15 min read

Four Words to Outlaw Now with Shannon Fable

Oct 6, 2021 7:43:41 AM


SFABLE - full blurred back


Let’s talk about why we say the things that we say. Today on the podcast we continue our chat about women in fitness with Shannon Fable, one of the industry’s top consultants, speakers and thought leaders, about four words to avoid using if you wish to have a successful and satisfying career. 

Shannon has spent a couple of decades developing strategies for leading fitness brands and individual fitness pros, as well as writing and presenting on what she’s learned, and today she’s going to share with us her observations about four little words that, when repeated automatically over time, reveal a lot about who we are and why we do what we do- and they can really get in the way of success. 

What is so interesting about this topic isn't just the words themselves, or the meanings of the words … it is why we say them. What are you really saying when you use these words and, sometimes more importantly, what are you not saying when you use these words? 

You can listen here or on any major podcasting platform by searching "The Independent Fitness Pro Podcast".


Visit Shannon Fable's website here.

Read more by Shannon Fable here.

Learn about Trello, the task management tool that Shannon spoke about, here.


Shannon Fable (01:54):
Yes, I can. So I'll give you the four and then I'll break them down and, and we can go from there. Um, the first one, and I guess I should say before I get started, these are not just female words, but you know, if we look at those female fallacies, I find that women tend to use these four words more than men do. Um, again, that's a gross generalization. So I would say anyone listening to this can, can take a lesson from these four words and just noticing when you start to put them in your vocabulary, that that's the best thing. So I outlaw these four words and what ends up happening with my clients is it's they realize how habitually they go to this word, how it's just in their vernacular, it's in their toolbox. And so they stop and they pause and we catch each other on the words.

And then, like you said, they, they have to do some real introspective thinking or retrospective thinking and go, why am I choosing that word? And what's a better word. Yeah. So busy, overwhelmed, confused and sorry. So busy is the first one. Um, I think, I think that, I mean, busy is like my least favorite word in the whole entire universe, mainly because it's just become our default answer to everything and our default, excuse for everything. How are you today busy. Um, why didn't you get that done? I'm just so busy. And I used to do this workshop called, um, I don't even remember what it's called, but it's about time management and I would put up a slide and I'm like, here's the deal? Like busy is a drug that most of us are addicted to. And the second side would say, we're all busy. Get over it or manage you're busy. Like, it just, it can't be your excuse anymore because everyone is as busy as they believe they are. Does that make sense?

James Brown (03:46):
I'm, uh, I'm fairly obsessed with the overuse of this term.

Shannon Fable (03:51):
And people are like, well, what were do you use instead? I'm like, okay. I mean, cause there's two things. There's what do I replace the word with so I can stop using it. And then what do I do? Reduce my level of feeling busy and frantic. So the first is I tend to use the word full. So I just got back from a trip with my kiddo to New York city. She's 12. We had an amazing time. We were like, well, how was it? And my initial reaction is I do want to say it was really busy. We did so much stuff, but even when I just looked that word around and um, you know, you're at her mercy, but when I flipped the word around and I say it was full, it was so full and it was filled to the brim. That just makes it feel light, airy, and exciting versus busy as this word.

So, you know, flipping it is the first thing. The second is I asked my clients to say, okay, are you really busy or is this something you don't want to do? Do you not have a good system for ensuring that your brain is not trying to keep track of all of your open loops? Because that's usually why you feel busy. It's that eight, you know, just a minute ago, like you feel like you have a million things to do. I D everyone has a million things to do. If I looked at my entire list of everything that actually needs to be done in the near future, I would lose my mind and I would use the word busy all the time, but I trust my system to tell me, like we talked about earlier, the most important thing I need to do today. Great example today I have phone calls from 9:00 AM until 3:00 PM, where I have a hard stop to go get my kid to transition her to gymnastics. I do not work past six o'clock. So I know I like when I looked at my thing today, it's like, I can't do anything except prepare for my phone calls. Am I busy? No, my schedule is very full today. Therefore, the thing that is essential is to prepare for each of those. And when I have some downtime to take a minute, that's it, it changes my whole perspective about being busy,

James Brown (05:54):
Open loops, the open loops analogy. When I think being busy, that is what, that's what I feel in my head. It's like, I have all these things that aren't done. And your advice is so good. Is it, uh, to, to have a system, to, to prevent that

Shannon Fable (06:10):
You do have to have a system. And that leads to the second word, which is overwhelmed because your brain is not meant for holding your to do's. And like, if you think of it, as you know, I always use the analogy, all the tabs that are open on your browser, or how many windows are open on your computer, your brain is just physical Ram. It has a capacity. I mean, it can hold an immense amount of information, but your brain can not have all these open tabs or open loops. As I said, you have to have a system that allows you to catalog it, get it down and out of your brain. And not just in a list that you have to keep looking at every day, too, because that will make you feel overwhelmed. If you keep looking at your list every day, you will feel overwhelmed and busy. But when I trust my system, that it is going to push things into what I call my backlog until they're necessary. And only thing that is going to be in front of my face, or they, the only things on my to-do list today are my phone calls and the things that I need to do in between the phone calls to prepare for the phone calls. That is it, that's it because it's all I can do today. So I'm not going to feel overwhelmed.

