What is holding you back? In this episode, Stephanie and Lawyerist Lab Business Coach, Supriya Venkatesan, discuss limiting beliefs and how they are unknowingly keeping us from reaching our goals.
Learn real exercises you can do to uncover what’s going on in your head and how to retrain your brain to think differently and unlock more success in your life.
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Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts
Zack Glaser (00:35):
Hi, I’m Zack.
Jennifer Whigham (00:36):
And I’m Jennifer Whigham. And this is episode 468 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, Stephanie talks with one of our newest Lawyerist lab coaches, Supriya.
Zack Glaser (00:47):
Today’s podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual Receptionists, Postali, & LawPay. We wouldn’t be able to do this show without their support, so stay tuned and we’ll tell you more about them later on.
Jennifer Whigham (00:57):
So Supriya started with us. I think it has now been a month, and by the time this airs, it’ll have been more time. And she’s amazing. Oh yeah. She’s already coaching some of her laps and the feedback she’s getting is incredible, and she has such a cool background. She was in the Army, number one. Interesting. She worked for David Lynch’s Transcendental Meditation Center. Another thing, she’s writing a book. I mean, she’s been a coach. She is cool.
Zack Glaser (01:28):
But as attorneys, we’re all writing a book. You can see my air quotes. We’re all writing.
Jennifer Whigham (01:34):
I can see, actually, it’s funny you didn’t actually do the air quotes, so I can’t see them, but
Zack Glaser (01:39):
This is Radio Jennifer. I don’t have to do. Yeah.
Jennifer Whigham (01:42):
Let me get my little horse CLOs out here so I can pretend a horse is behind us. We’re doing full timey radio.
Zack Glaser (01:48):
Just a big sheet of 10 back there for the thunder sheets.
Jennifer Whigham (01:50):
I was going to say, yeah, the thunder sheet,
Zack Glaser (01:53):
We are on topic.
Jennifer Whigham (01:55):
It’s raining here. Weird. Yes, everybody’s writing book, but she’s actually doing it and it’s happening and I think she is either in the publishing stage or editing stage, something’s happening. But anyways, she’s amazing.
Zack Glaser (02:08):
Oh yeah. And she was at Lab Con with us that I think was where, I mean, I guess that’s where I met her in person. That’s where I meet most of our team in person Lab Con. Yeah, we are fully remote, but she’s in Chicago, I think, and has been. Yeah, it’s been a wonderful addition to the team. What is kind of her specialty, if I can ask.
Jennifer Whigham (02:31):
That? That’s a great question. Well, she is very scientific. She has a scientific background, and so she will often bring in science related things into habits, into mindset, into systems. And that’s always really fascinating because attorneys, we, I’m not an attorney. Zach likes evidence proof, why does this work? And she is able to bring that in, which I think is really, really cool. But otherwise, she’s in all parts of the business. But she’s really good at figuring out the real issue because sometimes you get on a call with a coach and you think you have one issue and it’s actually something deeper or something completely different, and she can very quickly untangle what the real root cause of something is. And I’ve seen her do it, and it’s not magic. I mean it’s skill and it’s talent and it’s background, but it feels like magic sometimes the way she does that and really impressed by that.
Zack Glaser (03:34):
Well, let’s hear from her herself with Stephanie’s conversation with Supriya.
Supriya Venkatesan (03:43):
Hi, my name is Supriya Venkatesan and I’m a business coach at Lawyerist. I’m excited to join you today.
Stephanie Everett (03:49):
Supriya, we are extremely excited because we love having you on the team. You joined us recently, but long enough that I feel like it’s been a minute. Maybe just to kick us off, I know you have a long history of helping people, helping businesses, but maybe you could just share your brief story and how you got here.
Supriya Venkatesan (04:07):
Sure. So my first career was actually in the US military. I served six and a half years active duty, including being deployed to Iraq as well as South Korea and Kuwait. And I went into leadership at a very young age very quickly. And part of the reason I rose in leadership is because I had great leaders and mentors above me. At the time, I didn’t know the word coaching, but that’s exactly what was happening. I was being coached to excel and it worked. I thrived as a result. And those lessons I carried on with me beyond the military when I launched my first business and my daughter was born as a journalist and a content marketer, and then later in corporate as well. And then I formally became a coach. But that’s really where it started, just really seeing the value of coaching and mentorship to someone who is earlier in the journey from where you’re at.
