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Showing posts from May, 2015

Find The Hidden Costs

Have you ever invested in something thinking that it was the best possible value only to discover later that it came with hidden costs? Maybe the cost was loss of quality. Maybe it was less reliable than you expected. Maybe you simply outgrew it before it became truly useful to you. The biggest bargain comes with hidden costs. Your job is to find those costs before you need to pay them. Cheaper isn't always better and faster sometimes misses the mark. What hidden costs have you discovered in the past? What would you do differently next time? There's nothing stopping you next time. -- Doug Smith doug smith training: how to achieve your goals What have you learned today?

Keep Improving

Are you perfect yet? What a silly question! Of course not. Neither am I. Which is why we should keep learning, keep growing, keep improving. Think about where you were a few years ago - you've no doubt improved many aspects of your performance and, hopefully, have created better results than the you of a few years ago could have. That's progress. We can always do better, and it's our responsibility to keep working on it. There's just no point when we are free to kick back and say "well, I nailed that one so I'm done here." We're never done, because when you're done, you're done . Growing and making progress keeps us sharp. Learning new skills leads to setting and achieving new goals. It's an endless and fascinating process. There's every reason to embrace it and own it: growth is what we do. Our best performance becomes our next starting point. The better we do, the more our potential grows. It can feel like hard work. It can

Move Those Emotions

Do you tend to focus on facts, or emotions? Some people focus mainly on the facts and care very little about emotions. If the answer is logical, if the data supports it, that's enough. For others, it must feel right. So what if the facts prove a point, if it's not good for people what good is it? Both facts and feelings are important. That's why a key part of what I call CLUES to Success relies on understanding both the facts and the feelings of any interaction. Both matter. Appeal to logic but always remember to move emotions. We've all got emotions, whether or not we show them or talk about them. If you want to achieve your goals and solve your problems, remember to check the facts AND move those emotions. It's half the opportunity, and a half that you don't want to lose. What emotions do you think are part of your most important goal? -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success doug smith training:  how to achieve

Manage The Extremes

Do your strengths ever go to far? Doesn't it seem like anything taken to the extreme becomes too much of a good thing, becomes less than a good thing? It's the assertive person who becomes aggressive. It's the accommodating person who becomes passive aggressive. It's the peaceful person who stands by and let's bad things happen. It's the warrior who rebels against authority until all order is gone. It's taking things too far. Our greatest strengths tend to expose our greatest weaknesses. We compensate. We transfer. We blame other people. And relying only on our strengths can start to make extremes seem reasonable. Exposing our weaknesses is not all bad. It provides opportunity. It sparks conversation. It humbles us just when we are at most risk of acting in narcissistic ways. I've learned to embrace my weaknesses, not for the sake of keeping them but to avoid rationalizing them. To work on them. To find help from others and manage the extre

Raise The Bar

What do you get when you've achieved a goal? First, you get the result of that goal. That's usually cause for celebrating and energy you can convert into new efforts. You get to set another goal. A tougher, more ambitious, maybe even more noble goal. Growth is the direction that goals lead us in. Success raises the bar. It's a challenge, and it's a blessing. We get to do bigger and better things. We learn constantly from both our struggles and our successes, and we use that learning to move on to the next big goal. You've got another next big goal. Why not get started right away? -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Is Your Biggest Problem Growing?

What keeps us from solving our biggest problems? Our biggest problems are big for a reason. They include baggage, challenges, surprises, resistance, and blocks that feel stronger than we are. Our biggest problems can seem tough and even insurmountable. We work our way around them as long as we can because bumping into them causes us so much discomfort. The problem with big problems is that they don't go away on their own, they get bigger. A problem ignored tends to grow increasingly faster.  Not only is that big problem getting bigger, but it's getting bigger at a faster rate and with more deeply rooted tentacles that create additional problems. We owe it to ourselves to tackle those big problems now. Roll up our sleeves, check our egos at the door, do whatever it takes but work on them now. Because if you don't like that problem now, how much will you like it when it's at least twice as big? -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors

