It’s a common fallacy. People think just because you are here, there was no trip, no roller coaster ride you took to get there. The success you have now was not part of a fierce battle for survival, it just happened. No work, no risk, no luck.
Success is born of failure. Greatness and significance in this world and in the lives of others is no accident. It doesn’t happen by chance, it happens because you had the courage to make it happen, you took risks and by doing so, inspire others to hope and to dream.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (69): Measurable Greatness
“What I do today is about bringing people back to life”, says Misti Burmesiter, “the life that is within them.”
It’s what Misti does now, and she is a game changer for the companies, organizations and the lives of the people she works with, but this destination is only part of her journey and a time where Misti had decided nothing was worth it.
“I came out of college and could not figure out how to be successful”, says Misti. I figured I would help a CEO at a government contractor near DC build a business and do something meaningful to me. But four months into her job, Misti was miserable. She was doing meeting planning and detailed and mundane tasks which left her feeling like nothing mattered. She decided to do a presentation to show the company’s CEO she understood the organization and its challenges and could help to solve them. The CEO looked right at her and told her, “I don’t know what your parents had to do to deal with you, but it’s obvious you have problems with anxiety and should take medication to deal with it.”
Misti quit the next day. She says, “I was not going to feel dead just to make a living. If I had to be dead to make a living, I might as well kill myself. I decided in that moment I wouldn’t do any work that I wasn’t empowered and inspired by.”
But inspiration can sometimes be a moving target, especially when early life had been so tough and on the day Misti quit, life wasn’t getting any easier. “I am the youngest of four children”, says Misti, “and no one could emotionally or financially support me. The day I quit I had $37.00 in my bank account and a $1,000 rent payment due. Fortunately I had two masters degrees, an undergraduate degree in kinesiology and had attended massage therapy school, so I started doing that and some personal fitness training while I figured it out.”
Figuring things out had become a way of life for Misti. Remember, it’s not where you are, it’s how you got here.
“I was one of those ADD kids who needed a lot of attention. I did not now how to get attention in a positive way so I would act out. I would tell teachers not to touch me, don’t put your hand on me or I’m going to punch you. I actually punched a teacher after she grabbed me in the hallway. I was in a lot of trouble in my youth, in and out of court every week, mostly for stealing.”
Misti and her siblings were not doing well where they lived in Commerce City, Colorado so she says her parents decided to caravan across the country while they looked for work; her dad as a mechanic, her mom in government jobs. Misti says, “if they didn’t find work, we kept going. Eventually we ran out of money after crossing the Nebraska/Colorado border, so we lived in a trailer and tents for a portion of one summer and my parents got jobs that barely paid the bills. We ended up living in a tiny, itty-bitty town called Crook, Colorado.”
Back in Commerce City Misti had been misdiagnosed with a learning disability and was put into special education classes where the students were learning the most basic of skills, well below Misti’s capacity for comprehension. “They would tell you I had a learning disability”, she says. “I would tell you I was highly bored and not getting the attention I craved. I clearly don’t have a learning disability. I have two masters degrees and have written four books. I have some OCD and some ADD, so fortunately I can focus for long periods of time on something I care about. I didn’t care about anything when I was younger.”
But a move to the small town of Crook changed her life. Misti says, “I found a principal who believed in me, put me in normal classes and I found sports. Sports changed my life entirely. I became a three-time state champion in Shot Put and Discus and when I graduated I was named student-athlete of the year in my town. The governor of Colorado even sent me a letter to congratulate me. I thought he must have sent it to the wrong person, but as I read the letter I realized what I was doing, people were following me. I started to learn what it meant to lead.”
Lead yourself first, do it right, never give up and others will be inspired to follow.
Fast forward to the time after she quit her job at Nova. Misti says she did 150 informational job interviews. One-hundred and fifty!! By doing so she says she realized that the more seasoned executives she was interviewing had a common theme; they kept complaining about these young professionals and a failure to communicate with them, trouble with the back-and-forth dialogue, misperceptions and what something means to someone, which is misinterpreted by someone else. A generational gap.
Misti had found her niche.
Six years later she started to research companies which were void of generational conflict, organizations doing great work without this barrier. Think of companies like Google or Zappos. Misti says she wanted to understand what they were doing differently which naturally caused collaboration and innovation. She found these companies that debunked the myth, that innovative minds are not an “age thing”.
“Every person I have ever met wants to do something of value or that is valuable”, says Misti. “I did research and found companies and organizations where the employees want to do things that matter, give feedback and have opportunities to grow. I found organizations that have a clear vision, are able to communicate to the individual their opportunity to advance, where feedback is open and clear. There is a sense of community, they care about each other as people. They take risks by handing off a project to someone who doesn’t know how to do it yet, but can and will with the right support. Then the individual is empowered. And this all starts from the top.”
Now Misti works with senior executives and CEO’s to intentionally disrupt the status quo, cause innovation and collaboration, across generations. It’s all about measurable greatness, ( http://measurablegreatness.com/). It is the concept behind VOICE, as Misti explains on her website: “Nearly every leader wants a team of highly productive, team players, who care about their work. And, the very nature of leadership begs constant improvement. But where do you begin, how do you measure it, and how do you ensure consistent progress?” After all, the measure of life, of anyone’s life, or business is progress. Everyday.
Misti says she plays off of her experience in life, her love of sports and her love of motion and understanding how things work, in the human body and in the human mind. “When I look at someone’s body to see where the pain is and how to handle it, it’s the same I do with a corporation”, says Misti. “If your muscles are tight, they are making you shift in one direction. Look at a company you might think your problem is turnover, or mentors. That’s not your problem, you don’t have vision, don’t communicate, others are hording or hiding information because they don’t know realize what they know, or what they do, contributes to the success of an organization.”
It comes down to a few simple concepts Misti has learned in her own life, inspiration, collaboration & communication. Misti says, “you don’t put greatness in anyone. The greatness is already there. All you have to do is provoke it.”
Simply bring them back to life.
Until next time, thanks for taking the time.
The four books authored by Misti Burmeister can be found at http://measurablegreatness.com/:
From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations
From Boomers to Bloggers: A Practical Guide for Leaders of Multi-Generational Teams
Hidden Heroes (A Memoir)
Provoking Greatness: Unleashing Hidden Potential
Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH Advisors
Author: The #1 Amazon Best-Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
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