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Keep Learning Again and Again

A goal worth working on will produce high levels of learning. If that learning doesn't help you with this goal, it's guaranteed to help you on another. Keep learning. Learn constantly.

-- doug smith


Possibilities Equals Power

Are you searching for more possibilities? Are you generating more ideas? There could be more possible ways to solve your problem than you will ever think of, so keep thinking, keep exploring. Possibilities equals power.

-- doug smith



Challenge Your Assumption

If your assumption isn't helpful change your assumption.

-- doug smith

We all make assumptions, even when we know it doesn't help. Where do these assumptions come from? They come from old data, from old experiences, from filters so clogged we fail to see what is true. But the good news is that since assumptions originate from our own thinking, we can control that. We can change our thinking. We can change our assumptions.

Let's choose assumptions that lead to success. The people on our team WILL support us. Our leadership skills ARE growing. Our customers DO have reason to like our service.

If your assumption isn't working, if it just isn't helpful, change your assumption.

-- doug smith


The Path to Happiness

The goal isn't goals; the goal is happiness. And, the strongest path to lasting happiness is thru service.

-- doug smith


Go Big

Are your goals big enough, wild enough, ambitious enough?

If a goal doesn't make you nervous or giddy it's not big enough. Go big.

-- doug smith


Sing Your Song

The song of success contains many variations.

-- doug smith

I'm not the world's greatest singer but wow do I love to sing. And, sure enough, I cannot sing everything. Almost no one can, of course. We're all limited by our vocal range and even though we can expand that vocal range, almost no one can sing ALL THE NOTES.

And, we don't all like all the songs.

Success is like that. What one person calls success, another might think of as torture. I know some jobs that people absolutely love that would irritate me to try to do. My own definition of success has evolved over the years. As I have discovered my limitations in some areas of aspiration (oh no, I CAN"T hit that note, or OH NO I'm NOT going to be a professional athlete!) I have also discovered new horizons -- all very colorful, exciting, and new.

Success can be this simple: think of a goal, write it down, achieve it.

Of course it's work. Naturally, there's much more to it than that. And yet, the so…

Keep Improving

Imperfection is a human condition but not a curse. The blessing is in the constant process of growth.

Grow.

-- doug smith


Are You Overthinking?

I've been told that I sometimes overthink things. How about you?

The trouble with overthinking is, when are you done?

Sometimes we have to think about what we're thinking to stop thinking so much.

Think about that.

-- doug smith


Make the Move

A fading dream makes room for a new scene. Make the move.

-- doug smith


Keep Your Goals In Front

Goals that you keep in front of you keep you moving forward.

-- doug smith


Quality Knows No Age

Old does not always mean outdated. New does not always mean best.

Quality knows no age.

-- doug smith


Start With a Goal

Don't let a lack of a goal stop you from getting what you want -- set the goal!

-- doug smith


Ask Your Team

Energize your problem solving team today, tomorrow, and everyday.

Not sure how? Ask them how. They know.

-- doug smith


You Can Do It

You can strengthen your self-esteem without anyone's help.

-- doug smith


Are you waiting for praise? Are you hoping for a great performance evaluation? Have you given any part of your control over your own self-esteem to anyone else?

I enjoy hearing good things. I like praise. Positive feedback is awesome. But do we need to wait for it? I don't think so. It's great when it comes, but the surest way to keep your self-esteem healthy is to know what you stand for and work toward that position. The best way to be happy about what you do is to do work that matters, to do work that makes things better for other people, to find joy in serving.

It's almost amazing, but what builds us up the most is taking care of other people.

Great leaders are in charge. Greater leaders are in charge and serving, at the same time. What a great way to build your own self esteem. You can do it. It's up to you.

-- doug smith


Darn Lies

Lies lead to lies and there lies the problem. Clarity is the solution.

We tolerate, we generate, too many darn lies. What are we afraid of with truth? Why do we try to deceive one another? Lies, lies, lies. A lie opens the door to air the truth, if we can spot the lie.

We can always spot the lie. It's not like they are so hard to find. Besides being everywhere, they are usually painfully obvious. Let's lean  on the truth instead. The cold, hard, honest truth.

If the truth isn't kind, there is more truth to find. Keep looking. Keep telling the truth.

-- doug smith


Actions Matter

Be careful of letting good intentions create bad problems. Actions matter.

-- doug smith


What's Your Goal?

