5 ugly truths of Leadership.

5 Ugly truths of leadership, annoyed cat, cat laying on bad, cat hearing loud noises

So you want to be a “Leader.” Many of us have no idea what we are getting ourselves into. Most of us have decided that we can do our boss’s job better than they can…until you become the boss.

Leadership is not nearly as easy as we have made it out to be in our own minds. I’ve heard this from most people who have crossed over to the other side. Myself included. Leadership is not for the faint of hearts. And if you fall within that category, you will be weeded out rather quickly. Probably due to not properly handling any one of the 5 issues below.

Know yourself.
I have come across many people who have a desire to be a “Leader.” They want to have an impact on others. Yet, they have no influence. Rather, thus far in their lives, they have been the influenced and not the influencer. Which is not completely bad. It’s a start. Not being either might be a bit more of a struggle.

Ponder this: When was the last time you followed somebody who had no idea who they were or what they stood for? If you don’t know, you might literally stand for anything, or worse, nothing. People are drawn to confidence. Perhaps it’s a self-preservation thing. Like an, “I’m gonna stick with this person because they seem to know what they are doing and I’ll probably be safer in their midst.” Here’s an example. I’ve worked with a guy for almost a decade. He’s perceived as a little nutty. Nutty as in, doesn’t touch tape to his fingertips, buries money in the ground, lives in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t have people over. Although others feel this type of behavior to be rather extreme, I’ve heard many people say, “If a zombie apocalypse happened, I’ll be with THAT guy.” He stands for something, regardless of how odd it seems. And others clearly know what it is. And in the right situation, they will be taking his lead. He never pretends to be anything he is not. People know what to expect from him. People respect this. They even prefer it.

This takes time. It doesn’t come over night. Not even over a month or a year. It’s a life long process, however, you can determine who you are by 2 things, what you’ve stood for up to this point or even, what you have decided you will stand for or be known for moving forward. And then do it. When was the last time you gave yourself a life assessment test? Where you asked yourself about the decisions you have made and why you made them. Are you ok with your choices? If not, what would you like to change and why? It seems like a lot of work, I know. But Leaders ask themselves the tough questions. They ponder and philosophize but they also take action. Mindless action, though, can get one into trouble. So take the time to discover your true authentic self. Your strengths, your shortcomings, your skillsets, your unique attributes. What characteristics do you convey that are worth following? If you are not confident in who you are, I promise, others won’t be confident in you either. It may not be what you would prefer. Know who you are or others will decide for you.

Bring on the haters.
Leadership, as glamorous as it might seem at times, is not a crowd pleasing job. Sure there may be crowds, but you will have to take unpopular stands sometimes. And similarly, as previously mentioned, if you don’t make the difficult decisions when it’s time, or even explain why you made a particular decision, someone else will. People read into things they don’t understand. They assign their own reasoning if it’s not done for them. And if you aren’t clear, it is very easy to be misunderstood or misinterpreted. Sometimes, though, no matter how much explaining you do and regardless of how clear you are in your messaging, people will not agree or like you. Gary V is an extremely popular Leadership voice in the social realm these days. There are people who don’t like him. He may be too loud or too vulgar, says the F-word way too much. But he is himself regardless. So stay strong, because even if you have the biggest crowds, you will also have haters. It’s impossible to please everyone. Understand that it’s ok. Do not make the mistake of trying to please everyone. In doing that, you will only lose yourself. And remember, you need to be your authentic self, always.

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” -Elbert Hubbard

The fault belongs to you.
When you’re the Leader, it doesn’t matter where in the chain things go wrong, the fault is yours. Have you ever seen a Leader give bad direction and then let somebody else take the fall for executing the action? I have, it’s nothing short of disgusting. A shameful display of Self-preservation. That’s not a leader. It’s a dictator who only cares about and protects themselves. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed…dictators often get overthrown. So if your ego is too big to accept lots and lots of failure, then Leadership is probably not for you. Be willing to take ownership. All of it. Even if something wasn’t your decision. At some point, somebody thought you would find their actions/choices to be acceptable. Perhaps you lacked clarity in your messaging. Protect your people. That’s true leadership. You’re a team.

