Saturday, March 29, 2014

Know What You Need

Do you ever confuse what you need with what you want?

It's so easy to focus on what we want first. When what we want is a noble goal or a focused vision, that helps. When what we want is to play when we should be working, or to eat when we should be exercising, or to gossip when we should be supporting, that can be a problem.

Sometimes what we want doesn't match what we need if we think what we need doesn't matter.

What we truly need does matter. Neglected, it matters even more.

Are you meeting your needs first?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Show Faith in Others

What does faith mean to you?

Without getting into too deep of a philosophical discussion, I like to keep in mind that my faith has more to do with how others will perform than it does about my own performance. Sometimes we can get burned expecting people to do more than they do, but for the most part people's performance depends much on what our expectations are.

Faith is more about your hope for others than for yourself.

Your hope for yourself does include faith, and also hard work, constant learning, and openness to feedback.

Who are you showing faith in today? Do they know it?

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Notice the Brilliance Around You

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by someone's brilliance?

They say something profound. They accomplish something amazing. They articulate a fabulous vision.

Isn't that worth paying close attention to? Isn't that worth stay open and attentive to? A key part of mindfulness is stay alert and aware to the what's wonderful around us.

Centered leaders follow their vision and stay open to the visions of others.

People can cause us problems AND they can sometimes brighten our days with their brilliance. Let their lights shine!

-- Douglas Brent Smith

What have you learned today?


Friday, March 14, 2014

Create a Better Future

Who is the future up to? Someone else? All of us?

Today, this moment, I want to think about some problem that I can help solve. Some person that I can comfort. Something outside of myself that will make a difference. How do you feel about that?

Solving problems is about creating a better future.

That's something each of us can do, and needs to do, to see that better future come.

What do you think?

-- Doug Smith

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Solve One Problem At A Time

Are you ever over-whelmed by working on too many problems at once?

Jeekers, it can rock us right into standing still? And stasis is not for you. We mean well. We work to make a better world. But, oh there is so much to fix!

We can stop pretending we know how to fix the world once we start really solving one problem at a time.

Let's take it one problem at a time and put our creative problem solving skills to good use.

What do you say?


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Leverage Your Conversations

How much of your daily conversations do you find useful?

So much of what we say to each other is small talk. We make friendly banter, or not (more and more we see people simply staring into their phones). How much more could we get out of our conversations? How much deeper could we go?

Every conversation is an opportunity to solve a problem or achieve a goal. It just might not be your problem or goal.

It could be someone else's. It could be your conversational partner's.

Are you willing to leverage your conversations more and accomplish more in the process?

Or is that phone calling you again?

-- Doug Smith

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Create CLUES to Success

What are your clues to success? What works best for you when you find that you are communicating successfully?

Over many years of training, supervising, managing, and facilitating, I have found these following five factors extremely useful as clues to success. When they are used and shared, success is assured. When they are ignored, success is elusive.

CLUES to Success
- Create agreements
- Listen with curiosity
- Understand the facts and feelings
- Express yourself positively
- Share responsibility for success

Much of my work is focused on helping people communicate more effectively by embracing and using these clues to success.

I'll be occasionally writing about these five clues in the context of creating better conversations, powerful presentations, productive meetings, and creative writing. I invite you to explore these ideas with me and whenever the urge occurs, to add your two cents.

What are your personal and professional clues to success? How do you communicate more effectively these days than you once did? What did you learn today?

-- Doug Smith

Improve the communication in your team and in your life -- book a workshop with me at your location. Contact me at doug@dougsmithtraining.com


Listen to Communicate

How good are your listening skills?

If you listen first, communicating your message becomes much easier.

When does listening matter?

Listening comes first when you want:

-- More productive meetings
-- Deeper conversations
-- True dialogue
-- More powerful presentations
-- Coaching
-- Conflict resolution
-- Creative writing

Listening matters. How will you listen more effectively today?

-- Doug Smith

Help People Solve Problems

How much of your day do you spend helping other people solve their problems?

