All entries in the personal category

Trackers are Winners. Winners are Trackers.

I have stolen the headline for this blog post from a couple of self-improvement gurus, which must at least include Brian Tracy and Darren Hardy. I have recently returned from a trip in the amazing country of Iceland. Today, back in Toronto, I went into and updated my “Unbroken Chain” file. This is a simple time and task tracker that I created in Excel. The “Unbroken Chain” is so named thanks to the “link” you add every day as you work. If you miss a day (or a “link”) of doing at least something regarding your business, you break the chain of success. I heard that Jerry Seinfeld used this technique — his “link” was to write at least one new joke each day. Apparently the technique worked out very well for him. 😉

I was sitting here today wondering why certain things weren’t going the way I intended (business-wise). I realized by going through my tracker that the answer is obvious: I am not dedicating enough time to certain tasks. That sounds simple, but if I hadn’t been tracking what I’ve been doing for the last few months by day by task by time committed, I know I wouldn’t have reached the same conclusion. It was yet another proof to mistrust what is going on in your head. Records on paper (or an e-document) are much better.

As of tonight, I shall change my daily blend of task and time commitments. Thank you, tracker!

"A Path to Somewhere Wonderful."  --Photo taken by yours truly during my trip to Iceland on my first hike.

“A Path to Somewhere Wonderful” — Photo taken by yours truly during my trip to Iceland in August 2014 on my first hike.

A Moment of Gratitude

Most mornings, after I have reviewed my goals, I also type out what I am grateful for. Today, the contrastingly undeliberative feeling of gratitude struck me point-blank while I was sitting outside a Timothy’s Coffee this early afternoon. I had indulged in a chocolate slice of cake and a medium soy latte. I took them outside with my laptop to a little shaded table. As I bit the cake and sipped the latte, I couldn’t help but think, “I am SO frigging fortunate!” I recalled hanging out with my lady friend just minutes earlier, I looked up at the sunny day and warm weather, I thought of the incredible freedom of having a laptop and being able to work on whatever I deemed most important — and was humbled. “WOW!” I can only say similarly. This attitude and the concept behind it I know might seem corny to some people, but believe me — the vast majority of people on this planet will never have a day like this.

I want to acknowledge the fact that I am part of the fortunate few: “Thank you, universe.”

And to anybody reading this, please note: GRATITUDE CRUSHES FEAR.

A Simple Moment of Gratitude

Time for a New Approach

Back on January 16, 2014, I created a calendar to put on my wall so it was “in my face” all the time. The intention was to create urgency so I would make things happen quickly. Today is 5 months later.

The first attached photo shows the calendar just before I tore it off the wall today. Note the ticks until June 22. For all I know, the daily image showing August as an endpoint (my cash savings limit) has been negatively affecting my subconsciousness. What if the August date has been creating a failure target, rather than a success target? The second attached photo shows a wood (pine) board that I punched (karate-style) in January, too. It was part of a symbolic “breakthrough” exercise at the Toronto Power Group. However, the symbolism did not work. Financial BHAGs may have also been negatively affecting my subconsciousness. What if I didn’t believe them in the first place?

I review my goals every morning. This morning, I started seriously hacking at them because I have been missing my biggest goals. I gave myself many “shoot for the stars” goals, but in most cases, didn’t even “hit the moon.” “Hitting the moon” is supposed to be the consolation prize for one’s BHAGs. Having missed them has affected my psychology. I ask myself: Why keep setting them if they cannot be achieved? Therefore, following the common advice of, “Stop doing the same things if you expect different results,” I am tearing down the calendar and parking my big financial goals. I will focus on creating outstanding value for others and increasing my effectiveness instead. The money will follow. A few successful individuals whom I met in person recently said, “Never chase the money.” OK universe — this is my new approach.

Taken on the last day I'll have this on my wall. I want better subconscious nutrition.

Taken on the last day I’ll have this on my wall. I want better subconscious nutrition.

"Previous financial goals missed."

“Previous financial goals missed.”

What am I doing?

