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A defibrillator for your brain

Guide Books Review: Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo

Running a farm business, trying to make a profit, and balancing work and family is (brace for the understatement) hard. We all know the pattern. Too often, we think big, become overwhelmed, and then let some of our achievable ideas, not to mention our innovative dreams, wilt and die like neglected potted plants.

We try to solve really big, and then get bogged down in all the facets of the issue that we hadn’t seen at first, or we can’t find the one clear answer in the haze of possible solutions and indecision.

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Marie Forleo, entrepreneur and best-selling author of Everything is Figureoutable can help us figure out how to make the right decisions in high-stake situations and train our brains “to think more creatively and positively — especially in the face of setbacks.”

Will this book magically solve your farming challenges? No.

Will this book help you solve your farming challenges? Yes.

I know that sounds overenthusiastic. I don’t want it to, it’s just that I’ve found this book actually does deliver on its promise to help us think more concretely and develop better solutions.

Everything is Figureoutable is simultaneously a defibrillator jolt to the brain that ignites your “ah-ha!,” “duh!” and “but of course!” light bulbs, all at the same time, and a comforting hand on the shoulder that conveys the reassurances “you’re normal, it’s all going to be okay, and here’s what you’re going to do.”

The book’s premise is that every challenge has a solution. It’s in the title; everything is “figureoutable.” And if there’s one thing farming is lousy with, it’s moments of head-scratching pauses as you try to figure things out.

There is so much to unpack in this book — far too much for this short review. Forleo’s advice is inspiring and immediately actionable and you’ll want to apply her principles and practices to every problem or hibernating dream you’ve got.

Forleo says there are two “destructive thoughts” that act like viruses in the computer that is your brain, causing it to disengage, shut down and opt out of solution-focused thinking: 1) “I know this already” and 2) “This won’t work for me.”

Maybe you’ve scoffed at an idea you read on Twitter or in these very pages. Maybe someone has suggested you try something, but you rolled your eyes and thought “That won’t work at my farm.”

The key to designing and maintaining virus protection programs that guard against those destructive thoughts is to “transform these thoughts into helpful, productive questions (to) train your brain to help you learn, grow and improve.”

For example, Forleo says that whenever you think “I know this already” you should say, “What can I learn from this?” Replace “This won’t work for me” with “How can this work for me?”

Another way to train your brain to “solve any problem or achieve any dream” is that we “must first make a change at the level of belief. Because when you change a belief, you change everything.”

Forleo writes: “Beliefs control our bodies and how we respond to crises, criticism and opportunities. They tell us what to notice, what to focus on, what it means and what to do about it… Beliefs create behaviours. The cumulation of those behaviours adds up to your entire life… Your beliefs either heal you or harm you. They either support your aspirations or thwart them. Belief becomes the source of your limitation or your liberation.”

As Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Limiting beliefs contribute to destructive thoughts. Repeated over time, the negative belief algorithms in your computer-brain are wired to follow the path of least resistance where nothing is possible, and everything is impossible. Or, as Forleo puts it, “Limiting beliefs guarantees limited outcomes.”

David Deutsch, a University of Oxford physicist, said, “Everything that is not forbidden by laws of nature (e.g. gravity) is achievable, given the right knowledge.” Whether you’ve been farming for decades and stumped by daily challenges, or you’re dreaming of starting a food or farming business, armed with the right tools and knowledge, it’s all figureoutable.

About the author


April M. Stewart is the owner of Alba PR, a brain-to-brain communication design firm, and the creator of “The Farmer’s Survival Guide: How to Connect With 21st Century Consumers,” a blog and workshops which look at communication impact boosters. She is also a sixth-generation Quebec dairy farmer, president of Canadian Young Speakers for Agriculture, and a member of the Canadian Agri-Business Education Foundation board. You can find her on Twitter under @FarmersSurvival.



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