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Showing posts from 2023

Great Goals

You don't have to trick yourself or hyper-motivate yourself to achieve your goals -- just pick goals that you really care about. It's not a great goal until you can't stop thinking about it. -- doug smith  

By invitation...

Whenever I ask the question "is there too much drama at work?" the answer is a resounding and nearly unanimous "yes!"  What do you think? Where does all that drama come from? Drama comes from conflict, from unmet needs, from interpersonal problems, from economic hardship, from overwork and overwhelm...drama comes from an endless supply of sources. But... Drama enters on our own invitation. You can have the problems and the drama, or you can simply deal with the problems and leave the drama where it belongs: in entertainment. Having worked for many years in entertainment I learned that drama is better left on the stage and we need better ways to meet the rage.  What do you think? -- doug smith  

Careful Distancer

Sometimes the best way to lead is to get out of the way -- but not sa far away that you aren't available. Once you know the difference -- and calibrate the distance -- it all gets easier. -- doug smith  

Keep Them Working

Are you a hands-on leader? Do you get involved in the work of the work? How much time do you spend "in the trenches" whatever your field is, working like the rest of your crew? Ideas flow. Communication improves. Morale mysteriously grows. And... Some of our best thinking is done with our hands.  If you're blessed with hands that work, keep them working. -- doug smith

Joy In The Goal

  Quick -- think about the goal that brought you the most joy. Maybe it was a big goal, maybe it was a small goal. It could have given you trouble to achieve it, but somehow you did persist and did get it done. Have you got one in mind? Let your thoughts linger on that for just a moment because you deserve that joy. When there is joy in working the goal there will surely be joy in achieving it. If there is no joy in working the goal there probably won't be much joy in achieving it, either. Look for signs of joy early and often. You deserve those kinds of goals. -- doug smith

Go Ahead

Is there a problem on your mind? Has it been bothering you lately? If you're thinking about a problem why not think about solving that problem? It might not be easy. It will be worthwhile. -- doug smith  

Build The Team Your Goal Needs

Big goals need help. Finding the right people to help achieve a goal may be even more important than applying your own skills on that goal. If one person isn't enough, who is on your team? Whatever your goals are, help will get you there quicker. -- doug smith  

Move The Problem

  Intractable problems bother me. Knowing that a problem is beyond my control or influence is frustrating. If the best that we can do is manage with the problem, then manage we must but we won't necessarily enjoy it. Isn't it still worth exploring the possibilities? Maybe we CAN nudge that problem enough to loosen it from its mooring and start a new situation. What if tough problems aren't fixed but instead moved? What if the solution is in the motion? Let's get moving! -- doug smith

Build, Or Learn How

We need bridges more than ever. Bridges to understanding. Bridges to shared meaning. Bridges over the turbulent conflicts toward and into peace. When we know how to build the bridge, we should. When we don't, we need to learn how. I don't know how actual bridges across bodies of water were invented but I imagine that it was little by little, innovation by innovation, failure after failure, lesson upon lesson. Learning can be difficult and yet it is always necessary. Learning builds bridges to better results. And, sometimes we need to remind ourselves how to learn. -- doug smith  

Work Out The Details

  Leadership is a combination of big-picture thinking and attention to detail. One without the other will leave you lacking. Big picture thinking is the inspiration, the invitation, the appeal to all of your senses for some noble cause.  Attention to detail gets it all done.  Everything will work out when you work out the details. Work out the details. -- doug smith


  Gratitude is a great way to start any day. Every day. I say it often because I do think that it's true: what we are grateful for we get to keep. What we take for granted slips away. Thanks for reading this, and for all that you do. -- doug smith

Shift The Focus On A Problem

  Talking about what you want will do more to solve a problem than talking about what you don't have. Shift the focus and open the door to more than a thousand possibilities. -- doug smith

Motivation and Work

"It's called work for a reason." "Your motivation comes on Friday -- it's called a paycheck." "Are you going to complain about it or are you going to work hard enough to get promoted?" Does any of that sound old school to you? Do you bristle at the idea of down-playing motivation in your work? Or, maybe a better question is "how do you feel about your work?" I've never had a job that I didn't hate at first. Not because the work was bad (although honestly, sometimes it was) but because I hadn't yet connected with the job. Until I could find the joy in the work, the work was tough. There is joy in any job. While no job is perfect, every job includes our own feelings and what we bring to the work. If you can't find the joy in the job, maybe it IS time to find another job -- but don't be too surprised if that one is also disappointing. Work is work as long as you see it that way, and as a means to an end, the ends are limi

Talking About The Problem

Talking with someone about a problem might not solve the problem...but what if it does? And even if it doesn't, now you know more about each other. -- doug smith  P.S. Talking about it is a good start, but eventually you have to do something to solve that problem. Problem solving is an active phenomenon.

