Authentic Conversations with Entrepreneurs Episode 23: “Release the Attachments” with Sharon Ve

In this episode of “Authentic Conversations with Entrepreneurs” I spoke with The Inspired Attorney® Sharon Ve. Sharon spoke about her journey through law school, an MBA and ultimately the choice to become a coach for other attorneys.


Katherine Morales: Hi everyone. Thanks so much for being here for Authentic Conversations with Entrepreneurs. I’m here with Sharon Ve, The Inspired Attorney. Thanks so much for being here for episode 23. Sharon is, as I said, The Inspired Attorney®, but before we dig into your story and our topic today, I just as I always do want to explain what we are doing here, what is the Authentic Conversation? And I describe authenticity as the Good & Growing. So this is an episode to explore the growing to the good of various entrepreneurs, but today with Sharon. So welcome Sharon. And as we begin, of course say hi, but we’re going to dig into Releasing the Attachments. So yeah, hi, and what does this phrase mean to you?

Sharon Ve: Well, first I’d like to say thank you for having me on the show, and thank you to every single person who’s listening and is taking the time of their day to be here. I’m really just excited to speak with you guys about this topic. Releasing the attachments, when we were talking about… We were just having a conversation-

Katherine Morales: I always wish we could do the pre-show and post-show.

Sharon Ve: And we had said, wow, this would be a really good topic because for the longest time I was tied to this definition or this title of being an attorney, that I had defined myself by being an attorney. But I wasn’t really happy. And sometimes we need to take a look at how we’re defining ourselves, what we’ve attached ourselves to, what we’ve attached what we think is happiness to, and allow ourselves to look at it from another perspective. I think our beliefs are hard-packed sand, and that once you start shaking things up a little bit, they can also get shaken up and it allows you to see things from other views. So for me, a lot of my journey was releasing that attachment to being defined as an attorney. I worked really hard to become an attorney, and then when you look at it and you’re like, well, if I’m not an attorney what am I? And that was a huge conversation for me to have with myself. So that was the premise of our conversation, and this interview.

Katherine Morales: I already have goosebumps. And I’m curious, and I’m sure our listeners are too, so how far were you in… I mean, you go to school to become an attorney, and that’s not a short time and that’s not easy work. So first of all, congrats. But I mean, how far were you into your career before you had this aha, because I feel like having worked with entrepreneurs for years now, a lot of people leave a very successful career to embrace… I work with a lot of coaches and consultants, so that’s a different journey. And while you might use your previous title, which I guess you are too to a certain extent as The Inspired Attorney®, but where you might use it’s not really what you’re doing. It’s part of the journey to get there.

I guess I’m curious how long you were into it, and I guess the second question there is for people who it might be even longer, maybe they’ve spent half of their life in a career and they’re feeling they need to let go of something. I mean, yeah, what are your thoughts there and what advice could you offer? Because I feel like it’s very inspiring, I think, because so much of our corporate world is defined by a title. You’re hitting on something very directly.

Sharon Ve: I was pretty deep in, I remember after I went to law school I moved over… I’m from Germany originally, and I moved over to Germany to pursue an MBA and I started my law career out there, and I ended up coming back home and essentially had to restart my career. This is four or five years after I graduated, so I’m already having to restart at this point. And I felt such shame for not feeling like I was where I thought I was supposed to go or to be. I saw where my colleagues were, my fellow colleagues were. I thought they were just at such other levels over me, and I just felt like I was nowhere. And it still took me a couple years after that to for me to finally realize that I wasn’t really happy. I had this moment where I saw what the rest of my life would look like from seeing what people around me and people above me, what their lives were like.

And this is not a comparison in any way because we all have different lives. We all have different loves, preferences and everything like that. And that’s the beauty of this world because if we all liked the same things it would be rather crowded. But it just wasn’t for me. I just saw a picture of a life that I didn’t want to live, and it kind of catapulted this journey of self-discovery. And even then I was looking for jobs and nothing really just felt right. Everything felt so wrong, and I just really wasn’t finding anything that was hitting the nail on the head of what I would really like to do. And it was because I was so focused on just the line of being what I thought it meant being an attorney. And all the while I was coaching and acting as a strategist and thinking to myself, “Man, I would love to do this,” but not realizing that it was something that I could do.

