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.





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.





Emotions in Business: Advice from a crabby entrepreneur

8 02 2013

Crabby girlToday… I am crabby.

So today is a perfect day to blog about why that does not matter.

There are many things you give up when you choose the path of entrepreneurship – time, financial security, excuses, and definitely, DEFINITELY the right to be on anything other than your A-game. Some of these things (the positive ones) do come back to you over time – as you earn them – and you value them more as a result.

Until then, “smile, even when it hurts.”

You see, a client operates in a different world than yours. They don’t know that you didn’t sleep well the other night; they couldn’t possibly know that you just spent an hour disputing false charges on your credit card; they have no idea how hard it was for you to give up a family night because an employee called in sick. Your distress is valid, and it’s important. A client, however, is not the correct outlet for your verbal therapy.

Because, if you are serious about what you do, you are an oasis of stability in your clients’ own potentially chaotic world. You are reliable, when everyone else is making excuses. You are available – baggage-free – to make their life easier.

And that is why, when you call as a client, you will always get my best.

Who else will make that pledge with me?

…there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.  ~Albus Dumbledore

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

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





Wear Your Number Proudly: Entrepreneurial self-gratification

7 11 2012

Wear your numbers with prideA few years ago, butterfly hordes took my innards hostage, while I stretched before my first duathlon (run/bike competition). Surrounded by fellow, shivering newbies making repeat bathroom runs in the pre-sunrise chill, I distinctly remember the moment that volunteers penned my race number on my arms and legs. They used permanent marker for easy identification. I felt so official.

I was a duathlete.

I finished in the top something-or-other, and walked away with a medal, a banana…

… and permanent marker proof that I had competed.

For a whole week after, I was very careful not to scrub off my numbers. They lingered, and I sheepishly recall spending that week in sleeveless shirts and shorts, running errands and eating out like it was going out of style. I was PROUD, and receptive to a little recognition.

If you’re smirking, I suggest you recollect back to the medals, trophies, ribbons, certificates, degrees you’ve had on display. And what about the times you’ve gone out in your soccer kit, gi, team jersey, golf get-up, exercise gear, etc., when it would have been just as easy to change first? We thrive on recognition: we’re human.

And there is nothing wrong with that. It’s one of the perks of doing something that few can or will do. It’s a motivator. It’s a reminder. It makes us a part of something cool. It’s EARNED.

Being a successful entrepreneur is remarkably special. It takes guts, brains, charisma, bravery, endurance, strategy, self-motivation…

So, where’s our trophy? Our certificate? Our badge of honor?

It’s in our branding!

Every time you wear a company shirt, mail company letterhead, conclude emails with company info, set up company voicemail, direct people to your company website, and post on your company Facebook, you are shouting your accomplishment from the rooftops,

“I own a business, and it’s the real deal!”

To keep your enthusiasm at an all-time high, get your branding out everywhere. Embroider it, attach it, print it, post it, vocalize it – this is a special situation where reaping recognition coincides directly with building success. You never know when your branding exuberance will spark a conversation with the right person, in the right place, at the right time. Why not improve the odds?

Entrepreneurs, “wear your numbers” with pride. YOU’VE EARNED IT.

DMT Artistry’s re-branding… yeah, it’s back ON. (The photo at top is just a small segment of a very impressive race number wall at Hometown Bicycles.)

Note: I dedicate this blog post to my Uncle Mark, who will be a guest blogger in the near future (right, Uncle Mark?), and inspired me to write a new post. Much obliged! 

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

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





If Wishes Were Horses:

5 10 2012

Having a conversation with yourselfWait. Hope. Wish. Dream.

What do all of these words have in common?

Answer: They have no place in an entrepreneur’s vocabulary. These words are passive. They are a luxury. They neither get things done, nor generate productivity.

They’re all talk, and no action.

Why do I bring this up?

Because I’ve caught myself red-handed – more recently than I’d like to admit – waiting for projects to fall in my lap, hoping office renovations move forward quickly, wishing there were more hours in the day, and dreaming about DMT ‘going viral’ across the nation.

Doing this costs me. It costs me time; it costs me brainpower; it costs me energy. And the return is peonic – a moment of mental gratification. Hardly something to write home about.

So, why do we do it?

Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to accomplish things when someone or something – your boss, your spouse, the law, even your body – tells you to do something? Seriously. You have to do it – make the deadline, fix the car, pay your taxes, fill a cavity – so you just make it happen.

Take the same task, and put yourself in the role of giving orders. YOU know that you’re feeling a little tired today, that you have an ill family member, that your “to do” list is a mile long, that you’d rather be fishing, that…

It’s very easy to be sympathetic with a person who’s life you know intimately, and you will always be number one on that list. For that reason, it can be one of the most challenging feats of entrepreneurship to simply INSPIRE YOURSELF TO ACTION.

How do we make that happen?

Plan. Set goals. Initiate. Do.

There are always people to inspire, motivate, support, and cheerlead, but when the chips are down, YOU are the only person who can drive yourself to act. I can write “rah-rah” pep talks until the cows come home, but I cannot flip the switch in your brain that decides whether you wish or whether you do.

So if you came here today looking for motivation, I’d recommend pulling out the mirror. This is a conversation that you need to have – can ONLY have – with you, and you alone.

The world will know the results of this conversation by the progression of your business. Remember, failure is as legitimate a result as success. Stagnation and atrophy are not.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I just inspired myself to action.

“Action conquers fear.”  ~Peter Nivio Zarlenga

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

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.





Seriously… Discovering What It Takes to be an Entrepreneur

26 07 2012

Piecing together the "success" puzzleCandid moment, here…

Something interesting happened last September, when I celebrated DMT Artistry’s 2nd anniversary – something, in fact, cataclysmic:

I began to take my business seriously.

Understand that, prior to this, I certainly wasn’t operating my business halfheartedly or as a hobby. And the change had nothing to do with my work ethic, my professional possessions, or even external moral support. I had all of that in spades from the very beginning.

Nevertheless, it took two years for me to recognize my business as not just a success, but a legitimate, hard-earned, GROWING success with not-so-hidden potential. I grew aware of opportunities and, where there weren’t any, created them. Business didn’t just “happen” anymore. I MADE it happen.

At that time, the DMT re-branding concept was flickering to life, because DMT Artistry had become WORTH it.

I thought that this epiphany must be the Pinnacle of Entrepreneurial Realizations. To take my business seriously meant that I had given it the green light to be amazing, unique, enjoyable, worthwhile, impactful, noteworthy, and however successful I chose to make it.

But, this summer, I’ve trumped that realization:

I’ve begun to take MYSELF seriously.

In a role that demands the highest levels of self-esteem, entrepreneurship is, ironically, one of the most psychologically punishing. If there isn’t something strong at the core of you – something that goes beyond any vanities, excessive modesty, timidity or sheer bluffing – circumstances will knock you about, like a paper boat on the ocean, and your business will melt into nothing.

There are all kinds of statistics about our chances for business survival and success. Does the entrepreneur have what it takes to run a business? Can the entrepreneur do what is necessary to grow? Will the entrepreneur invest what is required to succeed?

In taking myself seriously, I’ve chosen to bank on the fact that I have, I do, and I will.

What about you? Have you given yourself and your business the same compliment?

Next Blog: I will post again in another 2 weeks. Thank you for your loyal readership!

“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”  ~Ayn Rand

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

All content Copyright © 2012 DMT Artistry, LLC, unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.