Stephanie Everett (04:54):
Yeah, I love that. And I think you also have really got focused in around mindset and our brain and how it works and what it does for us on a daily basis. And I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about that work that you’ve done.
Supriya Venkatesan (05:09):
Yeah, absolutely. So that actually is also tied into the military. I think one of the reasons I joined the military because I was interested in performing better physically, but I didn’t realize at the time until I got in that it’s all in the head. It has very little to do with your body. And that’s something that, again, I trained informally through neurolinguistic programming, energy psychology, mindfulness, a lot of different tools. But I’ll just share one story from when I was in the military, if it would be helpful. Before I joined the military, I was not athletic even though I want it to be. And I try to take what’s called the physical fitness test because if you could get a specific score, then you’d actually come in at a higher rank, which would mean you’d come in with higher salary. And as an 18 year old, that sounded great.
So I tried to take the test, I just find the pushups and pull-ups, but when it came to the run, I couldn’t even run a mile. I started throwing up after I think a quarter mile into it. I used to smoke a lot. I don’t smoke currently, but I used to smoke a lot of cigarettes at the time and just had a very unhealthy lifestyle. So my body couldn’t handle it. I could still get in the military, I just couldn’t get that higher rank. So two weeks later, I find myself in bootcamp, in basic training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and they ask us to run one mile. And at this point I realized I have to run one mile or else I’ll be kicked out of the military, and I’ve only been in for a week, so I just started running. I didn’t look anywhere near me.
I was so scared. I just started running. I’m like, I have to do this as a survival thing. I needed to be in the military for a variety of reasons. And after a little bit of running, maybe four minutes or so, I’m not really sure how long I looked to my left and I didn’t see a single person, and I looked to my right, I didn’t see anybody, and then I realized I was so far behind that I was never going to make it. So I started running even faster as I could, and then I still didn’t see anybody. There’s a curve in front of me. And then I turned around and I saw all these people behind me. When I finished that line, I had ran one mile in seven minutes.
Stephanie Everett (07:04):
Supriya Venkatesan (07:05):
And that’s when I realized it really is in the head. I had nothing to do with my physical performance whatsoever. This was a very powerful lesson for me at a young age because I realized anything I want to accomplish in life for myself or help others accomplish, it always starts in the mind. It has to do with how you think in this situation. It happened very naturally, really because a fear, which is a strong motivator, but there’s healthy ways to have motivation without fear, and I love helping. Now lawyer small business owners achieve their goals by changing their minds and how they approach problems and various challenges they run into.
Stephanie Everett (07:39):
Yeah, it’s so interesting because I do see, and I know you do too, that a lot of times business owners come in and they might be stuck with something, but really it is kind of in their mind. And so what do you say to those folks? How do you approach those problems or how do you recognize that that’s actually what’s happening?
Supriya Venkatesan (08:01):
I think anytime we can’t find a solution to a problem, we’re stuck in the problem. So whenever I see somebody talking or expressing a challenge that they have where they’re sort of circling or spinning in the problem, that’s how I personally can know that they’re stuck in the problem. I think the first thing is to be aware of it. So to point them out, point it out to the person that A, there’s always a solution to something. The fact that you can’t see it means we need to change something. And another tool that I like to use is reframing. It’s very, very powerful. I know you and I have talked about that before, but just even thinking about how you’re looking at it. So just like, I’ll give you an example. So yesterday I was on a coaching call with a person with one of the Labsters, and she was struggling a lot with boundaries with her clients, and that has caused a lot of overwhelm for her.
She practices family law, so there’s a lot of emotions often tied in those cases for her, and it was really, really affecting her work, and I recognized that, and then she recognized it as we discussed it. So I asked her to do something called perceptual positions, which is a visual way of reframing. So reframing can be done linguistically. It can also be done verbally as well as visually. So here we were doing it visually. So I asked her to imagine the situation that she was just in a few hours ago, or was a lot of emotions for her and the people involved, and therefore her behavior was a specific way we didn’t want to be. So I asked her to visualize the scene between her and the other person and then to step into that scene, making sure that she’s looking through her own eyes.
And so seeing the scene at the moment. So for all of the audiences that are listening right now, this would be a great exercise. I’d like you to just imagine a scene that took place recently for you in the last 24 hours or last few days. That was not a good scene, not a good event for you that was negative in some way. So go ahead and drop into that moment. Look at everything through your own eyes and just see everything that was occurring in that moment and hear your thoughts that you’re having in that moment and feel the emotions that were in your body. Okay, go ahead and be with that just for a little bit.
