Can We Figure Out Everything?

As I write this, I look back on the last few months of the COVID pandemic.  We had to pivot.  And, we had to do so quickly.  There was a lot of “Can I actually figure out everything?”  And, after having experienced this massive pivot, I think the answer is a resounding “YES!”

One of the things that helped me was the phrase “Everything is figureoutable” by Marie Forleo.  

Marie’s book, “Everything is Figureoutable” is filled with many great quotes.  I was also fortunate to have found that Goldilocks zone.  I read it before the pandemic hit, but not so long before that I forgot what I had read or had lost the inspiration.  

To say that it made a huge difference is a bit of an understatement.

Here are 5 tips you can use to figure out “everything”.

1. Stay open to possibilities

We are teachers & studio owners.  I know that we need to show our clients that their trust in us is not misplaced.  That we know what we are talking about & what we are doing.

If there is one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that we always can & should be learning.  Even when it comes to things we “already know” or that “won’t work for me”. 

In fact, that’s the premise behind this whole site!  There is a reason I chose The Unfinished Lesson.

In an interview over at TopCast with Tim Topham, I talked about how preconceived notions can hold us back. 

By keeping an open mind & consistently learning new ideas, I was able to break a preconceived notion about the future of my studio.  Instead of waiting years for that new future, it turns out I could make a change now.

Marie Forleo talks about changing our thoughts to “What can I learn from this?” & “How can this work for me?” (p. 11)

Some of the most innovative ideas I have had for my studio & this site have come from these 2 questions.  As a travelling teacher, much of what I read online had to be adapted.  As an online teacher, the same has held true. 

The possibilities were there.  It just took time to figure out everything.

2. Mindset matters

As a teacher, I believe that not only do we control our actions, but each action has a consequence.

Sometimes our actions are more instinctual vs. well-thought-out.

Sometimes consequences are positive & others are negative.

As a parent, I’ve tried to teach this to my kids through my words & actions.  There are times when I’m more successful than others.

“Belief becomes the source of your limitation or your liberation.  It doesn’t matter what’s true, it matters what you believe …

Consistent action, creativity & commitment all play a role [in whether you achieve what you believe].”

~ Marie Forleo

It’s easy to say that something won’t work or there are insurmountable obstacles in the way.  And, you may have some truth to what you are saying.

When the government dictates that you can’t teach in-person lessons, It doesn’t matter how much you:

  • May believe in-person lessons are better for your student (belief)
  • Consistently keep on top of the latest requirements for businesses (action)
  • Come up with creative lesson ideas for in-person lessons (creativity)
  • And, commit to opening up your studio as soon as possible to in-person lessons (commitment).

Until the government rules change, you are taking action & committing to a plan that won’t liberate you.  It will limit you.

Mindset + open to possibilities

When we have an open mindset, stay open to possibilities & take action, amazing things can happen.

Instead of focusing on in-person lessons, what can you adapt to online lessons?  How can you make online lessons work for your students?  And, how can you bring those creative ideas into your studio?

For our family, we realized that we had to upgrade our internet plan while everyone was working from home.  Between my husband remotely working, our twins having school meetings each day & my Zoom lessons, our streaming needs were through the roof.

We tried a wifi extender to see if that would do the trick.  Unfortunately, that just spread the signal to other parts of the house but didn’t make the strength of our bandwidth any stronger.

We needed “More! Power!” 

Imagine with me … A villain yelling “More! Power!” to the minions as the storm crashes all around.  Our intrepid hero (or heroine) valiantly tries to stop this evil plan from actually occurring before it’s too late.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to jump through all the plot twists of our hero.  My husband just called our internet provider to upgrade our plan so we had more bandwidth (power for online streaming).

I know, a little anti-climactic. 

But, the point still stands. 

Looking at what is in your control & making small changes is what leads to big changes.

Maybe you have to teach online.  What can you do online that will lead to better lessons later in-person?

