RL 105: Tiffany Southerland — Owning Your Past for a More Confident Future
Release Date: 10/22/2018
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The Resilient Lawyer with Jeena Cho
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In this episode, I am excited to have Tiffany Southerland on to talk about owning your past to better understand yourself and your future.
Tiffany is a career confidence coach and speaker. She is the founder of Four Corners Coaching, where she helps ambitious professionals leverage their stories and strengths so they can maximize their career success. After practicing law, Tiffany transitioned to higher education and eventually back to a law firm in a recruiting role. She also hosts her own podcast and a local radio show focused on career development and diversity and inclusion.
- Owning your story by accepting the good and the bad to develop an increased sense of self-awareness, and having a better platform to launch yourself into where you want to be.
- How she believes confidence is the best tool you can have in your professional toolbox to both make yourself feel more comfortable in stressful situations and help others feel comfortable around you.
- How her faith and spirituality has shaped her work and her podcast.
- Making career transitions, and knowing your value and values.
- Use http://bit.ly/10tiff to contact Tiffany and schedule a time to talk with her.
- Text "TiffSouth" to 444999 to get her free workbook "The Leverage List"
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Tiffany Southerland: [00:00:03] In my own career journey, I recognized that there was a bit of a disconnect between where I ended up, and how I got there and why. I had to look back before I could figure out how I wanted to move forward.
Intro: [00:00:18] Welcome to The Resilient Lawyer podcast. In this podcast, we have meaningful, in-depth conversations with lawyers, entrepreneurs, and change agents. We offer tools and strategies for creating a more joyful and satisfying life. And now your host, Jeena Cho.
Jeena Cho: [00:00:40] Hello my friends, thanks for being with us today In this episode I have Tiffany Southerland. She Is a career confidence coach and speaker. She is a founder of Four Corners Coaching, where she helps ambitious professionals leverage their stories and strength so that they can maximize their career success. After practicing law, Tiffany's transition to higher education and eventually back to a law firm and a recruiting role she also hosts her own podcast. How does she do it in a local radio show focused on career development and diversity and inclusion.
[00:01:14] Before we get into the interview, if you haven't listened to my last bonus episode. Go back and check it out. A shared a six minute guided meditation practice the like though of stress and anxiety. It's a preview for my course Mindful Pause and I know you've been hearing me talk about meditation and mindfulness and why it's so important. But really it is the best tool I found to manage stress and anxiety and also increase focus and productivity and so often lawyers ask me Well how much time do I need to dedicate this. And I said you know what just start with six minutes with two minutes if that's all you can fit into your schedule or six minutes of all the hours you dedicate to your clients and others don't you deserve to have at least one hour to yourself mindful pauses designed for boys like you to fit into your hectic schedule. Think of it like taking your daily by The to boost your well-being. Head on over to Jeena Cho dot com to learn more. Check it out in the show notes. And with that here's Stephanie Tiffany welcome to the show.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:02:13] Thank you so much for having me Jane I'm very happy to be here.
Jeena Cho: [00:02:16] So let's just jump right in and have you give us a 30 second introduction of who you are and what you do.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:02:22] I like to say that I am a lawyer by training and a change agent at heart and I am a girl from Hempstead Long Island who really loves to help people be their best selves. I am the oldest of four children so that comes with this sort of protective desire to help you know kind of nurture and help people be their best and I love haribo gummy bears which is something that I like to mention to people it is the best brand of gummy bears ever. And I'm just really really excited and grateful to have this conversation with you today.
Jeena Cho: [00:02:57] Wonderful it was. I didn't know that you are a long island. They're my parents. They'll live in Huntington and I grew up in Kuwait and said.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:03:05] Look at that.
Jeena Cho: [00:03:06] Surprised to find out we have this connection.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:03:09] Yes.
Jeena Cho: [00:03:09] So let's start by talking about owning your story. What does that mean in terms of lawyers specifically. And how do you help your clients find their own story. What does that process.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:03:22] So I think owning your story is really about the way this is something that I and I developed this kind of this idea or this concept that it is only your story is not novel to me but in my own career journey I recognized that there was a bit of a disconnect between where I ended up and how I how I got there and and why and what I had to do when I started practice which you know kind of led me to actually leaving practice full time was I had to look back before I could figure out how I wanted to move forward and in order for you to do that.
