3 Lessons I Learned from Brain Surgery that Could Benefit Your Print Business

Man, that’s a blog title I never thought I’d write.

But sure enough, here I am on the other side of an incredible life valley with a better understanding of what the late Philip Roth once said, “Nothing bad can happen to a writer. Everything is material.”

In early May of this year, I was diagnosed with a rare, chronic neurological pain condition called trigeminal neuralgia. At the beginning of August, I underwent a successful microvascular decompression brain surgery. While spending six weeks in recovery, I was able to sit, to think, and to see things differently than the go-go-go of my normal, everyday life.

I quickly came to the realization that there are easy things in life, and there are hard things, but ALL things can teach us something if we’re open to it. So, if you currently find yourself in a tough spot (as so many have in 2020), here are three of the lessons I learned that could help your print business weather any current or future storm.

1. There’s Always a Choice

Did your print business have to shut down during the pandemic and you’re still struggling to recoup lost print sales?

This pandemic has truly been one of life’s cruel, “it’s not fair” moments.  When things you didn’t plan for or that you can’t control seem to overshadow any hope of moving forward, remember these four words: there’s always a choice.

True, we don’t get the luxury of choosing what happens to us, but we ALWAYS have a choice in how we respond and deal with the hand that’s been dealt to us. One of the hardest and greatest lessons I’ll carry with me from here is that wallowing in the pit of “why me” is one of the most self-sabotaging things a person can do to themselves.

If you want to move your business forward, it’s time to get past the “why me” and start asking “what now” instead.

Remember, you either win or lose in your mind: “The first place we lose the battle is in our own thinking. If you think it’s permanent, then it’s permanent. If you think you’ve reached your limits, then you have. If you think you’ll never get well, then you won’t. You have to change your thinking.  You need to see everything that’s holding you back, every obstacle, every limitation only as temporary.”

2. How to Find Your Footing

At the start of my recovery, I had to learn to walk while battling awful dizziness and nausea. The ease of my normal gait was gone, and in its place were unfamiliar, shaky steps that felt foreign and ungrounded.

I’m sure you can relate in trying to find a new footing of your own in this “new normal.” But, once you’ve been knocked off track, you can find your firm foundation again by:

Embracing the Struggle

Navigating the unknown comes down to expecting every step you take to be shaky, while at the same time believing with confidence that your foot will land on solid ground.

Those feelings you experience of the “wheels coming off” during situations like COVID-19, implementing a new marketing strategy, or having to let go of a beloved employee simply mean your foot is currently in the air. That uneasiness is a good thing! It means you’ve made a choice to keep moving and to take that next step forward. Your foot will land on solid ground soon enough, and then, you’ll have to raise it again for the next challenge. But, remember, you can, and you will land on your feet.

Seeing the Target

The physical therapists taught me that to keep the room from spinning I should find two objects and move my eyes back and forth between them until my brain caught up. You can do the same.



The dizziness of a pandemic or even of everyday business life may come on strong at times, but when you have your target(s) in sight, all you need to do is to watch and wait for your brain to catch up.

When times get tough, take a moment to remind yourself of your targets, and then, hold fast! Are you creating a family legacy with your print business? Is your dedication to help other businesses succeed? Whatever your “why” might be, you’ll keep things from spinning and start making forward progress when you lock-in to your target.

Being Grounded

To help my brain better grasp where I was in the world when walking, I wore a weighted neck wrap for a time. It’s odd, but having just the slightest pressure pushing me down helped me feel grounded and took away that feeling that I might float up into nothingness.

What is the thing that keeps you grounded in your print business? Is it faith, family, teamwork, or your customers? If you don’t know, I’d encourage you to take the time to bring clarity to this. At MI4P, it’s not actually a thing, but a Who that keeps us grounded, helping us to toss the worry aside and proceed with CONFIDENCE.

3. You Can’t and Shouldn’t Go it Alone

There’s this weird idea in the world that we all need to be warriors. When struggles come, the expectations seem to always be: do more, work harder, or “pull yourself up by the bootstraps.”

But, what if we all really are at our best when we come to the end of ourselves and are forced to rely on the help, wisdom, and comfort of others? What if instead of “faking it till we make it,” we learned to say “enough” when it gets too hard, to call on friends and family, or even other businesses for help?

Trigeminal neuralgia taught me (and I hope 2020 teaches you) that there is no greater asset when tough times come than your team. Struggle knows no immunity. There are print buyers, business owners, friends, and even family members who have, or currently are, dealing with unseen pain and struggle. I don’t want to forget that. None of us should.

So, as we all continue to climb the uphill battle of 2020, let’s serve and love others fiercely, extend grace without limits, and tend our gardens of influence to bloom as effectively as possible. Let’s remember that all of us really are at our best when encouraging and serving others above ourselves, so let’s do that!

Written by

Rachel Nies

Director of Marketing, Marketing Ideas For Printers

Rachel has a passion for helping others succeed. She doesn’t like the limelight but will do everything she can to help you get there. A born implementer with a love for content creation, editing, project management and administration, Rachel uses her unique abilities as the Director of Marketing at Marketing Ideas For Printers, helping printers across the country sell more printing through marketing content and online ordering solutions.