Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What We Can Be

How far can we go?

How much more can we do?

What else can we achieve?

There is always more growth in us. Without growth, we decay. Without growing, we're slowing down. I don't have time for slowing down, how about you?

What we can be is more than we've ever been.

But we must move forward. When it's too hard to move forward, get some help but keep moving.

There's a new you that you haven't even met yet. Are you curious?

I am. I am getting ready to meet a new me I've never met before. Someone stronger. Someone more resilient. Someone whose bruises look like medals. Someone whose scars look like beauty marks. Someone who can take trouble and turn it into something bright, useful, and helpful.

Who knows what we'll be next? Who knows what we can be? It can be more than we've ever  been before. Let's get started.

-- Doug Smith

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Keep Growing

Photo by Brian Miller
How do you handle setbacks?

I've had some big setbacks lately, mainly on the interpersonal side of my life, and I'm rolling with them. Evolving. Growing. But growing can hurt, and before you get to the top of the soil the garden looks really dark.

Keep growing.

Challenges I've never expected have emerged, pushing and shoving me around like some stranger in a subway. The tunnel is long and dark and cold.

Keep growing.

Work waits to keep some level of focus. Friends call and help. Crap keeps flying and even Facebook feels like a persecution chamber when things have turned against me. But I remember...

Keep growing.

Life's most difficult moments are not requested. We don't savor them. We don't celebrate them. But given the awareness to discover what led us to this point and what we can learn, we can grow.

Keep growing.

I'm hoping you are having a great week my friend. I'm hoping that you are learning and achieving and doing your best.

But if life sends you a spark or two that threatens to light you up and lay you out...keep growing.


doug smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: helping people communicate more effectively

PS - There wouldn't be a blog entry today if my good friend and fraternity brother Dave Spiegel hadn't checked in to see how I was doing. Thanks Dave! I'm doing a little better each day.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Don't Just Go Through The Motions

Have you ever caught someone simply "going through the motions" in communicating with you?

They say the right words, their motions seems fine, they just aren't fully engaged in what's going on. They appear to listen, but it feels like their mind is somewhere else.

So many of us go through the motions. We read our mobile phones when we're with loved ones we seldom see. We keep an eye on the television while our significant others tells us something important (hint - when it comes from your significant other it's all important), we phone it in.

It's one of my biggest faults and it has recently come back to haunt me as I experienced that level of inattentive attention returned. It doesn't look mean, it doesn't look premeditated, and yet it hurts at a level that sinks gradually deeper until it can't be excised.

The other day I was riding my bike and I came upon a man playing with his dog. At first it looked really charming. The dog was very earnest in the pursuit of the ball that the man threw (using some contraption on a stick that kept him from having to bend over too far).

But then I noticed what the dog struggled with. The man was really paying no attention to the dog at all. He was occupied in a conversation on his mobile phone. He went through the motions, and kept the dog busy, but never gave the dog what it was really looking for: companionship, praise, feedback, interaction. They were just going through the motions.

It was profoundly sad in a way (granted, I'm going through some sadness right now that filters what I see, but still) because the dog wasn't really getting what the dog wanted out of the interaction and the man was simply fooling himself into thinking that he was keeping the dog happy. He wasn't. The dog was keeping itself happy, but missing what it cared about the most.

The following I write more for me than anyone else, and I hope others will also benefit:

Don't miss what you care about the most.

When someone is talking with you, give them your full attention.

When you have the opportunity to share your presence with loved ones: show up. Be there. Interact. Listen with curiosity. Enjoy the space between you.

When you catch someone "going through the motions" with you, call them out. Ask the what they really want in that moment. Maybe it's not the right time. Maybe they are avoiding the conversation you both really need to have. But whatever you do, where ever you are, do not ever settle for going through the motions again

Life is too short for that nonsense.

