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Showing posts from 2016

Find the Truth

How do you feel when someone hides the truth? I've worked in organizations that had upper management who, well, kept secrets. They knew about major moves. They planned major changes. But, they didn't tell us what was going on. The truth can rattle your feelings, but how can you deal with it if you don't know it. Successful supervisors know that their team members need to know the truth. What to expect. Hiding the truth is temporary at best, because the truth will always bubble to the top. It will always emerge. Why not bring it out sooner, with integrity, honesty, and grace? A hidden truth is not very helpful. Real truth sees the light of day in time to shine value on the people involved. Go for the value. Shine your light of truth. -- Doug Smith

Send Your Inner Judge Away

What's wrong with performance evaluations? Evaluation. We are all constantly evaluated. Judged. Scored. There are surveys after nearly every transaction. On the phone, online, even in person -- people ask for your feedback but hope against hope it's all good -- 5's on a scale of 5 or 10's on a scale of 10. Why? Because none of us enjoy being judged. Yet, we all make mistakes. None of us are perfect. We all carry around our broken pieces. We might even have moved on from those broken pieces and changed enough to avoid repeating mistakes. We do learn how to make customers pleased. We do learn how to provide our boss with what she most wants. The broken pieces remain. Judging us for them does not fix them. Judgement does not fix the broken pieces. Time, growth, compassion, and learning fix the broken pieces. Healing takes time and care. Judgment gets in the way. Send your inner judge out of the room for an hour. You'll be finally free. Yes, you do nee

Silence Is a Valid Response

One of my favorite quotes comes from Susan Scott and her essential book, "Fierce Conversations" when she says "let silence do the heavy lifting." So often we are uncomfortable by silence. We feel the need to fill the silence with something, anything. Silence is a valid response. Big work can happen during that silence. Higher quality thinking can be encouraged, nurtured, and born during meaningful, patient silence. I work to be silent when my words would wound another. Instead of blurting out that response, I work on the pause. Silence. Instead of getting even with a better dig, a sarcastic reply, I work on the breathing. The pause. The silence. Pause. See what happens. Let that happen. Breathe. Silence is a valid, useful, rich response. Honor that silence. -- Doug Smith

How Are You At Handling Questions?

Do you remember your first day as a supervisor? How many questions did you get? It seemed to me that the questions were endless. Little questions about technical details that were easy to answer, and big questions about vacation time and doctor appointment time that required some thought. Hundreds of questions. If you knew how many questions you were going to receive you might have asked to be paid piece work: by the question. But, do supervisors need to have all the answers? Some answers, yes. Important answers, yes. But one of the biggest lessons I learned early on as a first time supervisor was this: anyone could ask any question -- as long as they also had an answer in mind. It might not be the right answer. It might not be my preferred answer. It might not even be an answer I would immediately approve. But by coming to the boss with a question AND an answer, it was often much easier for a team member to get what they really wanted. And guess what? Eventually, they d

Improving Performance: Help Your Team Change

How does your team handle change? Front line supervisors sometimes run into frustration implementing change. People resist. People forget. People may fail to change in the direction they need to change. As a leader, you can help. Provide all the information that people need to embrace the change. Train on any new processes, new procedures, new skills, and yes -- even new attitudes that you want. The courage to change is both developed and earned. Find ways to earn that change by being the type of supervisor who is both tough and tender. Tough on the tasks, tender on the people. Change requires both. Show your leadership courage, with the compassion it takes to stay patient, and watch that change appear. What change are you working on today? -- Doug Smith

Keep Working On That Goal

It's not always easy. It's not always what you'd rather be doing. It just happens to work: Work on your goal even when it's not easy. Especially when it's not easy. What goal are you working on today? -- Doug Smith

Speak and Act with Courage

What are you afraid of? Everyone who is honest is afraid of something. It could be that performance interview. It could be that presentation. It could be standing up for your team members when your own boss is being unreasonable. We're all anxious about something. Some days, it feels like a whole list of fears. Breathe. Relax. Let it go. The fear is your signal. The fear is your signal that you have a chance to show your commitment, show your passion, show your resolve. And...importantly, to show your courage. Successful supervisors speak and act with courage. Start there. -- Doug Smith Interested in developing your front line leaders? Bring our two-day workshop Supervising for Success to your location and see immediate improvement in your supervisors. Contact:

Keep Getting Feedback

Are you a strong boss? Are you totally sure of yourself? Is your team a wild success? Get feedback. Pay attention. Assume nothing. The stronger the boss, the more compelling is the need for honest feedback. Promote honest feedback, listen, and continually improve. -- Doug Smith

What to do when people stand in the way of your goals

How does it feel when someone stands in the way of your goals? Frustrating? Senseless? People who stand in your way could have lots of reasons why. Maybe they even are standing in the way on purpose, to slow you down. Chances are though, that it's not about you, but about your goal. If your goal is ambitious and noble, why would anyone stand in the way? Wouldn't they get behind your efforts once they know how cool and important they are? It's all about communication. Have the conversation. Let people know about your goals. Get their help. Test your theories with friendly dialogue. You'll learn, you'll grow, and you'll find more influence with people once they have a real chance to discuss your goals -- the good, the bad, and the ugly parts. Who can you tell about your goal today? -- Doug Smith

