I like to keep it SUPER real with you. I’m not immune to struggles and hard moments. In fact, I had an incredibly challenging moment this week, but it turned out to be a very valuable learning experience.
If you’d rather listen to this blog than read it, please click play below. I highly recommend listening. It’s a bit more entertaining.
Tuesday, January 15th started out as a great day. We were just a few days into the Chasing Cupcakes launch, I closed on the new property on Cape Cod and I was settling back into my rhythm. I was up early, as usual, reading, journaling and drinking coffee. In my reading, I came across a story that I wanted to send my sister Debi. I found it super motivating so I recorded myself reading it and texted it to her. The story came from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening. I highly recommend you get a copy. I’ll paraphrase the story for you so you get the backstory – it matters. The full version is in the audio of this blog, linked here.
A Hindu master, tired of his apprentice always complaining, decided to teach him a lesson. He told him to take a handful of salt, pour it in a glass of water, and then drink from the glass.
It was awful. Miserable to drink.
The Hindu master then walked with his young apprentice to a nearby lake and instructed his student to take a second handful of salt and put it in the lake.
“Drink from the lake”, he instructed him.
The water was fresh. The young man couldn’t taste the salt.
“Son, the pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So, when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is enlarge your sense of things…Stop being a glass, become a lake.”
I sent the message off to my sister and went about my day. A few hours later I had a call with my book publisher to talk, for the first time since the release only 4 days earlier, about the initial sales numbers.
It’s my first book, so I didn’t really have a concept of how many I would sell. I do know my podcast numbers, so I thought that a good percentage of podcast listeners would be eager to buy the book. Plus, Chasing Cupcakes hit #1 new release in multiple categories on day one and made it to an overall top 200 list.
Based on those things, I had high expectations for the number of copies sold.
When I saw the numbers that day, I instantly felt gut punched. Before my rational brain could catch up, I felt sad. Disheartened. I felt like a failure.
The book sales numbers were no where near my podcast listener numbers. No where NEAR.
In a matter of seconds, I realized something major.
This feeling I was experiencing was almost exactly like the feeling I’ve felt a million times before when I’d get on the scale expecting to be several pounds down only to find that the number looking back up at me was the same, or even higher.
In those moments where reality didn’t reflect my expectations for weight loss, I’d often choose the perspective of, “What’s the point? Who even cares? Why do I try? This is pointless.”
So, as I sat at the table, looking at the book sale numbers and thinking about all those times I felt a similar way, I reminded myself:
How I respond in these moments determines where I go in my life.
It determines if I make progress or not. It determines if I’m motivated or not. It determines if I forge ahead or quit all together.
When I would look at the scale and not see the weight loss I was expecting or hoping for, how I responded was the difference maker:
- Do I feel sorry for myself?
- Do I throw a pity party?
- Do I see it as an opportunity to proceed more intelligently?
I was facing the same decision in that moment.
How I respond to a reality that doesn’t match my expectations determines where I go moving forward.
Would I throw a pity party and feel sorry for myself or would I choose to be curious instead of critical? Would I choose to use this information to proceed differently and more intelligently?
Would I tuck my tail between my legs and give up or would I use this moment to fuel growth and process?
I chose the latter. First, I had to check my expectations. I have never written a book. I don’t know what’s reasonable for sales.
My publisher told me the numbers were excellent.
Then, I had to shift gears.
“If I want to make this better, what are all my options? What can I do about it? How can I participate in the solution instead of fixating on the problem?”
I created a list of ideas, strategies, questions and tactics. When I shifted from how I felt about the problem to what I could do to create a solution, I immediately felt re-invigorated, determined and focused.
But it’s not just about tactics. It’s also about mindset. In fact, it’s mostly about mindset. I thought back to the story I shared with my sister. I was being a glass – swallowing that salty water. Being a small container. Choosing a limited view.
This was my opportunity to be a lake. The amount of pain is the same, but my experience of it depends on my perspective. On my mind. On my heart.
I could choose to think small – the first 4 days of sales were not what I thought they would be.
Or, I could think bigger and essentially eliminate the pain.
- I wrote a book that I’m proud of
- It has dozens of 5-star reviews in the first few days
- The feedback has been amazing
- It hit #1 new release in multiple categories immediately out of the gate
- I’m a first time author with a lot to learn
- Nothing comes easily – I have to adjust and improve from here
- Listening to a free podcast is an easier decision than spending money on a book, especially when most people don’t yet realize why reading is so insanely valuable
I share this with you because we come to these crossroads moments all the time in life.
We feel disappointed in ourselves or in others. We feel frustrated, defeated or embarrassed.
In those moments, we have a choice. We can throw a pity party and stop trying or we can choose to use the moment to proceed more intelligently.
Every moment of frustration is an opportunity to practice.