively or rationally when you’re under stress. Now, what stress does is it creates hormones and it releases a bunch of hormones in your body that gives you adrenaline. So it makes you feel like you might be doing better, but you’re actually not thinking as well as you could be. And so I would I always counter that with the science and say, you know, just think about how much more creatively you can do for yourself and your clients if you’re not under that stress and that pressure all the time. And it’s often self-created, like we create emergencies all the time for ourselves, thinking that we’re better that way.
Allison Williams: [00:35:21] And our clients, let us not forget, like, you know, I tell this to lawyers all the time, like this idea that I’m going to lose a client at 1:02 if I don’t respond by 1:01 when they called the office at 1:00 o’clock. Right. We believe that story. And then we get ourselves into that energy and then we lash out at our clients. You know, I’m in several Facebook groups online, and I’ve seen lawyers ask questions about how do I deal with this client? This client texted me over the weekend. And my, my immediate response is, well, did you respond? Well, it was not an emergency. And I’m so mad at my client. Okay. Did you respond? Well, I had to.
Heather Moulder: [00:35:59] No, no, you didn’t.
Allison Williams: [00:36:00] No, you didn’t have to. But what you did by taking the by adopting the belief that you had to, is you ascribe to the client more power over your life than you exercise for yourself. You educated your client that if they reach out on the weekend, even if you smack them on the hand, roll your eyes at them, complain about it, you’re going to respond.
Heather Moulder: [00:36:21] So they can keep doing it.
Allison Williams: [00:36:23] Correct. And then the worst part is you give yourself this feeling of disempowerment. And so then you make yourself into a binary. You either choose yourself or you choose your client. Instead of adopting the perspective that by not responding to my client, I’m actually choosing both of us. I’m choosing to educate my client that I’m going to enforce the rules that I have for my office and I’m choosing myself that this is the time for my family, my friends, my rest, or watching Netflix. Whatever you’re spending the time on doesn’t matter. It’s yours. But we take away that power and we give it over to other people, and then we get mad at those other people because they have the power that we gave them.
Heather Moulder: [00:36:58] Yeah. They don’t have any power other than what you give them and you’ve trained them to be that way. I mean you can train them otherwise. That’s the thing. And we all think this, this thought of, well, they won’t, you know, they’ll go somewhere else. No, they won’t. I mean, not good clients. I had clients that and I was a finance attorney. And I had clients that they very well knew that I would answer my phone and respond attacks if truly there was an emergency and to reach out to me if there was an emergency, I think I can count on one hand the number of times in 18 years that actually happened. Right. I mean, it just never, hardly happened because I set boundaries with them. I set rules and standards. They knew and understood what they were. And the fact of the matter is, is they actually did not expect me to be working 24/7. No client actually expects that. They know you’re a human being. They want you to be your best when you’re doing your work for them. Therefore, they want you to actually have a life because you need that to do your best work too.
Heather Moulder: [00:37:58] But it’s also human nature to take what people give you, and so that if you train them that you’re always available. Eventually they’ll stop thinking about it and they’ll just reach out because you’ve trained them to be that way, but you can train them otherwise. And I know because I do this and my clients do this and they’re fine and they’re very successful.
Allison Williams: [00:38:19] So yeah, but let’s talk about the, the realization of that. I mean, like this is all really great stuff and I love having these kind of conversations because like. I just, I feel the synergy when there’s another mind out there that gets that this is like the fuckery that we believe that is not real yet, that we can that we can unlearn to make ourselves happier in business. So talk to us about a client that comes into your prospective client, like when they’re coming to find you and they’re saying, I am stressed, I am overthinking all the time. I don’t ever feel satisfaction in my day-to-day. I need help. What is the most common problem that they are that they’re presenting to you and how do you help them with that?