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Ask Why

Is "why" the toughest question? It can sound accusatory. It can sound provocative. Used clumsily it can prevent information from being shared. It's a dangerous question. But it's useful. Sometimes as leaders we do need to know why. Stay curious. Not judgmental. When we need to know why, we need to know why. Part of communicating for results is getting the information that we need to make decisions. Hedging is for the stock market, not feedback conversations. It takes courage to ask why, and it takes courage to answer why. Ask it anyway. Ask it because. Why? -- Doug Smith

Solve Those Big Problems

Are you ever tempted to major in the minors? Do you ever find yourself working diligently on things that barely matter? It's happened to me -- a whole day spent answering and reading email. A whole day perseverating over one slide or one learning activity. A night in a new city spent revising the 50th draft of a program I'm already doing. Instead, let's focus on making things better. Let's tackle the big problems, before they make all the little cares obsolete. Big problems need not be ignored. We dare only to tackle them before they bury us. Reform banking. Stabilize climate change. Feed the hungry. House the poor. Eliminate exploitation and inequality. Which problem concerns you the most? What ideas do you have about solving that problem? -- Doug Smith

Creative Notions: Spinning Wheel of Creativity

Do you ever find yourself wanting to be creative but stuck for where to begin? I like to work with random prompts sometimes just to get my creative flow started. Here's one I captured on video while taking my morning walk. Two things occur to me - 1. It's a great way to identify what medium to start your idea in, and 2. I should shave before filming a video. Your spinning wheel doesn't have to be elaborate. It's just a way to get the start of an idea started. You could also substitute the types of creative works for something else random. If your creative works are solely focused on painting, put different styles on the wheel. Or colors to use.  Mix it up. Add an element of chance. And then get started. What's your best creative notion today? -- Doug Smith

Should You Fake It 'Til You Make It?

You hear it all the time: fake it 'til you make it. What do you think? Here's my humble take on the concept: And yes, it might occur to you that I am faking it as a videographer. No, not faking it -- it's quick, it's cheap, it's my creative notion for the day. -- Doug Smith

Quality or Quantity?

When you're being creative, should you go for quality or quantity? That's my question today in my morning walk Creative Notion. What do you think? -- Doug Smith

Fountain of Youth

What creative project are you working on this weekend? Here's a little video written and directed by Daniel Vaughn that I acted in a little while ago. Oh yeah, we made it over a weekend. Create a fabulous, inspirational day! -- doug smith

Creative Notion #1: Landscape, Please

When you make videos with your mobile device, how do you hold the device? Vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape). Here's my thought on that: I know the production values on this video are sketchy but that's not the point. It's part of a series of quick creative musings designed to get you going creatively. Now. Enjoy one wonderful creative and inspirational day! -- Doug Smith

Creative Notion Number 2

Make a video! That's my creative notion. You already know how easy it is. But make one very short video each day to spark your creativity. Here's what I offered during my afternoon walk: Have a fabulous, creative, inspirational day! -- Doug Smith

Grow Through Noble Goals!

Are you growing? Are you learning? Are you excited about what you're working on? We need to keep growing. The alternative is just not appealing. Grow. Learn. Make new roads and set new directions. Here are some goals worth growing for: Achieve peace thru dialogue Reform banking into a fair and stable system Build stronger relationships thru deeper conversations. Develop shared understanding by discovering, exploring and creating art and music. Normalize climate thru conservation and renewable energy Do you need more? That's a hefty list. Call it my wish list. Noble goals all. I have NO IDEA how to achieve any of them, they are all much bigger than me or my influence. But maybe you have a clue. Maybe you have a way. Maybe you know someone who knows someone get the idea. We've got to start somewhere, AND we've got to grow, so why not grow thru noble goals. Break them down. Get started. Grow. -- Doug Smith

Goals Help You Manage Your Time

Time doesn't care. No matter what you're doing, it just keeps moving along. For a large part of my life there seemed to be an insistent ticking going on in the background of my existence. Everything had an urgency about it because any distraction was keeping me from doing what I was meant to be doing. Whatever that was. Because that changed over the years. Goals change, people change, life changes. I have no patience for wasting time, even though it's one of my super powers. It's a gift to never be bored, but that also means that anything, absolutely anything, can become so fascinating that it's like falling down a rabbit hole with no end. Fun, interesting, fascinating, but sometimes (gasp!) wasting time. Goals help me with that. I set goals for every day. What 5 things do I NEED to accomplish today to feel good about how I've spent my time? What will bring me closer to my mission? What do I want to remember this day for? I don't always do it. And,

Get Going!

If you stopped right now, took a walk, then took the rest of the day off, would you have accomplished something meaningful? Would you have achieved a goal? I can get stuck. I can procrastinate. But give me a goal, and I'm all over it. Goals get us going. Get going! -- Doug Smith

Find Shared Meaning

Have you ever tried to get someone to buy into one of your goals, only to have them steadfastly resist? It seems so easy to understand why we'd want to work on our goals, but it's not always so easy for others. What does the goal mean? What benefits are there in the goal? How will things be better? Which problem does your goal help to solve? Once we find shared meaning on our goals, it's much easier to inspire action on them. Figure out what your goals mean to others -- and help them to understand that. If it matters to them, your goal is well on its way toward success. -- Doug Smith

