How Cee Lo Green Taught Me to Achieve


May 14, 2011   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Cee Lo Green

I’ve got to confess. On November 9, 2010, my life changed. You see I was minding my own business, watching the Colbert Report, and saw Cee Lo Green pick up the microphone to finish the show by singing his hit single “Forget You” (aka “[expletive deleted] You”).

Since that day, that song has been playing in my head non-stop…for almost 6 months now. (By the way, if you haven’t heard it yet, open up YouTube and listen before reading further). Well wait, I’ll put it right here. If you’ve seen this, skip it and scroll past the video.

With a song stuck in my head for 6 months straight I had two options:

  1. Punch me very hard in the face and hope a different song would start playing in my head, or
  2. Analyzed the lyrics until I learned something useful.

That’s how Cee Lo Green taught me to achieve. Let me explain…

I’ve never been all that productive of a person. You see, I’ve always waited until I was “good enough” until I started taking meaningful action. I would do tons of work trying to become “good enough,” but since that’s a pretty vague goal I tended to get stuck always preparing to take real action. I would rarely accomplish something meaningful.

Luckily Cee Lo stepped in. You see, in “Forget You” he tells a beautiful story: a guy loves a girl, a guy sees a girl in a car with a rich dude, the guy gets angry that he wasn’t rich enough for her, and the guy says screw this. He sings, “I guess the change in my pocket wasn’t enough I’m like, forget you!” And moves on. He could have sung, “I guess the change in my pocket wasn’t enough I’m like…well, I guess I’ll get a second job, try to invest wisely, and eventually win you over.” Not quite as catchy.

The wise Cee Lo realized that it wasn’t worth wishing he had more money, or waiting until he got his Ferrari. If that girl wasn’t going to be with him…forget her. Realistically, even if he did wait until he got that cash, car, and Xbox, that girl still wouldn’t want him (or by then he would have been over her). So he started from where he was, not from where he hoped to be one day.

What does any of this have to do with real-world achievement?

On one hand, most of us want our life to change in some way. On the other hand, most of us are waiting for something before we can take action. We’re waiting to finish a class, get a promotion, have a new situation, or find a direction. Many of us think that if only we had that one thing in our life happen, then we could start making progress.

  • I need a perfect outline before I write that essay or blog post
  • I need the perfect workout and diet plan before I start exercising
  • I need the perfect website, traffic, blog, or product before I can start an online business
  • I need to wait for the right time before I quit the job I hate

I know what I did for the longest time is either:

  1. work my butt off trying to be prepared enough to start making progress, or
  2. pout and feel sorry for myself.

If only I had asked, “WWCLD?” (what would Cee Lo do?). He would have said, “Forget being ‘good enough.’ I am where I am. I don’t need to wait until I’m ‘good enough’ or ‘ready.’ I am going to start moving forward from where I am right now.”

Start achieving like Cee Lo

I’m not telling you to go record a hit record (although if you do, referencing Mr. T’s catchphrase like Cee Lo does in “Forget You” is always the right choice). Instead, pick the biggest goal you currently have in your life. Got it? Okay, I don’t care if you’re starting at zero in pursuing that goal. I don’t care how much you have to learn before you can do it. The most important thing you can do is to say “forget you” to whatever you think you need to do before you act. Figure out how to take your first step now.

Don’t be like Cee Lo was before his “Forget You” kick. He had to “borrow, beg and steal and lie and cheat, trying to keep” the girl. In the same way, you’d have to work your ass off to get to a point where you are “good enough” to start taking real-world action. Screw the ideal. Start from where you are right now.

P.S. I’ve not consulted Cee Lo, but I’m pretty sure we’re best friends and he probably agrees with everything in this warped interpretation of his catchy song lyrics. Sorry Cee Lo if you’re being misrepresented here!


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