You could benefit from a committed relationship with yourself.

I know some incredible people out there. Those who are committed to serving and helping others wherever, whenever and however they can. Somebody asks, they make it happen. They are loyal. They are committed. They show up everyday and give 110%.

You may know somebody like that. You may be that person.

But today, I am curious as to how many of us are that committed to ourselves? How many of us are as committed to our daily goals as we are to somebody else’s.

Most of us wake up 5 days a week to go serve somebody else’s vision. There is nothing wrong with that. Serving somebody else is necessary. It teaches us humility. It shows us how to cultivate vision and then it also helps show us not only how, but the simple fact that things CAN get accomplished if we are focused. At some point we should all serve. We need to learn what that’s like. But then the time will come where we may need to pivot and decide that we should to keep our commitments to ourselves as well.

How long have your running shoes been holed up in your closet waiting to go on an adventure? How is that book going that you started writing last year? Have you been spending more time with your family like you promised yourself?

Life moments and experiences have as much weight (or importance) as we give them. It’s not unheard of to be deceived by our own heart; to feel that we are accomplishing something wonderful merely because it’s serving somebody else.

Your heart has desires too. You should do your life a favor and show it that you are committed to you as well.

It doesn’t have to be this all out life changing moment. It can start with little things here and there. Just one hour a day, you give yourself to be a better you. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should be consistent. One hour a day invested into a better you (whatever you’ve promised yourself, whether that’s meditating, exercising, writing, story time with your kids, etc). But it has to start. You need to show yourself some love. It’s ok to be selfish with your life. It’s yours and at the end of it, you’ll have to speak to yourself as to why you chose the route that you did.

Make sure you didn’t give it away to somebody else.

So what will it be? What do you want to invest at least one hour your life every day? What is truly important to you and deserves that investment?

“The truth lies in the tension between two extremes.”

When I was in college, I had a Theology teacher that once told me, “The truth lies in the tension between two extremes.”

This was a quote that has stuck with me since I heard it 9 years ago. Since then, I’ve shared it with plenty others.

At times, I’ve been a person of extremes myself. An all or nothing type of person. I’ve just been built that way. I find a hobby, I dive in 1000%. I did this with sports, music and any other thing that interested me.

When I was 15, my Mother was about to remarry. Because of this, I would be switching high schools. Leaving all my friends behind (It sounds trivial now, but when you’re a teenager, your social life is the most important thing in your world). I had a friend who was a Pastor’s daughter and invited me to her church’s Youth Group regularly. I wasn’t raised in religion, although, unsure why, I’ve always had a belief that there was a God out there. I always turned her down. Not interested in getting deep into religion that early in life. But when it was time to move away and separate myself from my friends, I finally said yes. This would allow me to still see my friends that I knew I would come to miss.

I went to that Youth Group and something happened. I felt like the Pastor might as well have said, “Dominique” in front of everything he talked about. I was in. And I was going to give it 1000%.

The thing that my 15 year old brain didn’t understand yet about religion and its relationship with the world was that everything in the bible is contextual. Some things were even written in code, like the book of Revelation. There are so any things, that if we took literally, we would all be walking around maimed from chopping off some part after sinning. Either way, I was determined to tell everybody about my new found obsession and somehow convince them that it was right for them as well.

It was all I talked about. I read my bible and prayed constantly. To the point where one of my closest friends approached me at school one day and said, “Dominique, I am not like you and I will never be like you. I can’t talk to you anymore because all you talk about is your religion.” That moment hurt. I can still feel the sting. But still, I trekked onward. Around that same time, even my new Step-Father asked me, in front of all of my new siblings, “Don’t you think you’re taking this God-thing a little too far?” I simply replied, “How far is too far for God?” Yeah. I was that person.

I lived in that place for a long time. 1000%. In the extreme. Unrelenting when it came to anything that opposed my belief system. Over time it turned into a place of judgement.

The problem with that, though, I was not a judge. Or even The Judge for that matter.

It wasn’t until years later, where I had a few moments of falling flat on my face, where I learned what true grace was. The grace my own Jesus had told me to have with others. I didn’t even know what it really was until I needed it for myself.

I learned that there is no perfection. But there are a lot of people who need somebody to reach their hand out when they stumbled and disappointed everyone else around them including themselves. It wasn’t until I was in that season myself, and heard that quote, “The truth lies in the tension between two extremes.” that it actually made sense.

Balance is necessary. Even in something like religion.

Being extreme often comes at the cost of something else. When I was a soccer player in high school, if I only focused on being the absolute best runner, I wouldn’t be strong at kicking or defense. If I can’t kick the ball straight into my target it doesn’t matter how fast I can run.

When we obsess over one area, we lose focus on other things that are not just relevant in our lives, but necessary. Balance is necessary.

I have a tattoo to remind me of this (Actually, most of my tattoos are some sort of reminder. If you know me, you know I have a terrible memory). For me, the quote was particularly relevant when it comes to grace and truth.

If truth is found in the middle, between two extremes, that would mean that my truth might be different from another persons truth. Mostly because each of our narratives are different. Even if we experienced the same life events together.

You see, that’s because my perspective is MY truth. And somebody else’s perspective is THEIR truth. And often times, they may not match.

My step-dad has 9 sisters. They all remember their parents VERY differently. They each have their own perspective. Their own truth. And they are also a very stubborn bunch who will not concede or conform to the perspective of others. Their reality is their truth. Even though they lived many of the same moments.

The difficult place to arrive at is a place of respecting another’s truth. Regardless of whether it lines up with our own. My brother and I lived the same scenarios within our upbringing. I’m certain our stories would sound very different. Either way, both are true. It’s how we now perceive those moments, even though we experienced them together in real life. And so neither of us should attempt to downplay the other’s.

We need this.

This place of respecting differing perspectives. They challenge us. They stretch us. They teach us to love in spite of personal opinion and bias. Taking time to listen, and hear out the story of others different from ourselves and exercising empathy gets us farther along as a human race.

This is love.

Not hatred. Not condemnation. Not slandering. These are the results of extremes.

Seeking understanding beyond our own; that is love. Knowing that it is necessary to move forward and grow.

So next time you find yourself sharply in disagreement with another, challenge yourself to understand them more. Have grace.

Their truth might look different than yours. Search for it somewhere in the middle.

Overcoming the daunting task of getting started.

There it is. The mountain in front of you. Waiting to be hurdled so you can get started in the pursuit of your dreams and goals. There’s no way around it. It must be tackled. Progress must commence.

When it comes to beginning the pursuit of our dreams, most of us have no idea where to start. Eventually allowing ourselves to be filled with the pressure of it all, we become paralyzed. We get no where. Progress does not commence.

Or some of us do just enough to get started and then don’t follow through. I’ve done this plenty of times. I start this cool new “thing” and tell a bunch of people about it and then my inspiration fizzles out in about a week. Then decide I just wasn’t that passionate about it after all.

Getting started and continuing can be difficult. There are a few things that I have found to keep me focus and grounded.

Here are 6 things to help you get started and stay focused:

  1. Create a master plan.
    Have you ever seen a house built without plans? Me neither. They generally begin with a blueprint; a sketched layout of the floor plan, equipped with rooms, doors and windows. There might be additional sketches mapping out the plumbing and electrical throughout. But it begins with a skeleton. If all the detail was right there to begin with, it would be a cluttered mess and difficult to follow. Our initial structure of our goal or aspiration should be very simple and clean. So, begin with deciding on your big picture and break it down into its simplest form. Meaning, you might start with where you would like it to be in 1 year. Then work backwards to decide what that is going to take. I write, so for me, that may look like a 75,000 word non-fiction book. I know my topic already, so I decide the breakdown and flow of the book by charting it out into chapters. For you, it could be becoming a fashion designer and your goal is to have a closet full of items to showcase within 6 months. You decide you will need to have 4 sections in your closet for items of all for 4 seasons. Whatever your dream or goal is, Be intentional about big picture planning up front. Know what you are working towards. If you don’t have a target, mentally, there’s no way to track and measure your progress. Also, without a big picture plan, you may be tempted to release something haphazardly. When something is not presented the right way initially, it is difficult to get it on track later down the road. Give your big picture time to incubate. This will help prevent something from fizzling out later, or releasing the wrong idea altogether.
  2. Break the big picture into bite sized snacks.
    You know those bite sized snacks that you always end up eating far more than originally intended? They are so small that you convince yourself to eat plenty of them, eventually totaling out to be several of the candy bars you avoided in the first place? Well, they are on to something psychologically, there. We can take our big picture goals and break them down into smaller steps that are much more realistic, removing the element of being overwhelmed with such a daunting task. Let’s go back to the book example. If I know I need to write a minimum of 75,000 words and I have a goal of writing this book in 4 months, I can break it down into smaller portions for myself. That would be 18,750 words a month, which would be 4,687 a week or 670 a day. 670 words a day. That is doable. Suddenly, the overwhelming task of writing a book isn’t so overwhelming. It’s doable. More than doable, as this 1 blog post is far more than 670 words and is written in one or two sittings. Suddenly, I am no longer paralyzed.
  3. Establish Habits.
    Now to get those words written and to stay on task, I have to establish a routine. This routine may consist of quarterly, weekly and daily habits. If I need to write 670 words a day, I need to make sure that I have time set aside to accomplish this task. My morning routine looks like me waking up several hours before going to my day job, mapping out my day (broken down by every half an hour), scheduling in my exercise, my writing time and everything in between. It is possible to have a routine for those of us who do not work a regular 9-5 type of schedule. It may seem rigid, but for the days you fall off the wagon, you can’t be too hard on yourself. It happens. It takes time to build new habits. People say, approximately 21 days, some studies say sooner. Have grace with yourself.routine-1
  4. Accountability and inspiration from others.
    Have you heard the quote, “Do not cast your pearls before swine?” It’s good advice. But what it doesn’t say is “Don’t tell anybody about your pearls.” It’s important to share our dreams with others. Although, Science has proved that merely sharing our dreams with others can sometimes bring enough temporary fulfillment than actually pursuing them. There needs to be a balance. Many people know what my goals and aspirations are. A few, I meet with frequently to make sure I stay on track. I texted my friend, Fadi about a month ago telling him I needed “A kick in the pants.” Which means, “Let’s have coffee and remind each other why we are doing what we are doing, again.” We share our progress and what we are working on; or sometimes, what we aren’t working on. I generally leave those meetings feeling renewed and ready to kick ass again. I also have moments where others inspire me. When I see others out there, pursuing what they are passionate about, it lights a fire within me. Surround yourself with others who are taking action in the field you want to impact. Find groups that meet to discuss and learn from each other. Connect with other humans. We need each other.
  5. Continue learning.
    We can only get so far with our limited knowledge and understanding. Plenty of us may not have the slightest idea on where or how to start. Yes, we have a master plan and know some steps to take, but we need a little bit more than that. Skill. Skill is required. I know there is a whole lot of “Fake it till you make it” out there, which may work for some of this or for a short period of time but it is not sustainable. Invest in yourself. Invest in your craft. The interesting part about living in our time is that almost everything has been done before and we can also probably find it on the internet. Information is more available to us than ever before. We are in the technology age and if we actually harnessed the accessibility of technology in the right way, the sky is the limit. I’m not talking about getting the ultimate high score on candy crush. I am talking about tapping in to the most vast resource of knowledge and information that has ever existed. Free how-to videos, online webinars, entire books on your cell-phone, it is all available to us if we just took advantage of it. Feed your mind. Challenge what’s out there. Evolve it to better us. Evolve to a better you. If you are always learning, you are always growing. If you are always growing, you can challenge yourself to stay relevant and always have something to offer. Things go obsolete real quick these days. Don’t let that happen to you or your dream. Learn. Evolve.
  6. Keep your promises.
    The very last tip in helping you get started and remain focused, is to keep your promises…to yourself. I consider myself to be a woman of my word. I will do whatever it takes to keep my promises, unless it’s to myself. We all could probably stand to be a bit better with that. So when you finally commit to yourself to set out and take some action, don’t break your promise. It’s easy to get derailed, to give up, to refuse to shake it off after a fall. Remind yourself that you made a commitment to your endeavors. If you were giving advice to somebody you cared about after a moment of discouragement, you’d remind them to remain committed and that failure is temporary. Treat yourself the same. Keep going. There was a reason you started.

