Sunday, November 29, 2015

Chase Your Dream

You can probably find over a hundred thousand references in ten seconds that advise you chase your dream. Find that sense of mission and build your life around it. So you know. You think about it. Maybe you even do it. Chase your dream because that's what you want, because that's where your gifts are ready to serve, because life's too short for crappy work.

Do your best work on what you do best. Isn't that the secret you already know? How are you doing at it?

You might as well chase your dream -- that's where the energy is.

Anything else is killing time.

And times way too valuable to squander.

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Roll With Your Creativity

You have a secret healing power.

Sometimes you use it without even knowing it. If you're like me, you could use it even more. It's a power that heals each person and when we heal ourselves we are much better positioned to heal and help others.

Creativity energy heals.

Bring that creative energy out. Encourage your creativity. Avoid shutting it down when it inconveniently offers to embarrass you with a really wild idea. Roll with it way more often.

When you've gotten to the point where people ask you what's gotten into you because you seem a little more wild and spontaneous than usual -- that's when you know you're on the right track. You're headed in a creative direction that will burst open the veil of constraints you think you see but is only a mirage. It's all available. The possibilities are endless.

Creativity rocks. Might as well roll with it.

-- Doug Smith


Friday, November 27, 2015

You Were Born To Be Creative

Who's creative?

I think that we are all creative. While some people are gifted in certain areas of creativity, such as music or painting or sculpting or dance, we all have some capacity to express ourselves creatively. When we do, things get better. When we don't, we get stuck.

You were born to be creative.

It's in your soul, it's in your mind, in your heart, in your fingers.

Why not put that creativity to use today to build some part of a happier, more productive, more peaceful world?

-- Doug Smith


Thursday, November 26, 2015

What If You Were One Snappy Dresser?

I have a wild question for you as a leader today. I ask this because I believe that creativity is one of four major leadership traits (the others being clarity, courage, and compassion). Here goes:

How would you dress if you considered yourself the most creative person you know?

That might seem completely out of the question, depending on where you work, but ask it anyway. Would you look like Salvadore Dali (or perhaps one of his paintings?) Would it be like someone from "Dancing With The Stars" or maybe even some survival type program from The Learning Channel?

You don't actually need to pick out that wardrobe and wear it today, but what would it look like? What if you were one snappy dresser?

I find it helpful to think thru some creative choices occasionally. Jarring ourselves out of auto-pilot helps us develop newer and better ideas. Releasing our social constraints, even momentarily - even in our imaginations - helps us discover more about who we really are. Because who we are is so much more than what we do. And who we are is a limitless list of possibilities.

So explore some part of those possibilities. Play dress up, if only in your head. See how much fun that can be -- and how open it helps you become.

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Find Your Most Creative Ideas

Are you struggling to find the right idea to solve a problem?

I've constantly got a few problems percolating in the background that I know are still waiting for my best, most creative ideas. The best ideas seldom happen right away. They need time. They need energy. They need to be fed with other creative activities to emerge. But they are there.

If you haven't found your best idea yet, the key word is yet. It's there.

Your most creative ideas will take you where you need to go.

They'll solve those troubling problems. They'll develop that next big change. They're there.

Keep digging.

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Should You Judge Ideas?

How did your last brainstorming session go?

Having been thru tons of brainstorming sessions, I know that they don't always go well. Sometimes people judge ideas too soon. Sometimes people don't give themselves enough time to develop the best and most creative ideas. Sometimes, people settle for stupid ideas.

Yes, we do need to generate lots of ideas. Yes, we do judge too much without letting our imaginations go wild. But, there does come a time when reason must rule. There does come a time when we must fall out of love with our ideas enough to see them for what they really are.

Because, as a matter of fact, there IS such a thing as a stupid idea.

And you wouldn't want to run with that, would you?

-- Doug Smith


Monday, November 23, 2015

Encourage Your Creativity

Do you find time each day to be creative, to do something creative?

It doesn't need to be a big deal. Maybe you aren't going to finish that novel today or wrap up that film. But you can still be creative. Your day, your life can be filled with creative things.

Try something new.
Take a different way home from work.
Read a magazine you've never read before.
Draw, and then frame that doodle.
Cook a new dish

...we can always find new ways to exercise our creativity. It sparks new ideas and helps us refine old ones.

Your brain likes creativity.

Why not make sure it gets the creativity it craves today?

-- Doug Smith


Monday, November 16, 2015

Feed Your Creativity

Are you filling up your creativity tank?

Finding creative activities and appreciating the creative work of others influences how creative we feel and act. We need to recharge. We need to bring more creativity into our life. We need to fill up our creative tank.

When you feed your life creativity, you have more to give.

Not just more creativity, but more clarity, more courage, and more compassion, too. Creativity sparks development in many areas, keeps you fresh, and propels you forward.

The arts are for more than artists. The arts keep us whole. The arts spark our thinking into new areas, new connections. Take in the arts this week - see a play, view some real art (not just pictures, actual paintings or sculptures), take some photos with an actual camera, dance! Experiencing art will rev you up, get you going, and feed your creative supply.

From that creative supply you can get more and better ideas. You can solve problems faster. You can take your performance to the next level and innovate rather than imitate. It all starts with more creativity.

Are you ready for that?

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Step Up Creatively

How's your creativity doing today?

We all have days that are more creative than others. If we're not careful and if we let the non-creative days become routine it can squeeze the creativity right out of our lives. Suddenly we stop drawing, stop paining, stop writing, stop exploring fun conversations, stop doing the extraordinary.

Let's not let that happen. We're more creative than that.

Sometimes when we feel the least creative we need to be the most creative.