For the Points?

  What race are you racing? We've seen everything possible get gamified - shopping, performing, deciding, status, promotions, ticketing, seating...on and on we are all subjected to points, likes, smiles, and other ways to manipulate us into buying one thing or another, whether or not we want it that way. Let's pause. Let's think about all this gamification. Are the points adding up to significance? Are the likes making the world a better place? Are we at all better off by competing for every nugget of attention? Hmmm? Some people are already reacting. What happens when the old enticements stop enticing? What happens when people focus on what really does matter -- relationships, hope, trust, love, compassion...human interaction? We need to decide quickly, because AI surely does not care, will not differentiate, and will not forgive. The points add up, but people matter more. When the rat race rats stop racing the rat race has to change. Let's change for us, and not for t

Fill Your Goal With Love

  It's a weird question, true, but worth asking: is your goal filled with love? Do you love the outcome your goal will bring about? More importantly, is your goal formed with love for something other than yourself? Will the completion of your goal bring about joy? Will achieving your goal bring something positive to the world? It's mostly a "note to self" kind of question because, for me, simply achieving a goal is not enough. The goal needs to matter, and nothing matters more than love. Fill your goal with love and the outcome will improve. Fill your goal with love and you will love the result. -- doug smith

Find the Possibility

  That problem might be one possibility away from being solved -- but it might take many possibilities to find that one. -- doug smith


  Where does communication start? Before any meaningful message can be shared, before any agreement can be reached, communication starts with connection. Finding a way to share something in common with someone else. Turning toward someone and taking the chance of seeing, hearing, feeling who they are in this moment of time. Communication starts with connection. Connect, and the possibilities are limitless. -- doug smith

Good Advice?

  Ever hear a piece of advice and think "yeah, that's a hard no..."? Or how about this -- ever offer someone a piece of excellent advice and watch them completely ignore it? Advice is funny like that. It's not good advice if nobody takes it. -- doug smith

About That Goal

  It's easy to set a goal and then start working on it before figuring out why. It does make sense to start working on a goal. Great ideas without action are meaningless. It's also worth checking to make sure that the massive effort you're about to make is worth it. It is worth asking if a goal is good for you, good for others, and good for some higher cause. If it's yes to all three, it's a goal worth working hard on. -- doug smith

Fun In Learning

  Problems are not usually fun. It may sound funny to say that they could be. But, what if they could be fun? I don't know how to solve every problem but there is fun in the learning. Don't ask me why, just give it a try... -- doug smith

Drawn to Drama

   One of my busy days last week was devoted to a workshop on Managing Conflict. We enjoyed many great conversations and as usual, there wasn't enough time available to resolve every conflict. Some we'll just need to learn to manage. Universally expressed was a dislike of drama at work. That is both expected, and odd for me to consider. There its SO much drama at work.  We're drawn to drama. We create drama. We thrive on the adrenaline rush of drama even as it depletes and wears us down. Hey, we can relax. We can breathe. We can pause. Even though we are drawn to drama it usually tears us apart. What if instead we found ways to tie ourselves together? What if instead of drama, we found a positive connection? Seems worth trying... -- doug smith

Evaluate Carefully

  It's easier to make a problem worse than it is to solve it, so evaluate your solution carefully. -- doug smith

Instant Inspiration

Think of all the goals you've already achieved and know that you've got what it takes to achieve even more. All you need is to get started. -- doug smith  


  We're too big to feel too small. We're too small to control it all. What if everything is a collaboration? -- doug smith

Jumping to Solutions

What is it like to jump to solutions? It's deciding before evaluating. It's picking the first thing that sounds right. It's doing anything to cut the tension of dealing with a problem. It may not be your best choice. It's easier to make a problem worse than it is to solve it so evaluate your solution carefully. Will it make things better? Will it prevent harm? Will it please the people effected?  Jump to solutions? Not so fast. Breathe. Evaluate. Select. -- doug smith

Predict Happiness

Mirror, mirror on the wall Who's the happiest of them all? Could that be you? Could you be the happiest you could possibly be? There are circumstances beyond our control and events we'd never endorse but happiness is largely a by-product of your point of view. Don't believe it? Try it. Predict your own happiness if only for today.  Predicting happiness can be self-fulfilling. Suddenly there you are. Happy. -- doug smith

Refresher Training

  How often do you participate in some refresher training? Those skills you acquired may be doing fine and yet as time goes on we smooth over the edges of our sharpness and take unexpected shortcuts that costs us quality. Refresh, re-learn, re-discover, re-apply: it's an important part of leadership development. We don't remember everything we learn, which makes refresher training so vital. Which of your skills could use a bit of refresh? -- doug smith

Good Intentions, but...

