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Episode 144: Letting Go Of Control (Everything You Need To Know)

by Heather Moulder | Life & Law Podcast

How often do you wish you had more control… Over your time, your business, your life? If you’re like most attorneys, you probably think (or even say) something to that effect daily. What if I told you that you don’t actually want that, and letting go of control is the answer.

Control is based in fear (and also, is a lot of work). But letting go of control is freeing, and will lead you to:

  • A place of calm self-confidence.
  • Knowing you can handle whatever comes your way.
  • Being open to new experiences.
  • Fulfilling your fullest potential as a lawyer (and person!).

Learning how to let go of control is what will enable you to achieve more of what you want (but without all the stress, self-doubt and overthinking). Today’s episode is short yet powerful. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:48] How often do you find yourself wishing you had more control? Control over your time, control over your finances, control over your book of business, control over your colleagues, control over your law firm, control over other people, how they interact with you, control over your life?

[00:01:15] I would argue that you actually don’t want that. What you really want is to learn how to let go of control.

Letting go of control is actually the answer.

It’s the solution to most of the problems that ail you – all of those reasons that you’re looking to get more control over those things.

[00:01:39] It might sound counterintuitive, but I promise this is the answer. And today I answer the why behind it.

Hey there. This is Heather Moulder, host of the Life in law podcast, and I’m super excited to have you here with me today. I recently had kind of this epiphany as I was talking to a fellow coach about control, lack of control, wanting more control, and how common it is with clients and attorneys in general, really, whenever you talk to them. And frankly, I can sometimes speak in those terms.

I think we lawyers tend to think in terms of wanting to have control.

[00:02:18] And I’ve talked before around most things we can’t control, right? There are things that happen in the world, in life around us, with our health, with other people that we just cannot control. And even when we do everything right, we work our hardest, we cross every “T”, dot every “I”.

[00:02:39] Things don’t always happen as we want, right? The outcome of our efforts, regardless of how good we did, isn’t always what we want. And so, we even lack control there. Yet we’re always seeking to get it.

Well, I want to flip that on its head today, because what I think you really want is to feel a particular way. And we think that those feelings, that confidence, that inner confidence, that… “Okay, I’ve got this. I understand what’s going on. I can handle whatever has happened”, when things do hit the fan. That calmness of demeanor that we all wish we had when really under pressure, feeling like we are drinking from that fire hose, which happens all the time in the legal world. We wish we could be more calm, more cool, more collected. Right?

The Things We Know To Let Control Of

[00:03:37] It’s this feeling that we want. First a feeling, and then also we think of it as control over how we respond and control over how we are perceived. Now, I will tell you how you show up impacts obviously how others perceive you, but you do not fully control how others perceive you, right? Because every single person out there comes with their own experiences, background and baggage which impact how they perceive you. There are assumptions that they make. There’s stuff behind kind of the hood that impacts you. So you can’t fully control that.

[00:04:20] And so, I would argue you want to let go of it. Right? But when I say letting go of control, I’m not just talking about the typical:

  • Let go of trying to control your outcome.
  • Let go of trying to control what others think of you.

Yes, that’s part of it. But even deeper. And this is why I’m here today. Because this epiphany that I had in this moment when I was talking to a fellow coach around my metamorphosis back when I started practicing law.

I was a very typical attorney who tried to do everything, wanted to please everyone, said yes to everything, and ended up really burned out. And I almost quit. I have a whole episode, my first episode for this podcast where I really went through kind of my thinking on that and what turned me around. At that time, I did not let go of control. I had not really perceived the benefit of letting go of control.

But slowly over a couple of years, as I started to take control of the things I actually felt like I could control and not bother or worry so much about all the things I couldn’t, there was this slow shift in what I perceived. And I started to perceive that I had control over very few things.

[00:05:42] I did not realize that this shift occurred. But somewhere in there, after I discovered all of this, after I moved law firms, after I even made partner, I started to shift my perspective of even wanting control and started the process of letting go of control.

[00:06:05] And let me tell you, it was definitely a process for me. It’s not something that happened overnight. And in fact, my cancer journey and having cancer and going through the experience of facing down, oh, my gosh, am I going to die. Oh my gosh. What’s going to happen to me having zero control over that, right?

[00:06:27] No matter what I did, I could eat well, I could exercise, I could get my sleep, I could go to all my appointments, I could take all the drugs they were giving me. There was no guarantee.

[00:06:38] That was the ultimate letting go of control.

[00:06:42] But I think it was easier for me than what I perceived, at least. It did not seem very easy for most people, and I would not say it was easy for me. Let me get very clear on this. It was not easy, but that was the final kind of nail in the coffin of trying to have control over everything. That enabled me to make that full shift.

[00:07:07] And I didn’t even realize it until I was talking to this coach recently around control.

[00:07:15] And what I realized is this place we want to be in – this calm, this cool, this inner confidence that we all want to have, where we want to get to a place where we figure, okay, all heck is broken loose. I don’t have control over x, Y and z. In fact, I don’t have control over much at all.

I’m not even going to try to bother to take control. I’m not going to look at this from the perspective of control.

[00:07:43] That was the shift. Letting go of control was me handing over the reins of even bothering to try to control anything. And that included me from the perspective of trying to have and take control.

[00:08:02] And here’s what I mean by that.

Control for most of us, is about power.

[00:08:09] And it’s a lot of work, right? Control is very energy inefficient. We work harder, we push harder. This is part of the reason why we lawyers are so good at what we do, is we push, push, push, push, push. But at some point you get to a place where you can’t push anymore. Control is part of that because we come at it from a control oriented mindset.