[00:04:00] It starts by you really taking ownership and acceptance of the things that you have been through the things that have contributed to who you are the things that have driven you and pushed you in a direction that maybe you didn't realize you even wanted to go and or that you don't actually want to go in. And then from there being able to then step back and say Okay now that I recognize these things about my past and my present how does that influence the way that I want to show up in my present and my future.
[00:04:29] And so when you own your story you are accepting the the good and the bad that has helped shape you shape who you are developing an increased sense of self awareness working to heal working to be honest and authentic and then that really just helps open you up for so many more possibilities that that allow you to show up as a better professional and a better person generally.
Jeena Cho: [00:04:52] Hmm thinking about working with boys and I can also say lawyers being like well why does that matter. You know I do transactional law that is out of me only my story. Help me be a better transactional lawyer.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:05:05] So that's a great question. And I think what it helps you. What what I do. I do not believe that we operate and live in compartments although we are. We live in a society and in a world that tells us that there is our work self and that there is our home self. And while we are not the same way with our you know colleagues may be as the way we are with our best friends or with our you know our family and things like that. There is this disconnect between how we show up at work and who we are as people and that creates a tension and when you have to put on your work face and put on your work self and not be able to bring in parts of who you are you are you're not being your best self.
[00:05:47] You may be a great transactional attorney but are you the best person to work with. Are you the best colleague. Are you even. Are are you joyful in the work that you do. And I think that there's this assumption that as attorneys who do you know very high level sophisticated work that you can't then also be you can't necessarily balance and be more of who you are and not be conservative and sort of buttoned up because this profession and this work is very serious and very high stakes. So I think it matters in the sense that you can bring more of who you are at work and it makes you a better colleague. It makes you better for your clients and it makes you happier and it makes you less exhausted because you're not putting on a front if you will for the sake of just being this work self.
Jeena Cho: [00:06:35] Right. It kind of makes me think about that concept of cover saying where you feel like you can't bring all of yourself into your work environment or whatever it might be and now that's something I've been thinking more about recently because I am an immigrant. I came over from Korea when I was 10 years old and then I realized you know I spent so much of my teenage years and certainly my adult years of trying to race the fact that I am an immigrant.
[00:07:04] I changed my name. I lost my accent and I worked really hard at it to try to appear mainstream more and are now just more normal or why. Then just more recently I had to be like Oh OK. But what were the pieces that I left behind. And how is that impacting me now and how is that impacting the way I show up for other people. And as I start to sort of reclaim all of those parts that I've you know hidden or left behind that it actually gave me just more of a sense of comfort and also just like feeling just more comfortable in my own skin and then sort of an interesting realization but yeah I'd totally just hear and feel what it is that you're talking about.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:07:55] Absolutely. And I think what you mentioned is feeling more comfort comfortable in your own skin and when you're more comfortable in your own skin and can show up to work that way you are a more confident attorney. You are a more confident person. And what we know in this profession confidence is what is what is the thing that that draws people to you. It draws your it draws your colleagues to you to give you more an additional work.
[00:08:23] It draws clients to you and it it just makes everyone else feel more comfortable because there's an assumption that comes with confidence competence the assumption of competence comes with confidence in this profession. And so when you are able to show up more full and that's that's what I help my clients do is if I can help you become more confident at your core and be clear about who you are as a person. We can figure out the career stuff that stuff will come. It's the it's though it's the personal stuff that we try to keep separate from our career. That often inhibits us in our in our development in our career.
Jeena Cho: [00:08:57] And you know before we started this interview right sharing with me about how you sort of started opening your your own faith and how you actually started talking about that on your podcast so if you can just share with the audience you know how your own faith your own spirituality or religion has sort of shaped who you are and how you approach your work.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:09:20] Absolutely. So when I started my podcast three years ago I started it as a really focused a lot on personal development and the frame of reference that I came from was I was this older millennial who felt like I'd gotten dropped into this professional world that school barely prepared before right. And so all of the different pressures and things that come with being an adult knowing how to balance your your finances and your physical health and your profession and your relationships all at the same time. I didn't feel like I had a good handle on that. And so started my podcast really with that kind of frame of reference in mind.