Be a cat lover.
I know that sounds strange. I’ll explain. I was never a cat person growing up, mostly because I am deathly allergic. But after having to make peace with some short-haired cats I’ve found my way. Something I have learned about cats is that they do what they want. It’s nearly impossible to train them unless they want to be trained. After years of trying to tell my cat to stay off the couch, I finally gave up. The more I tried to control her, the more she would just yell back at me. She does what she wants. And I resolved within myself that I’ll just have to vacuum more often. There’s a saying, “It’s like herding cats.” This saying also applies to Leadership. At least 50% of the time, you feel like you are herding cats. I can’t even begin to imagine what Moses felt like for 40 years leading the Israelites out of Egypt. Poor guy. Humans, like you and me, all have their own brains, personalities and priorities, as I am sure you are aware. The more we try to control what they do, the more likely they are to rebel. Ultimately, they will make decisions that are best for them and others but sometimes they also just do things without even thinking about it. Like my cat when she pokes her claws through the leather of my office chair because she just likes the sound and feeling of it. But I love her regardless. Be a cat lover. Less stress for you, less stress for them. We need to trust others do do the important things we know they are capable of on their own (like using the litter box) and don’t try to control all the day to day minutia. They’ll figure the stuff out.

You’re not a feelings person – better figure that out.
As a Leader, you will quickly discover that people have feelings…lots of them. Feelings about everything that you do that potentially affects them. They also like to be included in these decisions that potentially affect them. There are plenty people who will share their feelings, even when you think its unnecessary. Then there are those who will share their feelings about your decisions with everyone else but you. Ultimately, you want people to come to you. And if they don’t, for whatever reason, it’s your fault, remember? They may not feel comfortable criticizing you to your face, maybe because in the past you haven’t allowed their points to be valid. So they hold that against you as well. The best way to deal with all of the emotions that come along with Leadership is to become a great listener. People need to be heard, regardless of whether you agree with them. This doesn’t mean shut them down immediately. People need to be brought along. We need to allow people to ask questions. Let them know their voices are important and then be compassionate and clear when certain things don’t line up with the vision. And in many cases, when we listen to our people, we will learn something. Things that may cause us to lead differently. If we don’t listen to our people, soon we may not have anyone to lead.

The non-ugly truth – It’s worth it.
Regardless of the tremendous amount of responsibility that comes with Leadership, it is, by far the most fulfilling work that some of us will aspire to do. Connecting and growing with others in an authentic way is extremely rewarding. My favorite moments are celebrating in the successes of others. Some of my most important moments are the one’s where we have to address hardship and brokenness head on. Those are moments that will stick with others and myself forever. How we respond as caring and supportive leaders will help bring clarity to some of life’s toughest seasons for others. As long as we are willing to listen, to know we aren’t always the smartest person in every situation, but are committed to bringing our best and helping others be their best, this will be some of the most meaningful work you will ever experience.

Instant gratification has gotten me no where closer to my dreams.

instant gratification is a lie, self-discipline, pursue your dreams, life coaching, more than dreamers, dominique elise, better health, better wealth

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about self-discipline. What is it? How do we learn it? Things of that sort.

We live in a cultural society of instant gratification and self absorption with the intent to impress others. I’ve lived it.

I’ve been driving for 15 years. I’ve owned 9 different cars. NINE.

I was not wise with my finances. And I’ve definitely cared about what others thought. Too much.

These days, I realize that was a set back. Just one of many. There were so many areas in which I have lacked self discipline. There are still so many that I have no self discipline whatsoever. Like when a burrito is placed in front of me. No discipline. None. One day I might get there. Or…I just need to understand my weaknesses and avoid putting myself in situations that will tempt me. Like going to Roberto’s multiple times a week.

Building up self-discipline takes practice. Kind of like everything else.

It’s a mental muscle. It’s far from easy. But just like exercise, you have to start small and work your way up. If you go super hard at the gym for the first time and then are so sore that you can’t move for the next 3 days, you probably won’t be going back. True story. When we completely deprive ourselves, having discipline to keep going or even finish will only be more difficult.

So, why do we want or even need self-discipline? And how the hell does one actually begin practicing self disciple?

“No other single requirement for individual success is as important as self-discipline…. Self-discipline is the tool with which man may harness and direct his inborn emotions in the direction of his choice.” – Napoleon Hill

There are many ways. But first, it must begin with knowing and being honest with yourself of exactly where you currently stand in regards to where you want to go. So if it’s improving a skill, getting healthier or getting your finances in order, it will require you to self assess and know where you are and how you got there.

The following is important: do NOT waste time beating yourself up for WHY you have failed thus far. Do NOT live there. Just know why you are there so that when you begin slipping into the old routine (that has gotten you exactly where you are at currently), you can identify it and swiftly pivot back to the necessary direction to achieve success. Self-forgiveness is necessary for moving on. Self-loathing is NOT what we are shooting for. Of course you need to have enough of it to know you desire to change, but again, not staying there. We will not get stuck in feeling sorry for ourselves. Not if we, ourselves, harness the power necessary to change. And in almost all cases, we do.

