Are you a law firm owner who is overworked and needs more support? In this episode of the Maximum Lawyer Podcast, Tyson Mutrux discusses the crucial role of delegation in law firm management.
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Steve talks about the thing people get wrong about resilience. Many people think resilience means putting your head down, grinding through anything and not letting emotions get in your way. But, resilience really is navigating discomfort and uncertainty and figuring out ways to decide what is best for you. Navigating new territory is scary and many people get anxious or scared if they don't know what to do. Steve shares that if you do something repetitively in which you are putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, your brain will adjust. It's all about looking for easy ways into that space.
Like resilience, many people get true toughness wrong. Toughness is about developing inner strength in order to choose doing something that is difficult. Whether it be lifting weights or running a marathon, there is an inner strength that is needed in order to decide if you are going to do it. There are ways to foster toughness within people and Steve speaks to law firm owners on how best to do it. One thing is giving staff a sense of autonomy, in which people feel they can actively contribute to their teams. Another thing is competency, in which staff have a path to grow and learn.
It is so important to make and keep connections, especially while working virtually. It is easy to feel isolated when working from home and working with people who you never see face to face. Steve provides some insight on how to maintain these relationships. Before virtual work became the norm, there were water cooler talks and coffee breaks where people would get together and get to know one another on a personal level. Since most of that has gone away, Steve emphasizes the importance of finding ways to bring those in between moments back. One way is to spend 5-10 minutes at the beginning of meetings to share updates on what is going on in your life. Maybe ask a colleague how their vacation went or what they got up to on the weekend.
Take a listen to learn more!
Jim's Hack: If there is something that you're struggling with, look at the people who have succeeded at doing that thing and do what they do.
Steve’s Tip: Get outside for a couple minutes, even if it is to just look at something natural. Getting outside has a restorative ability to your cognition. It will help get rid of some of that fatigue and help you perform better.
Tysons Tip: Think about how you work and where you're working. Think about reconfiguring things to a way that makes more sense for how you operate and it may help you work more efficiently.
🎥 Watch the full video on YouTube here.
Speaker 1 (00:00:01) - Run your law firm the right way. The right way. This is the Maximum lawyer podcast. Podcast. Your hosts, Jim Hacking and Tyson Metrics. Let's partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
Speaker 2 (00:00:24) - Welcome back to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. I'm Jim Hacking.
Speaker 3 (00:00:28) - And I'm Tyson Matrix. What's up?
Speaker 2 (00:00:30) - Jimmy Tyson It's good to be with you once again. How have you been doing?
Speaker 3 (00:00:33) - Doing well. I always like to talk to you. I always like recording days, like we have a really good energy on recording days. And so we are we are at the beginning of a recording day. So we are my energy's a little higher, but near the end, after we've done six episodes, it gets gets a little tiring. But I'm doing well though, man. How are you.
Speaker 2 (00:00:51) - Doing? Great. I'm doing great. You want to go ahead and introduce our guest?
Speaker 3 (00:00:54) - I do. I'm excited about our guest. It is Steve Magnus. He is a world renowned expert on performance.
Speaker 3 (00:01:01) - He is the author of the new book Do Hard Things Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Surprising Science of Real Toughness. He is the co author of Peak Performance The Passion Paradox and the author of The Science of Running. Collectively. His books have sold more than half a million copies in print, e-book and audio formats, and we're going to get into all of that. I'm not going to do the full bio, but Steve, welcome to the show. We're very excited to have you.
Speaker 4 (00:01:28) - Yeah, thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Speaker 2 (00:01:30) - Steve, how do you define resilience and what do most people get wrong when they think about resilience?
Speaker 4 (00:01:35) - You know, I'll start with what people get wrong. I was I think we have this idea that it essentially means kind of put your head down, you know, grind through anything. Persistence is all that matters. Never give up, never pay attention to emotions, anything like that. And I think that's a very one sided view of resilience is, yes, those things sometimes we're going to need to do that just kind of put our head down and get the work done.
