Dullard or Dynamo? A Case for Change! | Your Life Is Your Business

“You just don’t get it.” Ouch! That’s a pretty damning phrase these days. It’s also a reminder that we need to keep up or be left behind with no one waiting for us to catch up.

The more you know the more options you have.

Do you know dull people? I do. Are you dull? I hope not. We’re all susceptible to becoming stuck in a rut or irrelevant if we aren’t careful. So ask yourself:

  • Do I hang around with the same people all the time?
  • Am I doing the same things in my free time?
  • Do I avoid new challenges at work?
  • Am I doing my work the same old way? 

If you answered “yes” or “unsure,” oops!  

When a company answers “yes” to those questions, it’s saying, we

  • Don’t want new employees or customers either
  • Don’t invest in performance improvements
  • Don’t take risks to become more competitive
  • Don’t adopt new industry best practices 

Would you buy stock in that company? Me neither! Would you buy stock in yourself? Hummmm!

You can’t go forward when you’re stopped or in reverse. 

Your life is your business and you’re the only one driving. You can either go forward, park, or back up.

Business survival depends on the ability to grow and remain relevant in the marketplace. That’s why companies engage in research and development, exploration of new work methods, and employee training.

You need to do that too…for yourself. If your life is one dimensional, you limit yourself. Too many people expect the company they work for to provide learning and growth opportunities instead of finding those outlets themselves. Hey, it’s your life. Learn what you need to learn. Accept experiences that will enrich you. Do it yourself!

A casual comment may be all you need. 

A friend of mine invited me to attend a local horseman’s expo that featured vendors who sold tack, clothing, supplies, and services for people like us who were into horses.

During our wanderings, we met a woman who was selling equine art, signed prints featuring everything from cowboys to race horses. We loved what we saw.

As we were leaving the venue, my friend asked, “Would you like to do that?”

“What?” I asked.

“Become an equine art dealer,” she replied.

That’s all it took.

Now you may be wondering why I’d want to take that on. After all, I was already a commercial horse breeder and had a major corporate job.

The answer: “Because I knew nothing about retailing. I’d never been a waitress or a clerk. Never took money—cash, check, or credit cards—from anyone. I knew nothing about inventory management or sales for that matter.

Here was a chance for me to learn how all this works with products that I was passionate about and for customers who were horse enthusiasts like I was.

The business involved contracting with equine artists willing to provide copies of their work, prints and originals, on consignment. We would sell their art at major horse shows in PA and NJ where we set up as vendors. We also sold art on line.

I did this for 10 years. Here’s a partial list of what I learned how to do:

  • Procure and merchandize products
  • Market through cooperative advertising
  • Attract and retain customers
  • Manage inventory, pricing, and on-line sales
  • Package, transport, and ship
  • Manage the legal and accounting aspect of a partnership 

This wasn’t a very profitable business but it was a highly enriching experience.  

Nothing beats an ace-in-the-hole. 

We all sleep better at night when we have the right skills and experiences to maximize our career and job options. It’s like having a business fitness 401K. So fight the good fight against dullness and irrelevance by taking advantage of opportunities to learn and do. It’s all money in the bank.

Care to share an experience where you tried something new? What did you learn and how did it feel? Your story may spark a change!


10 thoughts on “Dullard or Dynamo? A Case for Change! | Your Life Is Your Business

  1. Twelve years ago, I walked away from a job I could do in my sleep. It was a job I loved. It was secure, loaded with good pay and benefits. I was good at it and I knew I was helping people. And I worked with a great bunch of people who were not just co-workers but also friends.

    Who would leave that? I did.

    I needed to try some new things. I needed to know if I could do some new tasks as well as I did the old ones. I wanted to learn. I wanted to be excited about achieving new goals. I wanted to test myself.

    Starting a business from scratch provided me all of those things and more. Nothing comfortable. Nothing familiar. Alot that was downright scary. Stuff that made me grow.

    If you’re not challenged, ask yourself why. Can you change it? You’ve heard the question about what might you try if you knew you couldn’t fail. Whether you fail or not, what do you really, really want to do?

    • Donna, this is terrific, especially the question: “What might you try if you knew you couldn’t fail.” That is so true. We become paralyzed by the fear of it, that somehow our whole self-image will be shattered if we blow it.

      Your story is so important, because of all the people who don’t make a move from a position of success. So many wait until they’ve lost their jobs to move on. You were at the top of your game and said, “It’s time to try another team and another league.”

      You believed in yourself in spite of the uncertainties. That’s what we all need to do and when we have a hard time believing in ourselves, we need to lean on those who we can count on.

      Beautiful! Thanks so much…~Dawn

  2. Many years ago I received a call saying that a group was looking for someone who could teach statistics and relate to people and was I interested. I said “Sure I can do it”. The panic set in after I said “yes”. Granted I’d had two semesters of stats in grad school but apply them to real life?
    Any way it was a challenge that worked out well. They did send me thru some training, which was a help. With more practice and studying I became good at it. That work (statistical problem solving and 6 sigma) put food on my table for years. I’m so glad I took the challenge.

