Monday, August 31, 2015

It's More Than the Motions

Have you ever caught someone simply "going through the motions" in communicating with you?

They say the right words, their motions seems fine, they just aren't fully engaged in what's going on. They appear to listen, but it feels like their mind is somewhere else.

So many of us go through the motions. We read our mobile phones when we're with loved ones we seldom see. We keep an eye on the television while our significant others tells us something important (hint - when it comes from your significant other it's all important), we phone it in.

It's one of my biggest faults and it has recently come back to haunt me as I experienced that level of inattentive attention returned. It doesn't look mean, it doesn't look premeditated, and yet it hurts at a level that sinks gradually deeper until it can't be excised.

The other day I was riding my bike and I came upon a man playing with his dog. At first it looked really charming. The dog was very earnest in the pursuit of the ball that the man threw (using some contraption on a stick that kept him from having to bend over too far).

But then I noticed what the dog struggled with. The man was really paying no attention to the dog at all. He was occupied in a conversation on his mobile phone. He went through the motions, and kept the dog busy, but never gave the dog what it was really looking for: companionship, praise, feedback, interaction. They were just going through the motions.

It was profoundly sad in a way (granted, I'm going through some sadness right now that filters what I see, but still) because the dog wasn't really getting what the dog wanted out of the interaction and the man was simply fooling himself into thinking that he was keeping the dog happy. He wasn't. The dog was keeping itself happy, but missing what it cared about the most.

The following I write more for me than anyone else, and I hope others will also benefit:

Don't miss what you care about the most.

When someone is talking with you, give them your full attention.

When you have the opportunity to share your presence with loved ones: show up. Be there. Interact. Listen with curiosity. Enjoy the space between you.

When you catch someone "going through the motions" with you, call them out. Ask the what they really want in that moment. Maybe it's not the right time. Maybe they are avoiding the conversation you both really need to have. But whatever you do, where ever you are, do not ever settle for going through the motions again

Life is too short for that nonsense.

-- Doug Smith



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Work Through The Fear

Are there conversations that scare you?

It's easy to quote Eleanor Roosevelt and say "face into your fears" but the reality is that there are some conversations that freeze us. Some discussions that put us off, so we put them off. I know that I have missed some vital conversational opportunities. I expect that to change. If we want better conversations, we need to initiate them when the opportunity emerges (not when we feel like it, right then and there).

Let's keep the conversation going. Let's talk when we need to talk. Let's build our relationships, our teams, and our organizations using much more effective communication. It takes hard work, it takes courage, but as I have recently discovered in many startling ways, how you communicate is who you are. Who you are to yourself, who you are to other people, the who of you that you create. It's big. It's scary. It's critically important.

I'm willing to work through the fear of a tough conversation. How about you?

-- doug smith


Friday, August 21, 2015

Practice Radical Transparency

Do you have regrets?

I have some interpersonal regrets that are so raw, so fresh, and so painful that they can immobilize me. I know that things will improve, that I will get beyond these changes, but they beg for examination and learning.

Even when we know what we're doing, there's no guarantee that we will do what we know is best.

The clearest example is in our conversations. So much is left unsaid. So much is caged and framed in quasi-positive screens in hopes of avoiding confrontation or discomfort. But we need that confrontation. We need to work through that discomfort. Whenever I have, my life has dramatically improved. When ever I have failed to speak both my heart and my mind, my truth at that moment, the result has lingered, faltered, and hurt.

As Susan Scott might say, "We're bigger than that."

I learned much from reading Susan Scott's books, especially Fierce Conversations, and from seeing her speak. I was even lucky enough to meet her briefly after one of her talks. When I applied what I learned from her, my business results improved and my relationships grew deeper and more meaningful. Not universally, but substantially.

When I got sloppy, when I forgot to continue to engage in achieving success one conversation at a time, things began to unravel. I held back what needed to be said. I filtered my intension with confusion and misdirection. It fooled none, especially not my significant other at the time.

My failure to speak my truth courageously and fiercely cost me that relationship. It has been my saddest, most profound loss. I will do anything to help other people avoid that heartache, that loss. Not with a magic wand. Not with therapy (although that helps). But by developing genuine, authentic, transparent conversations.

Say what you need to say, I beg you. Say it truthfully, sincerely, openly, and with compassion. Build on your strengths and develop the ones that are under exercised with the primary purpose of becoming and being the best possible communicator you can be.

No falsehoods. No lies. No deceptions. No unspoken truths kept to yourself because they might expose your uncertainty or confusion. Tell the truth.

I don't often post videos, but this one is powerful and brought tears of recognition to my eyes when Susan Scott reminded me of that powerful quote from Ernest Hemingway (The Sun Also Rises) "How did you go bankrupt? Gradually, then suddenly."