[00:09:56] And over time I felt I felt myself growing in my faith. I am a Christian and so I felt that that was becoming a bigger part of my identity. But I kept I was holding it back in my conversations. And once I realized that it was it became difficult for me to talk fully and authentically in that particular vulnerable space without mentioning my faith. I I felt like I was being inauthentic and I felt like I had to to keep myself from you know sharing parts some things that were really important and things that I thought could be helpful to other people. And once I pulled that wall down once I let that fear go then I was able to draw and in an entirely new group of listeners to me.
[00:10:40] And I think the lesson for everyone else there is that when you show up more fully as you are in a in an authentic and in a full in a whole way you will draw the people to you that are meant to be drawn to you you will help people in ways that you don't even realize just by simply being more of who you are and so that was that was really how that came through for me because it just became such a natural part of my conversation outside of the podcast. I couldn't I could not talk about it and even at work I don't you know I don't it's I'm obviously very measured about the way that I speak about my faith in the professional environment. But when I'm thinking about the principles that that my face it the reasons why I care about people and things like that those things are connected and so I can't encourage without that perspective in my mind at least. And so that's kind of the frame of reference that kind of keeps me grounded.
Jeena Cho: [00:11:35] Was some other reason why you kept the wall up this year. Like go I'm going to turn people off.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:11:41] That's a great question. I think I was worry that people would that I would come across as preachy if you will and this and there's something about being a Christian that. And it just is. It's observation and in society that sometimes it comes across as very harsh. It comes across as dogmatic. It comes across as alienating to people and that was my fear was that the exact opposite of what I wanted to do. And so what I recognized though is that my tendency is not to be that way anyway. And so by talking about my faith more I wouldn't automatically become somebody who I wasn't I would become more of who I actually was and I wouldn't Nessus I wouldn't turn people off by virtue of me talking about it in and of itself. It would be maybe that somebody might not be interested in hearing about it and so they would choose to.
Jeena Cho: [00:12:25] Now yeah. And I love that that you can define it what that means for you. You know being able to incorporate your faith into the work that you do when you cannot really awesome model for other people what that looks like. I think you're right people do have you know ideas about what it means to be Christian and how especially if they're not Christian how other Christian people behave. And you can also help to maybe take down that stereotype and go Oh I am you know I thought that he meant that as she is showing me that it might actually mean something very different. So yeah I really love that.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:13:05] Thank you. Exactly and I think it really is just a matter the way that I try to live my life through the way I engage in social media the way I show up at work is really around the idea that if you are more of who you are and if you can be whole in who you are than other things that you don't even expect will fall into place in ways that you just can't anticipate because we're too busy boxing ourselves into these compartments that we assume we need to be. And that's just not it's just not the case.
Jeena Cho: [00:13:35] I'm well let's shift gears a little bit and talk about career transitions. Seems like I've been getting a lot of listener questions about changing careers or not even changing careers. More specifically I get a lot of questions around me. I think you kind of go through life and you check all the boxes right. You go to a school you pass the bar or you get a job you make partner or you buy the house with the white picket fence Yep two kids you have to the car in the garage but then all of a sudden you hit this wall and there's this feeling of like oh I have everything but I'm still just content I have everything but I am still so incredibly unhappy.
[00:14:12] I was just talking to a lawyer recently and she said she literally sits in her garage everyday and cries before she goes into the house and she's like but I just don't like I don't even feel like I have a right to feel that way and it just feels so overwhelming to think that you know think that while I put so much work and so much effort to get to where I am and to think that I was all for nothing or all for not. So I know that's a huge bag of topics that I sort of threw out there but you know when someone comes to you when they're just in that state of like I just don't know. You know I got to the end of the rainbow and there's no pot of gold and all I see is just more misery and dread where someone who's in that situation.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:15:00] Yeah that's a great question and I definitely have had that conversation many many times with some with them some of the clients that I work with. What it comes down to I start with how let's talk about how you got here because and this is a reflection my of my own career journey. I got to the desire to become an attorney by virtue of me seeing the power that was associated with the with being an attorney. Me also seeing that there is a security of of of of a financial future that came with being an attorney.