Action Plan

  1. Really show up for someone today. Drop everything else that you're doing and give them their full attention. Live every moment of that time together, together. 
  2. When you catch someone else going through the motions with you (and you likely will) take a moment to smile, breathe, and gently remind them what you'd like to focus on. Remember - they're doing the best they know how to do in that moment - but you BOTH deserve better. Learn better together.

-- Doug Smith

PS: Thanks. This was a rough one for me to write because it's been one of my most challenged areas. I like to multi-task, I like to keep an eye on the ball game, I like to read the NY Times - but I'm learning to show up more for other people. Please, it's so important.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Be Happy!

What makes you happy?

I'm lucky that lots of things make me smile. Lots of things make me happy. A really good baseball game (and yes, it does help if the Phillies win), a great guitar solo, a fabulous concert, a bike ride in the early morning, a walk in the woods, a hug from a friend (a real hug, not one of those little half hugs with an immediate pat on the back), Chicago stuffed pizza...playing with my children (and now, my grandchildren!) all kinds of things make me happy.

And in many cases, other people have contributed to making those things available. But I'm the one who has to find them. And when I do - I'm happy!

No one else can tell you how to be happy.

They might try. Advertisements will entice you to find happiness in their product. People will offer you happiness by connecting with them. Events will promise amazing joy and miss the mark. It's up to you. It's up to me. It's up to each of us to make ourselves happy.

Are you happy today?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership:  High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

OK, I know (really!) that you just need to see and hear this, "Don't Worry, Be Happy"

And just for fun, here are some pictures of my grandchildren:

Add caption

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Be Careful About Judging

How many times a day do you judge other people?

It might be more than you realize.

We judge people all the time: their clothes, their hair, their weight, their gait, their intentions, their pretensions - there's so much to judge we spend an inordinate amount of time doing it.

And for what? Does it help? Does it make them better performers? Does it make us better leaders?

I know, some people judge more than others. If you are the type of person who manages how much they evaluate and judge others well then good for you. My point is that we can all judge less.

The world doesn't depend our judging to keep spinning. Our judging doesn't create better quality. It's what we do to help that makes the meaningful changes. It's what we do, not what we judge, that helps us evolve.

Judgment is seldom rational. It's not based on realistic expectations or planned development, but rather more based on how we were raised, who were our friends in early childhood, what our teachers taught, and all kinds of life experiences that taught us that judging was part of living. And, maybe it is - but it can be a much smaller part. If we judged ourselves with the frequency and standards that we require of nearly everyone else we'd see how impossible those judgements are to please.

We seldom judge people by the same standards we want to be judged.

We want freedom to make mistakes. We want the flexibility to change our minds. We want to be able to try new things even if they don't work the first time. We want to express ourselves and feel appreciated, not judged.

What do you think? Couldn't we all be just a little less judging today?

I'll try if you will...

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership:  High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Evolve To Something Better

Are you evolving?

High performance leaders evolve. Sometimes you can see it in revolutionary changes - they suddenly go from maintaining the status quo to driving exceptional and innovative performance. Sometimes it's incremental - happening so slowly that it's almost imperceptible until one day you realize: wow, they have really accomplished some major goals.

That takes growth. That takes change. That takes evolving.

Our goal is not just to keep pace. Our goal is to evolve something greater.

What are you evolving today?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership:  High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Find The Right Solution

Are you a big fan of brainstorming?

As someone who works in problem solving, goal achievement, and in the arts as well, I love anything that adds to our creativity. Brainstorming is a great way to generate lots of ideas - especially when we take the time to learn new ways of doing it. True creativity is a constantly expanding process.

But, sometimes the right solution is right there in front of us. Sometimes we slow ourselves down by digging too deep when the gold is right in front of us.

You don't need ten thousand solutions to your problem if the first one works.

Determining what will work helps. Figuring out the real cause of our problem provides detailed guidance. If the solution works, you're done.

Do you ever look too hard for a solution? How can you spot a perfect idea when it emerges?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership:  High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals