Resiliency. This is having the will to succeed and not letting situations or others “break you.” When things look hopeless from an outside perspective, internally, I’m on fire. We all need to believe in ourselves. If we fall, we “dust off our butts” and get at it again. It took about 30 years to develop good techniques to quiet my stuttering, and I still do experience speech issues. But you need to be able to laugh at yourself. It is good to approach life with humor.
As a part of my series about “Grit: The Most Overlooked Ingredient of Success” I had the pleasure of interviewing Lori Vella. Lori is the owner of Law Office of Lori Vella, PLLC, an estate planning, probate and business/contract law firm (www.LoriVella.com). She also created Florida Lawyer Online, a video course portal that educates the public on estate planning. Surprisingly, Lori was not always able to freely use her voice to teach others. Throughout her childhood and into her 30s, she suffered from stuttering, a chronic speech disorder. To succeed, she courageously persisted in her passion, growing her “grit” along the way.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path.
I wanted to be a lawyer ever since I was a little girl. I think I said it once and my family loved the idea, so they heavily encouraged me. At the same time, I had a chronic speech disorder called stuttering. Hoping to somehow get by in the loquacious world of an attorney, I enrolled in law school.
Can you share your story about “Grit and Success”? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
During law school, we had to do end-of-year oral arguments in the mock courtroom. After practicing for weeks at home, I thought it would go well. But, the thing with stuttering is that you never know when it will rear its ugly head. During the actual oral exam, my anxiety got triggered and I completely blew it. I was hardly able to get out the words.
I walked out of the auditorium to group of students that had just listened to my performance. They had downcast eyes embarrassed on my behalf. It was a terrible moment. Right then and there, I decided I could not avoid this problem any longer. We did not have the luxury of Google and online courses back then. Instead, the library had some books which contained techniques that I immediately put to practice.
Fast forward a few years later and I continued to get over new hurdles. My first deposition. The first hearing. A speaking gig. Before each event, I would relax myself and create new habits of success. Fifteen years later, quieting the internal fears and having that “unbeatable” attitude has served me well.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
If you are stuck with so much discomfort, you hopefully find coping techniques that lead to change. My drive came from my desire to succeed as an attorney, a profession tied to speech.
I encourage people suffering in any capacity to seek help, knowing that things will get better in time.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
For me, it was all about training my mind (through meditation and affirmations) and body (through physical movement) to make repeated successful steps, creating positive habits. After studying different techniques to help with my speech, I learned mechanisms to use other words or direct the conversation to a more comfortable place.
I had to be courageous enough to believe things would get better. Now, I conduct client meetings and I make videos on Instagram without much thought about my speech. After years of persevering, I’ve reached the place that even if mistakes occur, they seem insignificant. Everything has a way of working itself out.
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each).
Grit is a combination of several factors that include passion, courage, conscientiousness, resiliency and persistence.
- Passion. After I turned 40, a new life began with a baby, a divorce and my own business. Without the passion to identify a way to support myself and be home with my child, I may have failed. It takes more than enthusiasm. It is identifying your principles and values and having those drive you to deliver an amazing work product.
- Courage. When I started practicing law, the thought I would have to appear at a hearing or deposition made me sick to my stomach! Eventually, I found my way though there were ups and downs. When you reach obstacles, you stay committed and keep pushing, celebrating your daily improvements
- Conscientiousness. To develop grit, you cannot stop until you get it right. It involves that almost “dogged determination” to see things through. When I started my estate planning law firm, I spent hours of my personal time learning as much as I could. Your time spent pursuing your passion should be purposeful for it to result in success.
- Resiliency. This is having the will to succeed and not letting situations or others “break you.” When things look hopeless from an outside perspective, internally, I’m on fire. We all need to believe in ourselves. If we fall, we “dust off our butts” and get at it again. It took about 30 years to develop good techniques to quiet my stuttering, and I still do experience speech issues. But you need to be able to laugh at yourself. It is good to approach life with humor.
- Perseverance. Throughout elementary schooling, I would shy away from any instance to use my voice during class. When the teacher would ask the students to read aloud, waves of anxiety would rush over me. In college, I took public speaking, hoping to face the issue head on. The class went well and it gave me renewed courage to apply to law school. In law school, again I found new techniques to assist me. Every day will not be a success, but we must persevere even when we do not know the outcome.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
Motivational speakers such as Tony Robbins and Mel Robbins have influenced me greatly. Sometimes, if you do not have the right role models in your own life, turning to professionals helps. Before an especially trying event, I open YouTube and search for these speakers. Their videos feel like private pep talks.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Some people say that I am funny, so maybe my speech has brought some laughs and good feelings into the world. One can only hope!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are continuing our expansion into New York State, anticipating that our courses and law firm services will help protect and secure even more individuals and families.
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Every person is different and special, motivated by something unique to them. As employers, our job is to investigate and determine what propels our employees to enjoy their work and want to willingly give more to the company.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Teaching children the art of public speaking from the time of kindergarten. The earlier we learn to face our fears, the more skills we learn. While practice does not always result in perfection, it will get you to competence. Many would be extremely happy to be known as a competent public speaker.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If not me, who? If not now, when?” To me, this quote signifies that we are in control of our lives and we have the responsibility to better the world. We should not shy away from challenges. We are the change we need to see. It sounds scary, but someone has to do the hard things!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.