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Curiosity Sparks Questions

Do you like to argue? Whether or not YOU do, you probably can think of someone who seams to enjoy disagreeing. Arguments are contagious. I've gotten pulled into many arguments that eventually went nowhere and didn't contribute any progress to anything at all. So why argue? We argue to prove a point. We argue to convince. We argue to change behavior. But, how effective is that? Not very. Whenever I catch myself arguing now, I pause long enough to breathe deeply and think of a question. And then another question. And then another question.  It's harder to argue with a question. And with a question, we both might learn something. -- doug smith What have you learned today?

Dealing with Lies

What do you do when someone lies to you? It's probably happened to you several times today. People lie for so many reasons -- to spare your feelings, to fool you, to avoid work, to navigate blame, to gain an advantage...even out of laziness. The trouble with lies is that they are always inevitably discovered. What has become a disturbing trend is that even when someone is caught in a lie, they often simply just lie again. They lie about the lie. They lie about the truth. They lie about whether you should even care if the tell the truth. Geez. We've all told lies, but there comes a time to stop. There comes a time when the lies pile up so high that we can't even try to see our way to the truth. There comes a time when the lies cut relationships to shreds and turn communication into dread. There comes a time when no matter how dramatic or risky it may seem we should tell the truth. Exclusively. No lies at all. That time is now. Now is the best time to deal with lies. First (a

Positive

Stay relentlessly positive today -- and then again tomorrow.     -- doug smith  

Step by Step

  Sometimes I get ahead of myself. Sometimes I fall behind. How about you? Taking one step at a time helps you survive every fall. There will be plenty of falls. No need to fall so far you can't get up. Step by step. Let's try it that way. -- doug smith

Mind Your Mind

What do you think about you? Are you fabulous, fantastic, fun? Do you like who you see in the mirror?  Are you serving people in ways that enrich yourself as well? It's easy to harbor negative thoughts. It's tempting to judge ourselves harshly. The key is to always do our best, even when (especially when) that is hard. Push and drive and learn and build and go to bed tired.; Whatever you think of, it's yours to keep, so why not manage what you think of? It's not that positive thoughts will do everything for you, but they'll do far more for you than negative ones about yourself. You rock. You roll. You get stuff done. Do you mind what your mind says about you? Do you mind what your mind says about you that isn't true? You know how to fix that, don't you? -- doug smith

Every Day

Long range goals should get closer everyday. Design your plan and then work on it relentlessly. -- doug smith  

Set a Reward for Yourself

Proposition: Goals are rewarding enough that we shouldn't need rewards for achieving them. Rebuttal: you'll feel better after the reward AND it will often spur you on when the going is rough. (PS: the going is usually rough.) How will you reward yourself when you achieve your biggest goal? Figure that out, and the goal gets easier. You deserve it. -- doug smith

Distractions

  Are you easily distracted? I've noticed that some of my more persistent distractions stop feeling like distractions when I do them too much. What becomes a habit is all too easily accepted.  And not all distractions are bad. Some powerfully creative ideas came from unexpected distractions -- drifts of thinking leading to novel approaches that worked. But living in distraction is dangerous.  Every distraction pulls us away from a noble goal.  When I feel that pull, I try to re-center myself and get back to the goal (or at least a goal.) The goal is where the gold is. -- doug smith

Get Started

  Those things that bother you the most? Process problems. Those things that are most fixable? Process problems. Every single process can be improved. What are you waiting for? Get started. -- doug smith

The Quality of Your Goals

  What if your goals are only as good as your character? When you set positive goals with the intention of doing good, with no harm to anyone, that's a reflection of your character. If you set goals with no thought of how they might affect other people, that is also a reflection of your character. Working on your goals starts with determining your character. When your values matter, so do you. -- doug smith

The Significance of a Choice

  When you have a choice, how do you decide? Do you consider the long-term impact? Do you think about the affect on other people?  Sometimes the significance of a choice emerges long after the choice is available. We learn later how important the choice was. What if we could figure that out before it was too late? -- doug smith

