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Showing posts from 2022

Keeping those values

  People rationalize breaking their values all the time. It can be more convenient to let things slip just a little to hit a financial target, or to make payroll, or to reduce overtime, name it. Cutting corners on our values seems easy. But, how does that turn out? The cost to be paid for surrendering against our values might not even be immediate, but it will be certain and it might be profound. The proverbial slippery slope does not lead to a soft landing. It's easy to rationalize breaking a value but much harder to endure the eventual results. -- doug smith

Was It Only Imagination?

  Have you ever imagined something so much or so strongly that you believe it's happened, even when it hasn't?  Like a dream, a creative endeavor takes on a quiet life of its own. We see it. We feel it. We're sure we did our work to make it happen.  But if we didn't do the work, it didn't happen. That's why some  writers will not talk about a piece they're working on: if they talk about it too much, it already feels complete, and it's NOT. Our minds are wonderful, and sometimes they're funny. We can do that with "facts" as well. Our own inner bias convinces us that a particular view is true, even in the face of contrary evidence. We see that all over these days. What we imagine to be true sometimes gets in the way of what is actually true. It's the job of a true high performance leader to know the truth, to tell the truth, and to lead with the truth. Leaders who don't, don't deserve to be leaders.  -- doug smith

How is that plan?

  What's your goal? Is what you're doing achieving that goal? Once in a while I need to check my plan because it's just not up to the goal. There's no shame in it, but there's no game in it either to stay with a broken plan. If what you're doing isn't working -- you know what to do: something else. -- doug smith

Breathe and Begin

  Moment by moment, some moments are tough. They can fill us with challenges, they can weigh us down. Inevitably, when we apply our best focus, when we stay with our values, we prevail. On to the next moment! This moment will pass soon enough. Breathe, and begin -- start the next better time. -- doug smith

Chicken or Egg?

  Have you ever found yourself involved in a mission that feels disconnected from who you really are? It happens far too often. We start by chasing a dream, get distracted by chasing money, and get misdirected by a mission that makes no sense for who we are. Maybe it's the company's mission. Maybe it's your own mission that got lost in the fog of survival. We sometimes face a decision: keep working that mission, or listen to our heart. If your mission is forcing you into actions that make you uncomfortable from a values standpoint, you've likely reached a decision point. If your character and values can't survive your mission, abandon the mission. It's both difficult and simple. Simple in that it tells you what you already know, and difficult because the work still wants to be done, your boss still needs you to comply, your organization has already decided for you. You decide. It's your decision.  -- doug smith  

Fill In The Blanks

  Have you ever had an argument and only later on realized that maybe you didn't get it right? Maybe there was a missing piece of information. Maybe you had filtered things a bit from your point of view. It happens. When? All the time. Right or wrong, every perspective is incomplete. Sometimes we need to fill in the blanks by gaining another perspective, by hearing someone else's story. What's your rush? Get it right. -- doug smith

High Performance Leaders Are Accountable

  High performance leaders don't get to pass the blame. It's possible, but worthless, to blame someone else for your problems. Who will deal with the issue? Who will solve the problem? Who is accountable? Every problem is a leadership problem. Take charge. Forge forward. Rally the team.  That problem that concerns you belongs to you.  -- doug smith

The Challenge of Common Sense

  Have you ever wondered where all the common sense went?  What we often take for granted as easy to grasp knowledge goes unacknowledged by all too many people. What once was common has become uncommon: courtesy, flexibility, resilience, determination, perseverance...if these traits were ever common they have slipped into rare supply. Or have they? It depends on what you're looking for. It depends on what you are modeling. Wouldn't common sense be hardest to find by those who aren't practicing common sense? It makes me wonder. It also matters how we define common sense. Just because it feels right to me doesn't mean that it makes any sense to you. Our perspective does still matter. Common sense is easily confused with common bias. We see things the way we see things because that's the way we see things. That both makes no sense at all and yet defines sense-making. Or does it? What to do with all that?  Be careful about what you expect, because you'll get a lot o