So what are you waiting for? You told yourself you were going to go do that thing, remember? You need you to do it. We need you to do it.

Now go get started.

Ego: The Destroyer.

About six or seven years ago, I was driving home late at night with tears on my face and furious. I had a long day of customers yelling at me and I was mad that this was the life I had chosen for myself.

24 year old Dominique was pretty dead set on this idea of becoming a rockstar for most of my life. Due to life events and me choosing to walk away from that dream, I felt like I had just asked somebody to rip the skin off of my body. The devastation was still fresh and the wound still raw.

Anything I pursued during that season, I automatically became bitter at because it wasn’t my “dream.”

So that night when I was driving home, angry and upset that I was making my living by working a retail job, I was filled with shame. Shame that I had all of these huge aspirations that I had set out to achieve (so publicly, I might add) and life as Dominique the Rockstar had ceased to exist.

If this all sounds super egotistical, that’s because it was. But it was real to me. It was my truth. I am confident we have similar stories of things we tried and failed at that caused us some public shame and bruised our egos.

I had this notion that nothing would ever be as awesome as being a famous drummer touring the world with my band. Living the dream. But the truth was, I could barely find and keep a part time job. 2008-2010 was a tough season for work. And I was lucky to be steadily employed by an incredible company. I just couldn’t see it.

We have this thing, you see, where we convince ourselves, if where we are at is not where we want to be than it isn’t good. We get bitter at circumstance because we would rather it be different. So we take it out on our current situation. Like me, being bitter at my job when I actually had a great job. But if our hearts are set on other sites, we get a mentality that we are too good for where we are at.

That is dangerous ground.

This mentality that we should be somewhere else causes us to miss out on A LOT. We lock our minds into a fixed mentality that is not open to growth or learning opportunities.

This is ego.

Ego, I’ve decided is our internal defense mechanism. Basically, its fear masked by pride.

Ego says you are better than where you are. You shouldn’t be there. This is a waste of time. There’s nothing else you could possibly learn. You are surrounded by a bunch of idiots. The list goes on and on, really. Ego is selfish. It doesn’t see beyond your belly button and causes your brain to only be focused on you. And let me tell you, the longer you focus on yourself, the worse it gets.

Wallowing in bitterness about our circumstance does nothing but perpetuate our selfishness while still overlooking the real problem. It’s like being overly concerned and self conscious about being over weight, but blaming the 3 donuts you just ate.