Okay. Now I’d like you to mentally transport yourself into the body of the other person in front of you, the person you have a problem with, and see everything play out through their eyes, and then try to assert what their thoughts were. So hear their self-talk and then feel the emotions that they’re feeling in this moment, literally seeing the world through their eyes. Okay, now I want you to imagine there’s a security camera in the room and now mentally transport yourself into the security camera. So now you’re seeing everything through this third perspective, a more objective perspective at you, the person, the room, everything that’s occurring. Just see and hear everything that is there from this perspective.
Now, I’d like to take another step back and imagine there, there’s an entity or God or something looking at the security camera, who’s looking at the scene of you and the person. So this is the fourth perspective, and just see and hear everything from this larger perspective of the bigger picture. Now you can open your eyes and come back. So if you did this exercise, you’ll notice that with each new frame that you step into a literally new frame in your mind’s eye, you’re getting new insights and a new perspective and a new way of thinking about it. In the case of my Labster, when she did this exercise, she got a lot more insights into what the other person was feeling and how that was actually more important than her own feelings and situation. And she had a lot more empathy and the charge that was there for her around what was occurring was dissolved because now it wasn’t about her anymore, it was about the other person.
And the other shift that occurred for her specifically when we did this, she stepped in the third and the fourth perspective. She could see how this moment was really not a big deal and how she was making it a really big deal for herself. She was attaching meaning to something that didn’t necessarily need to have as much meaning. That’s another way of reframing is context versus content. So when we’re able to change the context, which is what we’re doing here, we’re not changing the context, we’re just changing the context, which is how we’re approaching it, then we have different insights. That’s one way of doing it visually, and hopefully this is helpful for the people who are listening.
Stephanie Everett (12:19):
Yeah, I mean, I did it. I didn’t know we were going to do this, but I said, okay, let’s see what happens. And I envisioned a moment with my husband, and for me what was most powerful was when I stepped into his shoes and I realized he was probably trying to do something very different than how I was approaching the situation. So that was a super helpful way of thinking about it, that sometimes we forget what we bring to the conversation.
Supriya Venkatesan (12:43):
Yeah, good. I’m glad. Yeah. The thing with thoughts is every thought that we have actually as a structure to it, a neural pathway. So if we can just learn to literally change our neural pathway, then we change how we approach a problem. So it’s just one way, but as you and I have talked before, there’s so many ways of changing our mind and therefore changing our perception.
Stephanie Everett (13:03):
Yeah, so that’s a good example. In that case, I think that was visual. What are some other ways that we can use this technique or use the reframing that comes up for us?
Supriya Venkatesan (13:13):
Yeah, that’s a great question. So another way to do it is with words or with language, and you can reframe limiting beliefs specifically, and this comes up a lot for business owners and Lawyerist because as you and I both know, it’s usually the limiting beliefs that limit you from achieving your potential. So one way to do it with words is to actually either write it down or talk it out with a coach. But if you’re going to write it out, I want you to think about whatever you want to achieve that’s difficult for you to achieve, whether it’s a micro goal in your business or a very big goal, like achieving a hundred to 200 times your revenue, which would be a bigger goal, or it could be something small, just whatever you’re struggling to achieve and has been a problem. And then I want you to list out all the reasons of why you cannot.
So these are your excuses, your justifications, and it could be something external to you. I don’t have a specific resource that I need or something internal. I don’t have the motivation or the energy either way. Again, it could be constraint, like my childcare situation is making it difficult. Again, external or internal either way, but list out all of the reasons why you can’t. All those reasons are limiting beliefs. So then you write the opposite of that. So for example, if it’s I’m so physically tired because of my work schedule that I can’t actually get up an hour earlier to do the task. I’m just making this up. If that’s the thing that needs to get done, and that’s the reason why, then maybe you could reframe that too. Actually, every day I’m getting stronger by changing my health and therefore having more energy in the morning.
That would be one way to reframe it. So find the opposite belief, but the counter belief to the negative belief that you have, and then just reframe it. And then by repeating this to yourself a few times, then you’re changing the neural pathway. This is really the power of affirmations, which actually there’s a lot of science studies behind the effect of affirmations on your mindset and how we can actually help you achieve goals, even though it’s seen as a very woowoo thing and a spiritual thing. It’s very much backed by neuroscience, but the trick to making affirmations work is to make sure it’s a counter belief to your negative belief or limiting belief that you have, and then making that your affirmation moving forward, and that changes how you approach it. So it takes a little bit more time, but it’s highly, highly effective.