Speaker 4 (00:02:01) - But if that's our only place, our only strategy to go, we're setting ourselves up to kind of be fragile. So instead, how I like to define resilience is it's essentially navigating discomfort or uncertainty or stress and figuring out how to navigate it in a better way. So I look at it as experience, some sort of discomfort, uncertainty or stress, and then kind of creating the space to figure out what the right decision is or how to take wise action. And that's not saying that there's like a right or wrong place on how to do all this stuff. But I think if we can create a little bit of space in there that gives us a better likelihood of, again, navigating through things and getting to a place where we can look back and be like, okay, like I handled that about as best as I could.
Speaker 3 (00:02:52) - So with that, is it in your opinion, should we put ourselves through some stressors that are not not like serious stressors, but things that you can do throughout the day, let's say working out, things like that? I'll use that as an example, like lifting weights.
Speaker 3 (00:03:08) - Is it is it a good idea to put ourselves through these stressors to help build that resilience?
Speaker 4 (00:03:13) - So the wonderful thing is the brain two degree functions just like a muscle would. So if I asked you how to get stronger, you know, you would probably tell me, Hey, go into the gym and lift something that's relatively heavy for yourself and stress yourself a little bit and then, you know, rest, recover, and then come back a couple of days later and do it again and you'd be spot on. Well, it turns out our mind again, our brain works in and a pretty comparable way where the way I like to think of it is we all have kind of an alarm that goes off. And if we haven't done anything that gives us any sort of discomfort or anxiety, that alarm just jumps to, you know, a ten Y because our brain doesn't know what to deal with it. If you've never gotten on stage and given a speech or a talk the first time you do that, your brain's going to be like, Hey, this is really unfamiliar.
Speaker 4 (00:04:10) - This is really stressful. I don't know how to handle this, but if you do that repetitively and put yourself in situations where you're experiencing a little bit of that stress in a controlled setting, that alarm gets turned down a little bit. And the wonderful thing is there's a bunch of research on this is that this ability kind of transcends just like doing the thing. So meaning this muscle has a general component to it, Meaning if I go lift my weight, if I go lift some weights, if I go give a speech, if I go do something that's a little uncomfortable for me, that will translate into other things in life and allow me to kind of navigate them a little bit better.
Speaker 2 (00:04:56) - So how do you suggest people identify those exercises, those routines to develop that mental toughness?
Speaker 4 (00:05:03) - Yeah, I mean, to me, I think it's starting small. I think too often what we think is we think, okay, let's jump into something that's really freaking hard. And we set up a challenge and let's say you say, I'm going to go run a marathon and that might be too too big of a bite to, you know, for you to chew at first.
Speaker 4 (00:05:22) - Maybe the best thing is to. Get out and jog around the block. Right. So I think when we when we hear of okay, challenge myself, I think it's challenging yourselves appropriately. No different than if I was to tell you to go lift a weight and you haven't lifted in maybe since high school gym class, then you're going to start smaller than someone who's regularly exercised. So what I would say is look for those opportunities in your life. What are some things that make you feel a little bit uncomfortable that like caused a little bit of stress? And typically you might say, hey, I'm going to avoid that thing. For some people, that might be physical stressors going to exercise, going for a jog, going to lift weights, going for a swim or anything like that. For others, it might be like psychological stressors. It might be making those phone calls or giving that speech or standing up in front of your workplace and giving and presenting that pitch deck, whatever it is that causes a little bit of that, that discomfort, like look for easy ways into that path in your life.
Speaker 4 (00:06:31) - And if you start doing that, you're eventually going to create a habit out of it.
Speaker 3 (00:06:35) - All right. So I'm assuming that there's some sort of balance here where you see people that are in a constant state of stress, and I'm assuming that that's really not good for you. And then I also see some people that are kind of lazy. They kind of don't do a whole lot and they don't put themselves through a lot of stress. So how do we I guess, how do we strike that balance? Because that can be especially we're talking about busy lawyers. They're constantly running businesses. They're dealing with marketing, they're running to court, they're dealing with the client interview, things like that. So how what are some things we can do to strike that balance?
Speaker 4 (00:07:08) - Yeah. Here. I think, you know, the research and psychology is pretty clear, which is our body kind of holds the answer. We're just really bad at listening to it. So there's some wonderful research that crosses sport to business to investing that shows that high performers basically have a higher ability of this this thing called intro reception, which is a fancy way of saying they're able to listen to the signals their body is sending them and understand them better than other people.