Ultimately, it was suggested to me in passing by someone who I was working with, “Hey, you should become a coach.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s funny.” Actually it was like that moment, because I think we all have moments in life where things just feel right, like it hits in the right way and you’re like, “Yeah, that’s right.” And so that kind of catapulted what ultimately became The Inspired Attorney®. But what advice I would offer to anyone is because for me, on that road, it took me some time to get there to learn that I don’t have to be defined by a title, and being a lawyer is a gift. Going to law school is such a gift because it opens so many doors, like no matter what I can always get a job, even if it’s not something that is my passion. If I ever, ever, ever am wanting for anything, I can work. And that is a real gift and I’m very grateful for that. But I don’t define myself by that title anymore.

And so what a lot of attorneys go through is when they have this moment where you’re miserable, many attorneys are just like, “That’s it. I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore. I’m done.” And it doesn’t necessarily need to be like that. Sometimes really you can be done, or maybe you’re just not in the right firm, you’re not supported, you’re not in a place that matches your vision and mission for your own life. You’re maybe not in a role that suits you anymore. I think that the world has changed so much and there’s a lot of truth-

Katherine Morales: You don’t say.

Sharon Ve: I think change is great, and I think it brings so many wonderful things. There are also a lot of inherent wisdoms from the way things also were done and I think it’s about finding a beautiful blend. But one thing is I don’t think that we’re designed to do one job for the rest of our lives. I think that life is a culmination of all the things that we’ve learned in the past. I was talking to someone recently about this… and also I’m going to touch on this on the live next week on gratitude.

Katherine Morales: How timely.

Sharon Ve: Yeah, this is something that I heard, this is not my own thing, but it’s just like life is like a football field. You can only see from the yard line where you’re at. And for those who aren’t into football or anything like that, just think of a field and you can only see one line. That’s all you can see in that very moment. You can’t see the whole football field from above, everything that’s taking you to that point, and all those things that have taken you there that are just setting you up for your next steps. And so all that experience that you had previously is just divinely setting you up for your next steps. So whether or not you would like to be an attorney and continue on that path, or just explore those things that would make that version of your life that you want to see happen, move towards that.

Katherine Morales: I mean, I love that visual and I use the football field in some of what I do too, even though obviously… but I went to Florida State, so yeah. But there’s so much courage in what you’re sharing, and I think that a lot of people stay put even if they’re not happy because we are a culture of comfort. And what’s interesting to me, as the older I get, I realize that there’s comfort, I’ll put it in quotes, in what’s actually discomfort, if that makes sense. So for example, staying in a job that, I mean we’re focusing on jobs and titles, but there’s all other applications. Like it’s comfortable to eat candy and cake and all these things, but it might not be the most comfortable thing for your body. There is a discomfort in this. So that’s another example.

But I think, yeah, you might not be in the job that is really making you happy. Maybe you’re miserable, but maybe it pays really well. Or even for entrepreneurs, if they’ve already made that leap, maybe we get so stuck in the way we do things, that’s an attachment, right? And so much has changed. So how did you find the courage to start letting go? What questions did you ask yourself? What did you do to jolt yourself out of that stuck?

Sharon Ve: Well, I think just like anything, a lot of the time these huge developments that we have, life is a series of ups and downs, and a lot of the time we don’t change until it’s too painful. It’s like a crab, like the shell has just gotten too too small and you just need to get out of it. It was kind of like that. And I didn’t do it alone. I hired a coach. I also have an incredible support system. I also found different resources that helped me, people that inspired me teaching. So I really just dug in. What I suggested is I would really, for anybody who’s kind of in that position, I would just say give yourself a moment to think about… If you’re on the last days of your life, if you were to look back and you would say, “Man, my life was truly spectacular. This was the most exceptional life I had.” What did you do? What did you do in that life? Write down all those things that you did.