To figure out “everything”, sometimes it means taking a roundabout approach in order to get to the ultimate dream.

3. Embracing fear

We work in an industry that has a certain amount of uncertainty.  Even at the best of times.

There are no guarantees that students will return each year, that parents will follow your policies & that each studio decision you make will be a hit.

It can be easy to allow fear, anxiety, or stress to keep us from moving forward.  Especially when it feels like there is so much out of your control.

I’m a worrier by nature.  I come from a long line of worriers.  And, I can see in my children that this is a trait they have also inherited.

One of the exercises in Marie’s book happens to be a long-time favourite of mine.

See, it turns out that if you are worrier, telling yourself to not worry is about as effective as telling gravity to stop pulling things down.  It just ain’t happenin’.

Here’s how I keep a handle on my worrying tendencies:

Write down the worst-case scenario.  The absolute worst thing that could possibly happen.

Write down the best-case scenarios.  The stars have aligned, the fates have looked favourably on you & there is nothing that could make it better.

Be specific.

What can you do that would reduce the chances of a “worst-case scenario”?

By planning for the worst, you have actionable mini-steps that bring down the likelihood of it ever happening. 

4. Slow & steady progress forward

The best way to build balance in your life & creativity in your studio is to make micro-changes.

By taking small steps forward, you consistently expand your comfort zone. 

One day you realize you are living the life you always dreamed & have accomplished more than you had originally thought possible.

~ Rosemarie Penner

Much like learning an instrument, that growth forward isn’t always going to feel like you are moving forward.

“Don’t be afraid of the ups & downs.  Instead, prepare creative ways to deal with & learn from them.  Expect that it will feel like you’re taking one step forward, then taking four back.  Above all, cultivate patience.”

~ Marie Forleo

When you are in the daily grind of everyday life, it can be hard to see your progress.  

Think about when you haven’t seen your younger students for a couple of months.  Chances are there is one phrase that pops out of your mouth more than any other.  “Look how much you’ve grown!”  (Or some variation of this.) 

To your students & their parents, the change wasn’t really noticeable.  Because you weren’t there for the day-to-day, you are able to see how much has changed, even if they didn’t.

The same goes for the changes you make.

You don’t have to figure out everything all at once.  Small changes are better than no changes.

5. Focus on the big picture

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or unsure what to do next, chances are you are focused on the small stuff.

The small stuff may not feel like small stuff at all.  “This is my livelihood, Rosemarie!  That’s NOT small stuff!”

You’re right.  Keeping your studio open & successful is important.  Paying bills & keeping a roof over your head is necessary.

But, what will you remember … or perhaps more importantly, what do you want others to remember about you many years from now?

“The measure of our lives is not determined by what we achieve for ourselves; it’s determined by what we share, give & contribute to others.”

~ Marie Forleo

To figure out ‘everything’, understand that while you do have big decisions, pivoting to a new path or solution is okay. 

Nothing is set in stone.

Or, as I kept telling myself during the initial months of COVID … “Everything is figureoutable.”

Some plans or solutions will work really well.  And, others will be ‘epic fails’.

In my studio, those ‘epic fails’ get a good laugh & we take what we can from them.  My students learn that it’s okay not to know all the answers.  My clients learn that I will admit when something isn’t working & collaborate with them to create a solution for everyone.

Do you know how freeing it is to do that?

By focusing on the big picture of guiding my students on their musical journey & creating great working relationships with my clients, I don’t have to sweat the ‘small stuff’.

How to Figure Out “Everything”

To find out more about how to create a growth mindset & let go of the ‘small stuff’, I would highly recommend “Everything is Figureoutable” by Marie Forleo.

She has a tell-it-like-it-is approach that I love.  Plus, the book is filled with case studies & “insight to action” challenges to make sure you make the most of your reading.

In the comments below, let me know …

What was your biggest takeaway?

Whether from this article or the book, I would love to know how you figure out “everything”!

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