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Showing posts from 2020

A Great Source of Power for You

Would you like more power?Is gathering influence something that you value?You can gain that in many ways. Certainly, one way is to get promoted to a higher level job title. That does bring increased power. But, not enough, does it? You still want more. We all want more. We want as much agency and autonomy and independence as we can get. Here's something you have absolute power over. You control this completely, and when you control it effectively it dramatically increases your power:Your attitude.How you look at the world. How you feel about your self. How you apply positive principles to persistent problems. Your attitude is more powerful than your job title.You attitude is more powerful than any problem.Your attitude is a great source of power for you -- when you keep it compassionate, clear, courageous, and creative.Tap into THAT power -- it is inexhaustible.-- doug smith

Be More, Become More

What are you learning today?If you want to do more, you must be more. Become more. Keep developing yourself.-- doug smith

Honest Goal Assessment

Have you ever kept a goal alive for far too long after it's become obvious that you don't really care about it? You've got so MANY great goals, it's OK to drop a dud.Dropping a goal you'll never achieve is better than pretending that you still believe.-- doug smith


High performance leaders turn detailed plans into powerful actions.-- doug smith

Double Check

Be careful of what bridges you burn, you may have forgotten something important.Stop. Think. Breathe. Ask. That fire will burn fast enough if you need it.-- doug smith

High Performance Leaders Stay Positive

Stay positive, not because it's easy but because it opens many more possibilities.-- doug smith

Even High Performance Leaders Need Patience

Do you ever lose your patience? High performance leaders sometimes focus so much on results that we get impatient about it. That's not all bad. Leaders need a sense of urgency. Just as long as we don't take it out on our team members. Press, don't distress. Push, don't crush.Every day provides opportunities to practice patience.-- doug smith

What Do You Know?

I remember making up an answer. If I'm honest, I've done it more than once. How about you? And, sometimes the answer was right. But of course sometimes the answer was wrong. Instead of looking like I didn't know the answer, it looked like I made it up.I don't do that anymore.I don't know everything, and I admit it. I'd like to know everything. I'm working on it (LOL) but not even close. How about you?Sometimes, in order to discover how much a team member knows, I'll hold back on information that I DO know, to allow them to explore and discover it. That could be considered pretending to NOT know the answer, but honestly, many times by staying silent that gives the team member time to think it thru, explore the idea, and discover a fabulous answer. Often, that answer is much better than the one I had in mind.Pretending to know the answer is less useful than pretending to NOT know the answer. Stay curious. It works.-- doug smith

Should A Leader Be Positive or Negative?

Have you ever worked with a negative leader? Someone who leads by arguing, yelling, insulting, and pushing people around is a negative leader. Also, a leader who says mostly negative things like "what's wrong with you?" or "how many times do I have to tell you?" or "just do what I say because you can't figure it out otherwise" is negative.Oddly, sometimes a negative leader will get the immediate reaction desired. People might jump into place. Employees might try harder. But that's a temporary result. Negative leaders drive people away.The trouble with skepticism is its power to increase certainty without increasing accuracy and then allowing a negative notion to create a negative outcome.It can be more work to stay positive. It takes practice. It takes the ability to pause when someone on your team says something unbelievably incorrect. But do make that effort.Should a leader be positive or negative? Given the choice of which kind of leader to…

Call Your Team Members

If you want to communicate better you may need to communicate more often.Maybe even every day.Reach out to each team member, no matter where they are, and try these three things today:AppreciateChallengeEncourage
It doesn't take an hour. It doesn't require a video. Just reach out.
You'll like the effect that it has. You'll feel like doing it again. Go ahead. 
-- doug smith

Where to Start

The first person to lead is yourself.-- doug smith

Talk With Your Team

How often do you talk with your team members, one-on-one? Not counting the group meetings, are you scheduling and keeping regular conversations with each and every team member?They need that level of attention. They require that level of attention. They have a much better chance of meeting your expectations when you give them that level of attention.It's an effort. It takes discipline. But, what could be more important than clear and regular communication with your team members? I would say, just about nothing would be more important.High performance leaders talk with each team member about what comes next.High performance leaders talk with each team member about performance.High performance leaders talk with each team member regularly, openly, honestly, and deeply. It's your best leadership tool. Talk with your team members.-- doug smith

Redirect the Benefit Before You Solve the Problem

Everybody wants something. Some people seem to want everything, or at least everything that interferes with what we want. That's a problem. And when what causes us a problem turns out to be an advantage, a benefit, a payoff...for someone else the problem is compounded. If your problem is someone else's benefit don't expect them to help you solve it.Find another way to provide the benefit first, and then maybe they'll listen.-- doug smith