It's Not An Excuse If It's Necessary

Who gets to waster your time? There's only one right answer to that: you do. Anyone else wasting your time is truly a waste a time. We can waste our own time in rejuvenation, in recreation, in contemplation. Then it isn't really a waste at all. But, if someone else is distracting you, annoying you, and just wasting your time, why on earth should you ever tolerate that? When someone is wasting your time, excuse yourself to work on a goal. It's better than an excuse: it's a positive (and necessary) reason. Goals must come before wasted time. Or it all becomes wasted time. -- Doug Smith

Keep Persisting

Here's a trick question - when do you give up? It's a trick because maybe you don't give up. When the goal is important enough, you don't give up. And if the goal isn't important enough to persist, why would you even work on it? Choose your goals carefully. Work on what you consider vital to your success. And then act relentlessly on your plan. Persist. There is no substitute for persistence. It will get you through when the world throws all kinds of road blocks your way. And you can depend on that. So persist. -- Doug Smith

Create Goals Worth Remembering

Have you ever considered what it must be like to be famous? Maybe you've even gotten a taste of it. Maybe you were on TV, or in a movie, or interviewed by a publication. Maybe your youtube channel has a kazillion views. What if you were famous for your goals? What if people knew you by the goals that you set and achieved? Wouldn't they be worth talking about then? Hey. Listen. They're worth talking about now . -- Doug Smith

Set the Right Goals

It's not just about the goals. It's setting the right goals. Goals that energize you. Goals aligned with your mission. Goals that create a better team, life, and world. Set the right goals and the path becomes easier. Instead of a struggle, the journey is an adventure. Instead of ordeal, the magic is revealed. You'll know it's a "right" goal when you can't wait to get started. What goal are you working on right now? -- Doug Smith

Set A Problem Free

Have you ever held a problem so tight that it couldn't get away? I have. Why would we do that? We get so comfortable with a problem that it's hard to imagine living without it. But what good is that? It's a problem ! Or is it? Maybe we need to see beyond what we keep defining in pain as our problem and embrace whatever is as whatever is. If that sounds like double-speak, forgive me for a second and think about it. The situation is the situation. Calling it a problem does not change what is going on. Agonizing over how much misery it is bringing us, our team, or our organization does not help. Here's what I suggest instead. Set that problem free. Stop calling it a problem. It's the situation. Call it that if you like or don't call it anything at all. Set it free. Set a goal. What is it that you DO want? Whatever is going on now, what environment, situation, action, or relationship do you really want? Go for that. Set a goal. Design a plan. And the

Pick The Right Goals

What happens if you decide to do every goal you could possibly do? You don't do them. Maybe you do some of them. Maybe you get thru a bunch. But I've learned to face it: I can not do everything. When I try, something falls. Some goals are better than others. Do them first. Some goals make more sense and provide more traction, more action, more reaction, and better results. Do them first. Pick too many goals and your constraints will crash in on you. Pick the right goals and your possibilities are endless. Pick the right goals. -- Doug Smith

Set Goals That Align With Your Dreams

What do you dream about? For years I dreamed about starting my own training company. I yearned to set my own hours and choose my own topics. So I set a goal to do that. Are your goals pointing you in the direction of your dreams? If you complete all of the goals on your list today, would your dreams come true? Possibly not. That's OK. But, are they moving you in that direction? What do you dream about? What occupies your mind? Given three wishes, what would they be? You know how to turn a wish into results: make it a goal. Set an action word, result, and deadline. And then get busy. You do want your dreams to come true, right? -- Doug Smith Are you interested in how to achieve your goals? Contact me about scheduling or attending our next How To Achieve Your Goals webinar.

Pay Attention To Your Goals

Are you paying attention to your goals today? I'm sure you've written them done. And, maybe their even what I call ART goals -- with an action word, a result, and a time frame. Good job on that. And they work best when you pay attention to them. From the first action at the beginning of your day until you stop working: goals provide focus, direction, and useful action. If, like me and many other people I know you are sometimes tempted to waste your time doing things that may be fun but are not productive (not that you can't have fun, just not to the point of wasting too much time) pick up your top five goals and let them move you forward. Work your goals. Drive your tasks on competing your goals. One of the keys to achieving your goals is relentlessly working your plan. How is that playact going today? -- Doug Smith

Make That First Call

Do you enjoy initiating phone calls? The phone seems to have lost much of its importance in the office world, but it is still a key tool for communicating. When you know what results you want, sometimes the phone is the best way to interact. Especially in sales. Extra-especially in prospecting. But also in conducting follow-up, in contracting, and getting things done. It's something I must admit I will procrastinate on. I'm not proud of that, I'd prefer it be otherwise, but making that first call in the morning is tough. But you know what?  When I make that first call the rest are easy. Even if my first call is to someone I know well and simply to chat -- not for any business at all. The next call is easier. And the next even easier. It's just a matter of getting started. If it's the same for you, please allow me to encourage you for a moment: make that first call. You may turn into an action focused juggernaut of calling and getting things done. Imagi

Find Answers That Work and Go!