After identifying where your patterns of weakness have been, then it’s time to develop a plan. A plan to practice. Gradually.

I’ve told my story many times. After a dark season of my life of walking away from my dreams, I gave up for some time. Years. Specifically, I gave up on planning. When I was 17, I had my life planned out through my 30th birthday. When things were derailed, I gave up completely. I gave up on myself. Nobody else did it for me. I went to my day job of doing tech support and did whatever I felt like with my free time. I would sleep in until 11am, eat whatever I wanted, drank all evening while playing video games. It was not an unhappy time by any means, but it was far from fulfilling. I also gained a solid 25 pounds and was always broke. No savings. Paycheck to paycheck and no plans to do anything of purpose with my life. I was coasting. Merely existing.

And to some people, that might feel ideal. But there are some people out there who deep down know and feel that there has to be something more. I knew there was more. It was not how I had imagined my life would turn out. I wanted to live a life of purpose and have done something significant with the short time I have here on Earth.

My life needed some work. Luckily, at the time, I didn’t try to do all necessary life repairs simultaneously.

I actually was most frustrated with my health than anything. Up to this point, for the majority of my life, I had been a petite lady. I felt sluggish and frumpy. In my younger days, between playing sports and drums, I always had quite the athletic build. I never worried about what I consumed. But now, I had become harshly aware that was no longer the case. After having a moment where I sat down in front of a mirror and happened to catch the profile of myself and saw my belly hanging over my pants, I went through my brief period of self-loathing and knew I needed to make a change. Because at this point, I was sick of myself.

But I didn’t stay there. I took action.

My Mom had taken me to the gym when I was younger. I was lucky to have a great example of health growing up. Between that and sports, I knew what had to be done. I needed to put the cider and the xbox remote down and get my body moving.

One day I opened my eyes and decided to go for a jog. Something I had not done in YEARS. I laced up some old sneakers I found in my closet and ran about a half mile around my neighborhood. Upon finishing the jog, I burst through my front door, immediately ran to my downstairs bathroom, puked my brains out and then collapsed on my bed.

That could have been it. I could have said, “forget this.” And picked my cider back up and burned my running shoes.

But I didn’t.

I did something even crazier, I got a gym membership. I woke up everyday at 4:30am so I could get to the gym before work at 8am and I did something even crazier. I stayed committed. Eventually, I decided I should probably watch what I was eating too. I cut back my drinking to maybe once a week, and every morning on the way to work, made a stop at the grocery store and picked up a banana and a salad. Don’t ask me why I didn’t just buy enough for the week, I literally picked up a fresh one each morning. I think the extra effort made me need to remain committed to it.

But I saw results. They were incremental, but every incremental change spurred me on further. It kept me going. I lost those 25 pounds and got into the best shape of my life. I made it a lifestyle. I remained committed to my health and still am today. That was 6 years ago.

And it was just the beginning for me.

It was an eye opening season of what I am capable of when I decide to create a plan and remain committed to it. I discovered what I am capable of when I choose to practice self-discipline.

Soon, I took the same skill and applied it to my finances. Using self-discipline at the grocery store, self-discipline in not going out to eat for two-thirds of my meals. Using self-discipline by making my coffee at home and not going to Starbucks. By leaving my house a few minutes earlier every Friday and getting gas only from Costco. By paying off thousands of dollars of credit card debt. By selling my Mini Cooper that had a $570/month car payment. By buying used car cash. By saving up a 6 month emergency fund. By contributing more to my 401(k). And soon, by wisely investing 20% of my income into things that will bring me additional income. I say none of this to brag, but to prove a point. And because people want proof, and results are proof.

It started with small things. Small forms of self-discipline. Small wins. Into much larger ones.

And now, I apply the same skill of self-discipline towards the pursuit of my dreams of a more fulfilled life for myself. Educating myself. Being better with my time. Connecting with others. Investing into my writing and content I share out. Mapping out how I will hit targets of things I want to accomplish. There is nothing too unrealistic. I know because I’ve surprised myself.

The reality is, we need that. We need an opportunity to surprise ourselves.

To prove our capability to ourselves.

From there, it’s a choice.

It was the same lesson for love, for me. After falling in love for the first time, and learning what my heart was capable of, I decided love was a choice. And it didn’t only apply to romantic love. My heart was capable of more.

Once we know the truth, it’s merely a decision to act.

Many of us have not allowed ourselves the opportunity to surprise us.