Share Your Vision

Who knows about your true vision? Not some slogan, tag line, or inherited mission given to you by someone you don't even know, but rather your true vision. What you see as the reason you are here. What you hope, plan, and expect to accomplish in your lifetime. That's a big one, isn't it? Big because it requires thought and effort and big because as we form our vision we may have absolutely no idea how to accomplish it. If it's too easy it's not a vision, it's just an incremental goal. A vision is tough work. Why go at it alone? Why not get the help you'll need to bring that vision about? Why not find out if that vision even makes any sense (the world probably already has enough Don Quioxotes tilting at windmills out there). A vision is only as powerful as those who share it. Build your vision with your allies. Develop your vision with your friends. Create your vision with your mentors. Get the help you need. You'll need it. -- Doug Smith

Celebrate Performance AND Intention

Have you ever worked with a team member who fell just short of their intended performance even though they did everything in their power to achieve it? They're willing, they're motivated, they just ran into some challenges. Wouldn't you rather work with someone like that than someone who effortlessly hits their target but cares very little about it? Where is the better opportunity for growth? Who is the more likely better investment in your time? When you can't celebrate the result, celebrate the intention. And then push hard for improvement. It's so easy for someone to become discouraged. Find out how hard they are trying and celebrate that. Focus on the goals and the next possible steps for achieving them. Because sometimes, to someone else, that person could be you. -- Doug Smith doug smith training: how to achieve your goals Front Range Leadership: Training Supervisors for Success

Think Expansively

Do you enjoy thinking? I do: really deep, sometimes troubling, always exploring thinking about new ideas, new concepts, and ultimate changes. Not all the time (there IS work to be done!) but whenever possible. Those long moments waiting in line at the airport. That time between ordering a meal and having it arrive. Driving across Wyoming or Minnesota. Thinking. It's good for me and I'd like to think it's good for you, too. Think in different ways. Think without judging. Think creatively so that whatever emerges you are open to the difference. Think individually. Think collectively. Think expansively. Think. There are some great answers to be found there. What do you think? -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success  doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Risk An Open Mind

Is your mind truly open? I like to think that mine is but I know full well that there are times when it is closed. There are times when I'm not that interested in one more idea because the idea I hold seems complete and optimal. How do you know when the answer is complete? Maybe the answer is always forming. Maybe the solution is always evolving. Maybe the changing nature of the universe we know is constantly growing no matter how firm our boundaries seem to be. What do you think? Where do brilliant ideas come from? Imagine your best idea ever -- it was so good that you are still getting benefits from it. One of my best ideas ever was moving to Colorado. The circumstances have changed since, and there are days when I miss Pennsylvania (or New Jersey or Chicago, other places I've lived) but on the whole, taking the risk of moving to the Rocky Mountain State have greatly increased my possibilities. What's your next big risk? Is your mind open to it? Are you willin

Is The Answer A Combination?

Wouldn't it be great if there were one absolute answer to every problem? What if there were one universal tool that would always serve us, one magnificent process to problem solving forever and for always? There are many great problem solving processes. There are many great approaches to leadership. Styles change, tools grow, people evolve. One single answer seldom does the trick. That unsolved problem just might need a combination of solutions. Dig them up. Look them over. Try them again. Put them together like the pieces of an elaborate puzzle or the moves in an intricate game. There is an answer there. You just might have to fuse a few together. -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success  doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Set Goals That Make You Happy

Are you happy with your goals? I've seen people fall into a trap sometimes: they want to be happy, and yet they set goals that don't create happiness. That kind of disconnect is not only unproductive, it's unnecessary. Every job I've ever had (and if you've been in any of my workshops, you know I've had a few) has included parts I didn't care for, and yet in my goals I always directed my actions toward creating mutual success for the organization and for my own sense of happiness. Sell more merchandise? Sure, while creating useful customer experiences. Reduce expenses? I can do that - without laying people off and without hurting service. Train the entire workforce in a compliance program that's poorly designed? Absolutely, just let me set a goal of making it both interactive and inspirational and I'll be completely energized. Align those goals you need to set with the organizational mission and strategic goals, of course. That's the price

Acknowledge Your Brilliance

What are you good at? Really, really good at? What can you do that is absolutely wonderful? How many people know about that? Here's a tricky trick - how do you do your best, give your best, and let other people know about it without letting your ego take over? We have many essential leadership skills to choose from. I find it useful to think of these five essential leadership core strengths as a place to start: Clarity - know exactly what our purpose is and setting clear goals to live that purpose. Courage - speaking and acting assertively without getting aggressive. Creative - discovering and expanding our possibilities Compassion - caring about and for others Centering - staying mindful, in the moment, flexible, and able to use whatever core skill we need You're really good at one of those. Better than most. It's your core leadership strength. Bringing that core leadership strength to work with your team is doing it a wonderful service. The world needs wha

Entertain Those Crazy Ideas

What do you do with your crazy ideas? When things are going their best I find that I let my crazy ideas in for a visit. I let them rise to the occasion. Instead of dismissing them as crazy (and some truly are and when they are can go harmlessly away) I entertain them. Give them tea and biscuits. Find a way to let them stay. Crazy ideas like: what if I could solve that silly problem by sharing it with my biggest competition? what if that collage became a picture to inspire my logo? what if my closest friend was actually standing in my way? what if my greatest fear was my biggest opportunity? What crazy ideas occur to you on a recurring basis? Could they be worth some more attention? A useful idea may sound crazy at first. Give it some room to breathe. Give it some space to grow. Entertain those crazy ideas for long enough to know if they really are crazy - or perhaps just plain creative enough to make a positive difference. What's your crazy idea of the day

Find The Possibilites

Are you stuck? Is there a goal running away from you or hiding? Could it be time for your creativity to emerge full speed ahead? I like to think that the answer I can't find is simply the answer I haven't found yet. It's still a possibility. It's still out there, awaiting discovery. It's still available, looking for the open door. There is no shortage of possibilities. We just have to find them. What are you doing to look? How are you seeking the answers? What are you doing today to find the possibilities? -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success  doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Do More With Your Goals

Do you have goals that you just aren't making progress on? Did you, as many of us do, write great goals with all good intentions only to let them sit idle, unfinished and unachieved? That's not cause to be ashamed because it happens. It's not a reason to punish ourselves. But, it is a reason to redirect our energy toward achieving what we set out to do. It's a little alarm that says "hey, buddy, get moving!" Not having goals is surrender. Not achieving your goals is surrender. You are meant for more than that. Don't surrender! What's the next step on your best goal? What can you do on it today? -- Doug Smith Need help with your goals? Attend or schedule a session of our webinar How To Achieve Your Goals and see how we can work together to achieve your goals.

Get Ready for Your Goals

Are you truly ready to achieve your goals? Do you have the resources, the team, the initiative, the energy to achieve even your toughest of goals? Or, are there problems standing in the way? Problems are not a bad thing. Yes, they are annoying. Yes, they can be energy draining. Yes, they get in our way. But they are paths to creativity. They are reasons for compassion. They are motivators for courage. And they are barometers for clarity. Figure out what you need to solve and then get started. If the goal is important, the problem is just a way to get there creatively. Sometimes we need to solve our problems before we can achieve our goals. Maybe today's one of those days... -- Doug Smith doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success

Schedule Time to Solve That Problem

Do you have a problem that won't go away on its own? Have you scheduled time to solve it? I've made the mistakes of pretending that a problem will simply vanish on its own. Maybe it will solve itself. Maybe if I wait long enough it won't be a problem anymore. What do you think of that as a goal achieving strategy? It's not the most consistently winning approach. Your goal has problems. If its big enough, ambitious enough, creative enough - it's got problems. You know it. Your team knows it. Maybe even your customers know it. How will you solve it? Even if everyone knows about a problem someone needs to schedule time to solve it. It takes discipline. It takes initiative. It takes giving the problem what it's asking for: time and attention. What problem can you schedule time to solve today? -- Doug Smith doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success

