061. Redirecting Your Life by Realizing You Matter with Fernando Flores

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Fernando has been a trial and appellate attorney for over 10 years and has worked and excelled in very high-stress, fast-paced work environments. He has handled cases in state and federal trial courts, the Court of Appeal, and the California Supreme Court.

Fernando handled large case dockets and represented clients in some of the most vulnerable life circumstances, including victims of human trafficking.

While Fernando excelled as an attorney, Fernando did not adequately nurture all 6 dimensions of his well-being. Today, Fernando does not allow a single day to pass without taking time to nurture all 6 areas of his health.

According to the American Bar Association, “well-being” is “a continuous process toward thriving across all life dimensions.” The 6 spheres of well-being are Social, Physical, Occupational, Intellectual, Spiritual, and Emotional.

Fernando established iMATER NOW to support and coach other attorneys and professionals in their journey to excel in all 6 areas of well-being.

Whether individually, or for your entire law firm, working with iMATER NOW will assist you by inculcating positive values that will promote the well-being of yourself and your legal teams.

Key Points from the Episode with Fernando Flores:
  • Fernando has been an attorney for over 11 years, living in the fast-paced/high-stress world of trial law.
  • From living in that world, he found how much attorneys need support dealing with the stress and finding ways to pull wellness and empathy into their lives.
  • He started coaching attorneys and doing things like starting a podcast and speaking to help them build coping skills to make life and work more sustainable.
  • He started lecturing at Berkeley Law School on emotional intelligence.
  • What he found so prevalent was self-judgment, blaming and shaming ourselves, and it isn’t serving us.
  • He also found that people who were more resilient have outlets where they can explore, create, escape the grind and connect with a different part of their mind. Many use exercise as that outlet, but there’s variety across different people.
  • Fernando was born in Chicago, raised in Mexico until he was 12, and then moved to San Diego.
  • When he was 12, he was also hit by a car and suffered a broken femur. It landed him in a hospital bed for weeks, and greatly impacted his life and his family.
  • In that experience, they got an attorney, and that showed him how attorneys can help the underdog, as his family was, and he had a strong desire to do that for others.
  • As he went through law school and the bar exam, he started to experience the extreme stress of that professional world.
  • In law school, Fernando also developed a pattern of drinking. Not abusing it, but alcohol was a very standard part of the lifestyle in school and then in the legal profession. It is the most common outlet in that world.
  • Alcohol is really a form of escape to avoid having to process or work through any pain you may be facing, past or present. It’s about numbing.
  • For the first several years, like most lawyers, Fernando wasn’t caring for himself.
  • The death of an uncle and one of his closest friends forced Fernando to step back and look at his life. He took inventory.
  • He decided to commit himself to himself, starting with exercise, which just lead down a path of doing more things that were better for him no matter what else was going on.
  • From exercising, he stopped drinking without even realizing it (he chose not to go out to drink so he could get his workout done). The more he started to exercise, the less time he had to go drink, and better won out.
  • He moved to setting a goal of exercising 35 minutes a day every day in celebration of his life before his 36th birthday.
  • What he found is that caring for himself lead to thriving professionally because he was a better version of himself. He could show up better for his clients and peers because he was showing up better for himself.
  • He also started reading for his own personal development and growing his understanding of personal development.
  • For Fernando, he found that it starts with changing your thoughts. For example, if your alarm clock gets up, if you feel like going back to sleep instead of getting up and working up, try to change your thought and get up.
  • Then he worked on thinking about gratitude. Wake up and go over things you are thankful for from yesterday, and several that you will bethankful for today.
  • There are other key practices he’s employed that he shared, but it boils down to living from a place of self-love.
  • When you don’t work on these things, it is not only hard to succeed in life, but it’s hard to succeed in relationships. Fernando talked about how we end up "Emotionally Constipated”. It’s something he especially sees in men, though women suffer from this, too.
  • Being a man and having masculinity can be strong and courageous, but also be sensitive. Recognizing this has helped him to be a better person and attorney.
  • When you make these changes, over time when you look back, you see a huge change in who you are. For the better.
  • Often, this can all stem from trying to fit the mold someone else has defined for us. Until we set our own mold, we may stay disconnected with who we really should be.
  • Fernando recently spent six weeks in India, and a way to live for the better became clear from how he saw people living there. The four ideas he saw in practice were:
    1. Suspend the ego,
    2. Live from your spirit,
    3. Quiet the mind, and
    4. Nourish the body
  • He mentioned the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, which is all about what EQ is, self-awareness, inner-peace and what emotional patterns you are having inside.
  • Fernando shared a key question (or set of questions) that he uses with people to try to figure out what’s reallygong on – Why do I feel what I feel when I feel it?
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