Operation: Awesome!

By no longer showing Looney Tunes, we are failing future generations.

The rest of this year will be a time of big changes for me. I have a plan, which in my usual humble way, I have dubbed Operation: Awesome! It’s designed to integrate my coaching practice and my creative pursuits into a unified, sustainable, and, y’know, lucrative profession, because I cannot very well make the world a better place if I can’t even put food on the table.

Operation: Awesome! has four major components:

  1. The coaching practice itself: paying clients at various tiers, pro-bono clients, and side projects such as speaking engagements
  2. Blog income: ProudToBeAFurry.org; a coaching blog I’ll be launching later this year
  3. Art/comics/convention income: AnthroCon, Midwest Furfest, book sales, etc.
  4. Patreon: new goals and reward tiers, expanding my reach

Creating the plan for Operation: Awesome! was much like planning a car trip: I decided where I wanted to be, and when I wanted to get there, and then worked backwards to figure out the route, creating “milestones” along the way that would let me know I was on the right track.

Next, I made a list of the resources I had on hand to get me started on the journey– including my own skills and material resources; my network of friends, family, and social contacts; and services I could call on. Since I was planning from the future, this part was particularly important because it showed me what I didn’t need to “go shopping for” as part of the plan.

Finally, I created a timeline based on my milestones. Here’s a chunk of it:

Project Awesome! A small piece.

Notice the “income source TBD” chunks. This is a working roadmap, not set in stone, and I fully expect to tweak, alter, or revise it as things change. I don’t know where that “$2,200 TBD” in August is going to come from yet, just that I intend to figure something out by then. I might be making that much in blog income by then. I might come up with a great idea for group seminars. I might have blown the doors off my $300 Patreon goal. But the point is, now I know that I will need to work on that.

At this level, the project plan doesn’t include “action items”– that’s deliberate, because it’s where a lot of people get mired in details and sent into overwhelm. The plan is a roadmap, not a turn-by-turn set of instructions. Once you have the plan in place, you only create action items for the next milestone.

July is two months away, and my situation or needs may very well have changed by then, so coming up with action items for then might very well be a waste of energy that I could better spend on what I’m doing today. Right now, I’m aiming for the May 31st milestone, so I have created a “to do” list based on that and started to put thought into June. August and September aren’t even on my radar.

Anyone can come up with their own project plan, but honestly I recommend getting someone to go through it with you. Project: Awesome! was a collaboration between myself and my own coach. It requires a certain amount of time and brainstorming, so in my own coaching practice I like to devote two sessions to it. But the benefits are huge, and well worth the time investment.

With my project plan in place I am more confident of success, I am more aware of potential pitfalls and how to avoid them, and I have a clear vision of what “success” will look like. By planning it from the future, it feels like “Future Me” has reached backwards in time and told me how he got where he is, and that I am now calling that into existence by putting in the work.

Let’s rock this thing. 😉

Passing For Human at #FurMore18

Just some of my books!
This weekend is Fur The More 2018 in Tysons Corner, Virginia, and I’ll be there! Most of the time you’ll find me in the Artist Alley, with copies of issue six (“Ready to Rumble!”) and the first Rough Housing collection “Giant Enemy Crab!”.

Sunday morning will also be the first running of my new panel, “Passing for Human.” Drawing on my training as a success coach (and backed with a lifetime of experience convincing people that I am in fact a human being), the panel will cover the basics of meeting new people and making friends, how to handle yourself in public situations, and how to build positive and healthy relationships while avoiding some of the traps that can afflict a fandom. It will also address positive ways to meet and interact with artists and other creators within the fandom, as well as avenues to get out there and become the sort of person other fans will want to meet.

So in you’re if the Washington D.C. area, I hope you’ll come on by! My panel is Sunday morning at 10:30 in the Madison meeting room, and the rest of the time, you’ll find me in Artist Alley. See you there!

Your Own Captain’s Log

The U.S.S. Enterprise in orbit.
Keeping a journal is one of, if not the easiest and most effective tools to keep your goals on track. You can’t very well tell where you’re going without knowing where you are and where you’ve been.