    • Ah, the power of “YES!” I love it. I wish more people would take courage from the fact that they know how to learn, so a new job is just another learning opportunity. Why wouldn’t we be able to master that new material? But so many say, “I can’t take that on” and miss a wonderful opportunity to advance their careers or launch a new one. Yours is reason for us all to reexamine our “heart” and learn to consider ourselves as our best risk! Another great role model story! Thanks, ~Dawn

  3. Dawn,
    You continue to impress me with your depth and breadth of life and career experiences — so rich and interesting (definitely not dull!).

    I love the idea of a ‘casual comment may be all you need’ to compel forward movement in business/life. The conversation of life, if perpetuated through a diverse channel of relationships and by way of being ‘open’ to new people and activities (i.e., not getting TOO routine in our day to day), will inevitably offer up opportunities we never dreamed of!

    My story: opened my business in 1997 under a different name and marketplace focus (more broad-based, business marketing/project management target). Within a matter of 3 months, and by virtue of my willingness to ‘listen’ to another business owner’s pitch for collaborating on ‘resumes,’ I soon (within 12 months) became niched and happily entrenched in my current, focused business writing area (executive resume writing). Oh, what a ride the past 13+ years has been!

    And, I agree with you that business survival depends upon the ability to grow and remain relevant in the marketplace. Surviving in business can be brutal at times, and thriving in business can seem unachievable but both are goals which we must continually aspire to.

    A starting point: reading blog posts by / engaging with other business owners such as yourself is one relevant and invigorating means by which we can be inspired to accomplish continual business growth!


    • Jacqui, how wonderful to hear the story of your business evolution. You are so right that “surviving in business can be brutal at times.” I so admire what you have achieved over rocky terrain. It takes a ton of courage to go out on your own and a ton more to reinvent yourself. It’s a credit to your courage and your openness that you listened to that niche opportunity and your own inner voice that said, “go for it!” After 13 years, I suspect you’re over the hump. What an accomplishment. Now it’s my turn to be impressed!

      I agree wholeheartedly with you about reading blog posts,engaging and sharing with other entrepreneurs, people who can be supportive and enlightening. That’s exactly how I feel about you. It was your kindness when I first got started on Twitter that touched me and I have been grateful for your generosity and help ever since.

      Thanks, Jacqui, for this wonderful comment and for sharing your story!

      Stay well,

  4. Dawn, once again your advice is on target, and your personal story illustrative of what people can do if they take charge of their own learning and their own lives.

    My story is one of always wanting to learn new things. I have had huge successes as well as a few “failures” along the way (from which I probably learned more than the successes). Like Donna, I left a comfortable corporate job to strike out on my own and try something new.

    The story that comes to mind, though, is when I joined a new church 10 years ago. They needed a summer fill-in organist, found out I had played in high school and asked me to help them. I agreed, and then had some panicky moments when I discovered that it’s not easy to start up again after not playing for 27 years. I practiced a lot, got through the 4 Sundays with no major glitches and have now been the assistant organist at the church since 2000. It has been a blessing to be able to contribute my talent.

    Since then, it’s been much easier for me to try new things, including “technology”. I don’t intend to ever be a dullard, even in my old age–too many exciting things to do and learn!

    • Mary, you have such a great repetoire of experiences to draw from–a credit to your willingness to explore and take chances, particularly on yourself.

      I’m so impressed that you are an organist. I played piano for many years but NEVER had the nerve to play in front of anyone. Not playing for 27 years is an unbelievable obstacle to overcome on so many levels, making your willingness to say “yes” even more remarkable.

      But it’s the end of your story that drives home the point. You did it! And that gave you the incentive and continued courage to keep trying new things. Momentum is a powerful force. I’m with you…there’s so much exciting stuff to try. Not to take part is such a waste. I agree…you will never be dull with your track record!

  5. Thank you Dawn for this great conversation. So important for all of us small business folks to stay flexible and open to new ideas.

    My past, present and future business challenge is networking. I hate it – be it social media or the old-fashioned person to person networking. But, I am trying. Social media is a bit easier for me, but I am hoping to embrace the new media and use it to grow my business relationships.

    • Christine, it was so nice of you to comment. Owning a small business is both exciting and daunting at times. There is so little margin for error and so much is riding on our ability to attract a following. It sounds like you are right in the thick of things!

      To be truthful, I didn’t like networking either, especially the face-to-face kind. It took me a while to realize that networking strategies are different based on the kind of business you’re in. So I figured out what to do that best fit me and the outcome I needed. So you gave me the idea to write a blog about networking that I will try to post sometime this week. Thanks!

      Social media is a terrific way to network since it is very cost effective and a good use of time. Do you have a FB fan page or website? I’d be happy to follow you!

      Thanks again for your great comment. If you ever have any specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Best, ~Dawn

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