Integrity First

What is it like to work for a leader who lacks integrity? Sadly, you probably already know. A leader who tells lies, who cuts corners on promises, who cheats to get ahead, who stacks the score against anyone else...the ways are endless and the impact immeasurable. It's all unnecessary. Start with integrity. Set high standards and keep them. Show the world that honesty works, and it will. A leader without integrity is deceiving, not leading. Start with integrity. -- doug smith

On Edge

The extreme of one thing is the introduction to something else. It might be better. It might be radically opposite. It will be a clear reaction. There is opportunity on the edges, as well as danger. How far is too far? -- doug smith

You Define Success

  Henry the Cat, photo by Judi Madigan It's tremendously liberating to realize that the only person who can define success for you is you. Not advertising. Not guidance counselors. Not consultants. Not bosses. You. You define success, and you also define failure. Don't let anyone define failure for you.  If you didn't achieve your goal, maybe you aren't done. Maybe your goal changed. Maybe part-way is far enough. You decide. I'm not saying to take it easy on yourself (although that's not altogether bad, either) but rather don't let others be too hard on you. You decide. You define success. Keep going until you get there. -- doug smith

You Might Need Both

  Where does YOUR motivation come from? It's worth checking in on that occasionally. When your motivation is energized, you can do so much more. When you really want what you're working on, you work that much harder. Maybe it's the goal. A great goal can energize you.  Maybe it's the motivation: getting you going to FIND and then achieve a great goal.  The goal can bring the motivation and the motivation can bring the goal -- you might need both. Why not get both going right about now? -- doug smith

Fragile Judgment

  When is a good time to judge? More often than not, NOW is NOT the time to judge. People do not crave or request judgment. They can benefit from feedback, but judgment leaves most people cold. Every judgment is a brick in a wall that has no foundation. It separates. It falls. It builds more walls. Judgment seems firm and strong, but more often than not it is fragile. Stay curious instead. -- doug smith

What Gets Appreciated Gets Repeated

  I say this a lot: what gets appreciated gets repeated. Have you ever done someone a favor only to have them forget all about it?  Have you ever felt under-appreciated? Many people do now, all over. Neglected, disrespected, unconnected. Yuck. High performance leaders grab every possible opportunity to thank someone for something great that they did. You can't do too much of this.  High performance leaders take the time to appreciate a goal achieved -- and the person who achieved that goal! -- doug smith Personal Note: The car pictured in this meme is a Ford Mustang that I once rented for a few days on a business trip. It was one of those "take any car you like in the row" deals and I very much liked the Mustang. A convertible! It wasn't mine to keep. It wasn't mine for long. But, I sure did appreciate it while we were together.  Your team members are a bit like that -- they aren't yours to keep and in many cases they aren't yours for long but while you ar

Excellence Matters

  Are you good at your job? Have you spent the time, invested in the training, and practiced the necessary skills so that you deliver excellence on the job? It's hard work. There's no easy shortcut. And, it makes all the difference in the world. Do you want to really love your job? Then, get good at it! -- doug smith

What are you missing?

  Leaders make mistakes. Oh wow, do they make mistakes. At question is, are we learning from those mistakes? Can we manage our emotions? Do we redirect our misdirection? Do we serve instead of pander? Leadership is hard. That's why people are asking you to be in charge. Learning constantly will make it better, but it will always be hard. When it stops being hard, ask someone what is it that you're missing -- because you are definitely missing something. -- doug smith


I like this quote about coaching, and I think it applies to much more than coaching. Maybe, just maybe, everything. Where does confidence come from? Well, you might be able to drum it up or talk yourself into it but that's shallow and not so resilient. True confidence comes form competence: knowing you can do what you say you will do, and doing it. It's reliability. It's sincerity. It's thousands of hours of practices and service. Phil Jackson had a lot of success in his career. His teams oozed confidence. And you know what? They were also really, really good. Build that confidence. Develop that competence. Learn constantly, every day. -- doug smith

Go Big, Go Bold

Is your big goal bold enough? Does it make you sweat? Does it make you nervous? Does it make you excited to think of the possibilities? Here's how I know that it's big: I can't possibly completed it yet until I have worked my way up to it with smaller, incremental goals. Think of it as training. Think of it as development. A bold goal prods action. Go bold! -- doug smith