Stephanie Everett (15:29):
Yeah. I want to jump in because I think if I’m catching you, what I didn’t hear you say is just get up an hour earlier or beat yourself up. Correct. I always tell myself, just get up earlier and get yourself going. And then the next morning when I don’t, I start beating myself up. What is your problem? You’re so lazy. It’s not that hard. There’s plenty of business owners that I read all these people that have the perfect morning routine, and they get up at 5:00 AM and they meditate and they stretch, and then they read, and then they write, and I’m like, what is your problem? Why can’t you just do that?
Supriya Venkatesan (16:03):
Exactly. We want to prevent that spiral. And also the shame and guilt and the negativity that you’re creating for yourself, that’s not helpful. That doesn’t add any value to your life. If anything, it takes away from your self-esteem and confidence and prevents you from doing that thing that you need to do. And with the reframing and having an affirmation as well, you might not have the result within one day. So if you start telling yourself the very next day, you might not get up an hour earlier, it will take a little bit time, but after a few days, you will start to maybe get up a little bit earlier or change whatever you need to do to get up earlier, whether it means going to bed earlier or changing your diet or schedule with the kids or whatever it is. You’ll start to make these small changes because your neural pathway has changed and is getting stronger because whatever was there in the past has its own strength in your brain. So we’re reducing that strength of that previous thought pattern and creating a strength of a new thought pattern, if that makes sense.
Stephanie Everett (16:58):
It does. It sounds like it sounds easy and hard at the same time, if I’m being honest.
Supriya Venkatesan (17:03):
Yeah. Yes. We’re thinking fast and slow.
Stephanie Everett (17:06):
Yeah, I love it. Well, let’s use this chance to take a quick break. We’ll hear from our sponsors and we’ll come back. We’ll talk more about how we can shift our thoughts.
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Stephanie Everett (19:36):
Alright, so I’m back with sapr and we’ve been exploring this idea of reframing, and I think what’s been so helpful for me so far is recognizing how often we have these limiting beliefs that we might not even be conscious of it, right? They’re probably happening all day throughout the day, and we don’t even really have the space or time to really step back and realize that this is what’s happening and that we’re in a way hurting ourselves without knowing it. Is that fair to say?
Supriya Venkatesan (20:05):
Yes, totally. And I think part of that is it’s really survival. So our brains, the human brain has evolved for survival, and that means looking for danger, looking for fear, looking for all the bad things and the negative things as much as possible. It’s not really about thriving and accelerating and having 10 x productivity. That’s not what the brain is wired for, so it’s naturally that way. So science shows that 90% of our thoughts every single day is negative and that they’re happening on autopilot. We’re not even aware of them. I know you and I have talked in the past about, for example, gender for women. We’re often taught to, even at a subconscious level, to be subservient to our husbands or male partners in our lives, even though consciously it’s not how we live our life at a subconscious level that’s there, right? Again, it’s a survival thing, something that we’ve been conditioned to look for and feel and think from being a young girl in the eras that we have grown up in. Thankfully, things are changing today, but it’s still there. The Cinderella story of needing Prince charming to come sweep you off your feet is often there as a cultural mythology that we bought into. So this is another example of a limiting belief that we have that prevents our own income potential as women, for example. But certainly there’s a lot for entrepreneurs out there.
Stephanie Everett (21:21):
Yeah, no, it totally makes sense. And so once we’re aware or once we realize maybe this is happening to me and I didn’t even know it, what’s the next step? What should somebody be doing? What do they do with this information?
Supriya Venkatesan (21:36):
Yeah, I think the first step is to first identify, right? Becoming self-aware. That’s really the trick. If you’re not self-aware, then those patterns will still be there. And the way to become self-aware is just to ask that question, why can’t I have this thing that I want? And those aren’t actual reasons or limiting beliefs. All of them are limiting beliefs. If we can figure out a way to get to the moon, then we can figure out a way to overcome whatever that limiting belief you have is. It is limiting. It’s not just a regular belief. And the second is that repetition. So earlier, I know we said that it’s easy and it’s hard. Well, it’s easy because you can do the reframing part that’s actually not challenging. But what’s hard is repetition, and that really just takes practice. And when you think about it, repeating something is actually not that much work.