And it’s interesting because these exercises kind of help us gain perspective because there’s so much that we think is important that really isn’t. And at the end of the day, we have these comfort zones, and maybe it was a luxury for me to be able to make the changes that I did because I was single at the time. I didn’t have a family, or I have a family but I didn’t have any small children or anything like that. It was just me making the decisions for myself. Obviously when you have a partner and you children and everything like that, that changes your calculations a little bit, not a little bit, a lot. But that still doesn’t mean that you can’t start looking for ways to meet those goals, because just like you said, we can be so addicted to what makes us unhappy because it’s comfortable.

Katherine Morales: It’s familiar, familiar.

Sharon Ve: Yeah, it’s familiar because stepping out of our comfort zone we think is unknown. Yeah, it’s kind of unknown. Like if you hate your job you know you’re going to go there and you’re going to deal with whatever you hate and you’re going to complain about it, and then you’re going to come home, you know that you’re going to get paid, but you don’t know you’re going to get paid. Who knows what’ll happen down the road? And if you don’t give yourself the opportunity to start exploring what makes you happy and really… this is something that I learned along the way… is that I really believe that we all have inherent gifts. And maybe your gifts aren’t like having Diana Ross’s voice, but you still can make an impact on others through utilizing your gifts.

And the law school often teaches us that everybody else is your competition, but just think about what do you love to do and who benefits from what you like to do? Because like I said earlier, if we all like the same things this world would be extremely crowded. If you find who you like to help, even if you’re selling a widget, you’re selling a widget to people. So it’s about you stepping into that version of you helps people. So help you, help yourself, help others.

Katherine Morales: Help, help, help. I love it. So tell us a little bit more about The Inspired Attorney, because I think you’ve touched on it, but I don’t think it’s clear. So I am assuming you work with attorneys.

Sharon Ve: Yes.

Katherine Morales: But yeah, tell us a little bit more. I’m going to put up your website too while we do that.

Sharon Ve: Oh, yeah, awesome. So, I work with attorneys who are kind of in that place where I was, where you are just in that period of transition, where you know that this is not what it’s all about. You know that there’s more, you’re just kind of in a place of transition. You’ve already started to do some of the work, started to look into what you can do, but you’re just a little lost and you don’t know how to make the changes. I work with attorneys who are in that position and help them discover their superpowers, what their vision and mission is, and really help them discover where they want to go with their lives and help them also from a strategic perspective. When someone gives me a problem, it’s like Beautiful Mind for me, I just see all the opportunities, which can be a gift. And for some, maybe for my family members, may be a little annoying,

Katherine Morales: Right, right. I feel you. Well, and is step one then always to… I mean, I almost feel like step one is identify the attachment, because I think you have to identify them and become aware of them before you can release them.

Sharon Ve: Totally.

Katherine Morales: So how do you help people to identify them? Again, a lot of people, they’re on autopilot. They go to work or log into the computer if you work from home, but there’s this routine-ness and we might not see… We need others to see ourselves essentially.

Sharon Ve: Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. It’s a series of things. We have this assessment that I work with which really helps, and I think you have a link for that.

Katherine Morales: Oh yeah, let’s put it up there. Yeah, talk about the assessment.

Sharon Ve: So the assessment is one of the first steps, and what I love about this assessment is that it brings in multiple things. And people may have their own opinions on assessments, but what I really like about this is that it gives you something tangible to walk away with that tells you even how big is your comfort zone, which for me I’m someone who has a really big comfort zone which means I need a little fire under my butt to jump. And someone who has a smaller comfort zone pretty much jumps. And so this would be the first part because it kind of helps me get an understanding of you. And you also, a lot of the time when we have something like this, we’re like, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, that is me.” And “Oh, I can see myself.” And I think that also is a great jumping point of inspiration because it also gives you the type of organizations that you’re a good fit for, what the culture is and different things like that.

