Saturday, August 18, 2018

Calls to Action

Values evolve over time. If values are ever true, they refine without denying what once was. They grow. They distill. They find ways to self-generate the results they aspire to.



Here are some values I've refined into calls to action. I don't just agree with them, I expect to do them. To show them. To act on them. Sometimes it goes well, and often I fall short. The journey is a long one, so keep going.

Here are my current calls to action:


  1. Be your best
  2. Stay curious
  3. Turn toward all offers (bids) to start
  4. Challenge yourself
  5. Reach out with compassion
  6. Expand your possibilities
  7. Appreciate
  8. Play nice, work hard, stay smart
  9. Learn constantly
What are your values? What are your calls to action?

-- doug smith




Friday, August 17, 2018

Inspiration: Get to Know Your Team


How well do you know your team?

Leaders spend a lot of time with their team members, but sometimes don't get to know them very well. If you asked them what their dreams were or what they thought about at night before they went to sleep, would it surprise you?

High performance leaders expand their capacity of knowing their team. They learn what they don't know and explore at deeper levels what makes their team members excited, what makes them worried, and what makes them feel valued.

When a leader can let the team members know that they are valued, their value increases.

I don't know anyone as well as I think I do. I'm going to work at getting to know them better.

How about you?

-- doug smith



Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Think About It


It is possible to agree too quickly. Talk about it to make sure that you understand the agreement.

Is it really what you want? Will you be able to live with this as a decision? Do you support the likely result?

An agreement is a choice. Make sure it is the right choice for you. Then, once you have made the agreement, keep it.

It's what high performance leaders do.

-- doug smith

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Honor the Absent


Do people in your organization gossip?

It's not harmless chatter. Gossip creates problems with reputations and generates disrespect. Without a person there to defend themselves, gossip is a poisonous mix of half-truth and hyperbole. It's bad stuff.

When I worked at GE we had a guideline that made perfect sense: honor the absent. If you wouldn't say something if someone was sitting right next to you, then do not say it. Honor their absence and their humanity.

Whether or not we agree with the goings-on and accounts of someone, if they are not there to defend themselves, maybe silence is the nobler path. Smearing them, swearing about them, and telling stories that are at least partially (and possibly, completely) untrue are behaviors that are beneath us. It's better to avoid gossip completely.

High performance leaders know that to communicate for results it pays to stick to the truth AND to respect the people involves. Respect your audience, respect your topic, respect the dignity of your organization.

It is possible to honor the absent without defending them. Tell your truth, without disparaging the reputation of someone not there to defend themselves.

What do you think?

-- doug smith


Saturday, August 11, 2018

Video Case Study: The Psychology of Tyranny - Alex Haslam


Did Milgram get it wrong?

This video raises some intriguing questions that are relevant to our studies of high performance leadership. It raises issues around obedience, control, leadership, followership, context, and even evil.

Watch the video (17:49) and then reflect on the questions below.




Reflection and Discussion Questions:


  1. What meaning regarding obedience have people commonly concluded based on Milgram's  research?
  2. What are the factors in play that effect the participant's willingness to continue with the experiment, even though it appeared to be inflicting pain?
  3. How did the context of the experiment effect the outcomes?
  4. What additional information was mentioned in the video that we don't usually hear about when it comes to this famous experiment?
  5. What is the surprising conclusion to this research when examined thru the lens of this talk?
  6. Given the circumstances as you understand them, would you have continued to administer the shocks past the point of safety?
  7. How did the subjects react when given direct orders?
  8. What does this tell you about the nature of influence and leadership?
  9. Could this knowledge be used for both noble and for evil intent? How do you respond to that? 
  10. As a leader, what use can you make of this information?





Friday, August 10, 2018

Respect Anyway


Do people need to earn your respect?

Some people do believe that it is necessary to prove yourself worthy of respect before someone should grant you respect. What's the problem with that? When we put ourselves into the position of judge we also open the door wider to being judged.

Can people tell when you respect them?  Undoubtably. We seem to have an inner radar that differentiates respect from disrespect -- or worse, disregard. We can tell, and we care. Deeply.

Whatever a person has done in the past that we might question, it is still possible to treat them with respect. Kindness, compassion, even love know no limits.

Respecting someone does not mean that you agree with everything that they've ever done -- or even with what they are  doing or saying right now. Respect means that you treat them with human dignity, fairness, compassion, and honor.

I know that it can be tough to show respect in the heat of an argument or when someone is not acting in a likable manner. It can be tough to respect someone who irritates the crap out of you. Hey...respect them anyway.

I will do my best. How about you?

-- doug smith


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Healing Silence


Silence in your anger gives it time to heal.
-- doug smith


Leaders Recognize Anger


Are your team members ever angry with you?

