Why Compliments Are Scary

26 11 2013

Scared senior womanLet’s face it, fellow entrepreneurs… as much as we love a good compliment, there’s a little something scary about each pat on the back.

Why? Because, for motivated people, a compliment is as good as an expectation. And expectations bring out some of the more… interesting… facets of our success-driven personalities.

Let’s have a look at a few of these, and see how we can kick the “scare factor” to the curb:

THE PERFECTIONIST
“Entrepreneur” and “perfectionist” could almost be used interchangeably for as often as one is associated with the other. When a perfectionist receives a compliment, we turn the internal pressure on HIGH to recreate that optimal scenario over and over again. It’s a guaranteed recipe for self-condemnation when top performance is not repeatedly met without fail, and also a quick way to give yourself the compliment creeps!

Resolution: Make a paradigm shift! The next time a compliment brightens your doorstep, respond with “thank you!” and MOVE ON. The longer we linger over feedback – good OR bad – the more likely we are to be distracted from our main purpose. It’s like having your head turned by an appreciative whistle… and then walking into a light pole. Stay focused on your fundamental goals – compliment-based goals are pure distraction.

THE BAR RAISER
We wouldn’t have gotten where we are today without having the wherewithal to raise a few (hundred) bars. But this also takes perfectionist tendencies to a new level – where entrepreneurs feel an obligation to not only meet, but EXCEED compliment-born expectations. When we’ve just achieved something awesome, that next step up can feel mighty daunting.

Resolution: Outstanding performance is bound to happen. The trick for not allowing it to prematurely inflate your business expectations is to already HAVE business expectations. If you know where you’re going and how you intend to get there, bars can be raised at a pace that’s healthy for your business, rather than with every wayward compliment.

THE OVER-ANALYZER
Entrepreneurs are classic over-analyzers – highly skilled at mental games. Comes in handy when we’re thinking ahead to our next move or anticipating the needs of our clients. But fright sets in when the analysis morphs into paranoia: “If I was complimented on THIS, then was THAT not worthy of a compliment?” or “Was that compliment on the level?” or “Does this person want something from me?”

Resolution: Take compliments at face value. Whether or not a comment carries hidden undertones, trying to guess what’s taking place in another person’s mind is a massive waste of our precious time. Most compliments are just what they appear to be – a well-earned kudos. And if they’re not? Trust me, the compliment-er will eventually make their point in a less obtuse manner.

THE DON’T-FENCE-ME-IN-ER
And what if we’re awash in compliments… about something we don’t really want to do? You might, for example, be renowned for your culinary skills, when you’d far rather be SELLING cookware. This is one of the very scariest compliment scenarios. If everyone thinks you’re so good at cooking, the pressure to do just that can be CRUSHING. You can even begin to doubt your own desires.

Resolution: This is where an internal heart-to-heart becomes your guiding beacon. You can become compliment-worthy at ANYTHING, if you’re willing to give it enough effort. Skills can be learned. Passion cannot. Appreciate the positive feedback, but don’t let it shake you from your true life’s work.

You’ve been excellent readers, and I congratulate you for your savvy choice in reading material. Happy Thanksgiving, my cyberspace friends!

“I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they have not said enough.”  ~ Mark Twain

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





Twinkies on the Brain: A Mind-Nourishing Experiment

4 11 2013

TwinkiesAfter years of reading fluff and watching Netflix with breakfast, I came to the realization that my morning brain fodder had achieved the enrichment equivalent of a pack of Twinkies.

Common belief dictates that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What you put in your body post-snooze has a mighty impact on how you feel and operate the remainder of your waking hours. Those who know me well also know that my diet would impress the sporty socks off of Jillian Michaels. But my mental nourishment? Pathetic.

And I got to thinking about this intake imbalance – why would I make the effort to eat for energy, all the while prepping my brain to operate at the level of a remedial kindergartener? At best, I’d expect to be hyper and extremely unproductive.

So, to test a personal hypothesis, I decided to start my days off  with good eats AND good thinks. Instead of filler fiction and The Office reruns, I am launching every morning with smarty-pants stimuli, like philosophical readings, memory research, and TED Talks. I hypothesized that this would make me more effective, more efficient, and more creative throughout the day.

Not being all that scientific about it, I’ve failed to create control groups, track measurable results, and do other proof-providing activities. But with a couple months under my belt, I note here – unapologetically – that I FEEL more productive.

Power of the mind, baby. Sometimes that’s all it takes to create a new reality! (To the science-minded among you: please reserve scoffing until after you try it for yourself.)