Leaders seem to spend a lot of time listening, sorting, consulting, coaching, and working with people so that they can solve their problems. All of this often comes before the people involved have anything to do with solving the leader's own problems. It's a duty that builds relationships and loyalty. It's a calling that helps to make leadership unique. And it starts with better conversations.

Centered leaders help people solve problems quickly, fairly, sustainably, and collaboratively.

Who are you helping today? How will you create a better conversation that leads to problem solving?

-- Doug Smith

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Show Patience in Teaching

Do you sometimes wonder if a certain person will EVER learn? Have you ever become frustrated when someone seems to repeat the same mistakes?

Helping someone to learn can take patience. It can take several tries. It can take several methods and all of our reserve of creativity. But if the lesson needed to learn is worth it, we persist.

People will learn if you don't give up on them.

Maybe what we've tried hasn't worked yet. Maybe we need to try something else. Maybe we need to decouple ourselves from the consequences of that other person not yet learning. I try to keep this in mind: they haven't failed yet -- they just haven't yet learned. Maybe we need to ask better questions and create better conversations. That's where our influence starts.

-- Doug Smith


What have you learned today?

Problem Solving Comes With Benefits

How do you feel right after you have solved a problem? Do you get a boost of energy, of personal satisfaction? Do you feel more confident and self-assured?

Any problem that you solve will likely make you feel better.

Solving problems comes with all sorts of benefits.

- Enhanced perspective (see what's possible!)
- More centered teams (we did it!)
- Increased confidence (that didn't stand in OUR way!)
- Improved skills (let's do this again soon!)
- Expanded creativity (something new has been discovered or made!)

and, of course, that pesky problem is solved.

Solving problems comes with benefits. Why not cash in on some of those benefits soon?

What problem are you working on today?

-- Doug Smith

Managing Anger

What makes you angry?

Do you ever feel anger and wonder where it came from?

Sometimes I've noticed that anger appears out of scale with the thing that seemed to trigger it. Maybe it's an accumulation of aggravations. Maybe it's a sustained patience that has become unsustainable. Maybe it's a lifetime of little disappointments. The anger boils, flairs, and erupts. At that point it can be highly unhealthy.

We lash out. We shout. We blame. We break things. Humans can be so sloppy sometimes. We lose our center and our balance lists like a ship in a storm. Our storm of anger rocks our world.

Maybe you haven't experienced this, and if not, maybe you've seen it in other people. It can scare.

Where the anger heads though isn't always where it belongs. Fall-out occurs. Innocent feelings and people are hurt.

The targets of our anger are seldom the cause of our anger.

We punish the wrong people. We overreact to minor disagreements propelled by the build up of restraint.

What's the answer?  What do you do to defuse your anger? How do you manage your center?

By creating better conversations. Without pretending to know THE answer, I would say that some of it is preventing the build-up. Staying true to your values. Opposing unfairness in the moment, instead of tolerating. Staying assertive so that aggression seldom become necessary.

In other words, staying centered. Staying mindful of our circumstances and speaking and acting with courage when courage is needed. For if we suppress or deny our courage, our anger takes control.

-- Doug Smith

Friday, March 7, 2014

Leave Blame Behind

"It wasn't my fault."

"I wasn't even there."

"I think it happened on the other shift."

"They are always messing things up."

Who's to blame? When things go wrong, when a customer gets angry, when a supplier raises prices, when things don't go as you planned. Who's to blame?

Will it even help if you could pin that down to one person? Will pouring guilt or punishment on a person solve your problem? Probably not.

But people do it all the time. It becomes part of the conversation before we even realize it. 

Blaming others is so easy that many people don't even know they are doing it.

What if we stopped blaming others? What if instead, we worked together to find solutions, better ways of doing things, and ways to avoid what caused our problem to begin with?

It's OK to find constructive suggestions to offer to people who need it. But they need more. And problems need more in order to solve.

To arrive at our best possible outcome, we need to work together and attack the situation, not the person. How can we change the process, the procedure, the design, or the environment to make sure that we solve our problems and build more success? What exactly should we be doing to optimize our results?