Our inadequate conversations gradually tear away the fabric of our relationships until suddenly, the fabric falls away. The relationship suffers irreconcilable loss. A loss that did not need to be, had we only said what's on our mind.

Here's the video. She starts out a bit slowly but please do watch the whole video. It is powerful in building her case for radical transparency.





-- Doug Smith

What have you learned today?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

To Solve That Problem, Stay Curious

How curious are you?

Problems bother us. They get in the way. They ruin our day. They create havoc where we'd rather have peace. Why do they do that?

When we can stay curious about our problems it helps us to generate more meaningful, more powerful, and more sustainable solutions. Where did that problem come from? Why does it stick around? What benefits might it be generating to someone else? Is it really a problem or are we locked into a conflict or competition? Who else is feeling what we're feeling?

Why? Why? Why? (useful to ask about a problem - but be careful when it comes to asking "why" about or from a person. That can trigger defensiveness in a hurry!)

It's tough to solve a problem or resolve a conflict without big amounts of curiosity.

Curiosity about causes. Curiosity about opportunities. Curiosity about solutions. Curiosity about possibilities.

Once we begin to get more curious about possibilities, our possibilities increase.  And, when our possibilities increase the odds swing dramatically in favor of finding a better solution.


-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals


Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Unattach

What are you attached to that's holding you back or slowing you down?

The way things used to be? The dream that no longer makes sense? That relationship that is over but lingers in your memory?

Or, maybe it's doubt about your abilities or capacity?

Sometimes we hold onto our doubts so tightly that we fall in love with them.

Let them go. Release those doubts, worries, and fears. They aren't helping you. But they are slowing you down.

What are you attached to that's holding you back?

Are you willing to let go of that today?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership:  High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals


Monday, August 17, 2015

Interest More People In Your Goals

Do you have all the help you need to achieve your biggest goals?

Do you have big goals in place that will change your life? How will you achieve those goals?

Our really biggest, life-changing goals usually require help. Help from other people to keep us on track. Help from other people to motivate us when things get tough. Help from other people to break down barriers and think of creative ways to achieve what seems impossible.

What will it take to interest more people in your goals?

People who can help. People who would benefit from what you have to offer once your goal is complete. People who care.

Is is a presentation? Is it a conversation? Is it a picture? What will it take?

And - when will you get started?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership:  High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Balance Your Portfolio of Goals

How many goals do you have?

Some days I have too many to count. It's easy to lose track of how many goals I'm working on at any given time. How about you?

It's better when we keep a definitive list. It's easier to track and complete those goals when we know what they are and when they are right in front of us every day.

The real advantage to keeping a careful watch on how many goals we have is to avoid holding onto competing goals. When we have goals that not only oppose each other (by competing for time, resources, attention) but distract us then we are not at our optimal best. How can we complete two goals that compete with each other?

Setting goals that compete with each other is not a formula for success.

When it happens, spot it, fix it, and move on. Each and every goal should support our overall vision or mission. When they don't, they might compete with each other -- and with our focus of attention.

Do you have any competing goals? How can you reconcile that?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership:  High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Courageously Prioritize Your Goals

Do you ever get stuck setting priorities?

I work with lots of people who struggle with what to work on. By trying to work on everything, they feel like they aren't finishing anything. That's a formula for frustration.

We need to prioritize. We need to decide what is most important and also what is less important. What's less important then must get less attention so that we can focus on what is important.

That takes courage.

It takes the courage to make the decision. It takes the courage to let people know. And, it takes courage to stay the course when other people resist your decision.

Not all goals are created equal. There are some goals that we will never finish. Why not finish the ones that are important? Why not focus on the goals that contribute to and align with your mission?

That's what centered, high performance leaders do. That's how goal achievers achieve.

Sometimes it takes courage and determination to prioritize your goals.

Take that courage and things get easier. Are you ready?

Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals


What have you learned today?

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Truth About Problems

Why do people fool themselves about their problems?

We trick ourselves into thinking that our problems are someone else's fault. We fool ourselves into thinking that our problems are insurmountable. We fool ourselves about problems constantly.

What if problems had a secret? What if there was a basic truth about our problems that we tend to avoid - and by avoiding it tend to miss on solving our problems?

Underneath every problem is an unachieved goal.

That's it. That's the truth about problems.

I teach people to redirect their problems into goals. Once we're able to state our problem as a goal, it becomes much easier to achieve. Focus on the goal, and get what you want. Focus on the problem, and you might just get more of the problem.

Which would you prefer?

What unsolved problem can you convert to a goal today?

Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals


What have you learned today?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Let Go Of What You're Holding?

Are you holding onto something that is slowing you down?