What do you think? Would you be willing to run a 1-week trial of trading in morning Facebook, news, or popular T.V. for something that challenges your brain to stretch and strengthen? What would you use to bolster A.M. brain growth? If you try it, let me know what happens! We can be brain buddies and swap lists of our favorite brain breakfasts!

Want some ideas to start you off? Here are a few of my recent morning mind munchies:

 

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”  ~ Plutarch

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





Dawn Gets Selfish… But Not Greedy

21 10 2013

greedy little boy with appleToday, I need to be selfish.

Not the kind of selfish that involves stealing toddlers’ toys or hogging the pie. I’m talking about a “selfish” that is founded on asking for what I’ve legitimately earned, and rationally expecting to receive it.

As a business owner, when you complete a service, you ask for and receive payment. Entirely reasonable, right?

But for some reason, in our personal lives, it can feel mighty uncomfortable – selfish even – to expect “payment” for a good deed done. For example, you took over dinner duties so that a tired spouse could rest. You didn’t do it for gratitude or leverage. You did it as a quietly meaningful show of support for a person you love.

TROUBLE BREWING

It would be “socially inappropriate” to request a ‘thanks!’ every time you acted generously. But… how many domestic arguments start from failure to express gratitude? Tell me if this sounds familiar…

“You don’t appreciate me!”

Uh-huh. What that partner is actually saying is “I feel like I’m doing all of these generous things for you, and you’re not acknowledging the thought, time, and effort I’ve invested to make those things happen.”

And they’re typically right. ALL of us take certain things for granted – some more often than others. We don’t fail to show appreciation out of malice; rather, out of habit.

(For any concerned parties, this is not a reflection of my own marital relationship. My husband’s a keeper!)

POINTING FINGERS

So, who’s actually at fault? Spouse B for not thinking to express gratitude? Or Spouse A for not setting an expectation of when and what sort of gratitude they would like expressed?

‘Fault’ is probably the wrong word. ‘Responsible’ would be more appropriate here. Because Spouse B was most likely acting out of habit, and legitimately didn’t realize they were taking Spouse A’s actions for granted. And Spouse A was operating under the very real societal pressures that tell us that asking for appreciation is wrong (which moral stance, incidentally, is a titanic bunch of baloney.) Like anything repressed, that kind of hurt is bound to erupt sooner or later, and in direct proportion to the length of time it has been bottled up.

WHAT TO DO, WHAT TO DO?!

So, in the scenario above, I’d say there’s a relatively equal balance of responsibility.

There will be times when you don’t WANT gratitude – when the pleasure of doing something generous was its own reward. And that is okay.

BUT, there will also be times when your genuine kindness needs to come at the price of genuine appreciation. THAT IS OKAY, TOO. Do NOT be afraid to ask for something you have earned.

Understand, though, that there are two parties to consider. If your ‘kindness’ is unasked for, unwanted, and unwarranted, you’ve just lost your right to request payment.

On the other side of the table, the recipient has a responsibility to remove the blindfold and SEE the kindnesses for what they are. If gratitude is warranted, then share the love.

DAWN’S SELFISH REQUEST

So, let’s see if I can put my money where my mouth is…

Once upon a time, this blog was a marketing tool. With the shifting of my career goals, that purpose has long been defunct, and it is now simply a hobby and my gift to you – the fruits of my ponderings.

In reading my posts, you’ve already acknowledged that they have some value to you. That, in and of itself, is a small note of thanks.

But today… today I am asking you for a more substantive show of appreciation – specifically, a comment on this post (click the link next to “Comments:” at the bottom of this post), an email, or a phone call with anything from a quick “thanks!” to a note on how something I’ve written has impacted you.

If you’ve benefited from this blog, than I hope that you will see this as a reasonable and fun way to ‘remit payment’!

To those who’ve supported me with gratitude all along the way, you have been my muses. Thank YOU!

“’Gratitude’: A lively sense of future benefit.”  ~ A French Definition

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





The Leadership-Jacket Connection

16 10 2013

Unsure man in coatCritical Leadership Skill Numero Uno: The ability to translate thought into action.

In entrepreneurship, you cannot park in neutral and brain your way to success. Action is an inevitable necessity.

For years now, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the source of all that action. What makes a leader step up, when everyone else is stepping down?

Is it courage born of big decisions and masterful business moves? Life altering determinations? News worthy choices? Popular media would have us believe so.

However, my observation-based conclusion comes to: “Not really.”

In fact, I would argue that the essence of leadership is born of HABIT. Yes, habit. And that habit is formed largely from the small, seemingly irrelevant decisions that literally make up our day-to-day lives.

