Called “a thought leader for the next generation” by Oprah Winfrey, Forleo teaches these strategies weekly on her award-winning show MarieTV, with over 49 million YouTube views. After quitting her successful career in magazine publishing, she started a business at twenty-three and grew it into a global empire (with no experience, investors, or graduate degree).
She credits it to this three-word phrase: “Everything is figureoutable”.
Forleo and I sat down to discuss how this philosophy changed her life, and how it could change yours, too:
How can a phrase really help me?
Forleo shares, “There are 300 million people who are suffering from depression worldwide. We see that here in the US, suicide rates are at a 30-year high. A lot of us are in pain. And I think that this little simple idea can not only help us achieve our biggest dreams, but solve some of our biggest problems. And when we’re able to do that, when we go from feeling a sense of despair, hopelessness, and powerlessness to feeling hope and possibility, and when we get ourselves into action, things really change.”
How to get over any initial hurdles
If you don’t believe that everything is, in fact, “figureoutable”, or you’re struggling to muster up the energy it takes to take that next step, Forleo suggests, “…to look at anyone you admire, anyone that you appreciate, whether that’s someone in your family or it’s someone whom perhaps you don’t know. Then ask yourself, ‘Does that person embody a spirit that things can be figured out? Have they looked out into the world and saw a problem they didn’t think could be solved or saw a dream that they feel they could achieve and actually went for it?’ Sometimes, when we look out to other people, perhaps whom we admire or respect, and we see some of the traits that we would like to have for ourselves, I would argue that part of that is the spirit that everything is figureoutable.”
What to do if you feel behind or not where you should be
“First of all, you’re not alone. All of us feel that way. It’s an epidemic that most human beings feel as if we’re not where we should be by this point in life. Oftentimes, that comparison comes when we don’t have one clear meaningful and specific thing that we’re working towards, that we really, really want to figure out. Whether it’s a big dream or a problem that we’re trying to solve. One of the things that we can do to start to shift that is to get into action to start bringing that dream to life or solving that problem,” explains Forleo.
Don’t just make the most of your circumstances
Want your life to look different than it does today? Here’s something to consider: “If you’re at a job that you can’t stand, how can you see that job as a bridge to help you get to your next stepping stone? When I was bartending, the first couple of years I found myself feeling resentful. I had all these other big dreams, but I realized that if I was bringing that level of resistance and misery to my job six or eight hours a day, that I was training myself to be miserable and unhappy six to eight hours a day. There’s no way I would have energy afterward to make my other dreams come to life.”
Don’t seek passion, bring it
Conversely, “…passion is not something you find outside of yourself, it’s something you bring to the party. I started making myself show up to be the best bartender I could and bring as much passion and energy as I could to that job. It actually bled over into the other things that I was doing, and it helped me shift completely not only how I was approaching my bartending job, but how I was approaching the business I was building on the side.”
Unsure? Do this.
If you’re uncertain of how to proceed or what decision to make in any given moment, Forleo suggests tapping into the wisdom of our bodies. How?
“It first comes with moving more. So many of us are sedentary. We’re spending anywhere from eight to ten hours a day sitting in front of a computer. We’re not necessarily working out, or moving, or walking, or dancing, or doing anything physical. The more time we spend in our bodies moving, running, walking, doing physical things, you open a different channel that just can’t be accessed when you’re staring at a screen for most of your day.”
“That’s step one, and step two is to start to pay attention to the signals that your body is sending you. Do you have an intuitive hit either to go to a certain restaurant or call a particular friend or go see a particular movie? Start paying attention to the signals that your body is sending you, follow them, and see what happens.”
What to do when you don’t want to be limited to doing just one thing
A question that routinely gives me pause is the basic question, ‘What do you do?’ Why? Because I don’t do one thing, so answering the question is complicated and semi-long-winded.
For Forleo it was no different, and one day she had a lightbulb moment that she was a “multi-passionate entrepreneur”.