  Problems are not always caused by mistakes. Sometimes they're caused by good intentions. While it is great to begin with good intentions, what we do still matters more than what we intend. If a leader creates an unfair atmosphere out of the intention to help one particular team member, that could be a problem. If a leader intends to build a high performance team and yet supports without ever challenging team members, that could be a problem. Good intentions are not enough. Right actions matter more. -- doug smith

Unlimited Strength

  Strength is not a zero-sum game. Your strength does not subtract strength from anyone else (or shouldn't). Someone else's strength does not subtract from yours. Sometimes we act like it does, but it need not be that way. As high performance leaders our job is to help others to develop their strength. In the process, we develop our own. Our strength does not depend on anyone's weakness. We never need for anyone else to ever be less in order for us to be more. We can all grow. We can all improve. We can, and should, all develop our leadership strength. -- doug smith

Keep Your Goals Noble

  Goals are powerful. Carefully and clearly defined, goals propel you forward. They make it possible to achieve things that would otherwise elude you. Those could be great things, and those could also be not so great things -- even things that do not serve you well. Keep your goals noble. Set goals that do good for others as well as for yourself. Set and achieve goals that create a better world while avoiding any harm. Noble goals will serve both you and the world. If you can keep your goals noble you'll feel better about achieving them. And we'll all be better off. -- doug smith

That Silly Ego

  How do you feel about the ego? Or, how does your EGO feel about the ego? A healthy self-image is essential. We do better when we feel better about ourselves. But, it's easy to take that too far. It's easy for someone to make critical decisions based only on the impact to the ego. That causes more problems than it solves. Silly ego. We shouldn't let it decide for us. It will learn to get over whatever is going on. Let that ego energize you, but don't let it polarize you. The ego is less dangerous when you see how funny it is. Laugh, and move ahead using your head. -- doug smith

The Best Thing...

  The best thing is to prevent problems and the next best thing is to solve them. -- doug smith

Is Your Goal A Project?

  Some people look at projects differently than goals. Maybe the project feels more complicated. What if they are not that different? Every goal is a project. Break it down into actionable steps. Plan it carefully. Give your goals all the discipline you put into your projects. Do what it takes to achieve your goals. -- doug smith

Other People's Stories

What's your story? Have you ever been asked that question? Do you ever ask anyone else, "What's your story? What is the story behind your thinking, your emotions, your point of view?" Everyone has a story. Complicated, jaded, faded, fabricated, exasperated, under-rated...stories that knit together our moments into who we are. We do need to understand our own personal stories because they give us a place to stand, a place to focus, and a face to show the world. We also benefit from understanding, or sometimes it's enough to seek to understand, the stories of others. People we care about as well as people who stand in our way. Understanding other people's stories helps us understand each other.  When we can begin to understand the stories of others then our own stories contain more joy. I'm in favor of that, how about you? -- doug smith  

Leadership Muscle

Stretch goals might leave stretch marks but they also build muscle. -- doug smith

The Road

The road to destiny takes the scenic path. Our job is to pay attention. -- doug smith  

No Fear of Detours

  I don't like to get lost. Unfortunately, without reliable directions I would be lost most of the time. Those directions often lead to detours. The original path is blocked, or unavailable, or more problematic than anticipated...something causes the route to change. If the destination is the same, it's still a worth journey. A detour doesn't stop you from going where you want to go. It's just another scenic route. Slow down and enjoy the view... -- doug smith

Dial Down The Noise

  How noisy is it for your team?  When we ask our teams to deal with extraneous details -- too much noise -- they lose track of the purpose of the team. I've lost patience over the years with administrative details that add zero value to the customer proposition. If it doesn't help you serve, help it out the door. Too much noise makes the head lose focus Learning to focus is learning to breathe. Breathing is, of course, the way of life. -- doug smith

The Point

The goal is not the point. The goal is the way TO the point. High performance leaders keep their focus on the mission and then work on goals that support that mission. Anything else is piece work. -- doug smith  

Simply Good

A good habit is simply a goal you complete every day without any fanfare. -- doug smith  

Still There...