Sometimes the most powerful question you can ask is "what is my goal on this?"

-- doug smith

Results can get scattered. Intentions can get confused. When I find myself wondering what's going on, what am I doing, or what others are doing, I pause long enough to ask, "what is my goal on this?"

When we know what our goal is we can follow the plan that we have set in order to achieve that goal. We can press on. We can stay relentless.

Even when things are so chaotic that they appear to be out of control, we can focus on a goal and take the steps necessary to get back on track. The right goal corrects a lot of wrongs. The right goal gets the job done.

What's your goal today?

-- doug smith


Dignified Goal Achievement

How you achieve a goal is as important as achieving it.

-- doug smith

I don't believe in achieving a goal at any cost. While goals are important, our character matters more. How we treat people in the process of working on our goals matters. It's not a winner-take-all contest because when that IS the case there are eventually no winners. Instead, it is a win and share the winning choice that provides the most traction and the best results.

If you want positive results, use positive standards. People will eventually learn to treat you the way that you treat them -- noble or not. Stay noble. Stay ethical. Stay truthful.

Temptation has no place in achieving goals. Abuse, cheating, taking advantage of others -- no of this belongs in the portfolio of a high performance leader.

Lead effectively. Achieve your goals. And use processes that treat people with dignity and respect.

Think of it as dignified goal achievement. Your character remains strong and your reputation remains solid.…

You've Changed

Do you ever get nostalgic? Do you ever wish that you could do something the way you once did, or be that person again?

Guess what? You can't. I can't. (and while I miss that 1966 Impala Supersport I once had, I don't think I miss the pants I was wearing back then...)

We can never be who we used to be. We have to keep growing. We have to keep learning. And, when we set new goals and head for new horizons, who we used to be matters a whole lot let than who we are becoming.

Who are you becoming?

-- doug smith



Find the Fun In Your Goal

Energize your team by keeping your goal both challenging and fun.

-- doug smith


Design Your Plan

The only unachievable goal is the one without a plan.

-- doug smith


Reframe Your Problem As a Goal

A problem turned into a goal is already headed for a solution.

-- doug smith


Take Care of the Problem AND Yourself

You haven't solved a problem if you've broken yourself in the process. Take care of the problem AND yourself. You'll be needed to solve more problems.

-- doug smith


Muscle Up!

How strong is your desire? That's how strong your goal can be.

Make your goal that strong...

-- doug smith


Learn Constantly

What was the last lesson that you learned that you wish you didn't need to learn?

Learn isn't always fun. But, if we take the time to reflect on what we have learned, it CAN always be useful. Like that time as a child when I put my wrist on a hot stove. I had a scar for years, but I never did THAT again.

Or that time when I yelled at an employee in front of customers. It felt necessary at the time, but I soon realized that it was not productive and that it impacted the other team members and I've never done THAT again.

We need to learn. And the more we stretch ourselves, the more likely we are to learn things we hadn't planned on, some of them uncomfortable. Learn anyway. Grow.

Learn constantly, even when it hurts. Especially when it hurts.

-- doug smith


Include Rather Than Exclude

Excluding someone you disagree with makes your world smaller.

-- doug smith


It's Not Failure...

Problems don't break you - failure to solve them does.

-- doug smith


Define The Tolerable Space

How big is your problem? How much space are you willing to allow it to occupy?

How much do you, and your problem, need to breathe before you can even define the boundaries.

Give it some space.

Give the problem some space. But not so much that it takes over.

You are still in control.

Exercise you're control.

-- doug smith


Pick Goals That You Agree With

Have you ever worked on a goal that you didn't even really care about?

Sometimes they are assigned to us by our bosses. Sometimes we just seem to drift into trying to meet someone else's expectations. But, goals that we don't truly embrace don't really give us what we want, do they? They're just as much work -- in many cases even more work -- without the happiness payoff. Silly, isn't it?

Let's do this instead: let's work on goals that we like. Let's work on goals that we truly care about and embrace.

You don't have to agree with a goal to achieve it, but how will that make you happy?

-- doug smith


Goals Are Not Neutral

Does your environment remind you which goals you are focused on? Does your work station organize your work in ways that allow you to do what matters most, first?

I'm working on that. My own work environment wavers somewhere between carefully structured and creative clutter. I need the creativity -- it's the clutter I work to get rid of. It's not a one-and-done effort. If you're creative, you know. Organize, prioritize -- the two go together.

