Tag Archives: dreams

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!

What Happens When Your Dreams Change Shape

I’ve noticed that our dreams aren’t always permanent things.

They can change.

Dreams changing shape or mutating into new things is good, not something that should make you nervous. I’ve heard people say with alarm, “But I used to want to do this thing with all my heart but I don’t know if I want that anymore.” It’s ok for your dreams to change if you are changing too. And it’s also worth noting why your dreams are changing.

Steve Harvey has a great book that tackles this idea called Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success. In it he talks about how to take your gift, the thing that you do naturally that no one else can with the greatness that you do, and use it to make your dreams come true. Harvey calls this your vehicle. Your gift needs a vehicle to take it to the next level, but you won’t always stay in the same vehicle to get to your end result.

Vehicles change. Dreams are the destination.

Here’s a little insight into my story and how my vehicles have changed a few times in the last few years, which was a little scary to me because they’d stayed the same for over a decade. I should have been cautious about the fact that I’d stayed at the same place doing a lot of the same things for so long. Instead, I was proud of the fact that most of my young adult friends were working on their 3rd or 4th job before turning 30 and I was still doing the same work I’d started when I was a teenager.

There is something to be said for commitment and longevity. But you have to look at the lifeblood too. I wasn’t stagnant in my job, but it also wasn’t fulfilling me in the ways that I wanted (and needed) to be fulfilled. Actually, I’d reached the ceiling on how far in the organization I was going to be allowed to go by age 29. And I knew it. But I didn’t do anything to try and improve my situation until faced with some startling realities and that forced me to move.

The fact that I had peaked in terms of how far I could grow in a company before turning 30 should have been alarming (in the ways described earlier) in my pursuit forward and should have led to a shifting in what my goals were. However, since I didn’t have clarity on my dreams, I couldn’t see that there was something really wrong with where I was and what I was investing my energies in.

I wanted to be a big success in the radio industry, but I didn’t want to be in the Pop-Radio space (think Top 40, Taylor Swift, Katie Perry, etc). I also didn’t want to move to a bigger city. So, in essence, I’d pigeon-holed my growth to have to be only where I already was. The dream itself needed to shift and the vehicle to get me to the real dream needed to change.

I worked at a public radio station that operated on a university campus with an all-student on-air staff, but a professional staff of 5 people who maintained the station’s revenues, operations, administration, marketing, and community connection. My role as Operations Director involved every aspect of the station some form or fashion (a bit in the fundraising and administration but not as much as the operations and community connection).

It was a leadership role that gave me a ton of experience in community building, organizational leadership, effective communication, teaching, networking, and management. But as I got into my 30s things around me started to change, meaning co-workers changed jobs and other factors, but I didn’t shift my outlook on the future. I didn’t have a direction.

What I enjoyed most was working one-on-one with college students as a mentor and leader. Teaching someone to talk on the radio takes time and patience. Teaching students how to ask questions that lead to other questions that lead to deeper questions when interviewing someone for a news story is what creates powerful radio. I really enjoyed that. Outside of the teaching of radio operations, I had a direct line into a many young people’s lives and had the opportunity to lead them in ways that went beyond working in the radio or journalism industry. I got to coach them on life stuff, like how to balance their budgets, what to look for in a job and career atmosphere, leadership development, and more. That was the best part of the work that I did, and the one thing I miss most from not being there.

I didn’t see it at the time but I do now. My dream wasn’t to work in radio, or be a big deal in the industry. The dream really was to work with individual people and lead them to bigger and greater things. Radio was the vehicle for that. The same is true for The Appetizer Radio Show. I created the show to be able to hear really great music on the radio instead of the same, boring 15 songs by the same boring 10 artists every day.

The music and media culture has shifted much since 2003 where now you can listen to the most obscure musicians online and on FM from a variety of channels. The dream for The Appetizer really wasn’t about doing something new or different. It was about making a difference in people’s lives and taking them to the next step in their journey, especially for the DIY/unsigned/indie musician. Everyone needs a platform that will give their work a start. The Appetizer Radio Show has been that platform for many artists who have gone on to bigger and greater successes.

It’s important to not confuse your vehicle with your dream, but it’s very easy to mistake one for the other. The key is looking deep within yourself and finding that gift that you have. The gift is the one thing you do naturally without bringing in education or training. It isn’t something someone taught you. It is something you were born with. What is it that people around you say you do naturally that is better than anyone else? That’s your gift.