And while we are stuck, in the perpetual belly button me-me-me-cycle, there are good things happening all around us that we are missing out on. When I was in my darkest season of depression, there was a lot “Me” thinking. Obsessively thinking about myself, really. I didn’t start to find escape until I began trying to get outside of myself. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the best way I can describe it. I had to push myself aside. Dominique needed to move over so I could do things with others and be a part of something bigger than myself to remember that this world is about more than me (I want to be careful not to downplay the hurt that the devastation of life sometimes causes. Pain is real. And sometimes we even go numb after a while. If you are suffering emotionally or mentally, seek out help. Find others you can trust and be honest about your difficulties. You can email me too. But know there is hope.).

The best way to escape the grip of your ego is gratitude. Find things to be grateful for in your circumstance. For me, I was working with incredible people. I was gaining a new skill set. My job was still challenging and I have learned more from that company than any other job. It also paid pretty decent. Current jobs don’t keep you from your dream job. They help you work towards it. They give you sustainability while you find your footing; while you trip and fall and learn your craft. And if you are truly unhappy with your circumstance, if there is really is no good that you can find in your situation, then change it. Stop blaming it.

You’re no better than anybody else. That may have hurt a bit. But it’s true. Stop thinking you’re special. You’re not. But you are unique. You have your own brain and skill sets that are unique to you and your life experiences. Use them, right where you are at and be proud of them. Be willing to grow and learn from others and situations all around you. I guarantee you can learn things from your day job that can translate over to your dream job, you just have to be open to it. Let’s not be bitter at others who are living our dream, either. Let’s learn from them.

Basically, let’s choose not to be that bitter drunk uncle who is mad at the world for the rest of their lives. Take control of your ego. Choose to move forward with grace and humility. Find things you are grateful for in your current circumstance and invest your energy on the things you can actually control.

Do you have a story of when your ego got in the way and you had to get it back in check? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Funding your big dream when you’re broke.

This post is all about the M-word (money) and how you can use it to fund your dreams. There are 2 reasons I hear most often from people about why they can’t pursue their dreams: 1. They have no time. 2. They have no money. Both are lies. Both are excuses. It’s up to us whether we choose to accept them.

For the most part, we all start out with the same; none. And today, we are going to assume that is exactly where you are. Broke. Because we’ve all been there.

Let me begin by saying that up until about 4 years ago, I hated money. I had no financial goals for my life and was extremely frivolous in how I spent it. I’ve learned a lot about money in more recent years. The most important thing I have learned is that I control it and not the other way around.

Your own money philosophy will have a LOT to do with how you are capable of funding your dream. Mainly because if you are not disciplined with your money, everything I am about to say won’t mean a thing. So let’s begin with the first tip:

  1. Get your personal finances in order.
    I’ve had to claw my way out of the debt pit a few times. I’m done with that now. No more debt for me. The scary part is, debt is normal to our society. We have accepted it to be. Right up front, get rid of it, so you can use your income to fund what is actually important in your life. If your credit is terrible and you would never qualify for a business loan (which I don’t recommend, either) but you’re driving an expensive sports car and are complaining you don’t have the money it will take to fund your dreams; your priorities are screwed up. Or if you don’t have enough money to pay your monthly expenses, but just got a fresh tattoo; again, priorities are off. I’ve been there. Most of us have, I call it my early twenties. One last note on this personal finance thing – If you are hoping to get investors and hope others fund your dream, what makes you think you will be more disciplined with somebody else’s money if you aren’t with your own hard earned income? It will take sacrifice. You will either be willing or you won’t. Sell your car, drive a beater, live in a space that costs no more than 15% of your income and you will have a lot more money. Trust me (too intense? You’ll be ok, that was the toughest point, but the most critical).
  2. Lose the Big Break mentality.
    They are unicorns. They may happen every once and a while, just like lottery winners, but most of those people end up right where they started; broke. Resolve within yourself that it is going to take hard work and discipline to achieve your dream. If it’s anything other than that, it will be a wonderful surprise. Although, I think the long paved road to success is necessary to build character. Either way, don’t anticipate it happening over night. Don’t waste your energy and resources looking for a break when you could be investing it into your dream and building an actual plan. That brings us to the next step.
  3. Have a Plan.
    I grew up with a Business man. I learned early in life, that if I were to have a desire or venture and needed my Step-Dad’s support (and by support, it was probably money or for him to pay for something I couldn’t afford) I had to present it to him as a plan. I’m not kidding. A break down of what I needed, why I needed it and its potential return on investment. He never asked me to present it in those terms, but the questions always led to that sort of information. So eventually, that’s how I would always bring it to him and when I had clearly thought out all of those things on my own and still knew I needed or wanted it, he generally supported me (as good Dad’s do). Investors are the same. They tend to also work off of probability. You’re likelihood of success probably isn’t high if you have not mapped out your plan yet (you’re not that serious about it). Somebody is not going to just give you money for a great idea (unless you actually go to have your ideas patented), they want to see the skeleton. Its purpose, why it would be successful or beneficial, how long will it take to get a return, who your target market is, how you will get it out to the world and even who is doing something similar. These are all things you should know about your dream. If you don’t, you have work to do. Put a plan together. If you need help, here’s a simple template to start.
  4. Meet lots and lots of people.
    Don’t let your dream stay a dream. If you are a living life as a hermit, it will be just that. People are the necessary element to everything. Let me be clear: You need people to believe in you. You may need people to give you money to get started. It will be people who buy what you are selling. It will be people who tell other people about the thing that you are selling. It will be people who connect you with other people who may be a good resource for your cause. You will need a person who is a mentor. I don’t care who you are or what your dream is, you will need people. Business people like to call this networking. I like to call it, having a LOT of friends. This is how you will meet others in your industry. This is how you, again, will find a mentor. This is how you may find a partner. This is how you may find an investor. I’m not just talking the social media stuff, either. Physically get out and go meet people. Meeting people is free and it will be your biggest return. You may ask, “Where do I go? Nobody knows who I am.” Then serve. I am sure you know of others in the field you want to go in. Start by serving. Join groups. Offer to help, for free (I know that seems counter-intuitive to this blog post), sometimes there will be a return on your investment. Sometimes there won’t. That’s the risk involved. Either way, there’s a learning moment. Can you use social media, of course. But don’t rely on it. What I have discovered is that social media is a lot of lip-service. Lots of stroking of egos and no physical support. Be above that. Show up. It means way more.
  5. Don’t quit your day job.
    Sure, dumping your day job will give you more time to focus on your big dream. But it also may cause you to settle. Let me esplain. If you have kids, (in my case, cats and dogs) and a mortgage and a car and health insurance and need to buy groceries, keep the power on, use AC in the summer time, you are going to need to fund these expenses. They don’t go away when you quit your job to pursue your dream. So when things get tight and it’s nearing the 1st of the month, you may settle for the quick and not so fulfilling jobs to sustain your living. Keep your day job, fine-tune your craft, have margin for error in your finances and when you have surpassed a consistent and sustainable income, then maybe it’s time. Be wise. Also, your day job could give you the financial support you need now to fund the beginning stages of your dream.
  6. Start with what you have.
    My Step-Dad (the wise Business man), shared his story of his business with me. Even though he has been in my life since I was 7, I had never asked. There were a couple of great take-aways. First, he was very intentional with working with whatever he had at the time. He never took out a business loan or asked anybody for money. He wanted to own his own business (that was his dream) so he started with what he had. He began a plant maintenance company. Basically, he watered peoples plants and they paid him for it. Water and a bucket. That’s pretty resourceful if you ask me. His overhead was watering buckets and maybe gasoline to drive around to the homes and offices of all the plants he watered. Second, he was always thinking outside of the box and how he could evolve. This next part is about 30 years of data so I am going to condense the evolution of his dream of owning a business: Plant watering led to selling pots for plants – led to making potted arrangements – led to selling arrangements for events – led to event planning – led to creating props for events – led to renting out props for events – led to designing for events – led to space planning – led to selling soft goods – led to interior design – led to high end residential interior design. Oh and he still has his plant company on the side. He started with what he had and evolved it into a lucrative business. He didn’t discover his passion for design until he was later in life, but that has been what he enjoys doing the most. He may have never discovered it had he not just gotten started with what he had. Take a step forward and get started. You don’t need millions of dollars. Actually, it’s better if you don’t.
  7. Educate yourself on additional resources.
    “Dominique, what about dreams like traveling the world or building wells and helping impoverished communities, there’s no money-making in that sort of dream. How does one fund it?” These are dreams of a worthy cause. There are a few things. The easy answer (but easier said than done), have a good day job. Be dedicated to whatever it is you choose to do with your career so you have more disposable income. A Market Leader of my company travels to other countries to support his altruistic aspirations regularly. He has set up his life so he can do these things. The other options if you are not some District Manager or CEO of a company; the internet. It is a wonderful thing. GoFundMe.com has become very popular. There are several variations of this type of website as well. You can search for funding support for all types of things, trips, ideas, product creation, etc. Kickstarter.com is a very popular one. However, I suggest, if you use something like kickstarter, follow through. I have backed (or helped fund) a project before. In july of 2014. The project was scheduled to ship in December of 2014. I have yet to receive it. Things like that put a bad taste in people’s mouths. If you use it, fulfill your commitment.

Your biggest commitment, however, will need to be to yourself. You either want to pursue the dream or not. Yes, financial support is necessary and there is plenty you can do to take control and get to where you need to go. But for now, start with what you have.

Just start.

Are you worth following?

A few years ago, I was working under a Leader who was known for being a nice guy, having a big heart but lacked presence. By that, I mean, physically. Nobody ever knew where he was or what he was doing. When you did see him, was always super nice and talked about the importance of servant leadership. But his thoughts on service often fell flat due to the lack of leadership support he actually gave. Later, I would even describe sending emails to him, as sending an email to a black hole. There was rarely a reply.

I don’t think we truly understood how bad it was until we got a new kid in town.

Word on the street was that our company would be opening up a new location in a more uppity part of town. It was the part of town that our current team would joke around about never wanting to work in because we would have to deal with a potentially more demanding type of clientele. They were the ones, upon arrival at our location, would complain that they had to drive extremely far from where they reside (a whopping 15 minutes off the freeway) and how much of an inconvenience it was to them. The one’s who immediately ask to speak to a Manager upon arrival to make sure they get what they want, regardless of how unreasonable it may have seemed. It was safe to say, our people had no desire to want to work at this new location.