Heather Moulder: [00:39:01] I don’t know if there’s a one most common, but I would say there’s a couple of things actually, like probably two or three that are usually very intertwined. So number one, their ego is tied up in what they do. That’s a large part of all of these problems. Fyi, we tend as lawyers to define ourselves as lawyers, not as humans, not as you know, not as anything really other than as a lawyer. And when we think of ourselves that way, we then fall prey to all of the fallacies we’ve been talking about today. And so part of what we do when we’re working together is them figuring out, well, who am I really? And when I say, Who are you? I do not mean a mom, a dad, a wife, a spouse of any of that, right? Those are all labels that we put on people I’m talking about, like really getting clear around what your priorities are and why, what you value, what are your values, what’s important to you? Those are the things that kind of make you tick. They’re probably the things that made you choose the law in the first place.
Heather Moulder: [00:40:03] And so it’s really important to reconnect with those things and understand them and define them and put words to them. Because what those do for you is they help you make better decisions and they kind of give you permission at the end of the day to create the boundaries you need. To say no when you need to say no, because you have a really big reason behind why, because you see the bigger picture around not just why you’re there to help others, but who you are and what’s most important to you and what your true priorities are.
Heather Moulder: [00:40:35] So that’s, that’s a lot of what we do is we get, we get really connected to our values. We also understand your unique strengths. Everybody has them. Everybody you know. And I’m not talking necessarily skills. All those skills often come from our strengths. So for instance, I had a client who has this weird ability to like read people really well and intuitively know who will work really well together. And she’s great at collaborating as a result and knowing how to put the right teams together. And so what she came to me for business coaching and what she realized is, well, she goes after big corporations that are always doing these beauty contests and stuff, which she hated before, but she started realizing she could use her collaborative sense, her strength to put the right teams together and really put forth the best pitch available and start winning more of them without feeling like they were such a drag, you know? So like, that’s what I’m talking about, strengths.
Heather Moulder: [00:41:32] And we all have them figure out what those are because those are kind of what make things fun for you. You’re really good at it. They make you more attractive, they make life more enjoyable, they make work a lot more enjoyable. And so how to leverage those? A lot of it is getting back into like, who am I? What’s important to me? Why is it important and how can I do more of that? And then it gives you the permission you need to start saying no to start creating all those boundaries that we need. And it kind of opens people up to exploring more around doing that because they don’t have that bigger why those like really hard core, you know, this is who I am. This is what’s important to me. This is why it’s important to me. It’s a lot harder to set boundaries and to say no. It’s so easy to allow people to then take advantage a little bit. It’s a lot harder to allow that when you have those behind you and you know why.
Allison Williams: [00:42:28] And you know, I think it’s when you start talking about how a person comes in and they have to get really clear on who they are. I think that’s a lot of the work that, frankly, lawyers avoid. It’s the, you know, because we are, we are in our heads. We have been taught that the way that we are successful is by coming up with the strategy. Give me the step-by-step. I need the one, two, three punch. I need the roadmap, the blueprint. Right.
Allison Williams: [00:42:55] And we think if we can just follow the instructions, we’re smart, we’re capable, we’re good at following instructions. We’re good at taking tests. We’re good at passing tests. If I can put that on to this thing called life, I’ll figure it out and do well. But it really takes a lot of the stuff that we never really focused on. Some of us learned it, some of us didn’t. But, you know, we never really focused on peeling away the layers to get to the heart of who you are and then leaning into I hate to use the Sheryl Sandberg, you know, descriptor here, not taking the lean in and not direction, but like really absorbing and being clear about who you are and being willing to do more of that thing and realizing that the things that are not who you are, you shouldn’t be doing them. That’s really hiring people to do them. You should be supporting them. You should be giving those over to someone so that they can be happy in themselves the same way that you’re happy in yourself.
Heather Moulder: [00:43:53] And the thing that’s so empowering about that, though, is when you get more clear around that, it, as I said, it kind of gives you give yourself permission to realign more around. That’s how I say it instead of leaning in, realign around those things. And that allows you to then let go of some of the other stuff and allow other people to really shine and utilize their strengths. Around what they can do best for you, the team, whomever. And so it’s, it’s very empowering I think. And it allows us to really let go. Like as lawyers, we like to control way too much. Like we only have control over very specific things and primarily over us. We don’t have control over what others do or think or we can, we can help impact that in the way that we show up. But ultimately, we can’t control those things and we can’t even control the results we get, right. We can control what we put into any given thing, but there’s always things outside of our control that, that impact it.