Is there something from the past that acts like a drag on your future?

Sometimes we need to let go of something to speed up our motion. Sometimes we're working on too many things at once and getting nowhere fast on any of them.

Prioritize. Let go. Decide.

Sometimes we need to let go of what we're holding to reach the next achievement.

That trophy's too heavy. That task should be done by now. That feeling stopped resonating an hour ago. Let go.

Are you ready to let go of what you're holding?

You'll grab the important stuff back up in a hurry.

Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals


What have you learned today?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Take Charge of Your Performance

Who's in charge of your performance? Who's in charge of your results?

The past couple of days I've focused these articles on performance and how we can always do better.

We can't wait to do better. It's up to us. We need to read what we need to read, train where we need to train, develop in ways that keep us moving. We need to keep setting clear, noble, ambitious goals.

Growth. It's our best direction. Achievement: it's the destination of growth training.

You are in charge of how great you perform.

Are you training hard enough to get to where you want to be?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Take Your Performance to The Next Level

Yesterday, in this blog, I suggested that your best performance is still inside you. What do you think?

Even as we take time to acknowledge our success, we hunger for doing even greater things. We long for achieving more.

That's a positive motivator. Enjoy the moment, savor the success, and take a breath. Then, when you are fully centered and able to focus without any chance of criticizing who or where you are, get ready to go bigger still. Get ready to set and achieve an even better, even more noble, even more life-enhancing goal.

There is always a way to take your performance to the next level.

Are you willing to find it?

Are you willing to work for it?

Are you ready to start right now?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Keeping Working Toward Your Best Performance

What was your best performance?

When did you perform so well that you remember it as the best you could do at the time? You likely have several times in your life when, given what you had and who you were at the time, you did your very best performance. Things clicked. Results mattered positively. You felt satisfied.

One of the challenges to constantly improving our performance is that sometimes, even during our finest moments, we feel a sense of lacking - a downturn caused by the desire to do even better, or the let-down of a great performance followed by, what - normal behavior?

We do need to keep striving. We do need to keep improving. We do need to keep setting assertive, clear, noble goals that cause us to stretch and we do need to act relentlessly on our plan without satiating our desire, but -- why not also savor those moments of success? Why not celebrate the series of high performance results we have achieved?

All the while we continue to grow, continue to stretch, and continue to strive.

Your best performance is still inside you.

How do I know that? Just look at how many great performances you've already produced. Haven't they progressively gotten more impressive? The best is still inside you. Go for it.

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Let Your Creativity Surprise You

Have you ever been surprised by a flash of creativity? Maybe it helped you solve a problem, maybe it gave you the answer you'd been looking for, or maybe it helped you develop something beautiful and new. Creativity is the source for much of our joy.

When it comes to achieving our goals, we benefit greatly by keeping ourselves open to our creativity - and the creativity of others. That means letting the element of surprise get a fair hearing from our brains as we move forward on our plan. It could be something so new that we don't consider it important at first. It could be something so different from what we thought we were looking for that we overlook it completely.

Instead, let's stay open to surprise. Let's let our creativity show us better ways of doing things.

Are you ready for your own creativity to surprise you?

You'll be glad that you did!

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training



Monday, August 3, 2015

Go All In On Your Dream

Are you all-in on your dream or simply flirting?

A dream is a serious affair. It requires your attention to move forward. It requires your relentless action.

Setting goals to achieve your dream is a great step. It's what your dream wants. But, your dream wants more. It wants your undivided attention. It wants your passion, your thirst, your hunger, your relentless action.

Until you have the courage to go all-in on your dream it will remain a dream.

Are you all-in?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Seek Clarity of Purpose

Do you know exactly why you do what you do?

For the goals that you set, do you make sure that they all align with your purpose?

I know it's not always easy and perhaps not always possible, but when we are able to align our goals exclusively with our purpose the energy and effort gets much closer to the kind of flow that gets things done fast.

When we aren't sure of how our goals align with our purpose the lines become blurred and it's easy to miss on a goal, easy to get stuck.

Find that clarity of purpose. Find that thing that you're working on to make your mission complete. Do what's really important.

There is no substitute for clarity of purpose.

Almost everything else takes second place.

How is your clarity of purpose? Have you identified your mission?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training




Saturday, August 1, 2015

Find An Accountability Partner

Do you think that people can achieve their goals without some sense of accountability?

There may be some people who are so focused and so dedicated that they truly act relentlessly on their goal action plan and always achieve their goals.

But some of us need help. Some of us benefit from an accountability partner to check in, ask how we're doing, and advocate for staying the course when temptation or lethargy threaten to derail our goals.

Who holds you accountable for achieving your goals?

Is it worth finding someone who will help?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training