Just like achieving your goals and success go together. Get one, get the other as a bonus.

Goals are not neutral. They respond according to the environment we create.

-- doug smith


Expect Problems

What could go wrong?

When you're working on an important goal, it's worth asking that question. The journey toward achieving that goal could be littered with little problems, big problems, nasty problems. Things come up. What's your risk strategy for dealing with those problems when they do?

Do you have a plan B? (which in this case might be another goal, perhaps calibrated a little lower.) Do you have help in the wings ready to rescue you if you need it?

Expect problems, because expecting no problems is a problem.

Problems come whether you like it or not.

-- doug smith


Create Your Best Environment

Do you work best indoors or outdoors?

Many of us spend years (yikes, decades!) of our lives working in doors, in little boxes. It often cannot be avoided. I seldom could ever tell my boss that I was just going to work at the beach or out in the woods or up in the mountains. And yet, so much of my best thinking takes place in nature. If thinking is part of your job, how often do you get to think outside?

Even when we are inside, it we can create environments that help us achieve our goals by having the right tools nearby. You can also improve your own productivity by listening to the right music (you decide what the right music is.)

Create an environment conducive to achieving your goals.

-- doug smith


Pick a Strategy

Are you prepared?

Whatever goal you are working on, have you prepared and designed a plan to get there?

It takes a strategy. It takes selecting the tools you need, the tasks you need, and finding the help you need to reach your goals - whatever they are.

Want to improve your communication skills? Plan who to talk with.

Want to improve your leadership skills? Plan what you will change and who can be on your team to help you change.

Want to improve your productivity? Plan how to make better use of your time by doing things faster, better, and smarter.

None of your goals can be achieved accidentally. There is no magic, only work. What's your plan? What's your strategy?

-- doug smith


Be Careful With Sarcasm

Are you gifted with sarcasm?

Many leaders take great joy in their sarcastic responses to questions and requests. It communicates a type of cynicism. Meant to be funny, but usually the only person who actually thinks that a sarcastic comment is funny is the person delivering it.

It's not that everyone is too sensitive. They just don't appreciate sarcasm.

As leaders, let's be careful to say what we mean, instead of verbally insulting someone else.

What do you think?

-- doug smith


Video: The Productivity Game on "Switch"

How do you get people to change? Are there ways to increase and improve your influence?

The book Switch, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath is all about influencing others. It's nicely summarized in this video from The Productivity Game, a reliable source of some of my favorite videos.





Your Job Now

What was your first job?

My first actual job (not counting being the official scorer and announcer at the local Babe Ruth League) was a short term deal at Burger Chef. It was the early days of fast food. I was in charge of the fries and the grill making burgers. It was a tough job, and I didn't do my best work then.

Did you struggle at all during your first job?

I'm going to guess that you are not in your first job now. Those first job struggles are over.

You're probably not in your last job now, either. A lot can change, and jobs change all the time. I might not even be in my last job and I truly love the job I do.

My point is that we need to push on. We need to keep working hard. We need to keep learning. No matter what your job is or what order it comes in your list of jobs, your job right now is to work hard, to lead effectively, and to help people do better than they are doing right now.

Get those three things right and you can truly call yourself a high performance …

What's Behind The Curtain?

Does your team see and feel the real you?

Are you the same person at work as you are when you are on your own? Or are there masks that you wear, roles that you play, that you leave backstage when the day is done?

Leaders should be authentic. They also have personal lives. Your life at work may not match your life at home, and that's OK. What's NOT OK is if your life at work does not match your values. High performance, centered leaders lead with the heart as well as the mind and they lead with integrity.

In "Alice In Wonderland" there are lots of surprises, lots of tricks, lots of turns, lots of levels of deception. Have you ever known a leader like that? How they achieve their goals and how they think thru their processes can feel like a total mystery.

I'd rather work for a transparent leader who has no secret agenda. I'd rather work for an authentic leader who shows you what you get and tells the truth first time and every time. How about you?

My guess is …

Open the Door

When was the last time you caught someone in a lie? How did you react?

It was probably not that long ago, maybe even today. People lie to each other everyday. Some of those lies we let pass, but some startle us so much in their boldness, in their malice, in their deviousness that we are emotionally moved to do something about it. What should we do?

We could react with anger. That is sure to stir up more anger.

