Tag Archives: Christmas

How To Avoid Being An Artistic Scrooge This Christmas

Michael Caine as Scrooge in A Muppet Christmas Carol, one of my favorite versions

Michael Caine as Scrooge in The Muppet Christmas Carol
, one of my favorite versions

When you see the name Scrooge, do you instantly think of a crabby, bitter old man who not only hates Christmas but also hates people?

That’s the common interpretation of Scrooge. The other common thought about Scrooge is that someone with that reference only cares about money and is predominately greedy by nature.

I hope that none of these characteristics mark your artistry or humanity. Yet, the Scrooge aspect I want to highlight and talk about here doesn’t involve any of these criteria. There is something redeeming about Scrooge in the Charles Dickens’ classic story A Christmas Carol that most of us aren’t always mindful of.

The Ebeneezer Scrooge who we first encounter in The Muppet Christmas Carol is not the Scrooge we are left with at the conclusion of the story. There is a transformation that takes place within the man’s heart over the course of the tale, marked in 3 stages as he is taken to memories of his past, realities of his present, and potential for his future. All of these stages have glimpses of hope and tragedy.

The Patrick Stewart version is also a favorite

The Patrick Stewart version is also a favorite

Scrooge is not who he really appears to be

These glimpses show us the real heart of Scrooge, despite how his life has transpired up to the visitation of the three spirits. We see a man who has allowed life to dictate his steps in a way that are counter to his true self. We see a man who, when we comes across boys he knew as a child, has fondness for the individuals. We see a man who experienced joy and love from a woman, but who mistakenly put a quest for wealth above his connection with her love and devotion. The loss of his love was the onset of his downward spiral into greed and hatred for people.

The warning in this tale is simple on the front end, but the real heart of Scrooge’s story is that if we aren’t careful we can easily become manipulated by seeking the wrong things for our happiness, and subsequently rob ourselves of true success. Scrooge was a man who made money by charging tenants for rent and had zero compassion for anyone who didn’t pay on time. He was easily the world’s worst landlord. Yet strangely he had one of the most compassionate and genuine people working for him. Could Bob Cratchet be as deserving of congratulations in turning around Scrooge’s attitude towards life and giving as the 3 spirits? I would argue that and even more.

Scrooge had allowed his loneliness to dictate how he approached other people, and for years that resentment, bitterness, and loss controlled his steps. The results were that, while he was more wealthy than most people in his town, he was also reviled and despised by nearly everyone. Cratchet, on the other hand, had much in the realm of wanting but his life was marked by joy and gratitude despite his low income or the ill health of his son, Tiny Tim.

As artists and entrepreneurs (or people in general), it’s easy for us to fall into the same traps that Scrooge did as a young person, when plans fail or the people closest to us drift away. When our dreams or intentions get off course, it’s common to not correct the ship but continue sailing in a direction that doesn’t take us to a land of opportunity, but instead one of regret. Have you experienced something like this?

We too run the risk of being so preoccupied with our own ambitions, or even allowing the losses we experience in life, to change our perspectives and attitudes towards others. This is human nature. We can spend years in frustration and anger at how our dreams were thrown off or our endeavors spoiled because of one thing or another. And we can build up resentment towards people in the process of just trying to deal with why life doesn’t always go our way.

Or

We can see things differently. We can allow the struggles and the obstacles to provide a new insight into how to change, shift, and pivot. We can look at those in our lives who seem to be constantly full of life and joy and find inspiration in moving forward. We can sit down with individuals, over a cup of coffee, a beer or over the phone and have conversations that build hope and perspective for the present and future.

We can change.

Strangely enough, another (sort of) Christmas story that I’m fond of leaves us with the notion that we can change, and change is one of the best gifts that we can give to ourselves and others. Rocky’s closing speech following the fight with Ivan Drago in Rocky IV not only inspired those who saw it, but ultimately ended the Cold War (want proof? See this video).

You can be a person who is uncommon and makes a difference in the lives of those around you, as well as your own. Don’t be an artistic (or business or startup or entrepreneurial or any other kind of) Scrooge this holiday and Christmas season. If something you have aspired to be hasn’t worked out like you wanted, or a dream you have has not gone as planned, it’s OK. Trust me, I’ve experienced these pains too (something I described briefly HERE). Allow your past to be released and your future to hold hope.

Change. Shift. Pivot. And have joy this season.

Want someone to sit down and talk with? I’d love to talk with you. Contact me and let’s chat.

*Are you surprised that I threw in Rocky Balboa in a post? You must not know me well. Let’s fix that. Reach out to me and we can have a good laugh together. Merry Christmas!

Learning The Careful Dance Between Emotions And Logic

Graphic by Psychologymd

Graphic by Psychologymd

It can be hard to know whether you give your emotions or your logic more power.

How often do you make decisions that, in hindsight, were led more by what you felt in the moment than what made sense in the grand scheme of things? Do you find yourself led more by your emotions or your logic?

I’m guilty of allowing my emotions to steer my direction. It’s human nature.

Over a cup of coffee with a good friend last week, this subject became a little more discernible, and understanding that there is a careful dance we do between these two seemingly different decision-making tools can determine a lot about the direction we’re headed and the progress we make in reaching our goals.

I’m a pretty emotional person, particularly when it comes to loyalty and relationships. I’m very passionate about people I like, and when I get a strong feeling about someone, sometimes I ignore what my mind might say and listen only to the feelings. Sometimes this is a good thing. I’ve had friends that have been incredibly beneficial to me, though their look or social crowd was a bit too dangerous for some of my other relationships. That didn’t matter, I liked them and we got along just fine.

Sometimes the emotions-over-logic is not a good thing, like choosing to dislike a school based entirely on the behaviors of one person. For instance, I honestly don’t like Texas A&M the school (or the football team in particular) based solely on my dislike for Johnny Manziel. Everything about that guy’s attitude, behavior, and social philosophies disagrees with both my logic and emotions. To be curt: I can’t stand the dude.

Yes, emotions run high for me when it comes to some things (football in particular).

And yes, it’s also a problem that I allow someone’s behavior to determine how I feel about a brand he’s associated with. It’s wrong, I know it. But I feel……

I have a lot of good friends who went to A&M. I don’t dislike them for their college, but I do dislike the school all because of one individual’s behavior.

That’s really flawed on my part.

Emotions can be a detriment to positive decision making

Let me take it a step closer to home for you. Think about the last time you bought something. Did your brain tell you that you needed it and it would serve a purpose that benefited you, or did your emotions tell you that you wanted it and had to have it? Whether you were in a store or clicked on a link to a website, once you paid the bill it was done. Either your emotions or your logic won out.

Sometimes emotions and logic will come together in a very close, passionate slow dance where both elements are on the same page. When this happens, decision-making is really fluid and beneficial to you. Usually these are really big-picture choices. For me, marrying Mrs. Smith and buying a house in the country that needed a lot of work was both an emotional and logical decision. Choosing to set out on my own as a self-employed person in my 30s and leave the 9-to-5 world was a choice made with both emotion and logic.

Big picture decisions need both of those players in the mix to be best for the short and long term success

However, that’s a careful dance to learn because usually it’s much easier to listen to our emotions than it is our minds. Our emotions give us feelings that we either want to experience again and again or run like hell away from. Unless we’re really in tune with the logical part of ourselves, the brain doesn’t have the same negotiating power that our feelings do.

Usually we realize this after the fact when it comes to buying something, when what we bought either didn’t fulfill the emotional appeal or if we don’t see the big results that were promised to us.

Has that happened to you too?

I talk a lot about embracing the process and not going for the shortcut routes that are presented to us to achieve the goals we set. I’m honestly guilty of doing it too at times, unless I check myself. This is something I’m still learning and processing through just like you are.

Have you invested in something to grow your project, music, business, or similar this year? Was the desire to be able to overcome big obstacles by “buying in” to a product what led you to make the decision? I have a few times this year. To be very transparent with you, I’ve invested in a few different products this year to make me better at what I do as a coach, teacher, leader, and service provider. Some of these investments have paid a good return in both results and in improving my abilities. Some of them were just crocks.

The feeling of having spent $$$ on a crock sucks. Often it outweighs the positives that come from having picked a winner, at least with how we feel. Winning feels great. Yet when emotions are at play with the crocks, those feelings can outshine the positives that logic might be trying to communicate.

Putting the dance moves into play this month

It’s Christmas season, which means you are probably in shopping mode for your friends and family. We’ve made a choice in the Smith clan to not go hog-wild over Christmas present buying, and instead find new ways to show our love for those closest to us this holiday season. We’re wanting to showcase our emotions for those we love, and do it in a way that benefits both parties. There’s a careful dance there. Fortunately for me, Mrs. Smith is the best DIY person on earth and what she cooks up for gifts is always a winner.

This is a time of year when emotions run high, not always in a good way. It’s what makes the night-time news for people to have fistfights over a toy at a store that is 65% off and supplies are running out. There’s no logic in doing something like that, not if anything other than a selfish play is at hand. Being mindful of this during the Christmas holidays takes vigilance, but it’s something you and I can both do.

I’m looking closer at what fuels our decision-making, and noticing this dance more and more. For me to reach the goals I have set in this coming new year, I can’t ignore one for the other, choosing logic over emotions every time or vice versa. There has to be a balance. I’m still learning what that balance involves and how to do it better.

Christmas with Brody (my photogenic male cat)

Christmas with Brody (my photogenic male cat)

Those who excel at this balance between feelings (emotions) and mindfulness (logic) are also those who have profound levels of wisdom. Knowledge may produce power, but wisdom brings peace.

What about you? Is this something you have struggled with too or are looking back on 2015 and wondering what led to some of the decisions you’ve made, particularly buying ones? Share your story with me in the comments and let’s talk.