James Brown (07:20):
Can I just ask you, um, cause you said you use Trello, which I've used in the past and it is using a tool like that is to me, extraordinarily helpful to, to achieving what you're talking about when you're organizing your priorities. Do you tend to look at your Trello board?

Shannon Fable (07:41):
Oh my gosh. My life is my brain is my Trello board. I have no thoughts in my brain except for what I'm currently working on. Um, but, but I will, I will say I used to be very bullish about this is the system use the system. And I have learned since then and working with, for some people, it works for some people. It doesn't, uh, you know, my rule of thumb is it has to be a system that will work for you and you need to set aside time to develop a system that works for you. And I mean, kind of everything I'm talking about today is, you know, I teach this thing called the find your own way framework. And there are plenty of books and things that tell you exactly what to do and the steps to take, but you, you have to look at it contextually and then figure out your unique path.

Shannon Fable (08:33):
And, you know, I could show you how my Trello board is set up. It's a work that's taken me seven years to get it to a place where like, it works for me, you know, constant renegotiation, reshuffling, just like, you know, I used to, uh, when I would feel overwhelmed in the past, I would buy a new paper planner and I would like just transition everything over into that. Like organize it differently. Um, yeah, a little peek into my psyche, but Trello for me, I'll tell you why. I love it. It's um, and why it may overwhelm some people. It is the world is your oyster. Like you can make it, do anything you want, if you spend time doing it. But for visual people, it's a great visual showcase of what you have to do. And it's very easy to hide things in your backlog. Like I said, but then not be gone forever. Um, lists make me feel really happy, moving things from one list to another, makes me very happy. Like there's beauty in the actual, just like crossing something off your list, make some people happy. Yeah, I chose great. You can add attachments to it, put links on it. Discussions inside of it, dates on it, reminders on it. I mean, just has a ton of functionality, but you do have to spend some time, uh, with it to make it work for you. For sure.

James Brown (09:52):
The MyFitPod Launch Accelerator Course is your launch pad for success. In less than three weeks, you'll learn to market and sell your sessions with our expert help; you'll master social media with pro advice and a customizable posting kit; you'll publish your own pro website in minutes with our foolproof template. And you'll learn how to stream your services online, build your community of followers and get personalized support from experts. Attend a free info session to receive a 50% discount on the cost of the course. Get ready to level up. Learn more at MyFitPod.com.

Shannon Fable (10:34):
Finding a system is really great. The other thing that can help you feel less overwhelmed is figuring out how to break things down into, and I've said this before, break things down into their smallest manageable chunk. So a real actionable practical tip that I give my clients when they are figuring out, you know, what's my thing. What's the thing I need to do today or this week a every card or, you know, if you're not using Trello, every thing on my to-do list starts with a verb because to do our action. And if you have something on your board that just says birthday present, that's not an action. That's just a thought. So take the time to go, okay, what do I need to do about the birthday present purchased birthday, present, but even something as simple as purchase a birthday, present to me that might stay on your list.

Have you ever had something like that? Stay on your list for 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 days, two, three weeks. Because every time you look at it, it's like, yeah, I need to purchase it your months. Um, and that's because, and this is like so, so weird, but it's a good illustration because most people have been there. You put it down and it keeps rolling over because purchase, there's some things you have to do before each of us, you need to know when you need it. Am I going to have to ship it? What does this person want? Where can I find that thing? Is there a website? Do I need to compare prices? Like even purchasing a birthday present could be, it's a project and I'm using air quotes, but that's why I say like, you have to make sure it has a verb. And then once you see that verb, make sure that that verb is not vague.

So another one that I see a lot of times is, you know, my, my clients will say, I need to move my business forward, or I need to revamp my website, um, revamped website. That is as vague as it gets because revamping, what does that mean? Well, what does it even mean? And again, it's gonna, you know, maybe a better illustration than the birthday one, but that's going to continue to be on your list Fiverr. So instead one of your to-do is, might be brainstorm all of the things that I need to change on my website. And if you get the verb, right, and you get it to its least common denominator, then you're going to know what done looks like. And that's very important because you can't cross it off until it's done. So once I have them get their verb, I'm like, okay, then what does done look like, okay, I'm going to have a list of everything on every page that I want to redo.

Great. So once I do that and cross it off, you kind of get the idea, but that's another way to stop feeling so overwhelmed. I think a lot of times people look at things on their to do list and they feel overwhelmed because it's not actually a to do it's a project and you might need to set aside some time to do some critical thinking. Uh, lots of things I work on with my clients with this overwhelmed thing, uh, with something I call the TBD technique, the time by design technique, you got to find the time, make the time to not be overwhelmed, but I'll leave that alone. Confused is the other one. Oh my gosh. Um, again, I don't hear men saying confused very often at all. I hear women saying it and it's a harder one to eliminate altogether. But what I tell my clients to do is when you feel like you're getting ready to use the word, confused, stop and ask yourself, am I truly confused?