Three Keys

The key to solving problems is understanding. The key to understanding is communication. The key to communication is love.Start with love.-- doug smith

Evolve Faster

Have you noticed that some of your biggest problems from many years ago no longer bother you? You've likely solved them, outgrown them, or left them behind. That's not true for every problem of course, some physical problems stay a lifetime, and some systemic problems last for generations. Some problems truly are out of our control.But what can we do about the problems that we do have influence over, we just haven't yet solved?Working a useful problem solving process is one way. Continuing to learn is another way. Evolving and developing ourselves prepares us in whatever strategy we use. High performance leaders and performers keep growing. Evolve faster and you could make your most persistent problem obsolete.ffThen you'll be ready for something even bigger and better.-- doug smith

What a Leader Wants

Do your team members tell you when they have a problem? Not a personal problem (good heavens, that's not for you!) but rather a performance problem. Something is blocking their performance, standing in the way, inhibiting their ability to deliver first class work.They should let you know. You should listen. There is no shame in sharing team problems -- they focus us on the be best opportunities for progress.We won't solve every problem that way, but the ones that we do solve not only fix the problem but also build the relationship. As a leader, isn't that what you want?-- doug smith

Performance Is More Than One-Tap Away

Somethings are so easy. One click, one call, one spoken command. But, as always, not everything is easy. When we begin to assume that everything should be easy we lose track of the reality that some things DO require discipline. You can't one-click your physical work-out. You can't one-tap your organizational realignment. You can't one-command your new, improved, work-ethic inspired workforce. Things of value and projects of worth still require engagement, discipline, and the relentless willingness to try, fail, and try again.In any workforce you'll find performance problems. There is no magic wand to make these problems turn into performance. It takes attentive leadership that cares about team members and provides the development they need to prosper. It also takes the open and dedicated willingness OF those team members to make performance progress happen. We, as leaders, can't do THAT for our team members. Without the willingness, they are truly helpless.It'…

Keep Busy, Keep Growing !

How fast are you growing? Can you feel yourself evolving and developing into the next better version of yourself?As old as I am (and if you ask my best friend, she'll tell you I'm OLD) I am still evolving. Still growing. Still experimenting, trying, striving, and stretching.Not as fast as before, perhaps, but there are no additional boundaries -- just opportunities. I aim to do as much as I can as long as I can. As Judi tells me, "you can sleep when you die."Well, I do need sleep BEFORE then, but in the mean time she's right: there's a lot of work to be done. Get busy.-- doug smith

High Performance Leaders Serve First

Think about a time when you experienced tremendous satisfaction. You were not just happy, you were pleased inside and out. Your value was enhanced, your self-esteem was elevated.What caused that? What was it that you did? More importantly, who did you help? Chances are that you helped more than yourself. You probably started by helping someone else, and that lead to helping you as well. High performance leaders serve first. They aren't in it for the ego. The ego is fragile and near-sighted. True leadership achieves noble goals in the service of others. And that's what makes us happy in lasting and meaningful ways. It is in service that we are best served.Serve first, my friends. It will serve you well.-- doug smith

What's Your Motivation?

Any goal is harder to achieve unless you have a solid reason for wanting to achieve it. Motivation matters.Before you begin all that hard work on a goal, maybe ask yourself this question: why do you want it?If you really DO want it, if the reason is compelling enough it will propel you into motion. And, if it's not, hey, work on something else!-- doug smith

Put Your Ideas Into Action!

Have you ever had a great idea and then nothing came of it?That's happened with me more times than I'd like to admit. Thinking, generating, ruminating, I can turn an idea around in my head until both of us are dizzy. But so what? Until I DO something, that idea sits idle.Our best ideas don't mean much until we put them into action.When you get a great idea: do something! Put your ideas into action.That's how you get things done.-- doug smith

Here's Your Pumpkin

This is my favorite time of year. The weather is cool, but not cold. The air is crisp, but not bold. Colors are changing all around and (gasp!) pumpkin spice is widely available.What's your favorite time of year? It's all available there for you to make each season as productive as possible. You are capable of even greater things than you've already accomplished. You are perfectly poised to lead the next great innovation, cure, or creation. Let the crisp autumn air boost you into motion. It's time to get stuff done!Create a great day, no matter what comes your way!-- doug smith

Problem Solving: Work Together

Working collaboratively to solve a problem does take longer but helps us avoid our hard-wired and burdensome bias for broken answers.Working together we see might slow down the process but we extend the positive results.-- doug smith

Act On Your Ideas

We never run out of ideas on how to create solutions to a problem, but we do have to stop long enough to try one to see if it works.Generate > Decide > DeployPut those great ideas in motion!-- doug smith

Let Them Convince Themselves

It's hard to convince someone that their solution to a problem doesn't work, until it doesn't work.We cling to our idea. Our experience clarifies our expectations. When I'm trying to influence someone to consider the ramifications of their ideas, I've learned to first validate the idea (identify whatever is useful about it or appealing) before guiding them thru any analysis of the idea. Seeing the truth can be tough enough, without adding emotional resistance to the mix.It's easier for someone to convince themselves. Convincing them is hard. Let them convince themselves.-- doug smith

What If It Felt Perfect?