The next time you catch yourself assigning blame (rightly or wrongly) what would it be like if instead you initiated a conversation about how to make things better?

-- Doug Smith

Use Your Creativity to Change the World

What do you see in the world that needs changing?

Would you like more peace? Should there be more jobs available for people everywhere? Should we be doing more to stop global warming? Will we run out of water unless we do something creative?

Add your concerns to the growing list and you'll likely see plenty of opportunity to make the world a better place. Shall we leave that up to someone else and hope that everything turns out OK? Or, should we roll up our sleeves, tune up our brains, and get moving on some creative solutions?

Think about what you are most creative about. What challenging situation could that be helpful in? How can you impact what matters most to you?

What if your creativity could change the world? It can.


ACTION STEPS:

- Make a list of the three biggest world challenges that you care most deeply about.

- Make another list of your three most creative accomplishments. 

- Compare your lists. How do they match up? This is likely your greatest opportunity area to influence.

- Commit to some action, however small, today to start impacting your greatest opportunity for influence.

Write about it. Put it into action. It's a great place to start.

-- Doug Smith

Create the Perfect Person

Is your partner perfect?

Are you?

We don't need a perfect person in order to create love. Love creates the perfect person.

Often, it starts by building better conversations. Are you ready to listen?

-- Doug Smith


Keep Your Problem Solving Promises

How many times have you seen a problem solved and wondered if the solution was worth the effort?

How often have you seen leadership drive change that no one wants and that in the end creates no value?

All too often, probably.

The solution to any tough problem should include a clear change that makes a courageous, creative difference.

Things should be made better by change. Processes should be streamlined by change. Customers and team members should find more joy in interacting because of change. 

Any change that delivers less is a problem unsolved, a promise broken.

As centered and high performance leaders, we can do better than that. We can manage to keep our problem solving promises. We can make the solutions worth the effort.

What can you do today that will make your next change effort both more courageous and more creative?

-- Doug Smith


Drop Excuses

What might stop you from reaching your goal?

Every goal has a list of things which stand in the way and must be dropped.

Things like...

-- excuses
-- time wasters
-- ambiguities
-- mixed priorities
-- other people's goals that don't match yours
-- recreational activities
-- too much facebook, twitter, etc...

You name it. Your own goals have their share of roadblocks with one cure: drop them.

Get rid of whatever stands in the way of your goal, or watch it stand in the way. Where do you start? Drop them from your conversations, from your presentations, and from your meetings. By dropping excuses you will immediately begin to create better conversations, more productive meetings, more creative writing, and more powerful presentations. Won't that be useful? Won't that be nice?


You decide.

-- Doug Smith


Work Your Cause

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
-- Mahatma Gandhi

Not every cause creates a buzz. Not every leader finds the people needed to move the movement. Sometimes followers are hard to find. Sometimes our communications fall unheard and unheeded.

Have you ever tried to lead an effort and found that you were mostly alone?

What happens next?

Remembering that if it was easy, it would have been done long ago, leaders with a focus on making necessary and timely change keep at it. Followers may come and go, but the cause remains.

Centered leaders lead even when followers are hard to find.

That's the part that calls for influence.

Are you ready?

ACTION PLAN:

1. Identify your most important cause. What is the one thing that you want to influence in your life right now?

2. What can you do to start influencing that, right now?

3. Who are your three closest friends? What would they each say about your noble cause? How would you feel about asking them?

4. How can you communicate more effectively in your conversations, meetings, writing, and presentations?

-- Doug Smith


Find Opportunities

When do you seize an opportunity?

Are you able to stop what you're doing long enough to work on an immediate opportunity?

Opportunities are not interested in our schedules.

They don't wait. They don't delay. They don't nestle nicely into what we have available. We either move on an opportunity when it presents itself or we watch it fly away.

Are you keeping your eyes open for opportunities today? Are you listening with curiosity?

-- Doug Smith

Serve a Higher Purpose

Why are you a leader? 

What do you hope to get out of being a leader? Chances are, you got started in leadership for any one of thousands of reasons, but soon realized that what leaders do is help other people to achieve goals: 

- your goals
- your team's goals
- your organization's goals
- the personal goals of your associates

To do this takes a combination of coaching, counseling, helping, equipping, encouraging, prodding, following up -- and basically, serving. 

The purpose of leadership is serving a higher purpose that helps other people live better lives. It's what centered leaders do. It's what you can do.

Why would you ever settle for less?

-- Doug Smith


Improve Processes

As a leader, how much attention do you give to improving processes? Are they optimized fully, or just barely inching along?

Too often I've seen leaders spend their efforts trying to fix people, when the center of their problems is usually broken processes and procedures.

Any process can be improved until it's no longer necessary. And then you can shut it down.

Work at it until it is optimized -- doing everything that you expect the process to do without creating problems and without slowing people down.

Keep improving those processes. If you're still doing it, you can still improve it.

-- Doug Smith


Set the Best Price

Are your products or services priced correctly?

If your sales are slower than you expect, it could be that the price is too high. People will resist prices that they perceive to be too high, sometimes without even knowing it.

Movie theaters can sit empty. Used car lots can sit full. Inventories can create mountains as expectations whither in the wind, products obsolete themselves, and customers take new options.

But is there a price that people will buy?

My son Juan and I went to the movies to see the 4th Pirates of the Caribbean movie. It's an entertaining movie, but having seen the first three and considered the last just a little over-the-top, I could easily have skipped number four. But the theater we attended has a Tuesday night special ticket price of just $5. For a movie, that's good. We'd seen "Thor" a few days earlier and paid a whopping $13 a ticket (it was in 3D). For that showing of "Thor" there were maybe 12 people in the audience. I have to believe the theater lost money that night. But for "Pirates" and its $5 seats the theater was almost full. It looked profitable that night for me, and it was so much more fun to be in a larger audience.

One week Amazon sold the latest Lady Gaga album for just .99. People who might never have bought her music cheerfully downloaded the music. So many, that it crashed the system for a while. While crashing the system is not what leaders are looking for, sales and creating new customers is. Radiohead once let people set their own price -- and they ended selling a ton of downloads of "in rainbows". I remember paying a little less than it would have traditionally cost -- but I DID buy it.

Are your products or services priced correctly? What price point would optimize your number of customers AND profit margins?

-- Doug Smith

Build a Cohesive Project Team

What happens to your project team as your project gets closer to the deadline?

Does it gain momentum?

Does it play fast and enthusiastically toward the goal?

High performance leaders do not assume that a project team will remain cohesive thru the project and beyond.

They could get distracted. Resources could dry up. Technology could break down. Relationships could strain or get muddled.

What's a leader to do?

Increase the level of communication.

Drive deeper, more meaningful conversations to see how everyone is doing.

Keep team meetings focused and on task to make them more productive. 

Create powerful presentations that ask compelling questions and create an atmosphere where you the leader listen and encourage others to listen with curiosity.

Reward people for progress made -- but don't forget anyone. Singling out top performers at the expense of those carrying the bulk of the load can backfire.

There's much that a high performance leader can do to keep a project team fast AND friendly.

What would you do?

-- Doug Smith

Help your team develop better communication skills by bringing one of our workshops to your location. Contact me today at doug@dougsmithtraining for more information.

Pick Your Optimal Point of View

What is your best point of view?

Given the choice of selecting the way you look at things, how should you look at things?

Your optimal point of view is informed, curious, positive and productive.

Your optimal point of view may have other characteristics as well. What would YOU consider to be your best way of looking at things? How can you best express that positively?

Start by writing about it. Invite someone into a deeper conversation to explore it more. Listen to their reactions with curiosity, And, take it from there. Your optimal point of view is ready to be formed.

That's when the powerful communication begins.

-- Doug Smith


Attract the People You Need On Your Team

Does your leadership communication style attract the people you need to achieve your mission?