So just repetition, just getting in that consistency. You can either repeat it to yourself or you can record yourself on an audio tool. There’s various apps for iPhones and Androids out there that you can record yourself and put in a loop. Just listen to repeatedly. I love to personally listen to this in the morning when I’m getting ready for the day, even when I’m in the shower, I put in the window sill so I can listen to it or while I’m brushing my hair, brushing my teeth, or cooking at the end of the day. So just programming. So the more programming you can do on autopilot begins to happen at the unconscious level. So it’s not really that much effort to do it. Once you get into the habit and the routine. I would strongly recommend that journaling is also a really powerful tool. Again, I feel like this gets sort of a bad rap, like woo woo or soft, but it’s very, very powerful as a tool for introspection to help you uncover those beliefs. So I think it’s really powerful from that perspective. At the end of the day, just to sit down and ask yourself, what was successful today? What was not successful today? Were basically wins and setbacks either daily or weekly or both, and then seeing what the patterns are, and that will help you see what the challenges are and therefore then do that next step of figuring out what your limiting beliefs are.
Stephanie Everett (23:30):
Yeah, so I love that you bring this new level of expertise to the team that we’ve had at different levels on the team before, but you’re just so knowledgeable in it, which is amazing. I guess I’m just curious if you have any examples of what sometimes feels woo woo to me. I’m the one who called it that at first, you’ve been teaching me the science, but what kind of shifts have you seen with the people that you’re working on with their businesses or with themselves by just doing some of these, like we said, simple yet hard because you have to repeat it activities.
Supriya Venkatesan (24:04):
Sure. So I would just to clarify the affirmations aspect I haven’t done with my labsters, but certainly reframing and helping them uncover limiting beliefs and things of that nature we’ve done. And another mindset work, I would say. I think most people don’t realize that we are emotional creatures. We think we’re logical analytical, but we’re not. We are really ruled by emotion. If you look at my background is in marketing and understanding the user’s mind, it all boils onto emotion and emotional regulation. So I think helping people change their emotions changes how they approach their problems, and therefore the results. I’ve only been a Lawyerist for a little over a month, so my lapses, I haven’t had for that long to achieve really great big milestones, but they’ve certainly had small milestones, for example, getting time back in their schedule. Many of them have seen a reduction in their work hours without a change in their revenue, and that goes back to that emotional regulation.
So now they can see the picture clearly. I think that’s the biggest change I’ve seen. Just this morning, I got a note from a different labster who really wanted to have a specific morning routine for herself, but she couldn’t because of the cycle of time of how her schedule was the night before, and then during the business day as well. But now she’s at the place where she can go to work at 9:00 AM and finish at 3:30 PM to be with her kids every day because that was really, really important to her to be with her kids every day, and she was not able to do that in the past. So now she is. I’d say that’s a really big win that I’ve seen. Is that the time? Time abundance.
Stephanie Everett (25:30):
Yeah. I love that. We are so excited for all the work that you’re doing with our Labster bringing this different level of expertise, but I guess maybe to address, there could be some people who are listening that are like, whoa, if Supriya is my coach, am I going to have to do a lot of this type of work, or do you still help people with what we’ve traditionally done in labs? Somebody may be wondering that.
Supriya Venkatesan (25:54):
Yeah, no, it’s a great question. So I don’t assign any mindset work to my coaching clients just because that’s not what we do at Lawyerist, but as we converse, I’ll point things out and help them reframe the moment, but there’s no mindset work to be done, but it is very heavily focused on your business. We have a very specific methodology that we follow here at Lawyerist to make sure you have a healthy firm, a healthy owner, healthy processes, so we have a whole structure and a flow of how our coaching calls go week by week to make sure that we’re doing the right thing that is right for your business at that stage of your business.
Stephanie Everett (26:31):
I love that, and I’m so excited that you’re on the team and just learning. You’ve already taught me so much. It feels like it’s been a lot longer than a month, but I just love all the new knowledge and expertise you bring to our team, and I’ve been learning so much from you, and we can’t wait to share you even more with the community. So don’t worry because Supriya will be back on soon.
Supriya Venkatesan (26:52):
Thank you, Stephanie. I’ve enjoyed being here.
The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at Lawyerist.com/book. Looking for help beyond the book? Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities, are right for you. Head to Lawyerist.com/community/lab to schedule a 10-minute call with our team to learn more. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you.