Until this new guy showed up.

This new guy spent a lot of time in our building until his was done being built. He hung out with us, challenged us and connected with a lot of people. He was more than present. He engaged and inspired us in a way that we hadn’t been in some time.

When the time came to start hiring staff for his new team people were jumping ship all over the place to go and work with him.

It was crazy to watch. All these people who had sworn off ever working in this particular location and then it just didn’t seem to matter.

And then I realized something.

If the Leader is worth following, the destination doesn’t matter.

Think about that for a second.

I mean, this is how cults, happen people (But we aren’t talking about starting cults, we are talking about leading people to self-discovery and creating a healthy environment for personal growth).

And this was a guy worth following. Simply because he cared about his people and showed up. He treated them well, invested time and actually served them, rather than just talking about it.

We may know all of the characteristics of a great leader, but doing them is an entirely different thing. I’ve learned a lot about Leadership over the past decade of my life. I’ve learned the most from the bad Leaders; of how not lead. We all know what I’m referring to. So if you are somebody of influence, or even hopes to have influence, be worth following. Don’t just talk about serving. Actually serve. Give your time. Be humble and most importantly, show (not just tell) people that you care about them.

I’m sure you’ve heard this quote by Theodore Roosevelt before, but it’s worth repeating: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I knew in my head that my old boss cared about me as a person (because I knew he was a nice guy), but I rarely felt that way after interactions we had.

Do others feel that you care about them? Not just know with their head? How do you show them?

In answering this, you may discover whether you are worth following.

Do you have a time where you realized you were merely trying to influence through title and not action? What did you do about it? What have you learned from bad leaders in your life? How has it made you better? Share in the comments.

Is chaos limiting your action?

It seems nearly impossible to avoid the dissension and discourse within America these days. Whether it’s arguing over politics or which lives matter, its no secret that things feel tense.

More recently I’ve been pretty side-tracked by all of these things. I’m a naturally passionate person. I tend to be most passionate about life, equality and love. And when you constantly hear about everything but, I can’t help but get fired up and ready to start a revolution.

Luckily, before I did anything too crazy, I had a moment.

2 things happened yesterday.

  1. I stumbled upon an article about all of this “chaos” and it gave a fresh perspective of reality vs what we are constantly overwhelmed with via TV and Social Media. Of course we feel discourse. That’s all everybody is talking about. But factually, our world is not in the worst place it has ever been. Specifically, America, is not doing too shabby, either. Sure, there is plenty to work on and improve, per usual. But we have overcome a recession, wars and several equal rights obstacles in just the past decade.
  2. I posted about my obsession and how it has temporarily taken me away from my personal endeavors (More Than Dreamers) and somebody commented on how I shouldn’t stop or lose focus because I am a positive voice that others need to hear.

Those two things kind of woke me up a bit.

I have goals. Goals for 2016. And I hope you do too. If I were to spend the rest of the year obsessing over politics, I am not going to achieve those goals.

Not only that, but when 2017 hits and I realize that I personally made no impact, but merely debated with people about an outcome that I have little impact on its probability, I know I will be pretty upset with myself. I’ll know that I wasted precious time that I will never get back.

To simplify, and at the risk of sounding cliche, I need to focus on the things I can control.

I can control my destiny. I can control where I invest my time and the relationships I choose to cultivate. I’m not cultivating anything but frustration when I am ranting about what presidential candidate is more crazy than the other.

And after I’ve submitted my ballot in November (because I CAN control that part) when whomever is finally in office in January, I won’t be blaming anybody else regarding where I am presently at with achieving my dream status. And I’ll feel good knowing that I helped others get to theirs too. And hopefully, together, we didn’t completely lose our minds in the process.

The media is all about feeding fear. It’s how they keep us engaged in their content. I am NOT saying to choose ignorance. Be educated, from several sources, not just mainstream ones. But do not let it paralyze you. When we do, we prove their theories correct, rather than choosing to live out our own. Help where you can. Support where necessary. But also…

live your life.

So what are you working on? A book? A screenplay? Producing a new album? A new fashion design? How’s your progress? Do you feel stuck? Ask for help. Reach out to others. Let’s change the dialogue. We will set the tone. Let’s focus on progress and accomplishments. And for the things that still need some work, let’s stop talking about it take some action.

Here are a few people I know who are in the middle of taking action. They are a great resource if you need some encouragement and direction.

Noel: Production Designer and Humanitarian – imdb.com/name/nm5421533/
Josh: Insightful Individual and Coffee Connoisseur – Happyroast.com
Lisa: Writer/Producer/Director and Human Rights Activist – lisammangan.com
Brandon: Bearded Man and Financial Guru: beardedbudget.com
Ariel: Fashion Design and Life Lover – instagram.com/arielattack
Danette: Wedding Photographer and World Traveler – amberlightcollective.com

 

 

I’d love to add your name. Reach out. Leave a comment. Let’s grow.