Let Them Have It

  I say it a lot: "what gets appreciated gets repeated." When people please you, celebrate. When people meet your expectations, celebrate. Let people on your team know when they've done a good job. They're starving for that kind of attention. Let them have it. -- doug smith

Honor Your Org Chart

  Sometimes a manager, with every good intention, will skip around the supervisor who reports to them and provide direction to a team member. The supervisor is cut out of the equation.  It's fast. It sometimes works. It always has side-effects. The main side-effect is that the next time that same team member has an issue or a problem, they will go around their supervisor and directly to the manager. Before you know it, the manager is supervising the employee and the supervisor is cut out. That's not what you want. That's not what the supervisor wants. And, that's not good for your team. I know that in today's world there are fewer levels of leadership. It makes sense that people should be able to talk, at any time, to anyone in the organization. Keep your doors open -- just remember, you probably don't want a parade of people two levels down marching thru. -- doug smith

Design your environment

  Your work environment has probably changed in the past two years. Mine certainly has. Have you used those changes as opportunities to make your work environment more conducive to the work you want to do? Do you have things arranged in ways that help you think, help you create, help you achieve your goals? You will benefit by designing an environment that supports your goals. notepad...? It's up to you, just like everything else. -- doug smith

Always Recruiting

In lean staff times, in fully staffed times, in hard-to-find-the-talent times, we need to keep recruiting. Even when you don't have a hiring requisition, or an open position. Top talent doesn't always show up on schedule. Sometimes it peaks in thru the window. High performance leaders are always recruiting. Your next MVP is out there somewhere. Keep recruiting. Keep recruiting by: creating an environment where people want to work developing your people, no matter what stage of their career building diverse teams with all kinds of people saying positive things to people about your team smiling when you are asked about your team and about your goals Keep recruiting. -- doug smith

Look Inside

When turn-over is high, find out why. It's easy to blame the economy, and maybe that does have something to do with it. It is also easy to blame other exterior causes. If you can't fix those exterior causes, what can you do? Look inside. Turn-over means that someone who works FOR you would prefer to do something else. Turn-over means that the team has tension you're not addressing. People need to work someplace, but if they choose NOT to work for you, the thing you can change is you. Listen. Talk about it. Connect with everyone on your team more often. Fix processes. Pay fairly. There are so many things that you can do, and you do have to DO them. When turn-over is high, find out why -- and fix it. -- doug smith    

Is It Micromanagement?

Do you like to be micromanaged? I don't, and I don't know anyone who does like to be micromanaged. But I've learned that some people DO need it. Let's face it - some people will probably not get their work done on their own unless they are closely supervised. That doesn't make them bad people, but it does mean that they need supervision. They need attention. They need to be managed. It's not micromanagement if they won't get it done without your attention to detail. Help them help you: give them the management that they need. -- doug smith

Gratitude Every Day

  We live in a difficult world, in difficult times. It's easy to focus on the negative. It's tempting to become discouraged. We can't solve every problem or fix every situation.  Still. There is so much good, so many blessings, so many things to be grateful for. Why not start there?  Take a deep breath while you contemplate something or someone you are grateful for. Pause and...repeat. -- doug smith

Darren Hardy's Productivity Assessment

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Go Figure

If you're a new supervisor don't expect to have it all figured out. No one has it all figured out. -- doug smith

People First

  High performance leaders get stuff done, and they do that thru other people. We do our best to optimize our processes, and then we create environments and conditions where the people in our organization can prosper, Otherwise, what's it all about? Our customers = people. Our teams = people. Our stakeholders = people. High performance leaders focus on people first, and then on performance. -- doug smith

Truth to Tell

When people suspect you of lying you've got some truth to tell. Where's the doubt? Where's the suspicion? Where's the pattern of distrust emerging? Not everyone can even hear the truth, but we have a leadership option to tell it. And, maybe even more importantly, we have the need and responsibility to explore our truth before proclaiming it. What if we're wrong? What if our "truth" is incomplete? What if the delivery of our "truth" smells like lies? When people suspect you of lying -- it's worth checking to see if they could be right. -- doug smith