If you don’t know what your gift is, ask some of your closest friends what they think. Then compare notes. I know that I’m naturally an Empoweror (made up word for “one who empowers”). My communications with people, whether online or in person, are done naturally and intentionally to lead to a positive result, even when I’m upset or holding someone accountable. Yet empowering and encouragement aren’t my gifts. They are a part of the gift, but not the whole enchilada.

My gift is that I’m a great listener who thinks objectively and puts pieces together to create a strong perspective and clarity. I can hear the stories people tell me and naturally connect the dots to what is really going on without knowing all the specifics. I’m good at reading people’s mail, as the saying goes. My natural inclination is to take that discernment and communicate in an edifying way that brings encouragement to the person I’m speaking with.  Positive results and outcomes are the results produced. This gift moves people forward, gives them clarity and direction, and takes them to new successes.

I see now how my gift has been used in the past careers I’ve had, yet none of the jobs or careers were the dream. The dream is bigger. What I think is my dream now is probably bigger in reality than what I imagine it is at this point. As I grow and increase the spread of who I am and become more recognizable, the dream will grow too, and the vehicles that take me there will change.

The same is true for you. The vehicle you’re in now to take you to your dream will morph, switch, change, or mutate. Some vehicles you’ll still interact with or catch a ride with periodically as you grow. Others you’ll never see again. The vehicle is what changes, but not the dream itself. The key it to really understand and have confidence in what the heart of your dream is so that you don’t confuse yourself and your direction like I did.

Do you know what your gift is? Can you recognize where you are right now as being a transport to get you closer to fulfilling your dream? How has your dream and your vehicle shifted or grown in the past year? These are the questions to reflect on to see how you’re progressing.

Since you know my gift, let me utilize to benefit you. Reach out to me and tell me your dream and the transport (vehicle) you’re in right now to get to your end goal. Leave a comment or Contact Me and let’s talk.

[feature image by Jeronimo Sanz]

Why Time Won’t Wait For You

Mrs. Smith and I at London Bridge 2014

Mrs. Smith and I at London Bridge 2014

There’s an old saying “Time waits for no one.” Sages and zen masters have used this for centuries to move their nations forward.

We all try and convince ourselves that we have plenty of time to do something on our goal list, or worse to start doing something on our big dream list.

But nothing happens unless we act. The goals can’t be goals and the dreams can’t be more than something we wish for unless we actually do something to move forward towards them becoming a reality.

This year my wife and I celebrate our 10th anniversary. Since we first got together, all she talked about was London. She spent a semester there in college and when she returned, wanted to be right back there.

For the first few years of our marriage, she dreamed of returning and we both talked about how “one day” we’ll go there. One day was a long ways off, because every time we’d talk about how it was a “goal” we had to do it, neither of us were doing anything to make that happen.

One day we both stopped each other and asked, when are we going to London? Are we ever going to go or are we just going to talk about it?

The truth is, we didn’t have the money to make an international trip. Finances had been the main reason we’d just talked about London and not been proactive about making it happen. However, just because you can’t pay for something big right now doesn’t mean you lack the resources to make it happen at a future date.

So from that day forward, we saved money every month and put it in our London Fund. Note, we weren’t making a ton of money at the time. Both of us worked full time jobs with a few part time projects on the side and were fresh out of college. We cut expenses where we could and did what was necessary to be able to save up.

Me&LeilaniAtPhoneboothLast September that dream came true. We spent 10 days in London and the surrounding area, got to experience the gorgeous English country side, some of the best pub beer on earth, and I even bought a few comic books at this killer antique shop.

What made the dream into a reality was more than money, which was what we originally thought was all that was needed. In truth, what it took was deliberate planning, discipline, and an end date. Years ago when we started this process, we set an end date for 2014, roughly ten years after her original trip overseas. Without an end date, it’s easy to keep kicking the can down the road, and then nothing come from your goal setting.

You have goals and plans and hopes and dreams. Do you have an end date set for when you want those to come into fruition? Is that end date realistic?

Sometimes obstacles that lie in the path of our goals and dreams can seem too big to overcome, or too much to try and deal with right now, so we say to ourselves, “Someday I’ll have that.”

Let someday be today, because you’re choosing to take action and figure out what the next steps are.

Let me know what your goals are, and what challenges are in the way. We can put together an action-item plan to help you get ahead and reach your dreams.

Time isn’t waiting on  you. You are.