We could react with sadness. Surely, we have every reason to be sad, but what will that accomplish?

A better reaction? Call to question the statement in question. Here are some things that work for me:

"I'm not sure that I understood what you just said, could you say it another way?" or
"I'm not sure I agree with that. Can you convince me?" or
"Wow." (the word I sometimes say when I can't think of what to say -- OR I'm thinking of a word that would not be socially acceptable or polite. And yes, even when you catch a lie in action yo…

High Performance Leaders Talk About It

Sometimes the best place to start is to talk about it.

-- doug smith


Leadership Questions: Your Perspective

Until you can communicate your perspective to your team, how will they ever give their best effort to achieving your goals?

We all see things differently. Let your team know how YOU see things.

-- doug smith


Truth Provides Sustainable Esteem

A lie is a try to buy self-esteem and the price is too high.

-- doug smith

Keep Improving

There are no perfect people, products, or processes. Life is more or less a constant improvement project.

-- doug smith


Quality Matters

A typo can be the difference between distinction and extinction. Quality matters.

-- doug smith


It's the Long Haul

High performance leaders know that performance is a long term goal not a short-term gain. Think long range, long term, and strong impact.

-- doug smith


Building Your Team: Start One on One

Find out what your team means to each team member and then build from there.

-- doug smith


Communicate Your Expectations

This is a picture of my good friend Tubs. He has a look of anticipation and expectation in his eyes. He wants to be sure that whoever he is communicating with understands those expectations. If his tongue is showing, he expects a treat. If there's a toy in his mouth, he expects to play. And if he walks toward the door, he expects to go out.

Life is simple and good when your expectations are clear.

As a leader, you probably have some expectations, too. You expect a certain level of performance from each of your team members. You expect a certain professional conduct. You expect respect.

Does everyone on your team understand, clearly, your expectations? Not last year's expectations, and maybe even not last month's expectations, but rather your current expectations? And, not only what you expect but to what level of urgency do you expect prompt action?

Let them know. Tell them again. They do need to be reminded. There's no room for a mystery here, is there?

Communicate y…

Keep The Kindness

Do you know someone who will say anything? Some people have no filters, as one of my friends used to say. No sooner do they think it and then they say it. Sometimes, it doesn't even seem like they gave it much thought.

We all have important things to say. As leaders, what we say has direct results on how our teams perform. We can talk with an edge if the relationship is strong enough to support a high level of assertiveness, and we can say nearly anything IF (and it's a BIG if) we include respect and kindness.

When we can talk about it with respect and kindness we can talk about anything.

Keep the kindness, whatever you say.

-- doug smith


When you set your goals...

You get to choose. Even when your boss gives you goals, you still get the chance to set additional goals that sing to your soul, that make you smile, that energize you and get you going. The right goals set you up for success.

When you set your goals, set goals that set you up for success.

What's your biggest, most exciting goal for today?

-- doug smith




Tackle Your Limiting Beliefs

What stands in your way when it comes to achieving your goals?

Life will give us lots of obstacles. We have to learn how to deal with them. But, we also give ourselves some unnecessary barriers. We build walls out of our limiting beliefs.

Limiting beliefs are those thoughts that we believe so strongly that they prevent us from doing what would otherwise be possible. They are different from person to person, but they often sound like this: "I'm not good enough...they would never appreciate me...I failed at this before so why try again...that's the kind of person who always gives me trouble..." and on and on.

Our limiting beliefs are so deeply ingrained, many of them formed when we were very young children, that we often are not even aware that they are there -- or that they are limiting our possibilities.

Our job is to increase our possibilities and choices, not limit them. Not to take unnecessary risks or subject ourselves to danger, but to overcome the little hurdl…

The Road Is Distorted

Have you ever been on your way somewhere and suddenly realized that you were on the wrong road? Before GPS, that would happen to me frequently. I'd get lost. Things looked different than I expected.

On our road to our goals, things can get distorted. Our expectations, formed with optimism and trust, can get twisted or tumble over a cliff. The road to any goal requires a toll. Are you prepared to pay that toll.

One early toll is seeing thru the distortions. To achieve our goal we need to see clearly. That could mean seeing things thru someone else's viewpoint. Find out the facts, sort out the feelings, and focus on as much objective truth that is available.

The road ahead is distorted. It's up to us to stay centered, focused, and on the right route to our goal.

Keep you map handy.

-- doug smith