[00:15:33] And so and I never wavered from that and I never explored anything else. And so when you're talking about kind of why people are unhappy where they are. We have to figure out what got them here first because when you deconstruct why they are where they are today you start to hear them talk about the things that they actually cared about or that they wanted you start to hear about the things that they feel gives them purpose and where that disconnect is why doesn't this job that you're in right now make it light you up. Why don't you feel that it's fulfilling or that you're living intentionally.
[00:16:08] And they start to when you're just ask them questions about their journey they tell you answers to what those next they give you at least insights into what those next step might need to be. And it may not mean leaving the profession. It may not mean leaving your law firm it may be asking for some setting harder boundaries. It may be asking for permission to you know become a leader in a different type of way. It may mean making shifts in the way you show up at work every day and it may mean resolving some of the issues that keep you feeling guilty about being successful.
[00:16:42] Because again that's it's not that the career the career is is really just it is kind of the surface part of it. We are people before we show up to work every day. We were people before you know where people as attorneys were not just attorneys. Right. And that's and saying just attorneys is not to diminish the profession but it is to say we are people who are attorneys. And so how do you service the whole person who's shows up as an attorney are a jobs are not our identities but we live in a society that makes our job our identity. I'm sure you have encountered you go to a professional networking events or what do you do. Where do you work. It's the way that we label and we attach value to people and if we can't attach value to ourselves outside of our work when our work isn't fulfilling us we will therefore feel like we have less value.
Jeena Cho: [00:17:31] Hmm yeah that's some yeah that's Hanako's brings us back full circle to what we started talking about as we have to begin by owning our stories of where our journey has taken us so far. Step after you sort of figure out OK. This is my story. This is how I got to where I am but what's the next step.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:17:54] The next step is to really think about well what do you care about what is important to you. Why do you like certain aspects of the work that you do. And what about certain aspects of your of your work is draining you. That was one of the questions that I was posed by one of my mentors when I first raised the concern that I'm I didn't think I wanted to practice in a law firm environment anymore. Was well figure out if it's though if it's right now or if it's the whole thing. Figure out if it's the project that you're on. If it's the season at work or if it's the entire kind of experience that you're having.
[00:18:30] And so basically what you have to do is you have to really ask yourself some very very hard questions and figure out OK how why am I feeling the way that I'm feeling what at a certain point in the day when certain a certain person speaks to me. Why am I reacting the way that I'm reacting. And from there you can then start to say OK so maybe it's not that I don't want to be an attorney but maybe I don't want to practice in this environment anymore. Maybe it's this type of work that I'm doing. Maybe it's maybe it's a management issue. Right. It may actually be that it's there's a team issue with the work that in the way that you're currently working it could be.
[00:19:04] So it really is. You have to ask yourself a bunch of questions that really get to okay the here and now and then from there depending on what those answers are. Now we have to figure out OK how do we get how do we get from here to where we hope to be that in a place that will make us feel more whole. And what strategies do we have to figure out to make those to make that leap. And those are you know those strategies can come in a hundred different types of ways but it's really assessing the here and now and then kind of reverse engineering your way into a strategy to move onto the next step.
Jeena Cho: [00:19:39] So I'm going to shift gears a little bit and talk about values. How I want us to start. You know what. What does that even mean. You say knowing your values and honoring them when does that mean.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:19:53] So I use I always think about values in two senses. Knowing your value as a person and as an individual and the things that you were uniquely gifted with that make you that makes you you based on your experiences based on the things that come most natural to you the things that you really enjoy. And when it comes to your values does is it important for you to have flexibility so that you can stay in work at home every day. Is it important for you to work in an organization that is dedicated to servicing the community in a certain way. Is it important for you to to make sure that you have time with your family by a certain time every day.
[00:20:34] Is it is being able to come to work in jeans every everyday or versus the business professional right. What are the things that you know that really are really really important to you that you find may be at odds with or are affirmed by the current space that you're working in. So you really have to. Again it's this is all about self-awareness as it comes. This all of this the conversation that we're having really revolves around having a very heightened self sense of self awareness because then you you will unequivocally know what's important to you and then be able to figure out if your work and your career aligns or is not aligned with those things.