The trap that many people fall into that prevents them from keeping an effective journal is that they approach it as a literary exercise, instead of a productivity tool. Poetic insights and vivid descriptive detail are great, and if you want to do that for its own sake, more power to you! But that’s not the purpose. The kind of journal we’re talking about here is a place to keep tabs on what’s going on, and something you can refer to later to refresh your memory and help you see what progress has been made. A shipboard log, of the type kept by Captain Kirk, was the age of sail’s equivalent to a black box, and is a lot closer to the kind of journal we’re talking about here.

To get around this trap, I recommend a Five Minute Journal. As the name implies, is something you write up quickly in the morning to start your day, and then update quickly at night before going to bed. You’re not writing beautiful diary entries here, you’re just creating short, bulleted lists, so you don’t need a gorgeous leather-bound tome. Just grab a cheapy spiral notebook and get moving!

A Five Minute Journal is updated twice a day, when you get up and before you go to bed, so you could keep it on your nightstand if you like. Your morning update creates your day’s mindset and sets your intentions for the day, and your evening update reviews the results and looks for improvement opportunities. So for example, this morning my Five Minute Journal would look something like this:

APRIL 2, 2018 – MORNING

Today I am grateful for:

  1. COFFEE
  2. All the fun I had this past weekend. 🙂
  3. Payday!!!

What will I accomplish today?

  1. Make an appointment with my accountant.
  2. Get a haircut.
  3. Write a Coaching Blog post. ;P

Daily Affirmations. I am…

  1. …bringing people happiness and self-realization directly through coaching or indirectly through the creation of inspiring and enduring stories and works of art.
  2. …making healthy choices and taking care of myself.
  3. …fun to be around and I naturally attract positive relationships into my life.

Total time it took me to write up these lists: five minutes. Hence the name, “Five Minute Journal.” Tonight, my followup might go…

APRIL 2, 2018 – EVENING

Three Amazing Things That Happened Today

  1. Completely cleared my to-do list, as well as finished the rest of the script for my next comic (bonus!)
  2. New haircut makes me look like a million bucks
  3. My cats were ridiculously adorable

How Could I Have Made Today Even Better?

  1. I wasn’t really enjoying those YouTube videos I spent my lunchbreak watching. 😛 I could have found something more fun there.
  2. I miss my buddy out in California. I could have called him today.
  3. Eat more chocolate. >.>

Again, five minutes. Super-simple, but remarkably effective. The morning entry gives you a roadmap for a productive day and puts you in the right frame of mind to carry it out. The evening entry gives yourself a pat on the back for doing a great job, and also gives your subconscious things to chew on while you sleep and points to things you might put on your lists for tomorrow.

A nice added bonus to these lists is that you can go back and re-read them later when you’re short on motivation, when you’re having a bad day, or even just want to review how far you’ve come and all the things you’ve accomplished. It can also serve as a reminder– “Oh yeah, that project I was working on six months ago kinda got stalled, I should really finish that off!”

The Five Minute Journal works especially well in combination with a Bullet Journal– but that’s a big topic that I’ll get into another day. In the meantime, if you’re interested, check out BulletJournal.com to get started.

Now get moving! Grab a notebook, make your first morning entry, and put this tool to work!

Sound helpful? Interested in learning more tools to get things done, or want to put the power of my coaching to work for you? Contact me via direct message, or send an e-mail to john@bringingtheawesome.com to set up a complimentary session today.

Creativity Coaching Slots Open!

Louis, after some creativity coaching!
YOU CAN DO EET

As folks may know, my day job is a success coach. I work with people in lots of different walks of life, but my native tribe is, was, and ever shall be creative types! 🙂 To that end, I’m opening three slots for artists or writers to get 90 days of coaching at no cost.

YOU GET: 1-hour weekly sessions via phone or internet hangout where we look at where you are in your creative pursuits, what obstacles you are facing and how to overcome them, and the possibilities that will open up for you to get you where you want to be.