And if you see things about yourself and then we work on creating what that vision and mission for your life is, who that person is you want to align with, and all that process of defining that person and sharing and working together we’re able to see where there’s maybe incongruencies and if that’s something that someone wants to let go of. I’m never going to tell someone to do anything. It’s up to you to make any changes. I’m just an observer. And I love, love, using my superpowers to help because you can tell me something’s not going to work and I’ll show you how it’ll work.

Katherine Morales: But I think it’s so important when you’re talking about everything, there can be awareness, but to really, I think there’s a difference between fully embodying it, right? I’ve experienced where I know something intellectually, I’m aware of it, but to actually bring it down into my body, into my heart, it might take time.

Sharon Ve: Oh yeah.

Katherine Morales: So I love that you’re mentioning that. So is this assessment only for attorneys or can other people, entrepreneurs, get something our of it?

Sharon Ve: Everyone can take the assessment. Everyone can take the assessment. You can take the assessment, you get a 30 to 45-minute session with me to go over the assessment, and we can work together from that point or not. Either way you have something tangible to walk away with, which is what I love about that, because you don’t leave empty-handed. We’re having a conversation so you’re not leaving empty-handed no matter what. It’s an investment of time from both of our ends. But I love that you have something to walk away with, with the assessment. And then I love that you mentioned time because we live in just such an instant world where we lose patience for things. But I think I really just started delving into self-discovery around 2015 or 16, and it’s been some time since then and I always kind of hoped that things would happen faster.

And I think a lot of the things that you read, it’s just like things will happen as fast as it takes you to fully embody the change, and however long that takes. It’s taken me coaches and also therapy to help. I have a therapist who practices neurolinguistic programming. That’s been a huge game-changer for me.

Katherine Morales: I’ve heard wonderful things about that.

Sharon Ve: But the funny thing is, is that you think that it’s going to happen from today to tomorrow, but then when you start noticing the shifts and you start seeing that magic, it’s like it happens at the most perfect time because you needed to have all those things set you up for now. It’s just like if you have a success, people want to be successful right away but it’s the failures that make the success that much sweeter because they help us learn what we need to get there, because otherwise you might not be able to recreate it.

Katherine Morales: Yeah, yeah, I love that. And it’s interesting because I feel like maybe one of the ways to get at this, and I’m just sharing this from my own journey, is… I used to be a perfectionist, I would stress the heck out over… I’d set my own timelines and then I’d be stressed. This is my own self-discovery in owning my own business. And I was like, “Wait, I’m the boss and what kind of boss do I want to be to myself?” But that was the first iterance of it, like what kind of boss do I want to be to myself? But then as I deepened into it, I realized, okay, when I feel that pressure, that self-imposed pressure, what’s behind that? So I think there’s some who’s pushing that, getting curious at those moments might be where you start to discover what are you holding onto or does it really matter?

I was able to release a lot. Case in point, I used to say, “Oh, I really want to work less and I want to be able to take the afternoons off to be with my daughter.” I have a six and a half, almost 7-year-old, and I’m like, “She’s growing so fast.” And I just kept telling myself, “No, I can’t do that. No, I can’t do that.” And I was attached to the idea that I had to work a lot of hours and really hard, and I’d worked some weekends like a lot of entrepreneurs do. And then when I was forced, this is my aha, when I was forced into… like an outer force… Oh, she’s now five and she gets summers off, and I had to figure that out, and I did have to end my day shorter.

I realized if I had to do it for that and I could, why couldn’t I keep doing that? I think whether something happens… and that’s what I’ve done, but I realized that if that outer force had not happened I probably would’ve continued to work weekends and work really long hours because that’s what I was attached to.

Sharon Ve: It’s funny that you say that because-

Katherine Morales: I think that speaks to attorneys too and many entrepreneurs.

