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Success Stories : Tom Filsinger's Creative Dreams

Creativity Success Story

On Becoming a Dark Menace: Balancing Multiple Careers and Family Life

By Tom Filsinger, Associate Professor of Psychology

Dark Menace of the UniverseWhat is a Dark Menace?

Using my terminology, a Dark Menace is a creative person who pursues their dreams despite many obstacles including being misunderstood and unappreciated by others around them.

A Dark Menace is not something to aspire to be. It's an endearing label creative people can assign to themselves to take the edge off the feelings of pain and rejection that come with trying, sometimes unsuccessfully, to fit in to a conformist society.

As a result of following their own path a person runs the risk of being misunderstood by friends, family, and co-workers. After all, being open and creative sometimes means challenging the status quo and ruffling feathers. Some people are consciously or unconsciously threatened by genuineness and will try to stomp it out. By being yourself and seeking self-actualization you may be labeled a "Dark Menace" by's nearly unavoidable.

A Dark Menace lives a life truly their own, moving in directions that seem irrational to outsiders, but have a Zen-like quality of being "one with the forces around them." It's trusting intuition and following it even when it makes no sense to the left side of the brain.

I've done that all my life and must admit it works even when things seemed depressing and hopeless. I've managed to carve out several careers and to have a happy and healthy family on top of it.

I am an Associate Professor of Psychology at Jamestown Community College in New York in addition to having taught at a total of five colleges in my career. I created a 31-hour certificate program called Psychology of the Workplace, which helps students learn the essential skills for getting along with people at work, including conflict resolution, group dynamics, leadership, stress management, and more. This credit program is currently offered online so that adult learners can experience the professional growth of taking classes even if are constrained by work or family from attending traditional classes.

This program is offered through the SUNY Learning Network.

As if that's not enough, I am the owner of Filsinger Games, a company that produces two table-top card games called Champions of the Galaxy and Legends of Wrestling.

Is that an unusual combination or what? A psychology professor who has created a fantasy wrestling game? Some people think so, but to me it's just living a full life without feeling a need to play roles or limit my interests.

I founded Filsinger Games in 1986 and the company has successfully built a loyal fan following. How? By producing the highest quality games we can produce and by treating our fans as friends, not customers. We share in Filsinger Games madness together, taking on the world and all comers.

Moving off in yet another totally new direction, I released a series of countdown calendars in 2003 beginning with Countdown to Your Wedding Day. This wall or desk calendar celebrates the excitement of awaiting the Big Day with daily reminders and humorous cartoons. This is the first in our line of Countdown to the Big Day products. A new calendar, Countdown to Baby's Due Date, will be released in 2006.

In order to encourage others to pursue their creative dreams, I published a memoir on creativity in 2005 called The Dark Menace of the Universe. It was in this book that I first coined the expression, "Dark Menace."

My goal in the book is to share my expertise (from the field of psychology) to show people why their creativity will often be misunderstood by others. The book analyzes traits of creative children, adults, and dissects the creative process. It also examines the personality types who resist creative people. The book is offered at and is one of the highest reviewed books in the areas of "creativity and genius" and "psychologists and social scientists."

On top of all this I am the father of four healthy children and the husband of a great life-partner in my wife Leslie.

How to balance all these things? The key is time management and the ability to delegate tasks. This means discarding those factors in your life that simply don't rise to a level of importance, like television watching or other forms of what I consider time-wasting.

Also, finding other people who can help you to accomplish your tasks instead of micro-managing and trying to do everything yourself.

It's worked for me as a full-time college professor, game entrepreneur, and publisher of calendars. I even found time to be an author...and it was a blast, more a fulfilling need to express than work.

In fact, that's the key. If you can blur the line between work and pleasure, then you can work 100-hour weeks. Or is it 100-hours of playing?

To use my expression once again, a Dark Menace may be misunderstood by some outsiders, but they'll lead a richer and more productive life for it.

In fact, living successfully doesn't make you a Dark Menace at all. You are actually a self-actualized Guardian of Light, doing good for yourself and others. Some people will misunderstand, but that's a very small price for living life YOUR way.

May you become a Dark Menace, like I. And we will move together towards fulfillment, inspiring others along our path to do the same. •

© 2006 Tom Filsinger. All rights reserved.

Visit Tom's Web site, and read his article Creativity and Rebellion.