Did you ever get stuck searching for all of the answers? It happens to me sometimes. I feel so certain that I've got to come up with every best possible answer that the best answer hides behind a wall of searching. Yes, we do need lots of answers. Yes, the first answer (or third) is seldom the best. But we also reach a point of diminishing returns. We also reach a time when it's time to do something. Are you there on your biggest problem? Creative problem solvers realize that even the best answer will likely evolve during the solution. Our plans change, our situation complicates, and other people get involved. That's OK. That's no reason to freeze Creative problem solvers don't need all the answers -- just the ones that work. Have you found an answer that works today? -- Doug Smith

More Creativity, Less Judgment

Do you find it easy to judge? We are taught in so many ways to judge things, to judge people, to judge judge. From some imaginary position of perfection we assess others as if they were lacking some essential ingredient. Or, in some cases, we let judgment of our own skills keep us from trying something new, from forging new ground, from creating. That's a mistake. We need creativity. We need to try new things. We need to explore territory where we won't be instantly criticized, by ourselves or others. High performance leaders value creativity so much that they suspend their sense of judgment often enough to allow creativity to flourish. How about you? Can you allow creativity to flourish? To grow? To blossom? We are more creative when we are less judgmental. Send your inner judge out for milk and cookies. It will make her happy and you'll be free. -- Doug Smith

Centered Problem Solvers Stay Focused and Balanced

Have you ever been blocked from solving a problem by emotions? Anger, sadness, grief, despair, impatience...emotions can make things tough on a problem solver. Staying centered helps. Keeping balance. Drawing on our core strengths of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion to keep perspective clear and kind. Any problem exists in a field filled with possibilities. Emotions can poison those possibilities if we lose our way. The way is clear. Stay focused. Stay balanced. Stay centered. Breathe. Stretch. See. Stay curious. Relax. Easier said than done? That's why it takes training and practice. -- Doug Smith

Solve the Unavoidable Problems

What's the good thing about unavoidable problems? You can't ignore them! They stand right there, in your way, waiting to be solved. It's like a flat tire on your car. Ignoring it won't make it go away, so what do you do? You change it. It's like snow on your sidewalk. You could wait until it melts, but people are at risk the whole time, so you shovel it. Centered problem solvers recognize an unavoidable problem as a message to take action. They focus, balance, and engage. Some problems are unavoidably annoying and present. They won't leave you alone. So solve them. -- Doug Smith

Think Big Goals

How much are you talking up your goals? Do you get excited telling people about what you're working on? If not, what do your goals need in order to make them that exciting? How can you scale them up? What can you do that will make a significant different in your life, in your team, in your world? The work is the work. Why not make it important? Think big goals. Achieve big goals. You're worth it and up to it. -- Doug Smith

Take Care of The Needs First

Do you know anyone who has their goals a little confused? When we focus more on what we want than on what we need, it is possible to miss what we need. Yes, it is useful to set goals. And yes, those goals can bring us what we want. Taking care of what is essential first makes a difference. It's the difference between a nutritious meal and a snack. It's the difference between a career and a job. It's the difference between a fling and a relationship. What we need are values-supporting, noble, peaceful ways of bringing about growth and happiness. It takes longer. It isn't always as fun. It must come first. Are you setting goals that help you and other meet essential needs and not just wants? -- Doug Smith

Tickle Yourself

Do you want a sudden burst of creativity? Tickle yourself. I don't mean put a feather on your feet and get yourself to laugh, I mean find a way to surprise yourself. Seek the unexpected. Tickle yourself. Go to a comedy and laugh. Listen to that lame joke your friend is foisting on you and find the humor in it (or in your friend!). Tickle yourself. Find the joy in watching a kindergarten kid play with complete joy and abandon. Tickle yourself. Really listen to your partner, your best friend, your lover, your boss (hopefully, they aren't all the same person!) and feel the love. Tickle yourself. -- Doug Smith

Make Your Little Goals Support Your Big Goals

How many little goals do you have? The number is not that important. What matters much more is whether or not your little goals are supporting your big goals. Do they contribute action steps that take you down your path to complete your noble plan on your big goals? If not, they could be distracting you from the important work. I fall into that trap sometimes. It feels good to check off the little accomplishments. I feel busy. I must be working on important things, right? But not everything is important. And, if it's not contributing to achieving my top three goals it likely is not that important. The little goals that matter most are the ones that support our big goals. Life's too short for meaningless goals. There's so much to be done on the big ones. Make your little goals support your big goals. See what a difference that makes. -- Doug Smith

Find The Game

Do you see problem solving as a sort of game? Sure, you don't yet know the rules. The conflict shifts unexpectedly. The rewards are hard to spot. It's a game that's hard to play if you let it get the best of you. Lots of problems have gotten the best of me, and you know what? I'm still working on solving new ones. The game is in the challenge. I'm not a typical gamer. I don't play electronic games. I don't even have the patience for mobile games that become popular (the one exception was "Words With Friends" but I had one friend who so soundly defeated me over and over that she lost interest in the game -- and me, too). Keep your interest. Keep your focus. Those problems aren't going away on their own. If it helps to think of your biggest problem as a game, then give that a go. Here's a useful question to keep in mind: what do you get when you win? -- Doug Smith

High Performance Leaders Solve Problems

Do you have "solving problems" as part of your formal job description? Whether it's in there or not, you do realize that it's part of your job. For a leader, it's often most of the job. Solving problems in the business, solving problems in the organization, solving problems in your team. The better we get at solving problems, the more able we are to achieve our goals. The two simply go together. What are you doing to improve your problem solving skills? -- Doug Smith

The Trouble With "Maybe"

What does maybe me to you? When I was a young dad, "maybe" probably meant "no" to me, but it meant a definite "yes" to my children. It's all in how you look at it and, of course, your agenda. When someone is working hard to convince us of something, they may hear a "yes" in our "maybe" that isn't there. This can build resistance that isn't necessary from our point of view and that gets in the way of genuine opportunities. We start defending our "no" when what we really meant was "we're not sure." What if instead of saying "maybe" we said "convince me?" What if we kept open and curious about the possibilities instead of going into a conversation with our minds made up? I think we'd open ourselves up to some greatly improved results and some beautiful surprises. Oh, yes, and then we'd be authentically communicating instead of just pretending to. What do you think?