Change and Negotiation

  What do change and negotiation have in common? They are both: Asking people to change Easier planned than executed Subject to opposition  In today's edition of the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation Sunday Minute , James Sebenius provides seven tips on how to handle a big negotiated deal that is falling apart or facing opposition. He states the Amazon decision to back out of an agreement to build a major business center in New York as an example. It seemed like a done-deal, (a meaningful change) and then it fell apart.  Change management efforts also frequently fall apart. That's frustrating and career-impacting for anyone involved in the change. Like a deal gone sour, a failed change project is agonizing. Here are seven tips from the article. I think that they are excellence advice for managing a major negation AND managing a change project: Never take success for granted in a complex, multiparty setting. Stay informed about local opinions regarding the issues invol

The Easy Tree

Twitter can be fun sometimes because you can follow famous people and even respond to their musings. Sometimes, they might even respond to your response, somehow validating an otherwise humble existence. In teaching for decades I've often asked as a warm-up question "what famous person have you met?" and I was initially surprised at how many people have actually met a famous person. Nearly everyone in nearly every room has met or encountered at least one famous person. We're all so close to connection that it's wonderful. One of the famous people I've met (who no doubt will not remember me) is the writer and producer Gennifer Hutchison. We met at a wedding in California. She's closely associated with the TV show "Breaking Bad" which I loved so it was a thrill to meet her.  That's all just me bragging and pretending that it's establishing context for this tweet that I'd like to respond to: What's the tree you climbed as a child

Find Your Strength

  The most important thing about a problem is what strengths we use to solve it.  Problems always build strengths -- either yours, or the problem's. You decide. Maybe it's an old strength that you can rely on. Maybe it's a muscle you know how to flex. Or, just maybe it's a new strength that you are developing. Keep flexing. -- doug smith

Never Doubt

There will be plenty of obstacles between you and your goal -- no need to add doubt to the list. Never doubt, work it out. -- doug smith  

Start with your goal...

  How do you feel when you solve a problem, but you haven't really solved the problem? Some problems can confound us with their resilience, and some problems simply defy a fix. We could blame the problem, but what if it isn't the problem's fault? Be careful about solving a problem until you know what you really want. Start with your goal. -- doug smith

Helpful

Don't you just love it when someone is genuinely helpful? Those rare times when you can tell that they don't have a secondary motive, that they are just being helpful? Great leaders do that a lot. You can see it in their actions, and you can hear it in their talk. What if everything you communicated was meant to be helpful? Wouldn't more people listen? -- doug smith

You Do Need a Plan

You don't need a perfect plan to achieve your goals, but you do need a plan. You'll probably change it. You may miss a few steps. But where are you without a plan? Dancing in the dark without a flashlight, that's probably where you are. Set great goals, design creative goals, and get busy. -- doug smith

Goal Connections

Who have you helped achieve a goal today? What if we could achieve our own goals faster by first helping others to achieve their goals? What if our greatest capacity-builder was to serve? Some of the people who have helped me the most (maybe all?) are people who I was fortunate enough to work with and help. It is NOT a quid pro quo situation -- we don't do favors just to receive favors (oh, I know that some people do but that's not what I recommend here,) we serve because in serving we grow. In serving we expand. In serving we build relationships that are resilient and strong. The payoff is not certain. The payoff is not immediate. But, the payoff is worth it. And, even if it wasn't -- there's no satisfaction quite like that of helping someone else to achieve and important goal. Who can you help to achieve a goal today?  -- doug smith

Does Brilliance Seem Rare?

Brilliance seems rare because it often travels in disguise. It hides as hard work. It hides as perseverance. It presents as obsession. It moves with determination and makes its many mistakes all without stopping.  Don't worry about how brilliant you are. Work hard, and the brilliance appears. -- doug smith

Level Up

Thriving leaders play to their level and then level-up. There's always more to learn and there is always room for improvement. Level up. -- doug smith

What about your thinking?

