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Paradox Number 21

Maybe it's not a paradox. Maybe it just feels counter-intuitive. Still, it seems to be true: To get more done, practice creating times when you get nothing done. Schedule down-town. Focus on not focusing. Let your mind wander and explore. Creative artists know that this works. It might feel disorienting at first, yet it does work. To get more done, sometimes you've got to do less. -- doug smith  

Emotional Additives

We are a bundle of emotions. When we're at work we might try to leave our emotions at home, but they will sneak in. Emotions are powerful. Emotions are influential.  Emotions can cause problems when people over-react, melt-down, freeze-up, or fight. We become so consumed that we over-simplify. Our demands increase, our effectiveness does not. Emotions seldom solve problems. Pay attention, but be careful about serving your emotions (or anyone else's).  -- doug smith  

Accept and Level Up

It's a challenge to constantly strive for improvement. With an ever-raising bar there's no sense of accomplishment because we're waiting for the next improvement. Push, push, push! It may not be a science, but it sure is an art to be able to balance yourself and accept what is while working to level up more. Of course it can improve. Nothing is perfect. We are as leaders all about continuous improvement. Let's just remember to appreciate what we have already earned, what our teams have already accomplished. Imagine better, but appreciate what is. Your happy place is dynamic. -- doug smith  

Healthy Leaders

How many eighty-hour work weeks do you put in? That's not meant to judge, but to ponder. I've put in plenty of eighty and more hour work weeks and while I don't regret any of them I know that they haven't all paid-off proportionately. It's possible to work so hard that you miss what's important. It's a frequent paradox that the longer one works the less productive they become. I've learned to tell myself: Take a break. Relax. Let it all come to you, flow thru you, and go on its merry way -- if only for a little while. Drink water, exercise, meditate, pray, and relax.  Healthy leaders build healthy teams. Take care of yourself. -- doug smith  

In The Moment

Now is the time. My mind does wander, and when it does I lose a sense of being in the moment. Oh, I'm sure the thoughts are important, and flying all over the place looking for the next brilliant idea. Being here right now though is better. Moments that we show up for will belong to us forever. So that they'll be there for us when, you know, we should be in THAT present moment. It's not a perfect science. It's not a perfect world. Some moments DO matter more than others. I'm working to live right here in this moment. How about you? -- doug smith  


Do the people on your team get enough appreciation? Are you sure? No one wants to be taken for granted. We all benefit from recognition and appreciation. Plus, when high performance leaders give out appreciation, they discover that not only does the person who is receiving the appreciation enjoy it, it's also enjoyable for the giver. It's free, and the results are wonderful. Appreciation brings its own reward. -- doug smith

Do You Tell It Better Every time?

Do you share any fish stories? You know the idea, the fish you caught gets bigger every time you tell about it. I do not fish but I'm sure I've told some whopper fish stories.  Even though we cannot perfect the past, we sure do try. Intentionally and unintentionally, details change. We remember things differently. We remember the last time we remembered. The original phenomenon swims in a river that no longer exists. Our story is different every time we tell it. We don't need to change that, but we should definitely be aware of it. -- doug smith P.S. Is today's truth better than yesterday's truth? Let's just not lie about it... 

Moving On

  One of my friends has a favorite expression for when she's ready to stop talking about something -- "Moving on!" It can be frustrating to hear that when you want to keep talking, and yet profoundly useful, too. We could keep getting upset about something we can't (or are unwilling to) change. Or we can move on. Maybe that's true about our mistakes, too. There were too many mistakes in the past to carry them all into the future. Let's move on. -- doug smith

Hard Truths Anyway

There have been times when I was teaching a program called "Communicating With Tact and Diplomacy" when one or more of the participants would tell me "this is my last chance -- HR sent me here to fix me or I'm gone..." How's that for a challenge? Get fixed or get gone. I very often tell people that I can't fix anyone because people are not broken in places I know how to fix. But, that's not a great thing to say to someone who has their working life on the line. It might sound diplomatic, but it is not helpful, and maybe not entirely true. Entirely true? What even does that mean? Isn't something true or NOT? The point is, we do not need to fix anyone in order to help them fix the way they perform. In my classes I do sometimes help people become more diplomatic -- but that is a start, not an end destination. There is something better than diplomacy and that is compassionate truth. It's harder, it takes more time, it's often easily misunders

Remember The Big Goals

It's easy to "major in the minors..." or focus so much on small details that we miss the big goal. I've done it. Chances are that you have, too. Events wash us forward and we get "lost in the trees." Here's what I tell myself when that starts to happen, "Don't let little goals get in the way of big goals." It's another note to self, but you're free to benefit from it, too... -- doug smith  

Can We Be Honest?

This might sound like a paradox, or a riddle, at first. I think of it as a koan.  It can be hard to be honest with yourself but it's the only way to the truth. Like it or not (and sometimes I do not like it) if we are honest with ourselves we can see our tender little fragile assumptions. If we're brutally honest with ourselves we can taste the vinegar in our lies. When we insist on exploring the truth before declaring the truth we have a much better chance of finding the truth. What do you think? -- doug smith


  Leaders, when they are smart, develop their strengths. Wherever you begin, you can always develop more courage, clarity, creativity, and compassion as strengths. However strong you get, you can always get stronger. Strong character recognizes its own imperfection. Humility is a strength, too. -- doug smith