Danielle LaPorte never went to college, but she ran a Washington D.C. think tank. Her approach to success is counterintuitive and bold. Her new book, The Fire Starter Sessions, A Soulful and Practical Guide to Creating Success on Your Own Terms, recommends living your best life by doing what comes easily.
How did you figure this out?
"From a lot of pain. I spent years thinking I should be more rounded, forcing myself to love Excel documents and managing people," LaPorte says with a laugh.
"A boss said to me, You just want to do what you're good at. Like I'd robbed a bank. When I do what I'm good at I'm happier. When I'm in a better mood, I'm more productive. I can be more useful to everybody. Then I'm prosperous.
"I started noticing high talent/high profile people like football players, Bruce Springsteen, Lance Armstrong who are clearly doing what their god given talent is. I heard pattern in their interviews, a disbelief that they're so successful doing something that comes so naturally.
That's great for people who can do what they love. What about the ones who don't know what they love?
"One answer is do anything. Any decision is better than none, so pick something and go for it. Even if you bomb, you'll learn some things. The point is to keep moving. Also, once you get clear on how you want to feel, things start to open up for you.
"We have our relationship to goals and ambition completely upside down. Those things we think we should want - hardwood floors and a labradoodle — really we're going after stuff we don't have much inner attachment to. Get clear on how you want to feel at work, with your significant other. Then you'll start to figure out what you want.
"It's deceptively simple. It's so great when you stop forcing things. Say I'm joyful, let's go in that direction."
I guess it's pretty easy to figure out what you don't like.
"I call the euphoria of admitting when it sucks. We sometimes resist getting realistic because we're not sure how we'll solve things. We don't admit to the problem. Stand in the truth and the solution comes. You get so much relief. This job is soul crushing. The relationship sucks. I'm going to have a talk with my boss or break out on my own.
"You need a stop-doing list. I'm going to stop undercharging for my work. I'm going to stop working with that client who makes me pull my hair out. I'm going to stop staying up late. I will never take the red eye again. What you don't do is as important as what you do do.
"The point of a stop-doing list is to free up space you can fill with things you love."
Are there any signposts that you're on the right track?
"I believe in synchronicity. Life will show you that you're on the right track. There will be a great dissolution of resentment. You can reframe your heaviest obligations into choices. You're choosing to care for your disabled sister. You're choosing to be loving. That may give it some lightness.
"This is all the more reason to be in touch with the things you are passionate about. You have to activate your deep interests. The more you're in the easy, inspired passion zone, the more useful you are to everyone."
Read more of Danielle LaPorte's iconoclastic and effective advice for living your best life.