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Pay Attention To Your Goals

Are you paying attention to your goals today? I'm sure you've written them done. And, maybe their even what I call ART goals -- with an action word, a result, and a time frame. Good job on that. And they work best when you pay attention to them. From the first action at the beginning of your day until you stop working: goals provide focus, direction, and useful action. If, like me and many other people I know you are sometimes tempted to waste your time doing things that may be fun but are not productive (not that you can't have fun, just not to the point of wasting too much time) pick up your top five goals and let them move you forward. Work your goals. Drive your tasks on competing your goals. One of the keys to achieving your goals is relentlessly working your plan. How is that playact going today? -- Doug Smith

Make That First Call

Do you enjoy initiating phone calls? The phone seems to have lost much of its importance in the office world, but it is still a key tool for communicating. When you know what results you want, sometimes the phone is the best way to interact. Especially in sales. Extra-especially in prospecting. But also in conducting follow-up, in contracting, and getting things done. It's something I must admit I will procrastinate on. I'm not proud of that, I'd prefer it be otherwise, but making that first call in the morning is tough. But you know what?  When I make that first call the rest are easy. Even if my first call is to someone I know well and simply to chat -- not for any business at all. The next call is easier. And the next even easier. It's just a matter of getting started. If it's the same for you, please allow me to encourage you for a moment: make that first call. You may turn into an action focused juggernaut of calling and getting things done. Imagi

Find Answers That Work and Go!

Did you ever get stuck searching for all of the answers? It happens to me sometimes. I feel so certain that I've got to come up with every best possible answer that the best answer hides behind a wall of searching. Yes, we do need lots of answers. Yes, the first answer (or third) is seldom the best. But we also reach a point of diminishing returns. We also reach a time when it's time to do something. Are you there on your biggest problem? Creative problem solvers realize that even the best answer will likely evolve during the solution. Our plans change, our situation complicates, and other people get involved. That's OK. That's no reason to freeze Creative problem solvers don't need all the answers -- just the ones that work. Have you found an answer that works today? -- Doug Smith

More Creativity, Less Judgment

Do you find it easy to judge? We are taught in so many ways to judge things, to judge people, to judge judge. From some imaginary position of perfection we assess others as if they were lacking some essential ingredient. Or, in some cases, we let judgment of our own skills keep us from trying something new, from forging new ground, from creating. That's a mistake. We need creativity. We need to try new things. We need to explore territory where we won't be instantly criticized, by ourselves or others. High performance leaders value creativity so much that they suspend their sense of judgment often enough to allow creativity to flourish. How about you? Can you allow creativity to flourish? To grow? To blossom? We are more creative when we are less judgmental. Send your inner judge out for milk and cookies. It will make her happy and you'll be free. -- Doug Smith

Centered Problem Solvers Stay Focused and Balanced

Have you ever been blocked from solving a problem by emotions? Anger, sadness, grief, despair, impatience...emotions can make things tough on a problem solver. Staying centered helps. Keeping balance. Drawing on our core strengths of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion to keep perspective clear and kind. Any problem exists in a field filled with possibilities. Emotions can poison those possibilities if we lose our way. The way is clear. Stay focused. Stay balanced. Stay centered. Breathe. Stretch. See. Stay curious. Relax. Easier said than done? That's why it takes training and practice. -- Doug Smith

Solve the Unavoidable Problems

What's the good thing about unavoidable problems? You can't ignore them! They stand right there, in your way, waiting to be solved. It's like a flat tire on your car. Ignoring it won't make it go away, so what do you do? You change it. It's like snow on your sidewalk. You could wait until it melts, but people are at risk the whole time, so you shovel it. Centered problem solvers recognize an unavoidable problem as a message to take action. They focus, balance, and engage. Some problems are unavoidably annoying and present. They won't leave you alone. So solve them. -- Doug Smith

Think Big Goals

How much are you talking up your goals? Do you get excited telling people about what you're working on? If not, what do your goals need in order to make them that exciting? How can you scale them up? What can you do that will make a significant different in your life, in your team, in your world? The work is the work. Why not make it important? Think big goals. Achieve big goals. You're worth it and up to it. -- Doug Smith

Take Care of The Needs First

Do you know anyone who has their goals a little confused? When we focus more on what we want than on what we need, it is possible to miss what we need. Yes, it is useful to set goals. And yes, those goals can bring us what we want. Taking care of what is essential first makes a difference. It's the difference between a nutritious meal and a snack. It's the difference between a career and a job. It's the difference between a fling and a relationship. What we need are values-supporting, noble, peaceful ways of bringing about growth and happiness. It takes longer. It isn't always as fun. It must come first. Are you setting goals that help you and other meet essential needs and not just wants? -- Doug Smith

Tickle Yourself

Do you want a sudden burst of creativity? Tickle yourself. I don't mean put a feather on your feet and get yourself to laugh, I mean find a way to surprise yourself. Seek the unexpected. Tickle yourself. Go to a comedy and laugh. Listen to that lame joke your friend is foisting on you and find the humor in it (or in your friend!). Tickle yourself. Find the joy in watching a kindergarten kid play with complete joy and abandon. Tickle yourself. Really listen to your partner, your best friend, your lover, your boss (hopefully, they aren't all the same person!) and feel the love. Tickle yourself. -- Doug Smith

Make Your Little Goals Support Your Big Goals

How many little goals do you have? The number is not that important. What matters much more is whether or not your little goals are supporting your big goals. Do they contribute action steps that take you down your path to complete your noble plan on your big goals? If not, they could be distracting you from the important work. I fall into that trap sometimes. It feels good to check off the little accomplishments. I feel busy. I must be working on important things, right? But not everything is important. And, if it's not contributing to achieving my top three goals it likely is not that important. The little goals that matter most are the ones that support our big goals. Life's too short for meaningless goals. There's so much to be done on the big ones. Make your little goals support your big goals. See what a difference that makes. -- Doug Smith

Find The Game

Do you see problem solving as a sort of game? Sure, you don't yet know the rules. The conflict shifts unexpectedly. The rewards are hard to spot. It's a game that's hard to play if you let it get the best of you. Lots of problems have gotten the best of me, and you know what? I'm still working on solving new ones. The game is in the challenge. I'm not a typical gamer. I don't play electronic games. I don't even have the patience for mobile games that become popular (the one exception was "Words With Friends" but I had one friend who so soundly defeated me over and over that she lost interest in the game -- and me, too). Keep your interest. Keep your focus. Those problems aren't going away on their own. If it helps to think of your biggest problem as a game, then give that a go. Here's a useful question to keep in mind: what do you get when you win? -- Doug Smith

High Performance Leaders Solve Problems

Do you have "solving problems" as part of your formal job description? Whether it's in there or not, you do realize that it's part of your job. For a leader, it's often most of the job. Solving problems in the business, solving problems in the organization, solving problems in your team. The better we get at solving problems, the more able we are to achieve our goals. The two simply go together. What are you doing to improve your problem solving skills? -- Doug Smith