Misti Burmeister
author, speaker, executive coach

Misti Burmeister

Misti Burmeister, author of "From Boomers to Bloggers," founded Inspirion Inc. and specializes in speaking, executive coaching, and generational diversity in the workplace.

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A new perspective

Q: We all need advice as we seek success in our careers and lives. What are your five favorite business books, and why? What advice wasn't so helpful?

A month after quitting my job in Bethesda, Md., and several attempts at finding a new, more fulfilling job, I found myself struggling to feel like I was worth anything. I went from feeling like I was on top of the world, graduating with my masters degree at the top of my class and having made a measurable difference at my university, to living in a one-bedroom apartment in Bethesda, completely alone.

At the time, I highly disliked reading, so when an acquaintance generously lent me a copy of "You Can Feel Good Again," by Richard Carlson, I reluctantly took it. Two days later, I finished the book and learned just how much power I had over my feelings. While my results did not come overnight, this book gave me the foundation for shifting my thoughts, which naturally helped to shift my feelings.

A few years later I came across "Leadership From the Inside Out," by Kevin Cashman. Between his analogies and exercises at the end of each chapter, I got a whole new understanding of my motivations and what was holding me back. Just as the title suggests, I learned that leadership begins with right here with me and the results of the work I do on myself show up in the world outside of me. My external results are always a direct manifestation of my internal monologue. Once I owned responsibility for that truth, I was able to make the shifts necessary to create the results I so desperately wanted in my life. You know, like landing the professional opportunities I wanted and attracting really great friends.

Just over a year ago, a friend recommended a book by Byron Katie called "Loving What is." While I already had some understanding of the ideas Katie talks about, the four questions she poses in the book have been enormously helpful in my moments of frustration. I find myself having extraordinarily unkind monologues -- if only you could hear my thoughts at times! Katie's book has helped me stop the monologue by being with the truth of what is -- and loving it.

Several months ago my partner lost her job and was offered another the next day, which meant we had to prepare for a move from Virginia to Maryland. Moving meant selling our home, moving into a rental, losing lots of money and having to re-establish ourselves in a new community.

My internal monologue went something like this, "I'm never going to find new friends," "We're never going to find the perfect place to rent," "I should have done more to help her see what was coming," "I'm not good at change." All these thoughts were driving me crazy, leaving me feeling a bit depressed -- like a victim. I finally stopped all of it by answering, honestly, the four questions posed in Katie's book, "Loving What Is." Doing so transformed my thoughts and, therefore, my feelings within minutes. "Loving What Is" provides the foundation to locating the gift in every experience.

By Misti Burmeister  |  June 26, 2010; 3:36 PM ET  | Category:  Careers and success Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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My business coach has a saying that makes a lot of sense, "When the pupil is ready, the teacher appears." We have to be ready to open our thoughts and minds to new ideas. Without the right mindset, ideas are just collections of words that do not move us to action. I read quite a lot, and I've read works of fiction that made just as much impact on my view of life as the many business books and non-fiction works that crowd my shelves.

I think there is cumulative value in reading. We tend to store away ideas that ferment somewhere in our minds until the moment they are needed and then they appear as a solution for the challenges we face.

I have found great benefit to skill-building books like "Made to Stick" and "Switch" by Chip & Dan Heath; and books that challenge our assumptions about the world (everything Malcolm Gladwell has ever written.) I loved Rosabeth Moss Kanter's "Confidence." Books I also loved that are not at all business books are Marc Ian Barasch's "Field Notes on the Compassionate Life" and Jeanette Wall's memoir "The Glass Castle." I generally find some nugget worth holding onto that resurfaces quite unexpectedly at exactly the moment I need that lesson.

For me, reading is like continuously planting seeds; never knowing what flowers will sprout or when - only that they will.

Posted by: csread | June 28, 2010 10:45 AM
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