We need that. We need small wins. We need them to gain momentum. To continue our forward motion.

Eventually it leads to much greater things. But only if we keep going.

I am convinced, as Napoleon Hill, that self-discipline is the single most important behavior one can employ to achieve success with their life. And success will be defined by our own terms, by our own dreams and desires.

But it is necessary for the success of anything.

So do you need to gain some self-discipline? How can you start small? How do you afford yourself an opportunity to try? And what will it take to surprise yourself?

And what if you do? What then? What’s next? What will it take to get to a life more fulfilled? What will the best version of you require?

You’ll never know until you try. But start small. Then crush it. Everyday. Because you know that you can.

And I believe you can. If you need some help, just ask. I’d love to support.

The dichotomy between self-discipline and creativity.

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It seems weird, to place structure upon creativity, to draw a box around it and say “stay within these lines!”

But what if the analogy is more about just providing a box in which to create, rather than having no box at all?

What if the structure given is merely an allotment of time so that creativity can occur?

Structure and self-discipline don’t have to been what kills creativity. It shouldn’t be saying, “do it JUST like this.” Rather Self-Discipline should be showing up in the creative world saying, “here’s an opportunity for you to practice. Everyday. A moment in time for you to exist; even flourish.”

The jazz piano is a great example. Jazz itself is meant to be felt, not read off of a sheet; the player allowing both rhythm and melodies to flow from their extremities and out into a glorious tune from the soul.

But if this jazz player hasn’t practiced frequently, what notes and tones to select would not exist in his vast repertoire. If he didn’t spend time practicing scales, he wouldn’t know what was going to feel right if he played it next. Rather, it could just be a lot of wrong notes and sound absolutely terrible and not jazz at all.

The structure of self-discipline, even in the creative world is necessary.

If I am a writer (which I consider myself to be), I should be writing, regardless of whether I am feeling inspired or not. Not everything I write will be a masterpiece. Not even close, if I’m completely honest. Additionally, nothing will be of excellence if I haven’t invested my time enough into discovering my voice.

Self-discipline should merely be the subtle act of allowing the opportunity for creative freedom to exist. It should not suffocate. It should not demand. It should serve.

It’s necessary for both to coexist.

How do you balance the two?

Living your life in 3rd person.

Living life in 3rd person, More Than Dreamers, Birds eye view

A couple of weeks ago I went on a quick trip to visit my Dad (I hadn’t seen him since earlier in the year on my birthday, when I convinced him to meet me in New York City). It was intended to be a short and relaxing fishing trip with my Old Man. One where we could catch up and spend quality time. One that we decided would be our first of Annual quality time visits. Unfortunately that’s not the way that it worked out. 30 minutes after getting out on to the lake that had taken me 8 hours worth of flights, a 2 hour drive from the airport and an overnight stay in a little hotel to arrive, we received a phone call for a family emergency that forced us to put the boat in drive and make our 3 hour drive back into town.

The next two days, we did what we could to keep each other company during a difficult family situation. Lots of silence, some conversation. Lots of driving around. Just moving forward. Forward motion. Do what must be done to get through it.

It wasn’t until I was buckled in to my seat on the airplane, bracing for take-off, while the loud engines roared that suddenly the tears came streaming down my face. There was no stopping them. As much as I wanted to, while being in public. I couldn’t hold them back.

I wasn’t an empty void during those 2-3 days. I was thinking constantly. Trying to process, but also trying to be present and supportive to my family that needed it.

But it wasn’t until I stopped, had a moment and realized what I had been thinking about when I had become such a wreck. When I was finally able to filter my thoughts for what they were, analyze them, give them meaning, is when they began to have an impact on me. This was a rare moment for me; one where I couldn’t help but take a particular situation personally, hence the tears.

I like to use the phrase, “Step outside of myself” often. And the best way that I can describe what I mean is to change the perspective of my life from 1st person to 3rd person. I am no longer only limited to my own thoughts and perspective, but am privy to how I am merely part of a much larger cog of the world and its spinning components. I go from being inside of my thoughts, my brain, seeing only outside of my eyes, to seeing things from up high, as if being a bird perched on a high point that can not only see what I am doing, but everything else around me. (Basically, It’s like going from a First Person Shooter to an RPG mode.)

I do this intentionally. Meaning, it doesn’t feel natural to do initially. It takes practice. And I decide to take some time to reflect on what I am thinking about, I like to zoom out in this manner. It helps me to not be as subjective. It also helps me better assign weight to particular moments that have occurred, taking in mind why others around me, who have influenced me, might have done things the way that they did. It removes personalizations and creates a better level of understanding. Often, it allows me to move forward rationally.