Every Problem Brings Risks

What's the risk of solving your problem? If that seems like a funny question, imagine the effects of a solution that alienates your team, your customers, or your partners. Imagine a solution that is ignored, leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth about the whole process. Of course you don't want that. Solving the problem should make things better, not worse. Still, making sure that you've covered those (and other) solution risks is an important part of centered problem solving. It's not all about you, and it's not all about the problem. It's the situation, the people, the chemistry involved as well. But leaving the problem unsolved is not a great option. Remaining fearful of the effects of your solution is dangerous when it leaves you polarized and the problem unsolved. Risks occur then, too. The problem gets worse. People get discouraged. Customers wonder what's going on. Leaving a problem unsolved is a sketchy strategy, even if it's chosen

A Promise Means Yes

Do you have a hard time saying no? The trouble with always saying yes is that it's impossible to do everything. I don't know a single person who can do everything. Can you? It's better to say no than to explain why you didn't finish what you promised. And when we say yes, it sounds like a promise. Prioritize. Consider the work involved. Understand where you can make your biggest impact. Focus on the goals that get you to your mission and de-prioritize anything that does not. You will meet with resistance. You will get some push-back. But before you make that promise -- think about the option of saying no. Often, it's not as big a deal as we feared because someone else can step in and do it. But once we take it on, it's ours. Say no, rather than disappoint. It's what they would want. -- Doug Smith

Set The Right Goals

What happens when you set a wrong goal? A wrong goal is one that you can't get excited about, that hasn't got a clear customer, and that doesn't make anyone happy. Shouldn't you be happy about a goal? Achieving your goals depends on setting the right goals in the first place. Goals that excite. Goals that improve. Goals that make the world a better place. Seem too big? I understand. When that seems too big I just work on a goal that can make the world better right here, right now -- some small part of the world. A team, a relationship, a customer deliverable. Make something better. It makes a difference. Are you setting the right goals? -- Doug Smith

Collaborate Rather Than Dictate

Do you ever find it easy to identify the solution to someone else's problem? Without the headaches and heartburn of the problem sitting in your own life, it can seem far more simple and easy to solve. Seem. That does not mean that it is. And when we take on the problems of another without asking them what they've already done or plan to do, any solution that we do develop is likely to fall short. Ownership of the solution is just as important as creativity. Sometimes solving someone else's problem  for  them is a big mistake. Collaborate rather than dictate. Share ideas. Work together. Understand the problem at it's heart and center and not just on the surface. That takes time. That takes patience. And that takes collaboration. Centered problem solvers collaborate with creativity, courage, clarity, and compassion. Leave any of that out, and the solution may be incomplete and ineffective. We've all tried that already, haven't we? Why not start to get

Relieve Some of That Stress

What's your single biggest stressor? Would you like to get rid of it? For me, the biggest stressor in my life is usually also my biggest problem. The longer it stays a problem, the bigger and more gnarly it gets, which puts more pressure on me to solve it, which causes more stress. I could do without that stress. But, it's there to help. Stress reminds us that somethings needs to be taken care of. Something needs to be fixed, found, or solved. Why not simply get started? Solving your toughest problem may not relieve all of your stress but it sure helps focus it in the right direction. Why not relieve some of that stress today? Get started! Centered problem solvers realize that problems are not completely separate from themselves. We know not to take them personally, and yet they interfere with our personal selves. Instead of reacting in an immobilized way to the stress that produces, why not move forward. Figure out the root cause of the problem and then set about a

Help People Understand Your Goals

Why would anyone not support one of your goals? It seems clear to you. You know the benefit. You see the value. It's an easy choice. Why isn't it getting the support that you want? People need help. We don't always understand a goal the first time we hear it. Or even the second. Or third. We're all so busy, that for any one goal to catch our attention (especially if it's not even our ow goal) it had better be clear, creative, courageous, and compassionate. In other words, it must prepare to do bold things in a kind way. When we can frame our goals from that point of view, they seem much more compelling. People who stand in the way of your goals don't yet understand them. So make sure that people understand these keys to your goals: - the financial value - the personal value (how it effects people positively) - what makes it cool (how is it amazingly creative?) - the adventure (where's the challenge in it that makes it almost a dare?) Include

What Do Your Goals Say About You

What would people think about you if all they knew about you was your goals? Would they consider you ambitious? Noble? Focused? Ask yourself that question and think about your answers. If I only knew what your goals were, would you be someone I'd want to spend time with? Help you with those goals? Tell my family about? I need to ask myself those questions, too. What makes my goals so special? What makes me worth talking to? I'm with you on this one today. What do our goals say about us? -- Doug Smith

Dig Deeper

If that problem has been around awhile, if that problem is cagey to the point of making you scratch your head, you might need many solutions. Many ideas. Creative, centered problem solvers stay with the process long enough to develop more solutions that any one problem needs. The gold is deep. Keep digging. -- Doug Smith

Tension Equals Energy

Do problems make you tense? Some problems really get me going. The space of no solution is a tough one to navigate. There probably IS a solution, it's just not evident yet. In the mean time, it's tense. Why not use that tension? The tension that problems cause us is energy: use it. -- Doug Smith

Don't Be Scared!