I sometimes experience moments where I have caught myself highly focused or putting intense energy into my work. I will flip into a personal reality check. It’s usually a bit humorous and a bit sad. I realize that I’m frowning or feeling tired and frustrated as I push through the work. The question that enters my mind is, “What am I doing?” And sometimes pessimistically, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” You see, the highly focused energy I might put into, entering new contacts into Outlook, Gmail, MailChimp — and then sending the contacts a personally crafted email — takes a lot of time. When I hit the email “send” button for a completed contact — I know that I might not ever hear back from him or her. So I question why am doing that task at all. Might there not be a better way to spend my time? Should I really be putting energy into something where I’m not seeing measurable results? I hate to use this word — faith — but it’s sometimes what I’m hanging on to. I’ve been studying many best practices about building a business, and I think I’m following most of them pretty well so far. But where is that payoff? I sometimes question it all. I shall keep on truckin’ in any case!
Faith Roadsign

Who are you?

“Who are you?” is the sort of question I’ve noticed most people struggle to answer. “What do you mean by that?” is the most common comeback. The answer is: If you had to put yourself into only 1 or 2 sentences that explained who you really were in the universe and/or what your biggest goal was — could you do it? Most folks I’ve seen reply with their names and career titles. Life of course can be much more than a career, although some people are 100% defined by it — and that’s cool too! But if you thought about it — would your career only define you?
I’m writing this post because I struggled over the last few days to create a TAGLINE for my name/brand. This isn’t EXACTLY the same as what I’m describing above, but I had to go to the very root of what I am trying to do / give / share with the world that is authentically me. PS I slightly updated my logo as part of the process. So here it is: “Dyniss the Man of Song: Transcending the live audience relationship.”
Cool, eh? And you are left wondering (in a very good way IMHO) what the heck I am talking about in the tagline. You’ll just have to see me live to find out. 🙂
Dyniss Logo

Eat That Frog

Today I did a couple of things first that normally I would prefer to do last (or not at all) on my list of to-do’s. This is a simple concept, best summarized (IMHO) by Brian Tracy in his book, “Eat That Frog.” The short story is: Eat the biggest and ugliest (most difficult) task(s) first each day. This is one of many usable keys to personal and professional success. It sometimes may not even feel good to decide to take the first bite of your biggest/ugliest frog, but when it has been completed, you feel great. This is what I did today, and will constantly improve myself by increasing the frequency. P.S. No actual frogs were harmed or consumed during this process — I am vegetarian after all! 😉


“Frog” by Paris Neto via Flickr Creative Commons

Breathing Deeply

Toronto buses.

The older buses sometimes leak fumes from the diesel they use into the rear half of the bus, which is where I’m often seated. The natural rejection from my lungs and a mild sense of panic means I don’t need a scientific PPM measurement to prove that the fumes aren’t healthy.

Recently on my usual route I said to myself, “I can’t take this any more, I’m going to complain to the driver.” As I exited the bus, I kindly reported the problem to him. The look in the driver’s eyes and the sound in his voice said, “I will do nothing about this.” I walked away in disappointment.

Later that week, I reported it a second time, on the same bus and route, to the same driver. But he got defensive and again left me with an impression of inaction.

So a few days ago, on another bus route, I was breathing the fumes again. They were so strong that I nearly gagged. But I had already been walking around downtown, irked by fumes and garbage smells on the street. Exhausted from my work day, knocked-down by the environment, I decided to remain where I was.

I breathed deeply, and embraced the fumes as they entered me. I was the city’s victim, relieved in some sad way to give in.