She shares that that phrase, “…really saved me from a lot of the grief and shame I used to feel because I didn’t fit into society’s definition of doing one thing with your life. I would encourage anyone to borrow that phrase because it gives you a new context with which you can see yourself and then you can enter into a broader conversation. So for example, when people would ask me, ‘What do you do for a living?, I would say, ‘I’m a multi-passionate entrepreneur,’ and they would say, ‘Well, what does that mean?’ I’d say, ‘Well, tonight I’m bartending, but during the day, I’m building a coaching business, and oh, by the way, I’m also starting to explore dance and fitness and I’ve got a weekly class over at Crunch Gym.’ And so, it allowed me to speak into the projects and the passions that I had without confining myself to a traditional narrow definition of what I do for a living.”
Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment
It’s common to mistake doing something for being productive.
However, Forleo warns us to, “Be clear on whatever you’re doing, why you are doing it. For example, if you’re going online to research something, why are you spending that time, what is the end outcome or result that you’re going after? Is it to purchase something, to get a specific piece of information, to choose a movie time so you can go somewhere later? Are you just mindlessly surfing around? Begin with the end in mind. It’s a really great buffer to help you not to confuse activity with accomplishment so you can get in and get out of whatever you’re doing with as much efficiency as possible.”
“We’re kind of encouraged to be online and be available and be hustling 24/7, which is not healthy or sustainable. Machines are built to work 24/7, but not human beings. It’s crucial that we put boundaries in place for ourselves, to have offline time, exercise and sleep, time with loved ones and friends and family that’s not tethered to a screen. That’s how we can start to get into the dance between being effective and productive with our time, and also being healthy sane human beings.”
Wouldn’t it be cool if…?
Ready to bring these principles to a group setting? Forleo shares how she does it with her team by using the sentence stem “Wouldn’t it be cool if…We developed this methodology when my company was much smaller. There were probably five of us sitting around in my living room on the floor coming up with exciting ideas for how we wanted to see the business grow, and the game was this: each person had to finish that sentence stem. Then we had to throw out an idea, a creative possibility, or a dream that we had for where the business could go with absolutely no editing allowed. There was no idea too outrageous, there was no idea that was too lofty, too big, or too anything. And out of allowing ourselves just to dream big, without limitations, we stumbled upon an incredible initiative that gave us all chills when we thought about executing it. At the time, that idea was very far outside of our ability to execute on it. We had never done anything like that before and had no idea how much it would cost. It just sounded overwhelming. But at the same time, it sounded really exciting.”
“When you’re looking for your next big idea or you’re stumbling upon a stress point, I would encourage any team to use that sentence stem and to have people dream big and dream outrageously and see what you stumble upon. It could be your next big breakthrough.”
Keep a stress log
“In any company, team, or organization, there are going to be bottlenecks, stress points, and friction that you all stumble upon again and again that seem to hold back your growth or your advancement. What we do on our team, and what I do myself personally, is whenever there is a stress that’s recurring, we create a stress log.”
“There’s magic in writing it down. When you have this stress log, and you can see it written down on paper, you have some self-distancing so it doesn’t seem as overwhelming. Rather than being in your head, it’s on the page where then you can start to take action towards specific items on it. And what’s great to do as a team is to look at a stress log together. Whether it’s around one person’s role, a specific department, or a specific initiative, you can use the collective intelligence and creativity of the team to start to tackle it. Either you will transform those stressors completely, meaning you can solve the problems, or transform the way you’re approaching it so something is no longer a stress.”
Walking straight into fear
We all face fear. As long as it’s not the biological kind that is cueing you to flee, fear can be an indicator to move in its direction because it’s signaling to you that you want that thing.
Forleo shares about her fear in writing this book and how she faced it, saying, “Creating the time and space to write the book, to make it the best it could be, while still running all other pieces of the business was something I was quite frankly afraid of because I didn’t want to see the business suffer in any regard. And, I also wanted to create the best product that I could, and I knew the only way that I would overcome the fear of if, was diving in and starting to write.”
“It didn’t work well, at first. I had a couple of false starts. It was hard to carve out the time. I was trying to find my rhythm. And there were a few months where I was just terrified that I didn’t have it in me to do this again, given everything else that was happening with the company. But then I kept trying to crack into it in different ways. I think it’s most important to understand that the fear is really normal: it means that you care about something and that it’s important to you. In this contest, fear is a really healthy emotion if it is used properly, and that removes some of the anxiety that can surround it. And, at least for me, action is always the antidote to fear.”
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