Speaker 4 (00:07:38) - The athletic example I like to give is if I go out and run really hard out the door, I might feel a little bit of fatigue or pain. But an expert, someone who's used to that can distinguish pain that like you can tolerate versus pain. That might mean like, Hey, this is an injury, this is this is my calf telling me I need to stop right now or else you're going to damage my, you know, the muscle. And that's going to be a big problem. The same goes with our emotions, right? So how do we decide whether it challenges too much or too little? I think it comes back to listening. Your body is if you feel that like little tinge of like stress or anxiety or whatever you want to call it. And it's a little unnerving, but it's not overwhelming, then that's probably a good sign you're in that sweet spot. I call it like the in-between of like anxiety and excitement, right? Where part of you wants to take on this challenge because, like, you're excited, you're like, okay, I can I think I can handle this.
Speaker 4 (00:08:40) - And then part of you is a little unsure where you're like, oh, maybe can I can I get this done? Can I not? If you're in that in between where you have that like back and forth, you're in a good spot. If if that trend's towards overwhelming anxiety or this constant thought of like, I can't handle this, this is too much right now, I want to quit, etcetera, etcetera, then you should probably take it down a notch and try a challenge that is a little bit more appropriate for you.
Speaker 2 (00:09:07) - Could you talk a little bit about the value or the exercise of sort of thinking about hard things that you've done in the past, things that you've had to overcome and like using that as fuel for future endeavors?
Speaker 4 (00:09:20) - Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of times in sport and business in life we talk about confidence. And confidence is is important. I mean, there's all sorts of, again, research that shows if we're confident, we we literally see the world differently. We see things as challenges we can take on.
Speaker 4 (00:09:38) - But I think where we often get confidence wrong is we think it has to be this kind of like we prop ourselves up and talk ourselves a good game. It's like this bravado, but really we're confidence comes from is it's like this inner strength and where that inner strength is developed is from evidence. So I like to say like confidence demands evidence. So if you can give yourself evidence that you've done the work, if you can reflect on times you've been in similar situations and you figured out how to get on the other side of this challenge, then you're more likely to see whatever you're taking on is, as psychology likes to call it, like a challenge instead of a threat. You see things as, Hey, this might be really difficult, but I know for the past weeks and months I've been going through the books and doing my due diligence to prepare me for this situation. That doesn't mean that I am going to have guaranteed success, but it means that I am prepared to take on whatever is in front of me.
Speaker 4 (00:10:43) - So I think reflecting on the work you've done, reflecting on other experiences, reminding yourself of that is crucial, especially when we're in the thick of things and in the crucible of competition or performance is give yourself some evidence.
Speaker 3 (00:11:00) - You know, one of my favorite parts of of book titles is actually not the book title. It's the subtitle. And your your book is Do Hard Things. Why We Get Resilience Wrong and the Surprising Science of Real Toughness. I want to ask you about the last part of that, the surprising science of real toughness, because we have so many different ways that toughness is viewed. So will you talk a little bit about that part of the subtitle? Because I want I want to hear what the surprising science is with what you could talk about.
Speaker 4 (00:11:32) - Yeah, absolutely. And again, I, I like to use sporting examples, but when we think of toughness, we often think of, I don't know, old school coaches like the old school football coach who makes you run until you puke, right?
Speaker 3 (00:11:45) - Yeah.
Speaker 3 (00:11:45) - Drink water. Don't cry. That kind of a thing. Yeah.
Speaker 4 (00:11:48) - Yeah, exactly. The old line. Like, no crying in baseball. Like, just gets get it done right and like, yeah, you know, there's there's some of that but like what the latest science shows especially on how the brain works is, is that doesn't really work that well because often what that does is it puts the focus. On like the external meaning, I'm going to keep pushing and practice because I'm so scared of this coach, like yelling and screaming at me that that becomes the motivator. So I get quote unquote tough in these situations when that that old school football coach is like over me. But what the science shows is that if you remove that coach or if it's you out there on the game, you know, playing the game by yourself without him able to intervene, you're actually not tougher because like all your motivation was to avoid punishment based on this scary figure, what have you. What the latest research shows us is that it's more about developing this inner strength where we have to be the ones to choose to do the thing.