Whether you are a creative artist, a business person, a not-for-profit consultant...whatever -- when we are doing important, passionate work we will sometimes generate anger. It might be unexpected. It might be provoked. People get angry.

Anger can cloud our understanding. We can disagree. We disagree every day with some one (and sometimes it feels like half the world!) The better path, better than getting upset, is to clarify. If we disagree, we can figure out how to understand. Unless we understand, all the anger in the world is wasted energy. High performance leaders find ways to disagree respectfully while staying open to new possibilities. Ever been wrong? I'm wrong at least once a day.

Disagreeing with my truth is often useful. Getting angry at it seldom is.

-- doug smith


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Push Against Your Limits


Creativity, like leadership, requires us to stretch. To be at our most creative we must grow. Since we are surrounded by limitations, that can cause some discomfort. Which boundaries should we cross? Which lines are mental and which are metal?

How do we create without getting hurt (or worse, hurting?)

I'm not sure. Maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe the question is -- what limits should we ignore today? What limits should we buck against and stretch?

If a limit is telling you that you are NOT creative -- ignore it.
If a limit is telling you that you cannot grow -- defy it.
If a limit is telling you that the world doesn't need your creativity -- laugh it off.

The world needs you. The world needs your creativity. The world needs you at your creative best.

The creative life pushes against limits.

Keep pushing.

-- doug smith


Monday, August 6, 2018

Make The Creative Choice


We are about as creative as we want to be. We may know people who seem much more creative. We may situations when we ourselves felt more creative. Still, creative is a choice. How you live your life is also a choice.

Why not choose a creative life?

Creative in what you do and how you do it. Creative in how you think. Creative in how you solve problems and achieve your goals. Creative.

The creative life is a choice that you make.

Let's make that choice.

-- doug smith


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Are You Paying Attention?


It's easy to get distracted. Screens call out to us everywhere. Even a once peaceful wait in a reception area is now punctuated by a wide-screen TV.

Heads down, we miss opportunities. Eyes locked on a screen, we miss the people around us.

That screen might spark a little creativity in you but most of the time it might also be standing in the way. Let your mind wander. Pay attention to your surroundings. Let nature spark a little creativity in you. Flow with that creativity and give it your full attention.

Not just a second, not just a moment, but your full attention. Creative notions have a habit of dissipating if we don't focus on them, pay attention to them, keep them alive.

The creative life is not a part-time creative swipe. The creative life is rich, deep, and full AND very jealous of screen time. It would rather have you spend time being creative.

The creative life wants your full attention.

How are you doing with that?

Miniature Sketch - doug smith - doug smith training - developing creativity


Creative Actions



  • Take a walk. Leave your phone at home. Breathe. Let your mind wander. 
  • Write, by hand, for at least twenty minutes. If necessary to avoid distraction, leave your phone in another room.
  • Keep a small sketch pad nearby and when you get bored the next time instead of picking up your phone, doodle a sketch. It doesn't matter if its any good -- it's a doodle.
Happy creative life -- you deserve it!

-- doug smith

Today's Creative Affirmations

doug smith training - developing creativity


Everyone needs a little affirmation once in a while. Here are some quick creative affirmations for you.


  • Creativity is my middle name!
  • When my friends think of me they no doubt think of me as being creative
  • I can develop my creativity in a million ways
  • My creativity is unlimited!
-- now, go create something wonderful!

-- doug smith


Friday, August 3, 2018

Today's Creative Affirmations

You deserve a day of creativity -- and you are well-equips to bring it on!

These are for you:

  • I know creativity when I see it because I am filled with creativity!
  • However creative I have ever been has been just enough and now I can do more!
  • I can create on my own and I can create in collaboration -- my creativity is my choice.
  • No one can EVER talk me out of my creativity!
  • Creative stuff is about to happen!
-- great for you! Now go get creative!

Red Radiating Ball of Rays -- doug smith training - developing creativity



-- doug smith


Creativity We Breathe for Everyone


The creative life shakes hands with your better self, your happy self, your complete yet untapped potential self - a quick and colorful and powerful entity of sensational art. Living, walking, breathing creativity in the moment, in all moments, for ourselves, and for everyone.

-- doug smith


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Draw Something

Draw Something - sketch by doug smith

Do you still draw?

All of us draw when we're kids. Some better than others but all with imagination and enthusiasm. My first sketches were yellow wax pencils (designed for writing on glass) on black photo-album paper. Not brilliant. Not representational. But I still remember the moment of fun and abandon.

Draw something today. Draw it with total abandon. Let your tool decide, let your hand go wild, draw something.

Drawing something with open up a part of your creativity that will serve you well wherever you need it. And, don't you need it right now?

-- doug smith