Develop Performance Thru Service

How do you develop performance? Every leader has a duty to develop performance. The status quo has got to go -- everyone everywhere benefits from constant improvement, constant development. When team members do not feel like they are being developed they are likely to leave. And, if they don't leave, how do you feel about their performance gradually falling behind? Because unless our performance improves, let's face it, it's falling behind. Performance is all about results but it is much more than that. Where does it begin? How do you start? Before we can feel the benefit of development it must be felt by others. People need to feel that how we perform our job is making a positive difference in their lives. And that is service. Developing performance starts with service. The ways that we serve others will be registered as our performance. Our customers aren't concerned about the financials, the KVI's, the deliverables. Our customers are focused on how we make them f

Unlimited Opportunities

How many opportunities have you had so far today to do something great? How many opportunities have you had to demonstrate leadership -- spontaneously, graciously, unselfishly? They can slip right by, and yet they are there. Opportunities to make a difference. I'm sure that I miss them all the time, and I am grateful when I catch one and make a humble attempt. It's not that I regret all of those that go whooshing by, it's that I am working on mindfully finding more of them. Good luck, right? Yes. And more than that, good effort. No one even knows most of the opportunities available to them. Let's grab the ones we find. -- doug smith  

Which Goal Right Now?

What if your biggest goal is not your most important goal? It's natural to think that your priorities are always determined by size: which goal will produce the largest revenue, save the most money, or give you the biggest impact. And, yes that's important. But should it determine what goal you work on today? I guess that it depends on whether you ask yourself or your boss, but I like to ask myself "which goal brings you the most joy right now?" Happiness matters. What if the purpose of achieving your goals is to make you happy? What if while you are working om your goals you felt great joy?  If the joy is missing, maybe the goal isn't so big after all... -- doug smith

Keep Moving

What if everything is already working out for the best? If you're on the right path, keep moving. If you're on the wrong path, change. Isn't an optimistic journey easier than the alternative? Keep moving. -- doug smith

Satisfaction and Happiness

No one gets everything -- learning to live with satisfaction in place of perfection is a peak happiness skill.  -- doug smith

Something Better than Survival

We tend to glamorize bad instincts. Not intentionally, but dramatically. We feature movies with guns. We cast self-driven egotists as strong leaders. We talk about survival of the fittest as if it were some type of idyllic meritocracy. It is not. Survival of the fittest leaves a majority of non-survivors. That's not the kind of world that high performance leaders should create. It's not the kind of environment centered leaders want to promote.   Survival of the fittest puts everyone at risk. What if everyone survived? Not as some type of hand-out free-gift. People do need to work. People need to get stuff done. And those who do should not just survive but should also thrive. That dish-washer who quietly keeps the kitchen together so that you can sell those hundred dollar dinners? They should be able to thrive. That customer service representative who calms a customer crazed by poor processes and a world in constant crisis? They should thrive. It's more than money. It's

Consider Others

People care about what you do, especially when what you do affects them. Do you like it when an organization makes a decision that affects you without asking you about it? Probably not. New conditions, new constraints, new rules. It's beyond annoying, and when leaders cause these types of unilateral inconveniences (which create new paths of resistance and passive aggression) they are doing harm to their vision and to their organization. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. Would you rather consider the needs of others now or wait until they are upset with you? Now. Now would be good. -- doug smith

Gratitude Today!

