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Showing posts from May, 2016

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