It takes many kinds of people to truly optimize your results. The size of your team may determine how diverse you can get, but centered and high performance leaders who communicate effectively find ways to add diversity to their teams.

Maybe it's in how you collaborate with people from other teams. Maybe it's how you work with your clients. Maybe it's how you listen with curiosity and express yourself positively.Attracting people to your team -- even if they aren't actually ON your team, is essential. 

High performance leaders attract diverse talent -- and let them be who they are.

-- Doug Smith


Smile

Want to send a powerful message to your people? Want to communicate more effectively?

Smile.

They want to know how they are doing -- AND they want to know how you're doing.

Walking around with a serious face all the time will wear them down. They'll wonder what's up. They'll start to question the path your team is on. Their desire to communicate will diminish.

You can do better. You can create better conversations. Start with a smile.

Find the joy in what you do and share it. Find the happiness in your team and grow it.

Smile.

-- Doug Smith

Share Your Goals to Increase Their Power

Your goals gain power when they also become someone else's goals.

Suddenly, you have the force of multiple people on your side.

The stakes are higher. You've got partners who can help, who care, who will push forward with you.

You've got more power for your goals.

Who do you know who can share your goals? Could you create a better than ever conversation by including your goals? 

When will you ask them?

-- Doug Smith

Get help with your goals in our teleclass "How To Achieve Your Goals".  Contact us today for more information.

Adjust Your Team According to Your Vision

If your vision cannot endure the actions of your team, one of them needs to change.

Have you assembled the people you need to accomplish your vision?

Or is your team pulling you into strange and unexpected directions?

Before you lose track of your vision, get focus on your team.

Check your processes, procedures, plans and people.

Focus on your vision and adjust your team appropriately.

-- Doug Smith


Teams Need Constant Change

Is your team complete? Have you built the perfect work group capable of achieving every goal you could ever conceive.

Probably not.

Centered leaders realize that a team is never fully complete and needs constant change.

Not change just for the sake of change -- but meaningful, mission-based, vision-focused change.

Are you ready for that?

What will you do today to bring that closer to reality?

-- Doug Smith


Set a Course for Where You Want to Be

What is your direction?

How are you making things better?

Where will you be a year from now if you keep doing what you're doing now?

Is that where you'll want to be?

What can you do TODAY to set a direct course for where you want to be?

How about trying some of these CLUES to Success:


  • Create agreements -- so you never fall further behind than your most recent agreement
  • Listen with curiosity -- by suspending your inner judge and truly wondering what you can learn
  • Understanding the facts and feelings -- because even if you can disagree with someone's facts, they are still entitled to their feelings -- and they are waiting for you to validate them
  • Express yourself positively -- not with some sense of "everything is OK" no matter what, but rather with a focus of "what's the best thing we can do right now?". Find your optimal point of view and move it forward.
  • Share responsibility for success -- because sometimes it IS up to us to take charge, and sometimes it's necessary for us to share that responsibility by engaging others in accountability and initiative.
These clues are not always easy, but I've seen them payoff time after time. Could you increase your use of just one of them today?



-- Doug Smith


Pay Attention To Your Goals

What happens if one of your goals slips from your memory? As busy as most leaders are, it's easy for that to happen.

Pay attention to any goals you've been ignoring -- they could reveal a quiet weakness.

What goals on your list no longer belong on your list?

What should you do about the things you avoid? When will you start?


-- Doug Smith

Help your people develop their leadership, communication, and productivity skills. Contact me today at:

doug@dougsmithtraining.com

about scheduling a workshop or teleclass.

Speak and Act with Courage

Which leadership traits are you working on today? Do you walk your talk?

Centered leaders speak and act with courage.

What does courage mean to you?

When has your courage been severely tested?

Where do you go to get help with your courage?

How does building your courage help you to constantly optimize your results?

-- Doug Smith

Help your people develop their leadership, communication, and productivity skills. Contact me today at:

doug@dougsmithtraining.com

about scheduling a workshop or teleclass.