Sharon Ve: I mean, so a lot of the time it’s also about watching your words and where your thoughts go and how you define yourself. So for example, some people define success or they think that in order to be successful they think they need to work… their version of success is working 80 hours a week and not having any… but then they think that they’re also going to have time, and they keep saying, “I’m so busy, I don’t have time for this,” and all this other stuff but the thing is it’s your words, you’re saying, “I don’t have time,” so you’re not going to have time. It’s funny because-

Katherine Morales: Like it manifests itself, right?

Sharon Ve: I was working with someone and I’m like, “Well, actually you became who you wanted to be, but this version of you doesn’t have free time. To be that version of yourself that you’ve created doesn’t have free time. That version of yourself doesn’t really give itself slack.” But sometimes we think we need to do everything. Are those 80 hours completely efficient? And I think that also speaks to some of the things that… Some people work 80 hours and absolutely love it, and I think, “You do you.”

Katherine Morales: Different strokes for different folks.

Sharon Ve: Different strokes for different folks. But some people, that’s just not their thing. And I think a lot of the time, like in a lot of industries, especially the legal industry, there’s just this nonstop working on adrenaline, and you’re just constantly afraid that if you don’t work you’re not going to have work. And so that you need to be constantly under pressure, constantly working behind these like running fire drills that don’t even really exist, and at the end of the day is that something on your last day of your life are you going to be like I’m so happy that I did this instead of spending time with your family? I think these are questions that we really need to ask ourselves. It’s like what words are you saying? What kind of conversations are you having with yourself? And what are your priorities?

Katherine Morales: A hundred percent.

Sharon Ve: Because you can’t have family as your number one priority but work 80 hours a week.

Katherine Morales: And so many people do though.

Sharon Ve: Yeah, but you can’t also have, I mean I hate to say you can’t have it all because I think everything in moderation, but you need to be able to balance things, and sometimes things take more time out of your life for other things. It’s like a seesaw a little bit. Do people still have seesaws? I love those.

Katherine Morales: Oh yeah, they’re all over the playground.

Sharon Ve: Okay. I saw something recently that was like seesaws don’t exist anymore. I was like, what?

Katherine Morales: No, they’re on every playground around here in Atlanta. They’re still a thing.

Sharon Ve: Okay, cool. But you know what I mean?

Katherine Morales: Yeah, a hundred percent. I think this speaks volumes to the journey you’ve taken and the wisdom and your gifts, and I really appreciate you sharing it. I think it speaks not just to attorneys, but to all entrepreneurs. It’s interesting too, I think I’ll speak just directly about entrepreneurship because I feel like what’s interesting is that in order to become an entrepreneur, many times you are releasing something to embrace that. But then I find that a lot of times, and even myself, I’ve found myself with a tight grip, that once you build that identity… I mean, I am an authentic brand strategist, I brand things… so once you build that identity, then you’re really holding on. But I think hopefully what entrepreneurs can also take from this is really that assessment. I love the questions you said like as you look back on your life, what you’re prioritizing, and ultimately asking yourself am I truly happy where I am now?

Because if it’s not all filling the cup, as I say, then maybe it’s time for a shift. And I think beginning with releasing the attachments or identifying what they are is a really great place to start. And hopefully people will find that from this interview and from maybe a little downtime in the holiday.

Sharon Ve: Yeah, for sure.

Katherine Morales: Thank you so much. I’m going to put up your social handles. You’re here on LinkedIn, Sharon Ve, and then you’re also on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook at The Inspired Attorney. So y’all be sure to follow Sharon. Obviously we only have so much time today, but she is just truly wonderful to talk to and to learn from so I know I’ll be subscribing.

Sharon Ve: Thanks. It was such a pleasure.

Katherine Morales: Yes, and I hope y’all will join us next time. We’ll be having our last episode of the year on December 14th with Carlee Myers of the Stress Less Company. So, something we all should also do.

Thank you so much for being here and all the tips. And again, that assessment is I’ll also be participating in that. So thank you so much, Sharon.

Sharon Ve: Thank you.

Katherine Morales: See y’all.