YOU SHOULD WEAR A JACKET

The other day, I couldn’t decide whether a jacket was warranted. For the three minutes I would actually be outside, the decision was truly insignificant. But in the millisecond of thought I actually devoted to the cause, I could imagine two, potential consequences to a faulty choice:

1)  I wore the jacket, was too hot, and had to lug it around the rest of the day. Inconvenient.

2)  I didn’t wear the jacket, was too cold, and suffered a few minutes of discomfort. Also inconvenient.

This is grossly simplifying the alternatives, but you catch my drift. It’s the level of decision-making that we are faced with every minute – even every second. Should I pick up groceries now or after lunch? Should I run the yellow traffic light or wait for the next green? Should I take the stairs or the elevator? Should I approach that person or this one?

In my scenario, I couldn’t decide, asked my husband for his input, and wore a jacket on his recommendation.

Now, can anyone tell me why the above sentence is an outright lie?

Anyone?

Because, in actuality, I most certainly COULD decide. I can ALWAYS decide. So, to turn the above into a truth:

I was unwilling to accept responsibility for the results of my decision, asked my husband for his input, and wore a jacket on his recommendation.

WHY WE DO IT

Fear. Habit. Laziness. Low self-esteem. It’s infinitely easier to choose a scapegoat than a course of action. When we pass the baton, a wrong decision becomes “not my fault”. But what do we lose in the process? Control. Self-esteem. Learning and growth opportunities. Freedom.

TAKING BACK THE REINS

How many times do you catch yourself defaulting to the decision of another person, group, or (heaven forbid) “fate”? I’d wager that you haven’t given it much thought. Why should you? Those trivial decisions are vastly unimportant in the grand scheme of your life.

BUT, I believe that THESE DECISIONS ARE WHERE LEADERSHIP IS FORMED. From a habit of answering your own questions. From a comfort with shouldering your own responsibilities. From an understanding that being wrong WON’T END YOU.

Take more knowledgeable peoples’ input into account, by all means. But let the final decision be yours.

YOUR CHALLENGE

1 )  Observe the actions and interactions of those in your life who are leaders and those who are not. See what happens when a minor decision has to be made. It’s downright enlightening.

2)  Evaluate the little, daily decisions that you’ve been giving away. If you can’t find a darn good reason for doing so, take back the reins! Leadership is waiting for you on the other side.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you. Not much.”  ~ Jim Rohn

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





What You Can Learn From What You Can’t Stand

19 09 2013

dislikeLet me tell you what I don’t like…

I am not a fan of pompous posturing.

I heartily dislike drama queens.

I can’t stand entrepreneurial “all talk and no action”.

I loathe complacency.

I deeply despise the “entitlement” mentality.

And I downright HATE the fact – sigh – that I’ve been personally guilty of all of the above.

Anyone who knows anything about human nature knows that passing judgement is as easy as cow-tipping a one-legged heifer.

But let me throw in a hypothesis that I alluded to in my previous post: The qualities, characteristics, and behaviors that we like least in others is often a reflection of the qualities, characteristics, and behaviors we like least about ourselves.

This isn’t necessarily a tit-for-tat conversion. If you’re disgusted by simpering social leaches, that doesn’t mean you ARE one. But when you accidentally let slip some teachers-pet-ish talk, do you give yourself the mental equivalent of a stiff right hook?

And if, like me, you sneer at unnecessary dramatics, check to see whether you bring out the thumb screws when you catch YOURSELF “whining”.

This is typically a gut-level reaction, but just think of the value in raising it to the level of awareness. Subconscious self punishment gets you a cozy seat in the psychologist’s office. Conscious recognition offers you an opportunity to become a better person. I know which one I’d prefer.

The next time you find yourself feeling particularly annoyed by a fellow human, do a mental check-in. What about his or her behavior do you particularly dislike? More to the point, does this mirror a personal quality with which you are less than pleased?

If, upon reflection, the answer is “yes”… bingo. You’ve just merged onto the road to self betterment.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”  ~ Ernest Hemingway

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC. All Rights Reserved.





The World’s Best Storyteller

2 09 2013

1948 Anna Karenina movie posterI recently had the ridiculously great misfortune of watching 1948’s video classic, “Anna Karenina”, based on Leo Tolstoy’s novel of the same name. By that experience alone, I wouldn’t touch the book with a 10-foot pole.

Sorry, Leo.

I sense hackles rising from Tolstoy fans and Vivien Leigh admirers. Steady on, there… I’m willing to concede that the book may outstrip the movie, and that Vivien Leigh is an unparalleled beauty.