WHAT I ASK IN RETURN: Feedback! I want to be the awesomest, most kickass coach ever– which means I need to learn what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong, and how I can do it better. 🙂

NOTE: This service is coaching– i.e., helping you reach your goals; not art tutor, editor, or similar services. Adults only, please. 🙂

Send me an e-mail via john@bringingtheawesome.com if you’d like to set up an intro call to talk about nabbing a spot! 🙂

-The Gneech

What’s In Your Way?

Gandalf will start his next project as soon as he deals with this thing that came up.

Defense mechanisms are sneaky buggers. They’re totally internal, but they disguise themselves as being external. Do any of these sound familiar?

  • “I can’t get anywhere on my print-making business because I’ve got too much work around the house to do this weekend.”
  • “Once I get this credit card paid off, I can finally move out of this crappy apartment.”
  • “I have this book idea I’ve been messing around with for a while, but every time I start to get somewhere on it, a big project comes up at my day job and I get knocked off track.”

Most of us human beings are amazingly good at putting up roadblocks at the end of the driveway and then complaining that we can’t get anywhere because the road is closed. And most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it.

Something that’s come up with my clients– not to mention something I’m guilty of, myself– is the trap of Being Busy.

And why not? “Being busy” is seen as virtuous in our culture. Being busy doing things for other people, even more so! Nobody would fault you for calling your mom, spending the weekend at work for a crunch project, taking care of your sister’s kids for a few hours, driving your brother to the doctor, helping a friend get the kinks out of that amazing prop he’s building to take to the next convention, and putting in a few hours of volunteer work at the community center. I mean really, they need your help, aren’t you kind of a jerk if you don’t do those things?

When you’re in the trap yourself, it seems so reasonable and natural… but when you look at it from the outside, it’s obvious what’s going on. By constantly having something SO much more urgent than your own project, that you just HAVE TO do today, not only do you get to stay snug in warm in your comfortable present situation, but you also get to pat yourself on the back for being Virtuously Busy.

And by some amazing coincidence, there’ll be a whole new set of things to be Virtuously Busy with tomorrow!

This is where a coach comes in. Your coach prioritizes YOU– not your mom, your co-workers, or your friend’s amazing prop-making hobby. All your coach cares about is whether you’re getting anywhere on the goals YOU want to achieve. And as an outside observer, your coach can see the Virtuously Busy trap for what it is, and help you navigate your way out of it.

Now some of these external things may very well have real consequences that need dealing with, but even there your coach will help you sift through and figure out which ones are essential and which ones are just fear wearing a rubber mask.

Sound helpful? Need a guide to help you out of the Virtuously Busy trap? Want to put the power of coaching to work for you? Send an e-mail to john@bringingtheawesome.com to set up a complimentary session today.

Officially a Coach! …Now, Where to Start?

This weekend was my first full training session with Accomplishment Coaching. It was an intense crucible for everyone involved, bringing up a lot of intense emotions, but also providing the coaches-in-training with some powerful and useful tools, not just for the nitty-gritty administrivia of contracts and billing, but more importantly for jumping right in and providing value to clients immediately.

Of course, before a coach can help clients, they need to find some! This being Day One, my docket is currently empty, other than peer-coaching sessions with the rest of my team-in-training, and I am still building the framework for the business. I have some mid- to long-term plans around this (including a practice name, URL for a future website, and so forth), but as of today I am still grinding away at the basics– things like liability insurance, arranging an accountant, getting my billing methods in place, etc. As of today, my most visible step has been to update my LinkedIn profile, but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.

At the end of the weekend, we set declarations of intention around what we were going to build before the next session (March). Figuring that finding two clients would be a “safe bet,” I declared that I would get four. In my mind, for better or worse, that’s the “pass/fail” number. But I have also set a “stretch goal” for myself of actually getting six.

So… hey! Anyone out there looking for a success coach… or know anybody who is? Here’s a quickie synopsis of what coaches do (c/o the International Coach Federation):

Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives.

Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has.

And that’s what I do! I’m champing at the bit to get started, so seriously, I’d love to hear from anyone who wants to connect about it. Shoot me an e-mail via john@bringingtheawesome.com and we can schedule a call or chat to figure out how to start bringing the awesome. 🙂

-The Gneech