Jeena Cho: [00:21:14] How do you go about figuring out what your values are. Is it just like something you sit around and think about it.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:21:22] I think you know you have to pay attention to to what you how you spend your time. Pay attention to where your where your energy is is fullfil is kind of refilled or drained. And pay attention to how you talk. Pay attention to the things that you say and ask and ask people when you talk to people who know you best when you see me and when you what do you think. What do you think is really important to me based on what you know about me. And then kind of check in and say you know what if that person thinks that that's really important to me and that sounds crazy to me then you know I need to figure out what I'm putting out there that makes it seem like that's what's really important to me.
[00:22:01] So it's not just you know kind of sitting around thinking about it but really being active in your and being active and present in your everyday existence and seeing where there's where there's synergy and where there's disconnect for example when I knew that was something that was really important to me was being able to physically interact with people and help change individual people right and to be able to help develop people on a really individual level that's something that's really important to me and really almost I want to say it's central to my identity which is why the shift that I made when I first made it out out of out of litigation practice really helped kind of fulfill that and helped me explore that more. But that was only something that I recognized when I sat down and said well why am I so unhappy right now. And when do I get really really excited when someone comes to my office with an individual problem and I don't I'm not happy that person has a problem but I'm really excited that I am helping them find an answer to that problem.
Jeena Cho: [00:23:00] Tiffany for the listeners out there that want to learn more about you and your work. What's the best place for them to go into that.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:23:07] You can connect with me on LinkedIn. You can search Tiffany Southerlyn that's Tiffany with two F's and o u you you can connect with me on the at Four Corners coaching that com and that's the number four spelled out EFO you are. And you can also connect with me on on I'm on Instagram. I don't know if your listeners are big on instagram but I'm at TIFF south on Instagram as well and that's tiff with two s. So anytime you search for Tiffany with two F's and s o u t h you can find me online. You can find me on social media.
Jeena Cho: [00:23:39] Fantastic. The lesson is that I like. I think I kind of want to work with her or just have a chat with her. How did they go about scheduling a better time. Chali.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:23:48] If you go to B T dot l y slash 10. Tiff and that's the number 10 and that's tiff again with two F's again. L y slash 10. Tiff and TIFF were two F's. You will be able to connect with me there and I also want to offer your listeners a lot of what we talked about today was you know how do you reflect on where you've been. How do you reflect on what you've done.
[00:24:12] I've created a workbook that is really designed to help you reflect on the experience that you've had over the course of your career so that you can documented and really be prepared to understand how you how you can improve and how you can position yourself for different opportunities so if you text tiff south and that's tiff with two EFFs 2 4 4 4 9 9 9 you'll be able to get that workbook and you will be able to connect from there and you'll really get a good idea. It's called the leverage list workbook and you'll really be able to get a good idea of how you can progress and really what you've done. Because we often discount our experience in favor of you know thinking that everybody can do this but we are unique and wonderfully made individuals that allow us to show up in ways that nobody else can because you are you for a very specific reason.
Jeena Cho: [00:25:04] I love it and if you're driving you're like wait what did she say. You can just check it out at the show to all the information will be available in the show. Now it's said Tiffany before I let you go. One final question. The name of this podcast is called The Resilient Lawyer. What does it mean to be a The Resilient Lawyer to you.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:25:22] It means to show up whole and be confident in doing so knowing that you showing uphold you showing up as authentically you will encourage other people to do the same and it will help make you a better professional and a better attorney and a better person by doing so.
Jeena Cho: [00:25:41] Tiffany, thank you so much for being with me today. I really appreciate it.
Tiffany Southerland: [00:25:44] Thank you so much for having me Jeena.
Closing: [00:25:47] Thanks for joining us on The Resilient Lawyer podcast. If you've enjoyed the show, please tell a friend. It's really the best way to grow the show. To leave us a review on iTunes, search for The Resilient Lawyer and give us your honest feedback. It goes a long way to help with our visibility when you do that, so we really appreciate it. As always, we'd love to hear from you. E-mail us that email@example.com. Thanks, and look forward to seeing you next week.