Some of the best and happiest people I know take some time every day to focus on what they are grateful for. Their lives aren't perfect and they don't expect them to be, but their lives ARE filled with wonderful blessings, gifts, moments of joy, and the pleasure of helping and being helped. Usually, that gratitude starts in the morning. I find that when I spend some time being grateful in the morning (it begins with prayer and returns during meditation) that I have more moments during the day that spring up spontaneously: joyful, unexpected moments of gratitude. With so much to be grateful for, I revel in enjoying each of those moments. How about you? Here's my gratitude suggestion for the day: Take a deep breath while you contemplate something or someone you are grateful for.  Pause and repeat. Isn't that nice? -- doug smith 

Habits Come From Repetition

  Habits are a choice, until they aren't. We can choose which habits we adopt when we repeat them. Over and over. Do you want the healthy habit of exercising every day? You know what comes next: exercise every day.  As James Clear points out in his useful book Atomic Habits, the best support to a good habit is to do it every day without fail. You might not always do the habit completely and seldom will you do it perfectly but zero repetitions is not acceptable. If your goal is to do 100 push-ups a day and you must fail today, you fail by doing SOME push-ups (maybe 50, maybe 99) but you certainly don't do ZERO push-ups. Leaders must form healthy habits and do them every day in order for our team members to pay attention and adapt healthy habits of their own. Behavior is contagious, even exemplary behavior. Show what you want. Do it. -- doug smith

Encourage Your Team

Does your team have doubts? Do you? Most people have doubts at some level. Some are spoken and obvious, others are hidden and untold. The challenges your team has faced may have nearly worn them out. Their spirits may be down and certainly tested. You can do something about that. Reward them fairly, of course. And encourage them. Let them know how confident you are in them. Tell them you're grateful for their work. Encourage them to find the joy in their work, even during tough times. Encouragement costs nothing and yet provides power to improve and prosper. How can you encourage your team this week? -- doug smith

It's Up to You

How do you measure success? Some people measure success with money, but you probably know that money alone is not success. Other people measure success based on the quality of their relationships. Or, success could be measured by the level of your game play, or the quality of your collectibles, or the land and resources that you control. There are as many ways to measure success as there are people measuring it. Success has many measures and yours are up to you. You might as well focus on what you think that means. -- doug smith

More than a Wish

Ambition needs more than anticipation or wishes -- it needs hard work to achieve its goal. Think big, sure...then work hard. -- doug smith

It Will Change You

It's a step outside of your comfort zone. It's a move you've previously not taken. It is a stretch. One scary thing about achieving a goal is that it will change you. Don't be scared. -- doug smith  

The Hungry Conflict

Conflict isn't all bad, but it sure feels that way sometimes. That's because some conflict IS bad, very bad indeed and causes harm. Leaders need to be able to navigate conflict and evaluate when the conflict is beyond merit and only causing harm. The more you feed that type of conflict the more it will consume. The side effects take over and drown out the very issue that caused the conflict to begin with. It could have been a natural issue. It could have been a reasonable disagreement. It could have been a struggle for a better way -- and still somehow become entangled in malice. Conflict may come naturally but it doesn't have to leave satisfied. Manage the conflict for the resolution desired, not for the sake of the conflict itself. -- doug smith

It's In The Work

Every job, no matter how glamorous, has work you'd have to push yourself to do and details you'd find uncomfortable. Do the noble work that your work requires without complaining and then you won't have anything to complain about. -- doug smith  

Trophy Time?

It's silly to expect applause on every single task. Let doing the task bring its own satisfaction. -- doug smith  


 There is more power in your smile than in anyone else's frown. -- doug smith

Talk About Your Goals

Do you have any secret goals? My temptation with ambitious goals -- a temptation I'm working to overcome -- is to keep them secret. There's no pressure on me then, if no one knows about them.  But if a goal matters, people should know about it. We should talk about it. We should energize ourselves and others toward that noble goal. You don't know how much help  you might get on your goals until you talk about them. If you don't get any help, well that tells you something about your goal. If you do get help, then your goal just got easier.  Get the help. Talk about your goals. -- doug smith  

You Are Unique

Who has shared your life the most with you? No matter who that is, they haven't shared every moment with you. No one other than you has always been experiencing what you've experienced. You are unique. Not alone. Not isolated. But unique. Distinctive in your gifts, talents, and abilities. Distinctive in the challenges that you've overcome. One of a kind among many, you are unique. Everyone other than you has missed what you've been through. Where you take your distinctions from here is completely up to you. What will you build? What will you grow? How will you serve? It gets ever more exciting from here, doesn't it? -- doug smith