Are you an over-thinker or an under-thinker?   I'm an over-thinker. I'll analyze something all day before deciding sometimes. I enjoy revising things in search of perfection, thinking that there must always be a bit better way to do it. Sometimes there is, but often I end up spinning my wheels. But under-thinking is also dangerous. Impulsive decisions can lead to disaster. "Trusting the universe" can get you lost in the void.  Whether we're thinking too much, or too little, it pays to think about how we are thinking. Are we thinking optimistically? Pessimistically? Positively? Negatively? Critically? I think there is a shortage of critical thinking about what people are thinking, and it's leading them astray. Unexamined conclusions leave the door open to mistakes. We do need to think about our thinking.  If you don't think about your thinking your thinking might fool you. Think about that. -- doug smith

Does the Past Evolve?

Have you noticed a great amount of effort to re-write history? For some people, that is an annoying trend. For others, it's a necessary act of purification. Is history really dynamic? Can we really revise it? It's not a mystery. History is, well, history. But (and it's a very big but) how we LOOK at history is dynamic. How we RECORD history is dynamic. And it's all open to interpretation. Sure, facts are facts -- but which facts do you identify? Which point of view on those facts do you take? Which role in history speaks to you, for you, about you, and in defense of you? It all matters and it is all evolving.  Sometimes it is enough to respond to an historical declaration with "that's true and...this is also true..." What if revisionist history is the only kind of history?  -- doug smith

You're In Charge

You can let a goal lead you but you must still lead the goal. Every good plan needs relentless action to succeed. -- doug smith

Establish Discipline

Leaders thrive when daily discipline is non-negotiable. Establish healthy and productive habits and then keep them. -- doug smith 

Compete Because

The world has always been competitive and it does a leader no good to pretend otherwise. Compete. -- doug smith  

Get the Help You Need

Do you sometimes think that it's easier to do something yourself, rather than get someone else to do it? Do you get things done no matter what? It's comforting, to be able to take control. It's also a trap. Every time I try to do it all myself I learn that I probably shouldn't try to do it all myself. Get the help you need. You'll be glad that you did. -- doug smith  

Tell The Truth

The truth can stand any level of inquiry. When in doubt, tell the truth. When under duress, tell the truth. When your courage is low, tell the truth. Keep kindness in mind. Stay open to other perceptions. But please, tell the truth. -- doug smith

Work on the "Who"

The goal is only as good as the plan, the plan is only as good as the actions, the actions are only as good as the motivation, and the motivation is determined by quality of character, Work on the "who" while you do what you do. -- doug smith  

Let It Shift

Limitations get in our way until they don't anymore and the best way to make that happen is to keep developing, to keep learning, to keep our curiosity open. Time can then bring about shifts in those walls, those barriers, those limitations. As history shifts we can let go of what held us down. Let it shift. Let it go. -- doug smith  

Take Charge of Who?

The sooner we stop blaming the world for who we are the faster we can become who we want to be. What if we started right now? -- doug smith  

Keep Going

Are you thinking positively? While it is not a magic formula, it does provide more possibilities than negative thinking. It's useful to think critically, but not pessimistically. Thinking positively can lead to disappointment but only it you stop. Keep going. -- doug smith

Your Beliefs Are Up To You

Circumstances might impose. Problems may arise. Difficulties will surely appear. How you deal with them starts with how you feel about them. Do you belief you can solve that problem? Do you think your team is capable of the challenge? Will your customers value you enough to compensate you fairly? Does ethical behavior pay off in the end? Some things you DO decide. Your beliefs, for example.  Your beliefs are up to your. Pick the ones that make a positive difference. -- doug smith  

Should We Stay Positive?