Are your good intentions masking the truth?

Have you ever witnessed a well-intentioned somebody being genuinely honest with their opinion to the point that they consider it to be fact?

The easiest person to think of is my Mother.

My Mom thinks I’m a great writer. She is also biased. If I submitted a manuscript to my Mother, and she had the power, I am sure would publish it in a heart beat. However, that probably wouldn’t be the immediate case if I submitted my first manuscript to any other publisher. There are plenty of people who probably think my writing is shit (except my Mom also hates it when I use expletives).

In the real world, your boss may think you are the best, but it doesn’t guarantee a promotion (because maybe there is somebody out there who is better but works at another branch and wants to transfer in and would truly be the better fit. So your boss’s boss picks that person instead).

There is danger in being too honest at times. Particularly if you are at a level of Leadership. Being overly transparent can create false hope. I’ve seen false hope crush the dreams of great people.

We can’t make promises we can’t keep. Our words are often taken as fact. We should treat them as such. Our word is our bond.

About a year ago, I shared my opinion with a team member, on how our team handles a particular process. I didn’t agree with it, but still, it’s the way our team has agreed to handle it, so, I supported it.

This team member, walked out of that conversation, into a team meeting and told everyone that I disagreed with it and we should be doing it another way.

That was my fault.

There is a word for this type of behavior that sometimes gets us in trouble, and causes cracks in the foundation of our trust; over-aligning.

This often sounds like, “I TOTALLY agree with you, but we HAVE to do it this way because so-and-so says so.” It demonstrates the exact opposite of that which we are trying to build; trust.

If I don’t trust my Leader, why would a team member trust that Leader, or even myself?

Also, we can’t forget that people are real. They have feelings. They get hurt. We feebly attempt to over-promise or over-align to prevent that, but we are just perpetuating its inevitability.

So we blur the truth with our opinions. Let’s refer to this as subjective honesty. It’s not the whole picture. It’s a piece of it. Mostly the piece that we would LIKE to occur. You’ve heard the saying, “Perception is reality.” And most of the time, we are operating from only one. Our own. But our narrative is not the only one that matters.

It is possible to be far more objective in our honesty (sure, there will always be a little bias in there). It’s ok to say we can’t promise a particular outcome and should not promise a particular outcome. I am still being honest if I say “I don’t know.” Because I don’t. I can’t read the future and neither can you.

Too often I see people getting into verbal handshakes so they can try to ensure the probability of a particular outcome. Sometimes it’s innocent. Sometimes it’s manipulation.

Even the computer can be beat at chess.

So what do we do if we can’t guarantee a particular outcome?

Don’t.

Don’t muddy the truth with unnecessary words.

Don’t make promises about a situation or decision that is beyond your control. Even if your intentions are good.

Be objective. Let life happen.

What to do when you’ve become distracted.

“Squirrel!”

Have you seen the movie, “Up,” where the awesome and loyal dog has a special collar that says what he is thinking? In the middle of the dog praising his master and expressing his deep love and gratitude, randomly is distracted by something far less meaningful…such as a squirrel?

Sometimes I think myself and that dog have a lot in common. For me though, it probably sounds more like, “Let’s do what we are passionate about, change the world, BURRITO!” Or even, “I’m going to write a book to encourage people to pursue their passions and stop making excuses -oooo – a new camera lens…”

Then..rabbit trail.

But sometimes the distraction is a lot heavier. My friend Ariel and I were talking the other day. We know our big pictures and our why’s, but yet have still found ourselves stuck in the same spot regarding our aspirations for a good month or so. Which tends to be the “but where do I start?” or “what’s next?” spot.

It’s a difficult place to be.

Knowing what you want to do and that it just needs to get done, but then feeling like something else maybe is supposed to happen in the in-between to be a magical push in connecting the two.

But then you’re just there waiting. And nothing is happening. You start to let the fear and the doubt settle. The anxiety sets in and then soon the panic.

It becomes too much.

You walk away.

But NO!

That’s NOT what you committed to yourself! Or all the other people who you encouraged to do the same…pursue their dreams.

That’s me. I’ve definitely felt a bit stuck lately.

And this is me being honest with you about it. We have to be. We need each other. We have to spur each other on.

If you happen to be in a similar place, I am going to share a few things that I have found to be helpful when sinking in the quick sand.

1. Help Somebody else.
For me, this is the number one thing that wakes me up, real quick. I’m not sure why, but believing in somebody else tends to be easier than me believing in myself. Giving my time and energy to another’s endeavors eventually lends to a sobering reality that if I do exactly that, there is progress. Inevitably, I will come through to realize that I have some steps to take and then get in motion, and back on track. Just creating momentum does something very powerful, psychologically.