It also helps to keep far less grudges. People do things for…reasons (surprise!). When we are willing to accept that, and NOT that their reasons are to spite us, processing difficult events in life become much easier to deal with. Too often, we personalize actions of others that were moments that actually had nothing to do with us.

Sometimes we get stuck in 1st person for a really long time. When we go go go go go. These are the seasons that it is easy to misconstrue moments that have occurred. If we don’t take time to reflect and step back to think about the things that we are thinking about, and possibly even course correct our thoughts, we create a very biased and subjective (almost even fictional) narrative. One that leads to questions like, “Why me?” Rather than, “How can we make this better?”

This morning as I was getting ready to have my quiet time of writing, I realized it’s been one of those weeks. I’ve had multiple days where I had things planned from the moment I woke up to the moment that I went to bed, giving myself not a second to process. Being on auto-pilot is NOT good. Sometimes it gives us a false sense of being “strong.” But “strong” will not be the adjective used to describe us when we finally slow down and reality hits us like a ton of bricks (those poor strangers on the airplane sitting next to a crying lady, like me).

An important thing to note about the appearance of being a “strong one.” People rarely understand when you have moments of “weakness.” They forget that you are human too. They don’t know how to handle your breakdowns when you do, because you’ve always played the role of helping others with theirs. But don’t fall into this trap of keeping up appearances. Be true. Be vulnerable. Show others you are human.

Appearances are dumb. Truth is best. Care will be genuine. To put it simply.

So, what is it that you have been thinking about? How have you let it affect you? Do you need to re-route some things? Change perspective? Get outside of yourself?

Give yourself some time to do so. Whether it’s sitting in silence somewhere, journaling, meditating, praying, find your outlet. But invest. Invest in your thought process. It will have a tremendous impact on how you navigate through your life’s journey. I promise.

2017 is still ours.

coffee with marker and papers, brainstorming, yearly planning, taking action, more than dreamers

It’s the middle of June.

Coincidentally, it’s also the middle of 2017.

I’m not sure about you but I set some pretty lofty goals for this year. Mid-year point is the perfect time to pause, evaluate and reset.

In looking back, I went pretty strong January through April. May was a nice month of relaxation, which was truly needed. Then June hit.

The storm.

An eruption of chaos and destruction. Almost perfect timing to derail me for the rest of the year. To push my goals aside and allow family drama, family attacks and family sickness to completely deter me.

I’ve taken nearly the entire month of June off of everything (other than work), to think and process and muster up the courage to continue moving forward. This summer heat surely doesn’t help. Forcing myself out of bed early in the morning to get my workouts in has been beyond difficult. I want sleep. I want peace. I want justice.

I’ve been having dreams about an old friendship that left me broken. My heart, it’s just trying to stay together.

The only thing that seems to keep me sane is supporting others wherever I can. It’s what brings meaning to my soul. Listening to and supporting the ambitions of others. Convincing them they are worth it and more than capable of pursuing their heart’s desires.

After more than enough of being distracted by feeling sorry for myself, all I can envision is me standing inside of an empty white walled room, with markers in hand, ready to draft new plans. An idea room.

I’m thinking at some point, I would like to make that a reality. No distractions. Just freedom of thought. For now, giant post-it easel pads will have to do (thank you, Amazon Prime).

The thing is, I can totally stay here. In this place of pain, drink coffee & eat burritos while waiting for my head to clear. But I need to make a choice.

The choice to continue on, to draft out the details of my next move, to decide that onward is what will be worth it. Because looking back later, I know I will be upset at myself for stalling out. Like that one 4 year season before. Never again.

What about you? Do you need to lock yourself in a room and allow yourself to dream again? More than Dream; plan and execute.

We’re not done yet. We’ve got 6 months left of this year. Plenty of time to acquire all of the things we initially set out to accomplish.

So, how might you do that? What will it take? What will it require of you? How much time are you willing to give it? How much focus does it deserve?

You can do it. We both can. I believe in you. I’m also going to choose to believe that you believe in me too.

Time to break open those markers…

dads.

dads, fathers day, dominique with her dad and step-dad

Most people have 1. I am lucky enough to have 2. 2 incredible men who have tremendously influenced my life. Men of integrity. Men filled with determination and ambition. But also fun dads who have a wonderful sense of humor and aren’t afraid to laugh at themselves…or me. Thank you both for shaping me into who I am today. Thank you both for letting me be my crazy self. Thank you for loving me in spite of my faults and shortcomings. Gil, thanks for not being mad at me that one time I lost the mattress driving down the highway. Dad, thanks for showing your disappointment in me when I was 18 and called out sick to work when I really wasn’t. Moments of grace and truth such as these have been important lessons in my life. Dad, I’m so excited for our annual adventures. Gil, thank you for always being more than just a step-dad. I love you both so much.