Two Corporate Years = One Dwindling Green Guy

I recently accepted a 2nd promotion at work, which means I must be doing something right there. But my artistic activities continue to dwindle as my focus shifts further toward my job. There has been increasingly less time for songwriting, recording, show bookings, or website maintenance.
When I first started at Corporation X, I had trouble adjusting to the culture. Take the average worker’s attitude toward green thinking. I could not believe how my white-collar co-workers disposed of so many coffee cups every day. 1 or 2 per worker? And not even recycle them? So I strode around with my travel mug, quipping about its benefits, and dutifully/proudly bringing it to the coffee shop myself each morning, hoping everybody would notice and catch on.
(insert loud buzzing game-show loser sound here)
I’ve always said to people, “Environment supports itself” — meaning that if you’re surrounded by people who like to walk around picking their noses, they will likely continue to pick their noses. If somebody says to a room full of nose-pickers, “Hey, you know that’s unhygienic,” they will tend to ignore the upstart because majority rules.
Here is the sad part of my story: I have joined the corporate majority in various ways, and I justify it regularly. Thanks to two years of influence, I now buy my tea from the coffee shop in disposable cups. I do recycle the carboard body of the cup, but the plastic top — which I at first out of guilt carried regularly to the plastic recycler — now gets thrown in the garbage.
How can this change of attitute be?
My hypothesis:
1. Desire to earn money through stable employment;
2. Willingness to join corporate environment;
3. Subsequent desire to increase work output to increase rate of earning money;
4. Loss of personal time as a result.
I believe that it is the shortage of time that has ultimately sucked me into the herd mentality.
There is an expression that says, “time is money”, which I am living now, as do most people I work with. You can never do “enough” work in the sort of job I’m now in. Anything that distracts you from your work is a bad thing.
In the good old days after university when I had erratic/fewer hours producing audio, I had the time to be the Green Guy I wanted to be. Hey, I could wash that travel mug! I could make that extra walk to the recycler! I could ride my bicycle instead of getting on a motorized vehicle, or I could participate in more pro-environment activities like clean-ups or marches, and I could have more personal time to do creative things.
My focus on money has sucked me into the part of society I always wanted to avoid. I even catch myself looking at people like the “old” me with a bit of, “Oh, grow up”. Unbelievable! I don’t believe I have only grown up.
So — I still want to follow point (1.), even after my personal debts have been eliminated. But I’m not willing to work for peanuts just to do something eco-friendly, and I’m not willing to work so hard that I can’t have the extra time to be the responsible creature I want to be.
Oh Green Guy, how will I revive you?

Days of Less Music

These are the days of less music. My day job has intensified following a promotion. I come home, I’m pretty darn tired, and I avoid spending even more time than I did at work in front of a computer for the recording, website maintenance, show booking, or promotional activities that musicians are obligated to take care of. And let’s not talk about songwriting or rehearsing! But the few songs I have been writing have become even slightly weirder than my usual fare. I saw myself twice on video and thought I was a bit dull, so as a solo artist I think I have to make my songs weirder to keep an audience’s attention. I have definitely been influenced by quirky Hamilton musician Wax Mannequin, an excellent and unusual solo artist.
After the two shows I have next week, I’ll take a break, see what happens energy-wise, and feel where I should go. Creatively, I am very interested in focusing on creating simple video to accompany me while I play. This would also add to making my shows more interesting. It would be a heck of a lot of work and a costly investment in equipment, but that’s what feels right.

Almost a Blue Man

I auditioned for a lead role in a new theatre show opening up in Toronto. I even made it to the 2nd callback. The character? A Blue Man fronting the incredible Blue Man Group. I can talk about it now, since I just found out that I didn’t make it — only 1 Torontonian was chosen.
You have to check out Blue Man Group live if you ever get the chance. Their successful multiple productions now add up to a 500+ employee, multi-million dollar independent empire. If you’ve ever seen Intel T.V. commercials with blue-looking guys in them, those are the 3 original actors.
Describing one of their shows in print wouldn’t do it justice. The audience always participates, thumping music abounds, and there are a lot of laughs. The Blue Men are sort of like mute aliens visiting earth, and they like to drum a lot.
Two weeks ago, there was an open call for drummer/actors to play one of the three Blue Men characters for the show. I thought, “Wow, what a change this would be!” Agreeable hours, steady artistic pay, and an unquestionably good experience.
When I went for the auditions, I had a great time, and the Blue Man character was one that I felt I related to personally (should I say that?). In fact, I had so much fun playing the character that I’m currently thinking of modifying the idea and creating a Green Man or something. Before I even knew about Blue Man Group, I had already appeared as “The Holy Green Eco-Warrior” at one of my shows. Hmm, meant to be?
Anyway, better luck next time to be a Blue Man.
Although I doubt there will ever be a “next time” for something this peculiar.