But otherwise, I feel compelled to note that the characters are, without fail, self-consumed drama queens. And if you don’t want the ending spoiled before you have a chance to see for yourself, don’t read any further…

BAD STORYTELLING: WHY ANNA IS A NINCOMPOOP

For an impartial summary of the storyline, have a gander at Wikipedia. For the purposes of this blog, suffice it to say that Anna talks herself into believing that nobody loves her and, as a result, becomes unlovable. In the final scenes, Anna gasps out a daft, self-pitying soliloquy regarding something that, short of freaky telepathic powers, she could neither know nor control – other people’s thoughts. Then she throws herself in front of a train.

Yeah. Drama queen.

If you ascertained that I have zero patience for this kind of self-destructive nincompoopery, you’d be right. BUT, keep in mind that the traits we tolerate least in others are often a direct reflection of the traits we subconsciously like least about ourselves. More on that in an upcoming blog.

SO, WHO IS THE WORLD’S BEST STORYTELLER?

By now, you’ve probably figured out what I’m angling at. The World’s Best Storyteller… is YOU.

The stories we tell ourselves ABOUT ourselves hold infinitely greater power than any novel, tale, chronicle, anecdote, yarn, or headliner. These are our internal stories about who we are, how we act, what we value, which habits stick, what are futures will be, how we expect to be perceived, and all those other life altering things that make us who we are today, tomorrow, and yesterday.

Change your inner story – change who you are.

FOR EXAMPLE…

I used to be shy… or was I? Doesn’t really matter, because that was the story I spent 20 years drilling into the fiber of my being. It may have been perpetuated by external judgement, but it was cultivated, ripened, harvested, and replanted by me.

About 10 years ago, out of necessity, I decided that I was NOT actually shy, but simply valued peace and solitude more than your average human being. That being said, I was perfectly capable of “working a room” and “being a social butterfly”.

Did I really flip-flop personalities overnight, or did I actually flip-flop MY PERCEPTION of my personality? I believe we both know the answer to that.

I’ll say it again: Change your inner story – change who you are.

HOW TO NOT WANT TO JUMP IN FRONT OF MOVING TRAINS

First and foremost, your stories are YOURS. If someone wants to tell you that you are a shrimpy burger-flipper, and that is not your aspiration, then buck up and write out a different outcome. No one has the right to scribble over your story – NO ONE.

Secondly, check in on what you consider “eternal truths” about yourself. Where did they originate? Are they YOURS? Are they holding you back, or moving you forward? Let go of what makes you want to play on busy railroad tracks.

Finally, take a cue from Anna’s ludicrous behavior, and ditch the dramatics. Your story can be amazing without being the stuff of Star Magazine scandal-mongering. No writing skills needed – just self-confidence and self-respect.

I see a greater fate for you and me than becoming railroad pancakes. Let’s create some stories!!

Whatever our fate is or may be, we have made it and do not complain of it.”  ~ Count Vronsky to Anna Karenina in Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





How to Not Become a 1-Dimensional Crankpot Entrepreneur

20 08 2013

Crabby entrepreneurSeveral years into my business’s growth, I had become a finely-tuned design machine:

I ate breakfast with my computer; spent the day networking, quoting, brainstorming, and designing; devoted free hours to program upgrades; analyzed sign layouts and logos during drives; talked business with my husband at dinner; laid out tomorrow’s schedule before bed; worked the wee hours on time-sensitive projects; and dreamed up design ideas overnight.

I was single-minded. I was driven. I was everything society had told me an entrepreneur should be. But I was…

BORING. And drained. And cranky.

In my push to become the ultimate business owner, I’d committed a cardinal entrepreneurial sin:

Forgetting that I am human. And I paid the price.

Galloping toward a goal with blinders on creates tunnel vision and narrow-mindedness. Spoiler Alert: There won’t be caviar and yacht club memberships at THAT finish line. Just complete and utter burn out.

A well-rounded leader creates a well-rounded business. Hobbies, volunteering, and other extracurriculars are more than “for funsies” – they’re also a rock solid way to bolster creativity, learn skills that your expanding mind will find use for in the workplace, connect you with a broader audience, expose you to unexpectedly awesome opportunities, and eliminate your inner ogre.

So, with all my heart, I advise you to drop the “24/7 entrepreneur” act like a hot potato, and become the human collage you were born to be. There’s no heroism in becoming a 1-dimensional, crankpot entrepreneur. Give yourself permission to occasionally “lose” the responsibility sheet that exists in every leader’s head. Explore. Enjoy. Engage…

Mortals must do what they are here to do creatively or they will become cranky.”  ~ Jill Badonsky. Yes, Jill. Yes they will.

Dawn M. Tomczyk-Bhajan  |  DMT Artistry, LLC   |  www.DMTArtistry.com

All content Copyright © 2013 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.








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