Has it drifted away? Have you lost track of an important dream? Is that goal sitting idle? No matter how far you've drifted away from your dream it still is there waiting for you.  Maybe it changed. Maybe it's re-calibrated. Maybe it is something you have to learn all over again. It's still there... -- doug smith  

What What Matters

  How do you feel about keeping score? In nearly every job (could it even be in every job?) we are forced to keep score. One metric after another lets us know whether or not we "measure up" to the company standards. Oh, sure they change, which makes it necessary to react and shift our efforts, but inevitably there are measurements to meet. People are going to keep score anyway no matter what we do so why not help them to count what matters most.  Measuring what does not matter is a waste of time and  profound aggravation. Negotiate what to measure before you get measured and see if it makes a difference. And if you don't have the freedom or influence to negotiate those measures, master them until you do.  -- doug smith

Communication Freedom...

  Have you ever said something and you knew that it was wrong as soon as you said it? What happened next? Sometimes we find ourselves defending our position even after we realize that our position is flawed or even downright incorrect. Why do we do that? We have the freedom when we are communicating to change our minds. We have the freedom to re-state what we said, to reframe it in a way that makes more sense, to come to terms with a better truth. We don't have to defend something just because we said it. Maybe we shouldn't have said it to begin with! -- doug smith

Formula for Success

  Coupled with healthy habits, good goals get great results. -- doug smith

Find the Juice: Prioritize

  Before you commit to a goal be sure to determine what motivates you about the goal. What does it give you? What's the reason behind the reason?  How vital is it? When does the time come when you only work on goals that matter to you? Now. The time is now. -doug smith

What Leaders Do

  You could spend a lifetime studying leadership and what leaders do. You'll likely spend your lifetime doing that whether or not you planned on it because when it comes to leadership there is always something more to learn. Most of what high performance leaders do is solve problems and achieve goals.  Much goes into that. Projects come and go. People help (or don't) and they also come and go. To move forward, to implement plans, to make the world a better place, leaders need to solve problems and achieve their goals. What do you think?

More Than The Solution

  Why do we solve problems? Well, of course, to get rid of the problems. To accomplish our goals. To make work and life better for all of us. And there's more of course. We learn. We build relationships. We expand our thinking. We become more resilient. Solving problems comes with nearly unlimited benefits. The goal of solving a problem often goes beyond solving the problem. Be sure to celebrate the bonus -- it is likely to help you the next time you work to solve a problem. -- doug smith

Is It Really A Problem?

Problems come in many forms. How we look at them matters. Some problems are poorly framed expectations. Whatever we'd been expecting was inaccurate and maybe even unreasonable. That we didn't get what we expected was not because of a problem, but because of what we expected that never had a chance. If a problem seems unsolvable it is worth at least asking: was my expectation off on this? Is it really a problem at all? -- doug smith

Lost for a while...

How do you feel when things take longer than you expected? Complications, surprises, mistakes, barriers -- all kinds of things can make an easy path into a complicated trail. We're lost, but if we're paying attention, we're learning. Sometimes you need to spend a long time lost to find a better way to get there. -- doug smith  


Do you agree, or disagree? Independence is a dance best not interrupted. I can be convinced either way. Just please don't interrupt. -- doug smith  

Steer the Wheel

  I've known people who are so creative that they not only let their imagination run wild, it gets them into trouble because they let it drive everything. If you run away to join the circus, you could end up being a clown. If that's your goal, then great. Just know the possibilities of an unregulated mind. You can allow your imagination to run wild without putting it in charge. Yes, we need creativity. Go for it often and with enthusiasm. And, we also need clarity: what are we trying to achieve. We also need courage: will you stay the course when you're challenged? And, we also need compassion: can you pursue your goals while caring about other people? Go ahead and think outside of the box -- just don't fall into a hole you can't crawl out of. -- doug smith

Where to start...

  How do you get where you want to go? How do you achieve your goals? Where do you find the road to success? I don't have all the answers. I don't know all of the twists and turns. But, here's a great way to start: Master y our mind, master your mood, and success will follow, Easier said than done? Of course! -- doug smith

What to Keep?

  It's an effort in refinement. As we move ahead, creating new forms of success, we face the challenge of what to keep and what to discard. What matters to some of us does not matter to all of us most of the time. If we're not careful, we end up discarding something that turns out to have been valuable, like for instance ethical standards and rules that prevent chaos from destroying everything in its path. Part of learning is differentiating the obsolete from the classic. One might look like the other, but they are not the same. Before you break a rule, maybe find out what it is holding together. -- doug smith