I remember when my kids were little, every once in a while we'd tell them "don't be scared." Because, of course, they were. We're all scared sometimes. Big problems can scare us. What on earth will we do? How will we ever solve such a tough problem? That's our sign. Solve that thing. Get working on it. Don't be scared. Fear of a problem is all the more reason to solve it. Centered problem solvers don't internalize the fear of a problem - they energize around it. You're not afraid of that little problem are you? Me, either. -- Doug Smith

Ask The Tough Questions

Problems resist easy answers. That's why we need to ask the tough questions. Why are things the way they are? What is the deeper cause? On the surface, we may think we understand a problem. Digging deeper, asking probing and open ended questions, we can get at the heart of what is really going on. Are people being rewarded for incorrect behavior? Is someone benefitting from the problem situation? If so, who? Is it too easy to ignore the problem? Is the source of the problem aware that there is even a problem? For example, those who most resist a fair distribution of work are those who may not be working too hard. Why change?  Executives making juicy bonuses may not even be aware of how hard it is to live paycheck to paycheck. Creative problem solvers ask the tough questions with curiosity. Not to judge. Not to punish. But to know. What's really going on? Centered problem solvers use their creativity to separate people from the problem. They use their compassion to f

Goals Take Time

Which goal are you working on today? Oh, I know. You could be working on fifty goals today. Fifty? How many goals are too many? Where does your focus need to be to make a real impact? I'll ask you again, in a slightly different way. What major, noble goal are you working on today? What goal will change you, change your team, maybe even change some part of the world? Today will pass. You'll be busy. Stuff will get done. How much time will you spend today achieving your goals? How does all of your time sound? Too much? OK. I understand. How about twice as much as you planned? Your goals need your attention. Are you ready? -- Doug Smith

Share Your Goals

Do you tell people about your goals? When you do, great surprises can happen. You might get more help than you expected. You'll find more clarity around your goal. And your enthusiasm will grow. If you're not sharing your goals with others it could be telling you something about your goals. They should be exciting. They should be noble. And, they should be easy to tell other people. Easy because they are important. Easy because they are on your mind. The best goals are easy to share. Which goal are you talking about the most these days? -- Doug Smith

Embrace The Odd

Do you know anyone who is a little bit, umm, odd? Since I've worked in entertainment as well as business, and played in bands and made movies, I've known my share of odd people. People who have interesting habits that make them just a little different. Like collecting nail clippings in a jar (yes, someone I once lived with actually did that) or alphabetizing their yogurt in the refrigerator (yes, someone I'm quite sweet on does that). Odd can be good (except that same person with the yogurt does not like odd numbers) and extremely helpful when it comes to problem solving. Problems need new ideas, new ways of doing things. When we are solving problems, we need all the creativity that we can get. What greater source of creative ideas than a problem solving team member who is a bit eccentric? Who else would think of that game-changing idea? Who else could be more fun? An eccentric problem solver is still a problem solver. And that's what high performance leader

Work That Plan!

"Constant and determined effort breaks down all resistance and sweeps away all obstacles." -- Claude M. Bristol I enjoy designing a plan to achieve a goal. Listing the tasks, estimating the times, scheduling them - that all appeals to my analytical side. Then comes the hard part: getting it done. But it's not really hard. It's one step at a time. One movement, one action, one call, one  thing . At - a - time. Design a cool, appealing plan. And then, most importantly, act relentlessly on your plan. As Larry the Cable Guy says, "get -er done!" -- Doug Smith

No Complete Failure

"Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker." -- Zig Zigler You know that we can learn from our mistakes. You might also know that failure carries many valuable lessons. I like the expression that comes from NLP (Neurolistic Programing) "there is no failure, only feedback." There's always something to learn. Any effort that results in learning is not a complete failure. So it's up to us. While we would never choose to fail at anything (oh horrors!) sometimes we will. Whether we learn or not is completely up to us. Find the learning. Find the success. What have you learned today? -- Doug Smith

That Awesome Gift of Listening

"The greatest motivational act one person can do for another is to listen." -- Roy Moody How would your work and your life be different if everyone you encountered listened carefully, compassionately, and attentively to each other? It seems so simple, yet it's not. Listening takes focus. Listening takes attention. Listening positively takes curiosity. How curious are you when you listen? Here's what I'm working on: listening without judging. I remember a time when I had an answer to every question, an opinion to every view, and something to say in any situation. I wasn't wise enough to know that smart wasn't always enough. We need to listen. Listening is a gift as profound as any you might give today. Who will you give that free yet awesome gift? -- Doug Smith