Speaker 4 (00:12:56) - So if we have a sense of control, if we make the choice ourselves to put ourselves through that extra wrap or that extra difficult thing, then that's what creates like the real toughness is it has to be us. So what does that mean If you're a leader or a coach or you know, a boss? Well, what that that means is like instead of thinking, Oh, I have to be the authoritarian who, like, pushes, pushes, pushes. It's how do I create the situations and scenarios where people feel like they can take that challenge. And often in the workplace, where we get this wrong is we micromanage people to death. And what research in the science shows us is that when we micromanage, we take away this ability for resilience and toughness because we've taken away any sort of autonomy or choice underneath it. So we're not training this like inner strength because that person is just going to respond to the emails, do the work because they know that Big Brother is looking over the top. We're alternatively, if you say, Hey, create clear guidelines, rules, expectations, but then give a little autonomy, give a little rope of like, Hey, I want you to get things done in your way.
Speaker 4 (00:14:12) - What that does is if they accomplish that task, it creates more resilience because like, they actively chose to do so.
Speaker 2 (00:14:19) - You're listening to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. Our guest today is mental toughness expert Steve Magnus. Steve talked to us about law firm owners and people that own businesses. How do you foster that sense of internal confidence and internal toughness that so many of us say that we want from our team members?
Speaker 4 (00:14:39) - Yeah, absolutely. It's easy to talk about, difficult to do. So I have a lot of empathy for any leaders, especially in law firms. It's not an easy environment to handle. But again, we have about 30 years of research, especially along a psychological theory called self determination theory that basically says if we want to create that kind of inner strength, that inner motivation, it comes down to three things. One, which we just talked about autonomy. Can you create a sense that. Everybody in your office feels like they have a little degree of autonomy, meaning they feel like they have room to contribute.
Speaker 4 (00:15:16) - They feel like they have a clearly defined role of what they're trying to do in this space to contribute. The second one is competency, which means essentially you have a path for growth. So you have a path to get that evidence that you can perform at this level. So in the workplace, a lot of it is setting appropriate expectations on, Okay, what is your role now? But like what is also your future, your hope in this in this spot? And then the third thing is what they called relatedness, what we could call belonging when we feel like we belong in that space, in that workspace, we're more likely to be resilient. And there's all sorts of interesting work that shows that when we feel connected and when we feel like we belong, it changes how we appraise hard tasks. So, you know, one of my favorite studies is they actually took a group of individuals and stuck them in a MRI machine, which essentially allows you to see what's going on in the brain. And these neuroscientists, while they're looking at the brain, they shocked people like an electric shock, a very painful electric shock.
Speaker 4 (00:16:28) - Okay. And they did this with two groups. They did this when they were individuals in a loan. And no one, they didn't know anybody. They were just stuck in this heavy, loud machine and shocked. The fear center in their brain goes through the roof. And then they ran the same experiment with different people, but allowed them to bring a coworker, a friend, a partner or, you know, husband or wife into that that machine and just simply hold their hand and not talk to them, just hold their hand. And when the shock was delivered, which again, these were new, people weren't expecting it, fear centers in their brain went up about half as much. Why? Because, like, the human brain is built to connect and feel like we belong. We essentially offload some of our stress capacity to others. So in the workplace, what does that mean? It means if you feel valued, if you feel connected, if you feel like you belong to the company, the, you know, everybody else, you're going to be able to handle tough things a lot easier.
Speaker 4 (00:17:37) - So for leaders, it's creating that that sense of belonging and authentic connection. And if you can do that, you're going to be better off.
Speaker 3 (00:17:44) - I got two ways I really want to go with this. One way I want to ask you about how do we do that in the virtual world. The other one I want to get to, I think maybe more important is so we it's impossible to disconnect our personal lives from our business lives. It just is like they overlap each other. So let's say you have an employee that's, you know, really just a very skilled attorney or paralegal or whatever. They've got the confidence when it comes to that. But because of whatever is going on in their personal life, their their confidence is down. So how do we how do we help sort of guide that situation? Because that can be really tricky because I've seen that in several situations where they're they're they're phenomenal employee, but they're lacking that confidence because whatever's going on in their personal life.
