“If peace comes from seeing the whole, then misery stems from a loss of perspective.” — Mark Nepo 

Unexpected Challenges After a Successful Speech 

After delivering a speech in January, the response was overwhelming—I not only sold out of books but also surpassed expectations, leading to an unexpected challenge. With demand soaring, I found myself in need of a new batch of books for signing and shipping. However, when I tried to place an order through my printer, Lightning Source, I discovered that all my book titles had been unexpectedly canceled. Despite my persistent emails and phone calls to resolve the problem, nothing had changed in weeks. I had clients waiting for my book, and no response from my printer. 

The Profound Insight 

It felt like I had exhausted all avenues, yet the problem remained unsolved. It was a stressful situation, until I recalled advice that was offered to me just a few weeks ago. After enduring two years of nerve pain in my arms and seeking help from numerous healthcare professionals, I reached a tipping point. Realizing that my agitation and stress related to the pain in my arms was only exacerbating the situation, a mentor, Gloria, shared a profound insight with me. 

Embracing a New Approach 

“Misti, our brains are wired to find and fix problems. We assess, reassess, and obsess about our problems because our brains think that if we do that, the problem will be solved. Of course, stressing about a problem often makes for more tension, and often doesn’t solve the problem.” 

Her words struck a chord with me. I recognized the pattern of relentlessly obsessing over physical and emotional pain in an attempt to alleviate it. Our brains are wired to fix problems, yet they don’t always see the complete picture. Consequently, the more we focus on the problem, the more tension and stress we experience. 

Zooming Out: A New Perspective 

“After you have done everything you can to address the problem, and your brain is still in full-on fix-it mode, try dispersing your attention—zoom out,” she suggested. 

While this concept made sense in theory, I pondered how to apply it when facing an urgent situation, such as fulfilling client book orders. How could I disperse my attention when it felt as though the situation demanded my full focus? This conundrum is not unique, as many of us have encountered seemingly insurmountable problems in various aspects of our lives, from health and family to our work. 

An Unexpected Revelation 

The answer to these questions eluded me until this morning. Let me explain…

During an evening stroll after dinner, consumed by the weight of the book predicament, I suddenly (and unconsciously) noticed my feet on the sidewalk. Then, both my wife and I were captivated by the most magnificent bird sound. Shifting our attention to the sounds of nature allowed us to momentarily detach from the book problem. I use the term “unconsciously” because I wasn’t consciously trying to disperse my attention; it occurred spontaneously, and for me. This is what transpires when we remain receptive to the potential of new ideas to assist us. 

Embracing the Positive Impact 

Instead of continuously fixating on solving the problem, it’s helpful to zoom out, step away from the problem, and recognize that there are solutions that we cannot yet see. Experiencing the positive impact of my attention being dispersed away from the problem and onto the beautiful sounds of nature, I found myself incredibly curious about the ideas and solutions that might come to me. Not only did I get the idea of contacting people at Lightning Source via LinkedIn, which granted me access to the person I needed to fix the problem, but somehow a mysterious box of “Provoking Greatness” appeared in my garage. 

Once we have done what we can with what we have available to us, it benefits us greatly to step back, disperse our attention by allowing the birds and the tress to grant us additional ideas and solutions. When we do this, we discover the wisdom that problems can offer without overwhelming our nervous system. The key lies in stepping back into awareness. 

“… misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything.” —Mark Nepo

Here’s to your greatness,

Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister helps companies and leaders motivate and inspire excellence. For nearly 20 years, she has facilitated communication that results in trust, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit https://www.MistiBurmeister.com