Big Goals, Little Tasks

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together." -- Vincent Van Gogh A big project can seem overwhelming. Our aspirations can seem too big. Our expectations are frequently recalibrate by what seems like a tough reality. Instead of looking at the big, big, too-big-to-achieve goal, what if we looked at what David Allen calls "the next actionable step"? What if we, as Brian Tracy advised, "chunk it down"? Do one thing. Do the next thing. And keep going. I find it useful to project from when I need to finish something and then spread the little tasks out on a plan to accomplish the big thing. The Big Thing is just a series of little things. And little things don't scare me a bit. How about you? -- Doug Smith

Start With A Goal

Are you struggling to solve a problem? Does it seem evasive, difficult, unsolvable? Start with a goal. Determine what you want in a situation, rather than focusing on the pain you feel. What do you want? What's your goal? There are thousands of ways to reach a goal. Reach that goal and your problem will have melted away. Yes, we do need to solve problems. It's a key role of a true leader. Sometimes we solve them best by achieving our goals. Got a tough problem? That problem's solution starts with a goal. What's your goal? -- Doug Smith

Stay Courageous Through Resistance

What is the typical reaction to courage? Often, people respond to true courage with resistance. They push back. They run away. They refuse to change. That should not surprise us. We should expect it. I've worked on projects where the biggest part of the goal achievement involved working through the resistance. People didn't want to change software. People didn't want to print less. People didn't want to move from Chicago to Trevose, PA. But in each case the change was inevitable, and embracing that change was necessary. For those of us driving those projects, we had to maintain our courage and conviction even when people were unhappy and rebellious. Courage is more often resisted than appreciated. You won't always get an award. In fact, you will seldom get an award for your courage. But, your courage is still required. Of course it's not easy. It wouldn't take courage if it was. How courageous are you prepared to be to achieve your goals? -- Do

Say Yes to Possibilities

Have you seen the movie "Yes Man"? The premise is that the main character goes to a seminar where he learns to say yes. To everything. Yes to fun. Yes to adventure. Yes to romance. It gets him delightful surprises, and it gets him into trouble. There are real risks in saying yes to everything. Somethings need a solid, firm, NO. I do like how the movie points out that we are open to many more possibilities when we do say yes. So often we say no much too quickly. So often our reluctance and our fear get in the way. We have a better chance of achieving our goals and solving our problems when we get into the habit of saying yes to possibilities. When we figure out a larger list of choices, we dramatically improve our ability to succeed. Letting more creativity into our life by acting more creative requires yes, yes, and more yes. Creativity means saying yes to possibilities. How's your yes today? -- Doug Smith

Feel Good About Your Goals

How do you feel about your goals? If they are big, noble, ambitious, and fun you probably feel good about them. If they are small, inconsequential, and discordant with your mission or values, you might not feel so great about them. We get to choose. Our feelings will tell us all about our goals and their importance. When we feel unhappy with our goals, it's not our feelings that are out of whack - it's our goals. Our goals should make us feel good about ourselves. Our goals should tell us that we are working on important things and making a positive difference. Our goals should show us that we are growing. Our goals should bring a smile to our faces. Maybe not all of your goals will set the world aglow or keep you grinning. But, shouldn't some of them? -- Doug Smith

Avoid Those Empty Spots

Do you get a lingering sense of emptiness from an unachieved goal? When the goal is important, I really need to achieve it. Otherwise, there's a nagging sense of the incomplete. It tugs, it pulls, it drags me down. Why set a goal if not to achieve it? A goal unachieved leaves an empty spot to fill. Fill that spot. Achieve that goal. Then move on to the next noble and exciting goal. Not happening? Maybe the problem is in the design of your plan. When our goal is compelling we need a plan carefully designed to get done what needs to get done to achieve that goal. Design that plan, then work it. Act relentlessly on your plan, and your goal is yours to achieve. What lingering goal needs your attention? Maybe it's the plan. -- Doug Smith

Learn Constantly No Matter How Annoying It Is

Some things that annoy us the most grow us the most. I never asked for some of my biggest lessons. I probably didn't ask for any of them. They hurt. They bruised. They provoked anxiety. They made me sweat. But I learned. I learned that people need lots of attention. That sending an email isn't enough. That a handshake (and even a kiss) doesn't mean that a deal won't ever be broken. That broken promises (especially when a kiss IS involved) are the hardest lessons to take. We go on. We strive forward. We learn. We forgive. I am annoyed by big lessons. My ex-wife once gave me a little present that was a miniature traffic cone with the words "Oh no, not another learning opportunity!" on it. That about sums it up: not right now please, I'd rather not get that lesson. We don't always get to pick the timing, but we do get to decide whether or not we learn from those things that annoy us. Things like the team member who isn't finishing the importa

Perform Creatively!