Speaker 4 (00:18:27) - Yeah, I mean that's you're you're asking both those questions are probably two of the hardest to navigate right now on the second one.
Speaker 4 (00:18:36) - You know, I think what I would say and I think this is what the psychology research would say, too, is that like. You're never going to separate like personal and professional. But what psychology tells us is that we can we all put on different hats. And if we can create just a little bit of space between the hat at home we wear and the hat that we wear at workplace, then we're going to be able to like leave some stuff there. And I'll give you the example in sports that I think works really well is that often in sports you see athletes say they put on game faces. The baseball player, Aaron Judge, has talked about this before where he says off the field, I'm Aaron on the field, I'm 99. And basically what he's doing in his head is saying, you know, when I step onto this field, I'm not I'm number 99. So, yes, I'm still Aaron, Those things that are going on at home still matter, etcetera. But I've got a job to do and I've got a particular skill set.
Speaker 4 (00:19:42) - And for these three hours, like I'm going to transform myself into 99 and then switch back once I'm done. And I think in the workplace, like, yeah, it's a little bit different. But I think if we can adopt that similar mindset of saying, who do I want to be in the workplace? Like where are these parameters and how do I handle this? And I've actually talked to and worked with some emergency room physicians who struggled the other way, where they often like take what they experienced in the E.R. home with them. Right. And it becomes a problem. And for them, it's about creating some sort of routine in some sort of situation where it essentially creates a barrier between their work in the E.R. and at home. And I had several who say, you know, I used the car ride home to say this is my time to deal with and process whatever I experienced. And as soon as I pull into that garage or my parking space, I've got to say, okay, I dealt with that.
Speaker 4 (00:20:43) - It's time to flip that switch and be the person who my wife and kids or whoever need me and leave that other stuff behind. So I would again encourage if you're having that, I would give them some help on like how to kind of put on a game face, but also create some situations where they can compartmentalize so they can deal with the things that need to be dealt with at work. Well, also acknowledging that like they have to deal with the stuff that they have to at home at some point as well.
Speaker 2 (00:21:12) - I'm going to be a good partner and give my last question to Tyson, because he had a good one about the virtual issue, about working with team members that are virtual. What thoughts, Steve, do you have on that as far as building connection with our team and sort of making sure that the firm is running as if we're all together when we're not?
Speaker 4 (00:21:29) - Actually, you know, I've been fortunate to speak at a number of different law firms and I think at every single one this question has come up within the last year.
Speaker 4 (00:21:37) - And I wish I had some magic answer, but I don't because it's a problem that no one has solved yet. But I will tell you this is that connection generally happens when we start seeing the people we work with, not, as you know, Joe the accountant or Jane the paralegal, but as like Joe, the person who has two kids, likes to play softball, loves watching Game of Thrones, like we see them as a real person. Right. And if you look at the workplace, where does that tend to occur? Well, it occurred watercooler talk, getting coffee, getting meals like travel together, all these kind of in-between times where you're just like, okay, yeah, we can talk about work a little bit, but you also get to see them as an individual. And I think in the virtual world, we lose that. So what I've seen people in organizations and law firms do is like try to find some space where you create a little bit of it. Again, not you don't want to have these forced, you know, team bonding things that often backfire, but at the beginning of like team zooms or whatever have you, having just 5 or 10 minutes where you just share something that is going on in your life or something that's exciting in your life away from work or something where you get to see people again for more than just their job title and creating little moments of that, I think go a long way for again, creating that sense of connection and belonging that we often miss when we're virtual and don't get the water cooler talk or the coffee chats that we do in person.
Speaker 3 (00:23:18) - Yeah, that's that's really a tough one. It's a it's something that I've been trying to correct for a while. And it just it's, it's tough. It really is. But thank you so much for trying to to answer it Steve we are at time so we going to start to wrap things up. We want to be respectful of your time. Before I do before we get to our tips and our hacks of the week, when to remind everyone to join us in the big Facebook group, Search Maximum Lawyer and you'll be able to find us. If you want a more high level conversation, join us in the guild. Max Log. Guild. Also, check us out on YouTube. Subscribe there and check out our videos. We do release a lot of our videos there. And while you're listening to the rest of this episode, if you're getting anything of value from this, which if you listen to Steve, you've got a ton of value today. And so give us a five star review. We would absolutely love it.