Heather Moulder: [00:44:59] And so when you start to kind of reflect and reorganize how you view all of this, you actually don’t just start taking different actions, don’t just know your priorities. All those things come, but you actually start feeling more in control of your life. And that’s the funny thing is you have to let go of a lot to get to that place.
Allison Williams: [00:45:22] That are that you have to put yourself in a position of being less in control to feel more in control. Yes, it’s crazy. It really is. It’s, it’s such an asinine conception when you hear it that way. But then one day you realize that you will have, under your tutelage, far more people, far more activity. The reason why having a business where I don’t know what is going on in the four corners of my business at any given point in time is actually the most freeing in control feeling I have. I feel 100% in control of my business. But if you ask me what’s going on in Susan Smith’s case, I don’t know. Yeah, you know what’s going on? Like how many people have called today? Like, how many people have how many how many people have scheduled appointments? Like, no, I have a department for that. I can find that out if I need to know it, but I don’t instantaneously know it. And that’s really the only way you’re going to grow to be the CEO of your own business and ultimately of your own life is when you allow people to have their zone of genius within your orbit and you stay in your lane and just be exceptional in your lane.
Heather Moulder: [00:46:29] Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s incredibly, I say, empowering and also freeing. There’s this freedom that, that comes with it. And the funny thing is, it helps you really ditch the stress, like you don’t stress over those things anymore. You let go of a lot of that stuff because we tend to over-worry and overanalyze all of these things that we cannot control. And once you learn to just let go of that, it’s like this weight is lifted and all of a sudden you feel like you have this space that you didn’t have before within your life.
Allison Williams: [00:47:03] That is 100% true. So we’re going to wind this down. I think that we have gone in a lot of different directions, but sometimes taking that, that winding path through a topic allows people to hear what they need. I truly believe you get what you get when you, when you need it. And people are listening to this podcast or getting the brilliance that is Heather and they are also learning the perspective of how to ditch stress, how to ditch overthinking, and imposter syndrome. And I think in a way that will probably resonate with a lot more people than you might realize.
Heather Moulder: [00:47:34] I hope so. I hope it helps.
Allison Williams: [00:47:36] Yeah. So for those out here that are listening to the chaos, to the Crushing Chaos podcast, they probably were thinking this was a bit of chaos, but that’s okay. We’ll put order to the chaos later for you guys, I promise. But for those that were listening to today’s episode, where can they find you if they want to learn more about how you help lawyers to do exactly that?
Heather Moulder: [00:47:54] Sure. So there’s two places they can find. Well, really, three places. Linkedin is definitely one of them. I’m on LinkedIn every day. I have a website for my coaching, which is course correction coaching.com, and I also host the Life and Law podcast. And so you can find me at Life and Law podcast.com as well.
Allison Williams: [00:48:12] Love it and the links to all of those places where you can find out more about Heather and her coaching in particular are going to be available in our show notes. I want to thank you, Heather, so much for coming on and talking to us today about mindset blocks, how we can crush those mindset blocks and help to help our lawyers to actually live a life that they truly desire, that they can be both happy and successful contemporaneously. It is possible, and Heather is one of the bright minds that helps people to do that.
Allison Williams: [00:48:39] All right, everyone, I am Allison Williams, Law Firm Mentor. You’ve been listening to The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast and I will see you on our next episode. Bye bye.
Allison Williams: [00:48:54] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s show and take advantage of the resources mentioned. Check out our show notes. And if you enjoy today’s episode, take a moment to follow the podcast wherever you get your podcast and leave us a rating and review. This helps us to reach even more law firm owners from around the country who want to crush chaos in business and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor everyone. Have a great day.
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the 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 by 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.