Creative performance keeps the performer AND the performance fresh and fascinating. Stay creative! -- Doug Smith

Support Someone's Creativity

What have you done lately to encourage someone else' creativity? Is that up to you? Maybe. What if there were someone in your life who was stuck and needed just enough encouragement to get creative enough to become unstuck? I'm sure that person exists. Someone, somewhere, needs just a little nudge from you to be more creative. Maybe it's seeing you draw. Maybe it's hearing about a creative project you're working on. Maybe you could sing together. Supporting someone else's creativity will boost your own. When we share creatively, our creativity grows. And that's a wonderful thing. Who do you know who needs some positive feedback on staying creative? Why not elevate their day? -- Doug Smith

Stay Creative

Do you think about creativity everyday? When we think about creativity everyday it spurs us into action, it develops a sense of wonder, it prods us into moving out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary. We can even reach a state that is so creative we forget that we're thinking about being creative, we simply create. New things, better things, wonderful things. Better leadership, better communication, better problem solving. Better living. Stay creative and you won't ever regret it. It makes us brighter, makes us smarter, makes us more alive. What are you doing to develop your creativity today? -- Doug Smith

Practice Creativity Everyday

What have you do creative today? Did you try a new breakfast? Did you draw something wild and beautiful? Did you write in your journal? Creativity thrives when we practice our creativity. We must stay busy in our creative world to keep our creative edge sharp. Any musician knows this. Any writer knows that when we write everyday we stand a much better chance of creating something remarkable. There is no substitute for practice. Your creative muse expects you to practice every day. Inspiration must be fed. Inspiration must be nurtured. Do you want to do amazingly creative things? Then do something creative every day. What's your next creative step today? -- Doug Smith

Find Your Creative Center

Are you looking for more balance in your life? I facilitate some workshops that include people who are desperately looking for ways to balance their work and their life. Sometimes they are looking for a magic wand, and that's not available. There are ways to find this balance. There are things that each of us can do to keep our focus. One essential ingredient is to keep in touch with our creative center. Our creative center is that part of us that simply knows when we need to move from the ordinary and find creative ways to move forward. Our creative center stores up our creative experiences and makes them available when they are needed (and, they are needed often!) Our creative center is that place where we can balance our flexibility with our urgency in order to see more possibilities. Anxiety, worry, and tension are often generated by the failure to see more possibilities.  But we do have the tools to overcome that - the creativity that we develop can supply the focus an

Key Questions to Stay Curious

photo of Rusty by Judi Madigan How curious are you? In my workshops on communication and achieving your goals I point out how important it is to listen with curiosity. We are most attentive when we are most curious. Instead of jumping to conclusions or judging before it's necessary, high performance leaders center their listening around staying curious. How do you do that? One way is by asking relevant questions. One of my mentors, Lester T. Shapiro (who wrote the book The Training Effectiveness Handbook ) once said that the primary role of leaders is to ask relevant questions. Here are some questions that I've found extremely relevant and that help me to remain curious: What is your case? We are always building a case and not always aware of the case that we're building or why. It might not even serve our best interests, and yet we can talk ourselves into anything. Stay curious about what you really want, what you think you want and (most importantly) is w

Give Your Creative Muse A Break From Your Inner Judge

Send your inner judge out for milk and cookies.  Is your inner judge constantly working? Do you hear your inner critic finding fault with things? We need to be able to analyze. It's useful to be able to differentiate, evaluate, and decide. But, our inner judge is such a strong voice that it sometimes drowns out everything else. When that happens, nothing looks right. When that happens, our creativity suffers. Your creative muse is not in love with your inner judge. Your creative muse would like a break, now and then, from an endless stream of criticism. Some ideas are going to be wild. Some musings will be suspicious in usefulness. Some creations might fall apart eventually. But they all need time to percolate, time to brew, time to stew, and time to form legs enough of their own to survive the inner critic in us. So give your creativity a break from your inner judge. Your ideas will thank you for it. -- Doug Smith

Give Your Team Energy and Focus

How energized is the team that is working on your biggest goal? No team? What will it take to interest others in your goal? Isn't it worth the time, the effort, the energy to get as many people involved as it will take to achieve your biggest and most noble goal? It starts with focus. Keeping your focus on that wonderful outcome. Identifying your true mission. Aligning your efforts with all of your work. Give people focus, and the energy to drive that focus appears. A brilliant idea is irresistible. Let people know your brilliant ideas. We create energy with our focus.  And energizing your team is a critical part of achieving your goals. -- Doug Smith

Remember Your Forgotten Ideas

You know the feeling: you have a brilliant idea! It's the answer to a problem that you've been working on. Or, it's a new way to develop or deliver your product or service. It could even be a new work of art, from your hands to the world. If. If you could only remember it. Here's why I do to remember ideas: I carry paper and pen everywhere. My journal is always nearby. The material on its pages may not always be coherent, but the ideas are there. My morning pages may spill oodles of angst and anger, but the ideas have a place to go. It can still be a hunt to find that idea I remember having a year ago, but it's there. Write it down. Capture it. Take a picture. Draw a diagram. Keep your brain working on your genius of an idea, and help it remember by leaving a map. The creative ideas that have been forgotten are enough to keep us busy for years to come, reinventing. It takes a lot of great ideas to achieve our goals. Let's make sure we build a supply.

Let's Be Honest About Our Goals

I hate hidden agendas. When people have motives that they do not reveal it is the worst kind of lie. That's why I appreciate the truth so much. We can't all, and can't always, handle radical truth. We need a little filtering to keep from walking around with bruised feelings all of the time. We can handle truth delivered with respect. We can handle truth that is useful. And, we can certainly handle the truth about our goals. What do you want? What's your biggest goal? Once we start sharing that level of truth we can genuinely help each other the most. Being honest about our goals is necessary to tell the truth. What do you want, how do you define the success of what you want, and when do you want it. Action word + result you want + time.  That's what I call ART goals and the best way to get the most out of them is to be upfront and honest. Once we know what we want, we can intelligently decide whether to agree or not. Anything less is pretending. Go for