Speaker 3 (00:24:01) - We would really appreciate it. Help spread the love. Jimmy, what is your hack of the week?
Speaker 2 (00:24:07) - I love that phrase. Success leaves clues. And the other day I went to softball game my daughter and she went over for next game. She went two for three. And the third ball that she hit was the best ball that she hit. It just happened to get caught. And I said, Naw, what did you do differently? And she has two girls on her team. That bat ahead of her that are both gone to Division one colleges. And she said, Dad, she didn't want to tell me at first, but she said, Dad, I just looked at what Sienna and Alexis do and they stay really tight and they swing real fast, powerfully. And so my my tip or my hack of the week would be if there's something that you're struggling with, look at the people who have succeeded at doing that thing and do what they do. You don't have to make it super complicated.
Speaker 2 (00:24:47) - You don't have to write a treatise. You just have to go do stuff that successful people do.
Speaker 3 (00:24:52) - I really like that gym. Whenever I played competitive baseball growing up, the our coaches would take us to professional baseball games and they wouldn't necessarily do it. So we'd have fun. We would go and they'd say, Watch the players and watch how they interact with each other. Watch how they field the ball, watch how they swing the bat. And they were showing us how to do it the right way. Other than catching the ball with one hand, that was one thing that they said, Don't do that. But I think it's a really good point. We can look at the people around us not to necessarily compare ourselves to them, but to actually say, okay, how are they doing things right and how can we adopt some of those things? I think that is a fantastic lesson. Jimbo. All right, Steve, we always ask our guest to give a tip or hack of the week.
Speaker 3 (00:25:31) - What you got for us?
Speaker 4 (00:25:31) - Man, I love that. I'm going to give a simple one that I think is really important for lawyers. Lawyers are often overworked and have crazy hours and everyone says like, Oh, you need recovery and sleep and step away, which all matters. But sometimes that's just life and you can't optimize all those things. So my tip is simply get outside because there's all sorts of research that shows that if you literally just get outside for a couple minutes or even just look at something natural like tree or grass or anything like that, it has a restorative ability to your cognition. So it will help kind of get rid of some of that fatigue and help you perform better. So if you're stressed in the middle of a workday and you obviously can't take a nap at work, just, you know, go walk outside for a couple of minutes and and you'll be good.
Speaker 3 (00:26:26) - So this is a fantastic segue for my tip of the week. My my setup is currently different where I'm sitting now.
Speaker 3 (00:26:33) - I intentionally moved all of my stuff from that side of the office over there to right next to the window. I was kind of in the corner where I wasn't able to look outside. And so now I'm next to the window where I can actually look out the window and it just I can just tell you I feel better. I just feel better by being next to the window. I know it's new. That's part of it, too. So my tip of the week is to think about how you work and where you're working and how you're maybe think about reconfiguring things to a way that makes more sense for how you operate, getting work done more efficiently. But then also, like what Steve is talking about, just like being able to maybe sitting next to the windows better for you. Or maybe it's not. Maybe it's too distracting for you and maybe you do. You do need to be over the corner, but actually stopping and thinking about it instead of just throwing a desk in the corner where you think it should go.
Speaker 3 (00:27:19) - I actually give it some thought because I think that sometimes we forget to do things like that and it can hamper our productivity and our progress. So. All right, Steve, thank you so much for coming on. I've learned a lot on this. I could ask you a ton more questions. Really appreciate you taking the time to to share your knowledge.
Speaker 4 (00:27:36) - Thanks so much, guys. Really, really enjoyed it.
Speaker 5 (00:27:38) - Thanks, Steve.
Speaker 1 (00:27:41) - Thanks for listening to the Maximum Lawyer podcast. Stay in contact with your hosts and to access more content. Go to maximum lawyer.com. Have a great week and catch you next time.
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