It's a choice, most of the time. You do know which choice feels better and delivers better results. When in doubt, go positive. The trouble with being pessimistic is that you could prove to yourself that it is as bad as it seems.   Why not stay positive? -- doug smith

Let's Keep Growing

The goal is there to help you grow. To get from one place to another? Sure. To improve your lot in life? Absolutely. Primarily, beyond the benefits that you can touch, the goal is there to help you grow. Let's keep growing. -- doug smith

Project Growth

Are you a life long learner? I'm going to guess that you are. Life long learners stay in learning mode long after it feels like they should have all the answers. We never really have all the answers, and besides the questions keep changing!  One added bonus to project work is that each project provides ample learning opportunities. There's nothing quite like experience as a teacher. And, there's nothing quite like teaching your team how to meet your project expectations to teach yourself a bunch more. Projects bring about growth. I like to think of each project as another step to what I'm becoming. One project to the next your character -- and story -- grows. Let's keep growing. -- doug smith  

Finish That Project

Have you ever had so many projects that you can't even keep them all straight, much less figure out when they'll get done? So many people struggle with over-reach. They take on more projects than they have time or attention span to handle. While it is great to be ambitious, we've got to keep our workload under control to be at our best. There is a limit to how much we can do. Sure, we can always do more -- but for how long? At what level of quality? There's nothing quite like making room on your plate by consuming what's already there. Get it done. Clear the path. Re-focus. One project's end gives you room for the next project. Finish that project and THEN move ahead. -- doug smith

Recruit A Team For Your Goal

  Who is going to help you achieve that big goal? My tendency and temptation is to do it all myself -- but it doesn't have to be that way. We can recruit the people we need to get to the next level. All we need to do is share and take care: share our noble goal with enthusiasms and take care that anyone we ask for help will also benefit.  Every goal has a team if you recruit team members. Who do you need on your team? -- doug smith

Ideas Need Actions

Plans often have missing pieces you can't find until you start working your plan. Ideas need actions. Act relentlessly on your plan.  -- doug smith

Better Goals

Do you ever feel disconnected from a goal? I think the key is in knowing what motivates you to achieve the goal. If the answer is nothing, maybe that's a fair assessment of your goal. It's always a choice. When we don't like our goals we can form new ones. Better goals, rooted by strong values, lead to better choices. -- doug smith

Not Giving Up

It's intuitive, and yet we forget. It's natural, and yet we surrender. We have the ability to stick to what is truly important and not give up. How much do you want it? How hard are you willing to work? How convinced are you in the nobility of your work? When you are committed, when you are convinced, the convincing becomes easier.  Persistence prevails over resistance. Keep going. -- doug smith

Eliminating Confusion

We can't do everything. Choices can be difficult, especially when different customers have different needs. Confusion will only slow us down. I find it helpful to get specific. To narrow things down. To clarify expectations and then commit strongly to a goal. The most powerful goals eliminate confusion. What's your goal for today? -- doug smith

Goal Improvement

Every goal is an opportunity to improve your life and your character. Because if you improve your life without improving your character, it can all easily fall away. I try to ask myself "who else is this goal good for in addition to me?" and if the answer is "no one" it's not a goal I have any energy for. Help yourself by helping others and the help never ends. Help yourself at the expense of others and the resistance is unrelenting. How about this as a humble suggestion for a goal: Serve others as we grow I know it's not too specific but as a guideline it has great potential. What do you think? -- doug smith  

Self-Selected Ethics

Why do leaders get into trouble? Surely, there's enough for a book in that one question. Still, it's worth asking on an individual level. How do we as leaders avoid trouble? How do we stop ourselves from falling into our own self-shaped traps? There are pit falls just our size waiting for us, and very often we march right into them as if we were indestructible. Like that skateboarder going down the hill in the center of a highway, forgetting that someone else might not see them. Like that not-for-profit executive who makes a million dollars off of the donations of others. "But I'm doing good!" they exclaim. Or, like that little lie we tell to prevent ourselves from an otherwise awkward moment of explaining why we didn't achieve a goal. Awkward indeed. Our personal distortions, if we're not careful, get us into trouble. And when we are leaders our troubles become the troubles of others. Trouble yourself all you want, but please be careful of those who trust

Your Goals Need You To Get Started

If your big goals is really a series of twenty-five little goals, the sooner you get started on those little goals the sooner those goals will add up to that one big goal. -- doug smith

Wherever we are...