Use That Problem To Grow

Do you have a particular problem standing in the way of your most important goal? It would be unusual if you didn't. Whenever I think I have a really important goal, some equally big problem is likely to emerge to stop it. We either face our biggest problems, or we let them win. We either figure out how to eliminate what stands in the way (or mitigate it, reduce it, modify it, or take advantage of it) or our goal remains undone. Undone is not for you. Undone is frustrating and counter-productive. Instead, let's use that problem to grow. Finding a problem provides permission to grow. It's a natural way of communicating to us that we're going to need to improve something to get to the next level. We're going to need to grow. And, since we need to grow anyway to remain living and dynamic, why not grow in response to the needs of our goal? Once we've set the right goal no problem should stand in its way. But, we might need to solve that problem first. Ho

The Plan Is Subject to Change

Do your plans keep changing? Mine do, but I like to think of that as evolving. As much as I enjoy planning and want to own a solid plan, it will no doubt change. It's in the working of that plan that it changes.  It's in the learning from the feedback we get while we work our creative best that the plan becomes more firm, more formidable, more successful. We'll make mistakes. We'll make changes. Sometimes, we'll even lose sleep. But by relentlessly working our plan our plan becomes more flexible, not less. We learn better ways of doing things. We approach perfection without getting stalled by not achieving it. It's all a work in progress. Adjust, move forward, and adjust some more. It's a beautiful dance we choreograph as we go. How's your plan going? -- Doug Smith doug smith training: how to achieve your goals Front Range Leadership: Training Supervisors for Success

Build Understanding

Why do people reject our ideas? If you're like me, this can drive you to distraction. The idea is sound, the logic is flawless, the need is palpable, and yet sometimes people reject our best ideas. Maybe they don't understand them yet. Maybe we don't understand what they are looking for (or more importantly, what they are seeing). The work has just begun. It does not good to walk away pretending we've reached an understanding when what we've really reached is an impasse. Whatever is blocking you usually doesn't go away on its own. We need to work harder at understanding what's going on. People aren't always trying to be difficult (yes, I know that sometimes they are). People don't always find us objectionable (although it can feel like that). Sometimes we just don't understand. We need to understand the value. We need to understand the urgency. We need to understand the need. We need to understand. Otherwise, we're not likely going

See Rejection for What It Is

Does rejection stop you in your tracks? Do you ever find yourself altering your work simply to avoid being rejected. I hate rejection as much as the next person. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. It sometimes discourages me. It causes me to question what I'm doing and even who I am. But that's not very useful, is it? Rejection does not have to devalue us. Rejection is simply one perspective, and hey, most of the time it's wrong. So what if that person does not want to buy your product? If it's still a good product, it can still help others. So what if that person doesn't want to spend time with you anymore (well, OK this is really more than a little "so what") it doesn't mean that you're a bad person or not worth spending time with you. It just says a little something about the person we perceive as rejecting us. Let that last sentence roll around your head a moment longer please: it just says a little something about the person we perceive

Make Progress On Your Goals Today

Have you ever been so busy and distracted that the whole morning goes by without even knowing what you did in all that time? I've done it. One distraction leads to another. One fascination opens doors to new branches of a constantly blooming tree that's completely unrelated to the garden you're supposed to be cultivating. Time doesn't care how we spend it. How we spend it is up to us. To achieve our goals, we need to work on them. We need to relentless work our plan. Then, instead of wondering where our time when we can see: it went to achieving our goals. It went to working on our mission. It made us more productive and successful. It's a beautiful day when you make progress on your goals. Why not make some progress on one of them right now. Right. Now. -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Let Other People Choose Their Own Solutions

Have you ever offered the best possible piece of advice to someone only to see them fail to implement that advice? You knew it was fool-proof. You knew it would work. What were they thinking? What were YOU thinking? I've done that many times. My head can produce lots of creative ideas with the clarity it takes to get right to the heart of someone else's problem. Except, they don't see it that way. They may make a feeble or half-hearted attempt at the solution, but it's not their idea and they don't see how it will work. So it doesn't. Yes, as leaders we do need to coach and counsel and help people to come up with great ideas for solutions. Yes, we do need to collaborate creatively in a centered manner that allows our great thoughts to be heard AND their great thoughts to be appreciated. That's how we get to the agreements that lead to robust, workable, effective solutions. The problem with giving someone else the solution to their problem is that the