[00:08:37] It feels harder, it feels worse, it doesn’t feel so good. And we expend a lot of energy in that place of trying to be in control.

[00:08:54] And so what I’ve come to realize as I’ve really sat down and thought about this is that final shift away from trying to control is truly what has enabled me to be happy and chill and not as worried.

[00:09:16] Now, it doesn’t mean I never worry. It doesn’t mean I never get upset or frustrated because I’m human. But I gave up that need to be in control and fully let go of control as the goal, as the thing I even cared about or wanted and it was incredibly freeing.

[00:09:44] Control, I believe, is rooted more in fear.

[00:09:49] Even when we’ve let go of trying to control a bunch of other things that we know we can’t control. And when we are trying/focused on control – even over our emotions – it’s often based in fear. It’s based in, at the end of the day, still based in what will others think? How will others perceive me (if you really get behind it)?

That is something that I’ve definitely learned for myself, but also in coaching. We lawyers tend to care a whole lot about what others think of us and how we are perceived and our reputations. And I’m not saying that’s all bad, but when we are hyper-focused on it, especially from that control aspect, it drives us and it’s based out of fear.

Shifting Your Perspective Away From Control

[00:10:42] Now imagine how much more you might be capable of, how many opportunities you might perceive that you can’t when you let go of that fear-based need to control and instead see things as an opportunity. To shift into being more proactive as opposed to being in control. That is where I want you to get to, to start letting go of control.

[00:11:11] And what I mean by that is let go of caring about being in control and instead shift. It shifts your entire energy from hard work, difficult, not fun, into something that feels a little lighter, enjoyable, just being more proactive.

[00:11:34] How could I be proactive here?

[00:11:36] Instead of where can I be in control?

[00:11:42] This shift is really a mental shift. It’s a mindset thing that changes your motivation, that changes your outlook, that changes your perception in a way that, as I said before, will open up more possibilities.

Because when we look at things from that fear-based control, we limit ourselves, we narrow ourselves. We care too much about that perception out there, and we don’t even consider things or even see things that are opportunities.

When you shift and your motivation around it shifts, you will notice more things that you didn’t before that are opportunities. You will step out and try things. You will quote unquote take a risk, but you won’t see it quite the same way as you did before. Maybe it’s still a little risky if you ask certain people, but you might not even perceive it as risk.

Instead, you’ll be curious. You’ll be an explorer. You will be exploring, knowing that you’re going to learn from whatever experience it is, knowing that you’re going to be better for it, knowing that it can take you on a new path because your path isn’t set in stone.

[00:12:55] This is the mindset shift I’m talking about that. Letting go of control will give you, and it is amazingly freeing.

[00:13:05] This is the reason I left law. It’s what guided me here.

[00:13:12] Had I not made this mental shift, I don’t think I ever would have even given my cancer, even given everything I’d been through, because I would have cared way too much about:

  • What if I fail?
  • What if it doesn’t work out?
  • What will people think?

And let me be clear, every once in a while, that voice still came in and said, oh, what will people think? But I was able to meet it head on and talk to it and say, hey, doesn’t matter.

[00:13:39] I’ll at least know what I’m capable of. I’ll at least have learned new things, things that I can apply to whatever I do moving forward. If this does not work out, I’ll at least have shown my kids that I’m not backing down just because I’m fearful that I might fail.

[00:13:56] It’s what enabled me to do that, and it’s what enables me to be here with you now, talking to you, laying out kind of my thoughts and feelings that not everybody’s going to agree with. And I know, and that’s totally okay.

[00:14:13] Letting go of control is less work.

[00:14:17] You don’t feel that resistance.

[00:14:20] Remember, control is more energy expending, and it’s like swimming upstream all the time. Letting go of control is about allowing yourself to flow, to see the possibilities, to explore, to dabble, to be curious. Kind of like we were back in the day when we were kids, right?

[00:14:41] That is what I hope for you.

[00:14:44] And it is a process, it is a shift in the mindset. It is not likely going to just one moment, because I’m here speaking to you right now, come to you all of a sudden, and that’s okay.

[00:14:58] What I want you to take from today is to…

Accept that it’s possible and to explore this, a little bit for yourself.

Dabble in that explorer that you have within. Reach back to some of that curiosity that you had as a kid and see what’s out there for you. There’s all kinds of things in our life that we think on, that we think we’re not ready for, or that we think we’ll never be ready for. It’s kind of a pipe dream. Well, what’s one small thing you could do going towards that?

[00:15:31] And how would letting go of control help you? So, accept that it’s possible?

[00:15:38] Dabble in your curiosity, dabble in your explorer a little bit to help you start to make this shift.

[00:15:46] Start changing your language.

Whenever you find yourself thinking, I need more control, I want control (or saying it), change it. No, I don’t need control here.

[00:15:59] Instead, how could I be proactive? Where would I like to be more proactive?

[00:16:05] Shift that mentality, and that shift can start if you start to change the language that you’re using, because you’ll shift how you perceive it and you’ll start letting go of trying to control and instead start leaning into an easier flow of proactivity.

All right, today’s episode was a little short and sweet, but I hope very powerful and very helpful for you.

[00:16:33] As always, if you have questions, reach out to me. My email is on my website and I would love to hear your thoughts. And also you likely know somebody who could hear this message, who could benefit from this message, who you know would enjoy this message. My one request from you for today is to please send it on to that person, give them the gift, and also help them be introduced to the show. That’s it for today. We will see you next week. Bye for now.