We make mistakes. Your team makes mistakes. You make mistakes. We are not perfect and the best we can do is to do the best we can do.That's more than lip-service. That's more than excuses. Doing the best we can do leaves no effort ignored when the customer's expectations are on the line. When we have the opportunity to truly do our best, it takes more effort, but the customer can feel your sincerity, and feel your work.The goal is not perfection, but what if it felt like perfection to your customer?-- doug smith

Virtual Tip: Make it Everyone

Have you ever been in a meeting, in a conference room with other people, but with some people joining the meeting virtually? It's a blend. It's a mix. It feels efficient. But then someone in the conference room rolls their eyes, and the virtual team members don't see it. Or do they?The dynamics are tough enough to handle without mixing the media. Keep people together, even when they are apart. If anyone in your meeting is meeting virtually, everyone should be meeting virtually.Stay on the same page. Play fair. Level the playing field. You'll appreciate the improved communication.-- doug smith

Ask With Curiosity

How does it feel when someone asks you a question that doesn't really feel like a question? It feels instead like their mind is made up, or that they are trying to convince you of something.That's not much of a question, is it?Unless you ask a question with curiosity it isn't really a question.We all do it: ask questions we think we know the answer to. That perception acts like a little door that keeps out insights. It keeps out the ability to learn.Instead, we can't fake it: we must remain curious. When we are open to whatever answer another person offers us, and stay curious, we get better and more useful answers.When you ask a question with curiosity, it's a genuine question.  Ask real questions.-- doug smithToday's Leadership Affirmations When I stay curious I learn much moreI can be the best listener of the day for anyone who talks with me todayMy curiosity is intense, authentic, and powerful

Take the Path

Remember, finding the path to perfection does not mean that you'll achieve it.Take the journey anyway. We're all on the path to perfection, but sometimes we just get lost. Find your way back. Lead your team back. Keep moving.-- doug smith

Find The Benefit

Find the benefit to solving a problem and you're likely to solve it faster.Go for the gold, before your problem gets old.-- doug smith

Keep Going!

How does it feel when you miss a goal?It's not fun. It can be discouraging. When it happens to me I have to ask myself what went wrong. Didn't I work hard enough? Was my plan flawed? Even though I do tend to achieve most of my goals, when I miss it hurts. Feel the hurt. Learn the lesson. Move forward. That's what I tell myself.An unachieved goal need not break you. There are new goals ahead.Keep Going!-- doug smith

Leadership Is Service

Leadership is service. No matter how strongly you hold a goal, no matter how driven you are to succeed, the purpose of leading is to help. The essential question is "how can I help?"It gets tough when there are deadlines, meetings, deliverables ahead of you. Interruptions feel unproductive. Helping others feels disruptive. Still, however busy we are, the essential question remains "how can I help?"Serving others may not feel productive until you're the one who needs the help.-- doug smith

Identify Your Motivation

It's hard to achieve a goal without first identifying a benefit to you of achieving your goal.Identify your motivation. That will get you moving and make ever task related to your goal much easier.-- doug smith

Problems Are Platforms

What good are problems?Don't you find them aggravating? Don't you prefer straight paths to achieving your goals?And yet, there they are: problems standing in the way. Since they're there, why not make use of them? Since they're there, why not ask powerful questions that open up learning and identify new possibilities?Problems present platforms to ask powerful questions.So there's that.-- doug smith

Listen In Case We're Wrong...

Every argument contains at least one misunderstanding.Why?So often we are in such a hurry to express ourselves that we don't pay attention to what someone else is saying. Or, we confuse style with content. When we find someone's personality abrasive it's easy to disregard anything they have to offer. Right, or wrong.I learned the hard way that none of us ever has the complete picture. Even when our opinion is correct, it is incomplete. Until we see a more complete picture (we may never know all of the details) we would do well to stay curious. Every argument starts with misunderstandings, and usually stays there. What if we dug deeper? What if we did stay curious? What if we're wrong - how will we know unless we listen?-- doug smith

Revolution or Evolution?

