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Walk Carefully

Our time on earth is short but our footprints are deep.

-- doug smith

 

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Are We Really All In Sales?

How many people have tried to sell you stuff today? Six? Sixteen? Sixty-six? It's a lot, isn't it? Some days it feels as if everything is a sales pitch. Buy this, try that, sign-up for freemium but get ready to pay. It's good for you, it's what you need, it will bring you friends and fun. I know, I know, I know. We're all in sales. I sell stuff, too. I do better if people sign up for my courses. I make more money when customers supplement their learning by buying materials from me. I sell, I sell, so who am I to tell? I get so weary of people trying to sell me things that I almost stop selling things myself. But, I do find myself selling less these days. I'm not criticizing sales. I have a son who is an absolute ace at selling insurance and he does very well, and well -- people DO need insurance. It meets a need. But, we don't think about it, we don't address the need, unless someone tells us about it. Unless someone sells us something. How do we make pe

A Warning About Tradition

  Are you bumping up against tradition? As leaders we are often breaking barriers. We're constantly knocking down walls. Sometimes, we're stepping on toes. We change things because that's what leaders do but it does matter how we change. Are we graceful, or clumsy? Are we considerate, or brutal? Are we deliberate, or chaotic? Change is necessary because it's where growth happens. Doing that change we can forget about or even demolish tradition. "If it mattered we'd keep it," right? It matters. How we handle tradition tells our team how we will eventually handle each and every one of them. What has been placed there before us has been trusted to us. We can improve it, always. Must we ever destroy it? Seldom. Ignore tradition and you'll lose stability.  Lost stability and there's no telling where you'll end up. We can drive change and still honor tradition. That means learning more about both. -- doug smith

Who Are You Today?

  How far afield have you ever gotten distracted?  Have you ever gotten so far distracted that you forgot who you are? Not literally who you are, but rather who you are supposed to be in your work. Your role, your vision, your mission -- your PURPOSE for working. Presumably who you ARE is safely lit in your heart. It's in our work that we can get confused. At least, that's true for me. I've at times taken assorted bunny trails down jobs that were not suited for my purpose. I did them, whether it was as a favor, or out of a desire to serve, or to simply earn some money -- but I could always feel, in those times, a gentle tug telling me "hey, this isn't you..."  Like a small cat patting me on the head when I shouldn't be sleeping. Like a small puppy tugging on my pants leg when I should be outside, moving around...that gentle but irritating feeling that there is better work ahead, but what I'm doing is getting in the way. It's easy to do. Life will l

Fear?

  Have you ever experienced a leader who tried to motivate you thru fear? Fear of consequences, fear of failure, fear of your own loss of self-esteem? We used to call it "old school" leadership but it's made a return in some companies. Some leaders think that they have to bully people into doing what they want them to do. Even if that works on a short-term basis, it doesn't last. The side-effects are deep. The price is high.  Fear is a terrible motivator because it keeps biting even after it's achieved its goal. And that makes each consecutive goal harder and harder to achieve. High performance leaders can do better.  -- doug smith

Proving It

Do you like tests? I'm not wild about them. I'd rather write a paper than take a test. I'd rather read ten extra books than take a test. I just don't like tests. But...we do need some kind of test to prove that we've learned something. It could be demonstrating the skill, the way that a fire fighter has to be able to demonstrate connecting the hose to the fireplug. The way that a carpenter might have to demonstrate cutting the proper length of wood. It might be the way a pianist must perform a recital after hours and hours of practice. You might think you know something completely, but it's not as valuable as it is when people can see the results. You probably haven't truly learned something until someone else sees you do it. Are you learning? Are you practicing? Are you putting that practice to use? -- doug smith

Compassionate Feedback

What do you do when you know that your feedback for someone on your team will be tough to hear? Before I learned better, I would sometimes just keep the feedback to myself. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, after all. And they made it this far without that feedback so... But that's not the most compassionate approach. Withholding something that could make someone's life and performance better is not being sensitive, it's being ineffective. Tell them what's going on. Tell them what you are thinking. Offer your suggestions. It can still be kind. It can even be graceful. It might even contain a bit of humor. But it's best as feedback when it is clear and to the point. Prepare for that difficult feedback. You already know that there are right ways and wrong ways to deliver feedback. Plan, and practice. Get it right. Before you give feedback imagine how it would feel to hear that directed at you -- and then adjust accordingly. Be the boss y

What's Your Choice?

Are you facing any difficult choices? Every time we figure out the choices, the ground shifts and the mood changes. We weigh evidence against evidence, idea against idea, and constantly refresh the goal.  Of course it will change. We're going, changing, shifting creatures, all in search of better ways to do what we already do and new ways to do something better. We have so many choices and we also have so many strategies available to pursue those choices. Is it dog eat dog? Is it one great collective? Is it something else? How do we know when our high ground is high enough? How do we know if our ethical foundation is strong enough to withstand the winds of temptation and opportunity that assail us? We do our best. We keep learning. And we choose wisely. When we can choose love, we can choose wisely. Choose love. -- doug smith

Clarify Your Assumptions

How does it feel to firmly believe that you're right about something, only to discover that, no, you're not? I hate that. Whether it is assuming that one terrific interview means that I've just hired a superstar (sometimes yes, sometimes NO) or assuming that a good kiss starts a great relationship, assumptions have often gotten me in trouble. Assuming that someone (or even a group) agrees with you, just because they don't object. Maybe they do, and maybe they don't. Assuming that customers will buy your product or service because it's just so fabulous. Are you sure? Assuming that you've got it all figured out because of your depth of experience. What about the unexpected? I caution you about all of these assumptions because I've made them all (and more.) I'm not perfect, but I'm learning. Assumptions are risky. Unless we clarify our assumptions we could be deceiving ourselves and not even know it. We wouldn't want that , would we? -- doug smi

Better Goals

The sooner you can let go of uninspiring goals the faster you can work on goals you care about. If you need to you can always come back to the less inspiring goals later. Work on what matters most now. -- doug smith

Map with Clarity

  How is your sense of direction? By that, I mean -- do people know where you are directing them? Are you providing the vision that pulls people toward higher performance?  High performance leaders make the map to their plan extremely clear.  Doubt causes delay. Certainty creates energy. Make your message clear. -- doug smith