2. Develop a structure.
I found this quote the other day as I was trolling the internet instead of writing. It kind of slapped me in the face a bit (but I needed it), “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”- Mary Heaton Vorse. Yeah, so that. Basically, I need to be more intentional with how I structure my time. I already know how much time I should be investing in my blogging and writing my book. But I also need to make sure it’s scheduled. We schedule plans with other people. If you’re like me, you probably put it in your calendar on your iPhone so you don’t forget (I forget everything. seriously. I’m the worst.). We should be doing the same for our aspirations…scheduling and making time for them. And hold ourselves to it. Even ask others to hold us to it. Like with Ariel, we agreed we would both have made some progress by Wednesday. I plan to hold that commitment. But I will need a structure to make it happen.

3. Do something else.
This may seem counter-productive. But it’s not uncommon to not see past a certain point because we have limited visibility or perspective on something. Often, we are even too close to our problems and then just live in this bubble where we can’t seem to break through. I tend to get a lot of inspiration when I just get out of my house. I’ll lace up my shoes and go for a run. No headphones or music. No distractions. Just my brain place and the outside. It’s incredible what can happen inside our brains when we give it an opportunity to be used. During this time is when I tend to think about things I care about and the world and how it all works together, or doesn’t. I’m seeing things and others from a different perspective, not from inside my comfy home on the internet. Step outside of your usual realm and challenge yourself to look around.

4. Summon creativity.
Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this the best, in Big Magic. She treats and honors creativity with the respect that it deserves. She gives it a space, welcoming it. I know that sounds kind of juju-y, but why not? If I call one of my family members…any of them, and offer a seat at a table with some free lunch, they will show up. Because my family LOVES food. They especially love free food. So why wouldn’t creativity feel welcomed to show up to participate in the thing it loves to do. Create. But here’s the deal. Since creativity in its nature, is creative, don’t expect it to look or feel a certain way. It likes to surprise us.

5. Put away your technology.
Wow. Yes. I said it. And as somebody who has been in a career in the Tech industry for almost a decade, this is DEFINITELY necessary. Sure, use it as a tool. I’m typing on my computer right now. But guess what, my phone, it’s in another room. Where I can’t look at the screen constantly and check likes, comments or posts. I LOVE the internet, but it is probably my single largest distraction. All sounds are off. I am in full-screen mode so no dings or pop-ups take me away from my purpose. But if I can avoid it altogether, I try to. I just know I can’t trust myself. I need to keep my brain on the topic at hand, not on the fact that T-Swift and Kanye are feuding again. I’m sure it will still be there later when I re-connect with the world again.

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that there is a bigger purpose for us. We chose to pursue certain things for a reason. Keep that reason handy. You’ll need to remind yourself of it every once and a while. And then, when you need more than that, recap the 5 suggestions above and then get back in it. It will be worth it in the end, I am certain of it (and that wasting my precious minutes reading about the T-Swift & Kanye feud weren’t).

Ok, time for me to start with #1, myself.

What do you do to overcome distraction and get back on track? Feel free to share in the comments below.

Built on Failure.

Do you ever have those moments where you just stop and think, “How did I get here?”

It could be when you are in a great season or when you are in a bad season. I’ve experienced both.

In any case, the answer to that question is truly just due to a serious of decisions and actions that you put behind them.

For me, it tends to adding up to a whole lot of mistakes landing me to exactly where I am now.

Let me be clear, I am happy, but still hungry. I know there is still more and so I continue to dream.

Continuing to dream is imperative, in both seasons of failure and in season of success. Some might argue that it’s more difficult to dream in the midst of failure. But I disagree. When you are in a negative space dreaming of something better is easy. Because almost anything seems better than where you are now. Doing is an entirely different story.

But what about when you have been successful. You’re sitting in a beautiful home, with a loving family, making a decent income and are content with your life. Is there a need to continue to dream?

Is it worth the additional effort to invest into something a little bit more? To be daring when it’s not necessary?

Everything you may have accomplished in this life is due to all of your failed attempts and what you learned from them. Even down to playing some things safe.

When I was 20 years old, I was crazy. I hated money, because I sucked at managing it and just spent whatever I had on pursuing whatever was my current endeavor. I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of debt I had to pay off for all of my music equipment. It took me getting into my 30’s when I finally decided no more living in debt. Not the way to go. I learned from my failure with money. Then made a decision that I didn’t have to live that way. If other people can do better with it, why was I incapable of doing the same? The truth is, I am capable. I just had to actually decide and then act.

Now, I play it much safer with money. However, playing it safe should not be what we fall into. Comfort is not where we should always reside. I didn’t learn safety by always being safe. I learned it by making a lot of crazy and stupid decisions. Kind of like what hot really means after touching the hot stove for the first time.

So why stay here? In this place of comfort? Why allow yourself to be unworthy of dreaming of something more. Because flying in an airplane is risky, should I refuse to explore the world?

If you stop dreaming or stop exploring, what else will you learn?

Fail today. Fail tomorrow. Fail 30 years from now.

It’s not about the failure, its about how you will recover.

And guess what, you control that outcome.

Edison had thousands of theories and iterations of the light bulb before he finally settled on it. And after each failure, he made an attempt to recover. Until it was so.

Success is in your recovery. Your foundation should be failure. Each crack, each scar; a reminder you how far you’ve come.

Dream.

Do.

Fail.

Recover.

It will be beautiful. It will always be worth it.