How long do you like to wait for what you want?The more certain I am about something, the less patient I am. I want what I want and I want it now. But that's not always the best idea. And it usually isn't even possible.Big ideas bring about resistance. Change isn't easy. When people and processes stand in our way, our first impulse is to break on thru. Let the strong survive. Let the resisters catch up or fall away. But -- results are important, and relationship are even more important. After working for many years I've discovered that results (good or bad) tend to be temporary. Relationships? That's up to us. We can do things that build trust (keep our word, consult others before deciding things that impact them, tell the truth) and sustain relationships, or we can take short-cuts that damage those we'd prefer to keep on our side.The trouble with revolutionary solutions to problems is that they break both things and people. And no matter how good the results a…

Another Big Question

What should we do with six thousand years of problems and mistakes?Keep centered, keep solving, keep serving.-- doug smith

Serve First, Serve Always

Never stifle the desire to serve.It's what we are here for.-- doug smith

There Are Many More Ideas...

Centered problem solvers are not discouraged by solutions that did not work.Next!-- doug smith

Relationships and Processes

Collaborative problem solving depends as much on the strength of relationships as it does on the power of the process.Centered problem solvers build their relationships while they challenge their processes.-- doug smith

Start With Common Ground

Start with common ground to tame the mountain of conflict in front of you.The trail may be long, but it is certain.-- doug smith

The Trouble With Absolutes

We could argue absolute truth all day, all week, all year. Let's not.What if there is some element of doubt? What if there are undiscovered truths underneath the surface? We could take the time to experiment and learn along the way. We could conduct dialogues that explore rather than expose, that interrogate rather than interrupt. We could probe instead of poke. The trouble with absolutes is that if you're wrong you are absolutely wrong.Let's stay curious instead.-- doug smith

Challenge: Argue?

Here's a challenge for you. I'm not concerned about a wrong answer or a right answer. I'm curious about your answer. Here goes:To argue is to lose your audience.What do you think?We've all done this at one time or another, been so certain that our position is right that not only is the other person's position wrong, but THEY'RE wrong, too. Oh, so wrong. That turns a position into an opinion and into an emotion. What do you think?If we enter emotional ground, does our think fog beyond reason?To argue is to lose your audience. Or is it?-- doug smith

Common Ground

This is a guest entry from my good friend and fraternity brother, David Spiegel. Dave runs, co-runs, and helps keep going some great businesses. He also is a kind soul with a dry sense of humor. Here's Dave:Common GroundThere can be no doubt that we are living in highly polarized times. Passions, feelings, and tempers can be inflamed in an instant. This diversity is increasing on a daily basis.Still, I believe when we act as mature rational individuals, we can and will be able to find common ground. Take the relationship between my good friend and fraternity brother Doug and myself.One of us is true blue.The other one's blood runs as red as the stripes on the flag.We never argue about it. In fact, I can't ever remember it ever being an issue. Of course when we meet at our frat's yearly get together and one of us is wearing a red hat the other one naturally tends to bristle a bit. Still, we respect each other and value each other's opinion, no matter how misguided.Y…

Positive Prevails

Is it hard to muddle thru when people keep talking about how hard it is and how senseless it all seems?Of course. But it is not senseless. And the hard stuff build resilience to make us stronger, smarter, and more open to change. Everything you've ever done has helped to make you better. Keep going. Keep growing. Stay strong.It's hard to resist a relentlessly positive outlook.Stay positive because positive prevails over negative. It might take a while, but positive wins.-- doug smith

Quick Quote: Create That Picture

Creativity is sometimes the willingness to picture things better than they are, and then creating that picture.
-- doug smith

Go Big

Are you struggling with motivation? Do you know someone else who is?
You do get to choose how motivated you'll be. Go big.
-- doug smith

Give It a Push

Sometimes you only need a minute more to go from tired to inspired. Give it a push.
-- doug smith

Just One Thing

"It's all too much," I've heard people say. "We're being overwhelmed," say others. "We'll never get the answer," says a pessimist. Go ahead and sigh. Go ahead and breathe. It's today and you are up to it.
What if you simply changed one thing for the better?
-- doug smith

How's Your Reading Life?

Are you a big reader? Do you read from one book or another every day? 
I'm usually reading four or more books at a time. Not all at once (what an image that is!) but it's not unusual to pick one up, read a few chapters, then switch to fiction, then something else. Books give us depth. The slow journey through ideas helps us learn.  Reading helps to stretch our minds.
Reading readies the mind for bigger and better things.
What are you reading today?
-- doug smith