During a webinar that I was facilitating, one of my participants, David Palmore, quoted a former boss of his and it makes so much sense I just have to share it here: It's a supervisor's job to remove obstacles and excuses. -- Mark Howard It's so easy to find excuses - "they won't listen anyway," "it's above my pay grade," "I'm not good enough for that..." and yet what do excuses ever give you?  You don't have to think too long on that because the answer is nothing. Maybe less than nothing because excuses take away opportunity. We're not always fully equipped to do the job we need to do. We often lack resources needed to achieve our biggest goals. People push back and give us second thoughts. There are walls everywhere. But we can climb those walls. We can dig under those walls. We can go around those walls. And, when we need to we can pound thru those walls. No wall is worthy of an excuse, and no excuse is as tough as a wall

What About The Money?

  I've been in business long enough to see a boatload of decisions made based on money. Will it help profits, will it reduce expenses, will it keep us afloat? What if there's something deeper? What if there's a meaning that can't be deciphered using dollars? What if by finding that meaning the significance of the dollars fades away? Just because it's always about the money doesn't mean that it's all about the money at all. There is always much more... -- doug smith

Try Again

It's not rejection if the other person did not understand your request. -- doug smith 

Keep Moving

  Perfection is a direction, not a destination. -- doug smith

Shake It Up

Do you believe everything that you believe? Every once in a while it's useful to question what we believe. When we take all of our beliefs for granted, they can outlive their usefulness. Not the core beliefs -- but the seemingly insignificant ones that stand in your way, beliefs like "luck is for the lucky," and " it's too late to make a difference now," and "if I can't convince someone I have to just go ahead and do it anyway..." Our heads are filled with stories we've heard over and over, we've told ourselves over and over, so many times that they rattle around on auto-pilot taking us to places we don't want to go anymore. We've inherited many stories that do us no  good. It's OK to let them go, -- doug smith  

Start With A Goal

  Have you ever solved a problem and then been disappointed by the result? I sure have. The problem was bad, the solution was worse.  We need to narrow down our target. We need a focus that allows for surprises and yet creates a solution based on something we really want. After all, it's not the END of something we're working on, it's the existence of something better. High performance leaders create better situations. Be careful about solving a problem until you know what you really want. Start with your goal. -- doug smith

Keep Digging

  Bigger problems have more than one cause. Keep digging. -- doug smith

Start With Quality

  People make so many decisions based on price that I wonder if they realize what they are choosing. I've done it, and maybe you have to -- given price precedence in making a decision. Sometimes that's reasonable. We don't always need to pay the higher price and we do enjoy a bargain. But... As obvious as it is, it's worth remembering that the best costs more. When you want the best, keep that in mind. -- doug smith

Do Your Team Members Enjoy Time Together?

  It's a new time, a time of more virtual work, more individual work, more asynchronous connections. Still, if you want to build a high performance team, it's best if your team finds ways to work together. Teams need to spend time together, whether it's virtual or face-to-face. Do your team members enjoy spending time together? If your team members do not enjoy spending time with each other you might have the wrong team members. Just something to consider... -- doug smith

What that impulse means...

  Whenever I feel myself getting defensive, and whenever I catch myself defending a point I haven't even completely thought thru yet, I realize that what I need is to stay curious. Quiet. Open minded. In discovery mode, not defending mode. There's plenty of time to defend later. The impulse to argue is your signal to stay curious. Mine, too. -- doug smith

Problems Spark Collaboration

  Is it annoying when someone brings you a problem? Sometimes they catch us by surprise. Usually, it's in the middle of something else that's already important. There it is, a problem. We could resist. We could avoid. Or, we could engage. It's up to us. Think of someone who brings you a problem as a new collaborator. -- doug smith