Let Down The Walls

Do you have any walls around you? I do. I've built some walls so skillfully that I can't even see they're there. Maybe you have, too. Walls to protect us from hurt, walls to protect us from deception, walls to keep us strong and impervious. Except we aren't impervious. We're only as strong as we are willing to be vulnerable. And, our walls can seriously impair our ability to lead, to communicate, to solve our problems, and to achieve our goals. The walls that we build to protect us eventually fence us in. Break down those walls -- or at least open up a window. There's a lot of light on the other side. -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Learn From Feedback

Are you getting all the feedback that you need - or do you sometimes avoid it because you won't like what it says? I've been known to avoid some critical feedback. It doesn't make me feel good. Sometimes, there's nothing that I can do about it anyway. But, by avoiding the feedback altogether I could miss the piece of positive feedback inside, or the advice that truly matters, or an opportunity to communicate more clearly and reach better understandings and agreements. Feedback can feel like hard work, but it's worth it. If we want to achieve our biggest goals it helps to know how we're doing along the way. Goal achievers learn from feedback every day. We don't have to apply every piece of feedback. And for heaven's sake, we don't have to take it personally. As my much respected graduate school professor Dr. Jay Desko has said, "feedback says more about the person providing the feedback than it does about the person receiving the feedba

Take Charge of Your Learning

What have you learned today? That's my favorite question. For years it was the tag line on my web site. I occasionally end a conversation or piece of writing with that question in hopes of provoking a moment of reflection that will help to capture and keep that learning. When we reflect on what we've learned we have a much better chance to put it to use. What have you learned today? Before every workshop that I facilitate I ask the group to reach some basic agreements. For most groups they are the same or remarkably similar. Occasionally, a group is so specialized or troubled that they'll need additional guidelines or agreements but these are the ones that I've found help the most, the most often: We agree to: Respect each other Focus on the problem Take charge of our own learning If we do those three things skillfully the workshop is a wonderful success. If we don't, well let's just say it could be a long day through a troublesome event. By

Make Solution Agreements

Have you ever come up with a really great solution idea that just didn't work? It had everything you needed to solve the problem except for one big thing: support? Developing creative and centered solutions to our problems is important. But what's just as important (maybe more so) is getting the support we need from the people impacted by the problem. They must help, they must support, they must agree. If you want a solution to work, pick the best agreed-to solution. It might not be your favorite solution. It might not seem like the best solution to you. But an agreed-to solution has a much better chance of actually working. Have you asked the people involved in solving your biggest problem what they think? -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Find That Problem's Role

Did you ever stop to wonder what that big problem is doing in your life? What if it's there for a reason? Not just because it is a problem that's developed over things that you've done or that other people have done or simply randomly appeared to interfere in your life - it may well have a reason. Every problem plays a role in the Big Picture. Finding that role is essential to solving the problem. Get clear. Get focused. Get moving. That's what the problem needs right now. -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Match Your Goals With Who You Want To Be

If someone read your top five goals, would they know who you aspired to be? Do your goals create the tension, growth, and direction you need to become the next better you? It's not always easy. I'm not sure if you read my list of goals right now that you'd clearly know where I was headed. But it's something to work for. It's something to consider. And, it's a powerful indicator of whether or not we are growing. And growing is the way to be. Define your goals with the clarity it takes to define you as you want to be. Not as you are, but as you intend to be. Then your goals will help you get there. -- Doug Smith Front Range Leadership:  Training Supervisors for Success doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Set Clear Goals

"Your ability to discipline yourself to set clear goals, and then to work toward them every day, will do more to guarantee your success than any other single factor."  - Brian Tracy There's a classic quote for you. Every once in a while it comes up in one subscription email or another and so today I feel compelled to share it because it's so good, so useful, so inspiring. Set clear goals. Work toward them every day. There's your formula for success. What are you working on today? -- Doug Smith how to achieve your goals: doug smith training Fast, affordable leadership training: Front Range Leadership