Thursday, May 29, 2014

Separate Your Goal from Your Ego

How tightly is your ego attached to your number one goal?

Is the goal something that you want to accomplish for noble, useful reasons, or is it something that will enhance your self-esteem and that seems like enough?

It's useful to separate a goal from you ego to be sure the goal is noble, worthy, and achievable.

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Happy Where You Are?

Well? Are you?

If there's a place that you'd rather be, what will it take to get you there?

Oh and what are you waiting for?  Why not start now?

-- Douglas Brent Smith


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Improve It!

We tend to inherit imperfect situations. Especially when we first take on a team, we notice all of the blemishes, all the sore spots, and all the interpersonal dynamic blips in the radar.

None of that gets better on its own. It's up to us, the leaders of the teams to bring the teams to the next level.

If you see a problem, fix it. You'll feel better. If you run a broken team -- improve it.

Whatever is running off the tracks, it can be improved:

- a process
- a rule
- a procedure
- a performance

If you can't improve it, show it to someone who can.

Life as a boss gets better when you take charge of making it better.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Monday, May 26, 2014

Share the Real Deadline

Do you like fake deadlines? We've all experienced them: someone isn't sure if you'll deliver on time so they pad their deadline. It could be days, or even weeks subtracted from the actual time you'd have to finish a project or task. Why do people do this?

People give us fake deadlines because they don't trust us, or they need to approve the work first, or they need to do something with the work after we hand it in -- or any number of personal reasons. The problem is, when we don't know the real deadline for something it becomes much more difficult to prioritize our portfolio of work. We deserve real deadlines, and we work best when our deadlines are real.

False deadlines destroy trust.

Successful supervisors build trust by sharing real deadlines with their people.

Do you share your actual deadlines with your people?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Make Progress

We weren't perfect when we came here and we won't be perfect when we leave, but we should make significant progress.

There's no reason to do, or tolerate, anything less.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Character Matters

What do you think about brilliant quotes from people you don't admire?

Is character important when you're quoting a source? I'm not suggesting that people need to be perfect -- but should we at least agree with their overall values before we treat their words as lofty, important sources of wisdom?

Would you quote someone you don't admire who just said something brilliant?

I'm curious.

Here's how I look at it: our character filters everything.

Whether we like it or not, what we say is made credible (or not) by what we do. Even more than that, who we are is a function of what we do. Our character is not only reflected in our actions, it is formed by our actions.

Great opinions, lofty words, noble intentions are all wonderful and also only important if they are brought to life in our actions.

I know that is a tough standard. I know that I often fall short. It's just something to think about today as we feel proud of our intentions. What will we do about them?


-- Douglas Brent Smith

Monday, May 19, 2014

How to Embrace Criticism

Taking a very long walk.
Do you ever feel like simply avoiding some feedback that's headed your way?

Sometimes I'd rather have someone keep their opinion to themselves. If they're not happy, if they are sounding judgmental, if they have a frowny face. Wouldn't be easier if they just kept quiet?

Easier in that moment. And, sometimes maybe it's even the best thing possible if a harsh critic keeps a damaging opinion private. But I've also learned that sometimes the toughest message is what I truly need to hear in order to learn.

Just because I don't like criticism doesn't mean it isn't good for me.

I just might need to take a good long afterwards.

How about you?

Here's how to embrace criticism:


  1. Remember, they could be wrong. As my friend Dr. Jay Desko has said, "feedback says more about the person providing the feedback than it does about you."
  2. Stay curious. There is probably something useful to learn.
  3. Remember that a defensive reaction more likely signals a learning moment than it does any real danger.
  4. Stress can create growth. Once the learning moment is over, build in some recovery time by doing something you really like.
  5. Thank the person for their feedback.
  6. Ask them if they'd like your views about their performance or their feedback. (people are less likely to be unkind if they know their turn is coming up next!)



-- Douglas Brent Smith


Friday, May 16, 2014

Stay Curious

Do you ever argue from a sense of certainty? Do you state your position from a place that couldn't possibly be wrong so it simply is a matter of convincing the other person? Except, it isn't so easy to convince that other person that you're right, is it?

Curiosity will usually take you further than certainty.

When you need the support of other people, it makes sense to first find out how they feel about it. What is their version of the facts? What are their feelings? Because, why should they care about how you feel until you care about how they feel?

This doesn't always lead to agreement, but it has a better chance than closed certainty. After all, what if you're wrong?

When it comes to communicating for results, it helps to discover what the best results would be. Sometimes, it catches us by surprise.

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Need for Atonement

Atonement: satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends. (dictionary.com)

Have you ever noticed an inner need for atonement when someone has done something wrong to you? Do you feel the same need to bring about atonement when you have wronged someone else?

As leaders we often encounter situations when no matter how much mercy we feel or require, until there is a type of atonement to balance the equation somewhat the situation remains unresolved. Unresolved conflicts lead to future conflicts, usually larger and more complicated. Setting things right is the right way to go.

When something is stolen, it should be replaced. When something is damaged, it should be repaired. When something is consumed, it should be replaced. When people are hurt, they must be healed. Leaders who demonstrate compassion seek atonement when it is needed. Leaders who show courage provide that atonement when it is due.

The desire for atonement can help us avoid repeating mistakes.

When you feel that desire, that need for setting things right, the best thing to do is set things right. It may not be easy, but it is the best way to move forward in a relationship and bring about mutually beneficial results.

What unresolved wrong could you atone for today?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Compassion's Double Benefit

Have you ever noticed that compassion is a limitless resource? Or, that when you feel compassion for another it somehow makes you feel better.

Not that feeling better is your goal, or that it is ever enough. Eventually (sooner is better) compassion should prod us into action: doing something to make things better. It's a meaningful and powerful start.

Compassion for others inevitably becomes compassion for you. 

It helps you develop understanding, patience, tolerance, helpfulness, curiosity, and motivation. It helps you see that just as others are not perfect and find themselves in need, so is there also something imperfect and needful about yourself. Not a victim kind of need, but a human type of incompleteness.

Centered leaders pay attention to compassion and develop it into an active verb.

The next time you feel those pangs of compassion, I encourage you to take a moment to truly experience it. Feel it in the moment and ask, where is it leading you?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

When Problems Get to Be Funny

Do you find problems funny?

Probably not the ones you are experiencing right now, but what about the ones from your past? Can you think of some that seemed oh so serious once upon a time but now, in retrospect are amusing?

Some of the most amusing problems I've experienced were entirely self imposed. Like the time I cut carpet without really measuring the room. That was a silly problem. I said a few bad words at the time, but it makes me smile now.

If the problems of your past seem humorous or amusing to you now you're headed in the right direction.

We are meant to have problems, to solve them, and to move on. It's part of our growth.

Maybe some of those oh-so-serious problems of the present will someday create a smile. It's worth hoping. But mostly it's worth solving those probems.

-- Douglas Brent Smith