Love,
dominique
AKA “Pee-Wee”
AKA “kiddo”
AKA “Muscles”

How to pursue your dreams without quitting your day job.

picture of planner, time management, don't quit your day job, How to pursue your dreams without quitting your day job.

For some reason there is this weird shame associated with living your dream as well as working a day job. Or even a stigma that you have not actually succeeded at your dream unless its pursuit is what fully sustains you; both internally and financially.

A few weeks back, I was in the midst of a conversation with a young person who works a part time job. They are hoping to pursue a modeling/acting career. When I asked what they were currently doing to pursue their passion in the industry, with a dash of bitterness, they replied, “Well, I try to do photoshoots and work on my Youtube Channel, but I am always stuck at my day job.”

This person works 20 hours a week at their day job. It’s their only job and they don’t go to school.

I’m not sure if you’ve ever done the Math, but we have 168 hours a week. Every one of us. The same.

Since you may not all be walking zombies and need some sleep, that leaves us with 112.

Let’s subtract the 20 hours my friend works; that leaves them with approximately 92 hours. Which averages out to 13 hours a day to do whatever one’s heart desires.

I work between 45-50 hours a week. But my day job is not the thing I blame if I am not where I want to be with my life goals.

The first place we need to begin when it comes to pursuing our life’s passions without quitting our day job, is learn to be grateful for our day jobs.

**insert record screech sound here.**

Wait, what? Yes. I said it.

Let me explain.

Without them, we may not have the means necessary to pursue whatever it is that we want to pursue, while not making ANY money initially. Realistically, most entrepreneurial endeavors actually require a heavy level of financial investment of time and energy in the beginning stages.

When I was in a band, I needed a ton of musical equipment. It was NOT cheap. Matter of fact, by the time I was all said and done with my music career, I had racked up $10K in debt.

I often had multiple jobs. They definitely weren’t “career” type jobs. I merely needed a means to sustain my living and ensure my bills were paid. They were never an excuses as to why I wasn’t pursuing my life’s passions. It’s our choice/fault if we have chosen a job and allowed it to be a “ball and chain” when it comes to our free time and how we spend it. We all have bills to pay, and will need some financial resources. Thank the Lord for the opportunity to serve and bus tables to make my car payment, pay my cell phone bill and put gas in my car while in college. Seriously. Grateful.

After finding a place of gratitude for a means to sustain your existence; the next step is managing your time. The young person I mentioned earlier, who has an average of 13 hours of free time a day, there are plenty of people who accomplish far more with less. How? Learning to manage their time.

Time management is no joke. It is one of the single most valuable lessons one can learn to be productive and take action in the pursuit of their passions.

I often look back on that season when I was in band and ask myself, “How the heck did I do it?” I worked a full time job, went to school full time and also traveled nearly every weekend to do shows. The truth, I didn’t give myself any other options. My employer at the time was willing to work with me and allowed me to work 4 ten hour days a week. I would arrive to work at 7AM and leave by 5PM, go to my evening classes 3 nights a week, have band practice on the other 2 nights a week and travel on the weekends. Often pulling all-nighters to drive back in to town to be back to work on Monday morning.

There was no other option. We’ve all heard the term, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

If you want it, you will find a way. If you have no idea where to begin when it comes to time management; here are a few ideas.

Have a calendar. I’m serious. Whether it be a physical planner, or a digital one, document and plan your life. Some of you may already do this. Others, this may seem absolutely foreign. You can’t say you have aspirations yet have no plans. Decide small steps of what needs to be accomplished and then block yourself out to do it. Dedicate specific days and times to do it, if needed. Establish habits or a routine. You don’t need to be absolutely rigid, but you do need to protect your time. You need to assign it the weight that it deserves to have priority in your life. Some have the luxury of having set schedules at their days jobs, that makes it much easier. Maybe Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays are “content creation days” and Tuesday and Thursdays are “Marketing days” or maybe you have “research days.” Whatever your needs are, assign them. If you’re like me and you don’t have a set schedule, but need to set aside time to write or record videos and inspirational reels, look ahead at your week. What are your days off, assign them in your planner and map out what your week will look like. Maybe you’re like me and work evening shifts a lot; wake up early, get your personal goals tackled before heading in to your day job. I have incredible days at my day job when I feel accomplished with my personal goals. I am happier and perform better.

So begin planning your time. You can not blame anybody but yourself for not spending it wisely. There are far too many busy people out there who prove that big goals can be accomplished with intentional planning. We have no excuse. Establish self-discipline now, it will only benefit you in the long run.

In the next step of pursuing your dreams without quitting your day job, is make sure that it is a day job that is flexible to meet your needs …and also the businesses.

Our day in age, we always want to know, “What’s in it for me?” But let’s be real, businesses exist to make a profit. They want results. You will have to perform at some level. The part that you need a say in, is whether it works with your scheduling needs. Not every place does. This is something you need to know up front. Be candid with your needs and ask your employer to do the same. If they both can not be met, find something else. (You might be saying, “But Dominique, I thought this post was about NOT quitting your day job?” It is, but it’s important to have the right kind of day job. Remember how I had one that was able to let me work 4 tens? Not everyone can accommodate that. So we need to decide what our priorities are and whether we can make it work. If my needs potentially create a hardship on accommodating business needs at my job, I need to take ownership of that and find something that is more flexible.)

It is not your employers fault that they are asking you to work what you agreed to work when they offered you a job. You agreed to it. Being bitter down the road does nothing. If your needs and the business needs no longer fit; find something else. Do not waste your time. Do not waste your employers time. You need the time to pursue your passion and so do they.

One more thing when it comes to pursuing your dreams without quitting your day job. Something that we don’t keep in mind often enough, is that whether its in the field we are trying to break in to or not, our employer has done something right when it comes to running and sustaining a business. Are there things we can pick apart and assume that we might be able to do better within our own respective fields; sure. There always are. But we have an opportunity to work with others, ask questions, see what’s done right and opportunities to learn from. I have learned invaluable life lessons from past employers; such as the importance of working hard but having a fun time doing it. I’ve observed my friends taking away skills of how to talk to people and setting proper expectations, from their past jobs and then applying it to their own business interactions. And of course, the not-to-do;s. The things we have personally experienced that sucked and we can make a conscious effort of not doing those things within our own endeavors.

Day jobs are important. They keep us grounded, teach us lessons and sustain our living. There should be no shame in having them. Rather, we should be grateful for the lessons they have taught us and the needs they have helped us meet. Pursuing our personal endeavors with a posture of gratitude will then allow us to invest the right positive energy into it.

So, How has your day job helped you? What lessons have you learned from them? What are some of your best practices for managing your time well and with purpose? Feel free to share in the comments.

The stench of arrogance.

The stench of arrogance, respirator mask, arrogance is toxic

It’s potent.

Have you ever had that moment where you’re in the middle of a conversation with somebody and you say a response that just slips off your tongue, instantly causing regret while also making you sound like an arrogant asshole?

If so, you’re not alone.

I particularly remember a moment a couple of years ago. A friend was sharing some very personal things with me where she had been struggling. I listened, encouraged her, gave her some advice then after her saying thank you, I said some stupid comment about being in a season where I was able to help others.

gross.

It helped nothing. It made me want to slap myself in the face later and I am sure did nothing to help her feel any better about her situation.

When people are taking the risk to be honest and vulnerable with us, nothing should ever be said that in someway puts yourself above their situation.

Because we are not.

Arrogance is rancid and palpable.

It is this need to showcase ourselves as better than another. So in some weird way, we can have the upper hand.

I think many of us do this for different reasons. Whether that be to gain control, to look good to others, to mask our own insecurities and somehow make ourselves feel better. Either way, it’s gross.

Let’s not forget that old Proverb, “Pride comes before the fall.”

Let’s stop. Let’s encourage. Let’s show belief, love and empathy. Let’s have humility because one day we may be sitting in the same chair. I know I have.

Regardless of where our current world affairs lie, this can start with us. Humility is not weakness. It takes tremendous intention and care for others. A discipline far more difficult and selfless than walking in arrogance.

Let’s be the change.

Waiting for permission, limiting beliefs and other things that hold us back.

waiting for permission, limiting beliefs, overcoming limitations, smart man with pipe, smoking a pipe, creative brain, more than dreamers

It happens pretty often. I am in the middle of trying to figure something out, to get a task accomplished at work and then finally I have to yell (not because I’m mad but because “yell” is normal volume level for me), “Kenny!” Kenny confidently strolls into the office, knowing he has the answer to whatever it is that I am going to need in that moment. Then I tend to say something like, “I need figure out some form that lists blah blah blah and can we make it look pretty?” Inevitably, he has it completed in less than an hour and all of my pressure is removed and I can get on with my life. Kenny is incredible. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

We may not all have a Kenny. And for me, Kenny isn’t always around. Sometimes I do have to figure things out on my own. Sometimes I just give up. We all have.

Like the time I considered trying out for the Volleyball team in high school and realized I could not hit the ball in a specific direction, ever. Or when I thought it would be a great idea to learn how to change my own oil to save some money and then realized there were too many steps to the process and rather than learn and try, I gave up. I never even asked for help. It just seemed too difficult in my mind, so I convinced myself it wasn’t worth it.

But then, there were those times where I have sought help, I am sure you’ve had them yourself. Where you are initially eager to learn this new skill or challenge and somebody, with their own experience, is attempting to set you up for success and shares their way of getting it done. And for some reason, either in the way they present it, or in the way that we chose to hear it, what was explained was the only way to do it. And that is the way that it must be done.

But the truth is, that’s a lie.

And for some reason we have convinced ourselves and held on to these methods that are actually limitations.

These limitations prevent us from innovating and they prevent us from being ourselves; from doing things the way that makes the most sense in our on minds. It prevents us from getting the most out of an opportunity.

One of the most inhibiting limits that I have both witnessed and experienced myself on several occasions, is convincing ourselves that we need permission.

We don’t!

You do not!

I do not!

Waiting for permission to do something of betterment or improvement is insane. Why would we give that kind of power to others? Majority of that is rooted in fear. Fear of what others might say or think. Fear of hearing “no.” Fear of failing. We need to stop looking for a security blanket. Risk is risk. It isn’t risk without pushing the limits.

So let’s figure this out.

Let’s ask ourselves, how are we limiting ourselves? Am I too dependent on **insert name of your Kenny**? Am I convincing myself something is too hard and prematurely giving up? Did I allow somebody to convince me there is only one way to get something done and I might have a better way? Or am I just waiting around for permission before I take some action?

At the end of the day, nobody else is going to do the work for us. It’s your dream and your life, remember? Not somebody else’s. You will need to do the work. You will need to find the resources. You’ll need to remind yourself that it’s worth it (and for the things that aren’t, stop wasting time on them). You are the only one who needs to give yourself permission.

Don’t wait for somebody else. Don’t wait for the “right time.” Anything new or scary will never feel like it’s the “right time.” There is infinite opportunity out there, with only few who actually make the leap.

Live without limits. I give you permission. 😉

Now it’s your turn.

How the teasing comb stole my life.

Big Hair, we assign the weight to things in our lives, big hair singing into microphone, Never silence band

Way back in my Rockstar days, there was this really popular thing called Myspace. It was the much cooler version of Facebook. In 2007, if you navigated to MySpace and stumbled upon my unique profile, you would find a picture of a little Dominiqueee with huge scene hair and a motto that read my top 3 priorities: Jesus, Rock & Roll and Big Hair. In that order. And I meant it. Those were the things in which I gave all of my spare time. You might be asking about the Big Hair part and how much time could I really give to my hair…hours. I invested hours each day into my hair. I had a 9 step-process. I’m not exaggerating. I broke down the process into 9 steps so I could share with others when they asked. When I wasn’t teasing my hair or having it dyed different colors, I was going to school for ministry or I was playing drums in my band. Hours of each day of my life broken up into chunks and given to these 3 areas. For some reason, I felt that my hair reputation was worth hours daily. Today, I wish I could have some of those hours back. Why? Because that’s not where I choose to invest the most precious resource on Earth. I mean, it’s still important that I have good looking hair, but not to the point that I sacrifice other important priorities such as working out or writing for my blog.

Moments, events or things in our lives (in my case, my hair) have as much weight as we assign to them. You read that right. We assign the weight. The good moments and the bad moments. Proud moments of accomplishment and even the angry moments when somebody cuts us off in traffic. We decide and assign the weight we feel each of these moments deserve.

This works cumulatively as well, with our entire lives. We assign our lives as much purpose as we choose. It’s our decision, how we want to spend it, what we want to do with it, and how we make it our own.

One last thought. Sometimes we don’t always see or believe the true value or moments of our lives or even that we have things to offer this world. We’ve all been there at one time or another. It’s inevitable that others around us may feel that way at times as well. Let’s encourage one another in those moments. Let’s remind others that they do have value to add. Remind them that they have significant purpose. And let’s believe and support alongside them that they will discover the tools that they need to do the things they set out to do.

And step away from the teasing comb.

*Photo by PhotoFM.com