Because the person that's providing me the information to do that thing has not been clear. And I need clarity on what they're asking for, where I need to go. What I need to do is it that I truly don't understand the concept that's being presented or the information that's being presented. And I need to spend some more time with it and maybe review it again. Like what ownership can I have on feeling confused? Or is it just an excuse because it's hard work or it's a new concept, or it goes against your natural grain. Um, because I will tell you, especially if you're using this word with people in your army of empowerment or mentors or teachers that you have, it's a really challenging word for us to hear, because I don't know how to help you at all. You come at me with as saying, I'm confused, help me.

Well, I can't help you unless you know what you need. So to me, it's not necessarily a word that you have to eliminate, but it's a word that you have to be. Um, I don't remember what the movie was, but do you remember where they say precision of language be precise with your language? Are you really confused or do you have a specific question? Can you get your confusion into a specific action that someone else can help you with or you can help yourself with? Or was it just an excuse because you didn't set aside the time and you tried to do it in between clients, on your phone while you were changing your clothes. Like those are all real things could happen. So confused as another one.

Um, yeah. And then the last one, we've all heard this one. It's sorry. Um, women use the word, sorry. So often, so often. And so unnecessarily, usually it's just the word and then a comma, and then we actually make the statement. So again, just putting that out to my clients, it makes them pause before they use it. Now, there are some times I do not out all this word altogether because there are times when you should say, oh my gosh, I'm sorry, but things like, excuse me, I have a question. Can't you just say, I have a question or not apologizing for speaking of this goes back to that whole own your accomplishments. Um, knowing your worth, asking for an advocating for yourself, standing up for yourself, you don't always have to apologize for being there. So that's when the word needs to be eliminated, not in all situations, but if you ever find that you're using it, just because it softens whatever the rest of the statement is, or if you feel like whatever your statement is, or question is as an interruption.

So you do it as a sec, a non-sequitur then that would be when I would eliminate it. So I think that deserves less, uh, of, um, airspace to talk about, because I think most women are, are pretty, uh, open to that. The other one that goes along with, sorry, sometimes they're interchangeable is when we put the word just in front of a lot of stuff. I just have one little question. Instead of I have a question, we just, we, we, we diminish what we're asking a, again, it, it reminds me of people just shrinking back into the corner. So sorry. And just are those two last words that I, that I get my clients to really think about when they're talking.

James Brown (17:10):
So, what I love about all of these is how it really compels you, you know, trying to avoid these really compels you to think about why you would be saying them. Can you recommend anywhere that, that people can learn more about this?

Shannon Fable (17:26):
Yeah, sure. I mean, feel free to go to my website. Um, I have a lot of freebies and then things that I've done out in the industry, whether it's writing articles about these topics or webinars that I've recorded, that are free and downloadable and easily accessible, but the one freebie on my site that I think anyone, not just women, but men as well, women to need a little bit more, uh, th that I think they would find really helpful is something called the TBD technique, which I mentioned a minute ago. So TBD, you know, normally means to be determined. And what I find is that when people are trying to do big things, whether it's climbed the ladder, the corporate ladder, or strike out on their own, they're trying to find the time to make it happen. So, you know, like I said earlier in between clients, or I'm gonna wake up early on Saturday morning, I'm going to do a little bit of this.

Shannon Fable (18:17):
And Ooh, when the kids go to bed, I've got one hour. I haven't tried to squeeze this in. And so it's a play on words. I want you to replace that, to be determined acronym with time by design, you got all the time you need, if you just do a little mental reframing of where to find the time. So it's a worksheet that will take you through figuring this out, and then five supportive videos that help you dig in deep to design your week, design your days and get the right things done. That won't make you feel busy, overwhelmed, confused, or in a need of an apology. So that would be a great start. And then I think I mentioned earlier, if you are a woman, sorry, man, it is for women only. I don't mean to exclude you, but I do have a really fun accountability group for women.

Shannon Fable (19:06):
I call it our little girl group and we meet once a month for a group call. And then every day we're together on slack and boxer acting as one another's coworkers, the proverbial water cooler talk sometimes happens, but we're also, tufting out things to hold one, another accountable for the big things that we're trying to get done on the week. What we're trying to move forward. We do little mini lessons. We have book groups, but I I'd love for you to reach out if that sounds like it would be interesting to you, but that would be where I would start. And then of course, I mean, feel free to reach out to me. If one of these items really peaked your interest. I'm sure I can point you in the direction of specific resources, like the books that I mentioned and, um, different webinars and different courses I've been to help me get a handle on some of these topics and techniques.

James Brown (19:52):
And can all of this be accessed through your, through your website?

Shannon Fable (19:55):
Yes. ShannonFable.com.

James Brown (19:58):
Well, thank you so much for being here today. Shannon, this is going to be so valuable to, I think anybody that listens to it, but especially women really appreciate you being here.

Shannon Fable (20:08):
Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

Blog Team

Written by Blog Team