Overcome the routine. Break out of the rut. Draw anything. Draw it again, better. Write a poem about anything - then write it again with a deeper meaning. Force yourself out of the mundane. Imagine yourself in a room with five of the most people you can think of. You wouldn't want to be the lump on the log who sits there doing nothing creative, would you?

You need never be that person. Creativity is always there for the developing. We just need to disconnect from the routine and reconnect to that childlike magic we all carry inside. Make something new and beautiful today!

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Treasure Every Moment

Do you ever get caught up in so much work that the moments are harder than usual?

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that I fail to enjoy what's going on. That's a mistake.

When I stop, breathe, and experience what is going on I can better appreciate it. I can better know it. I can move on with enthusiasm and hope.

Every moment matters. Even that moment when someone cuts you off on the turnpike. Even that moment when your best friend doesn't understand what you're saying. Even that moment when the audit is crunching down and nothing makes sense.

Every moment matters. Every moment is a treasure.

The gold is sometimes deeper. Keep digging.

-- Doug Smith


Friday, November 13, 2015

Work On What's Important

How much of your time do you spend working on what's most important?

How do you define what is most important? Does it contribute to your mission? Is it helping your organization to achieve a strategic goal? Will it advance a major cause for your organization or for the world?

Will it cause a stir, raise a response, drive a movement, shake things up?

You're too important to work on unimportant things. Get busy on your most important project.

What could be more important than taking the time to work on what's important?

It's up to you to prioritize. Most of the rest of the world stinks at it. Prioritize, prepare, and then begin.

-- Doug Smith


Empower Your Creativity

Does anyone ever try to stifle your creativity?

Do you get resistance when you work to do things in new ways?

Resistance doesn't mean that you're wrong - resistance means that what you're doing is important.

Any attempt to restrict your creativity should in fact liberate it.

Liberate it by energizing you into refusing to be held down or buttoned in on your creativity.

Creativity crosses boundaries. Creativity invents new rules. Creativity is not discouraged by resistance but rather empowered by it.

Don't back down. Buckle up.

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Keep Moving

When it gets tough, I'm sometimes tempted to stop. Forget about it. Quit. Move on to something that's not as hard. Do you ever feel that way?

Sometimes it seems like the goal is too big. The resources are too small. The time is too short. But what good does it do to stop?

I won't know how far I can get if I stop moving.

Do you know what the biggest wall in front of me is? Me.

How about you? What's your biggest wall? Who's putting the brakes on your biggest goal?

If it's you, let's both agree to cut that out. Let's keep moving.

-- Doug Smith

Put It In Your Schedule

Are you working on your most pressing problems?

Or does your day start by checking email and wander into a series of meetings and activities that chew up the day and miss achieving your goals?

There's no shame in that but there is feedback. One of the jobs of truly high performance leaders is to solve problems. Big problems. Serious problems. Bottom-line changing problems.

We don't solve those problems by finding a few minutes here and there when we aren't doing anything else. We're always doing something else -- unless we schedule time for solving a specific problem.

When will you schedule the time you need to solve your most pressing problem?

It's not going away on its own.

-- Doug Smith



Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Take Your Goals Seriously

What do people think you think about your goals?

I've had bosses who have given me plenty of goals, but I always could tell which goals they took seriously. They were never arbitrary. They were never casual. They had urgency and traction. They were not negotiable.

Do you take your goals seriously? Can people tell how powerful your focus is on achieving that goal?

People can only take your goals as seriously as you do.

How serious is that?

-- Doug Smith


Monday, November 9, 2015

An Inside Job

Have you ever heard anyone say "It's all an inside job" meaning that the accomplishment came about largely due to relationships. Who knew who. Favors traded. Favors called.

But think about it.

How else do things get done? We work best with those we know best. It speeds things up. It helps get to the point and focus on the goal.

I'm not saying that it makes sense to pick unqualified people for a job simply because we know them. But even qualified people need guidance. Even qualified people need focus.

It's all an inside job.

Why not make peace with that and work on those relationships that lead to more, and better work?

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Better Kind of Scared

What scares you?

For many people it's uncertainty. For some it's danger. We live in a world filled with fear and reasons for fear. We should get busy on solving that.

But we also sometimes experience fear when our values are threatened. Someone asks us to do something that we're not comfortable with, or we see someone taken advantage of. We espouse certain behaviors like honesty, trust, and courage and then fail to live up to them. That scares me.

But that could be a sign to dig in, not fall out. That could be a sign to solve that problem before it extinguishes an important value. That could be a mobilizing message we need.

It could mean that all we hold sacred it being ripped apart, piece by piece. We can't let that happen unchallenged.

Scared is just sacred that's a little mixed up.

When we have clarity on our values, there is NO mixing us up. We'll still have problems, but we'll know which problems to solve first.

Which problem should you be working on right now?

-- Doug Smith


Saturday, November 7, 2015

How Will You Be Remembered?

How do you remember people? By what they've said? By how they made you feel? By what you've shared together?

There are lots of ways that I remember people. In the business context, an important way is how they have solved problems. Which problems mattered the most and what did they do to solve them.

People will remember you for the problems you've solved.

They may remember other things too, of course. But they'll never forget the problems that you solved.

What problems are you working on right now?

-- Doug Smith


Friday, November 6, 2015

Big Problems, Big Success

Is it hard to see the value in problems?

No one asks for problems. But the really big ones offer great opportunity for change. The really big problems create such a disturbance that the status quo just won't do. We do something about them.

Sometimes a box full of problems can lead to a warehouse full of success.

One solution leads to another. One burst of creativity builds more capacity. New standards are set and people grow.

Where are you in your box of problems?

-- Doug Smith




Thursday, November 5, 2015

What Will You Leave Behind?

Who is getting younger? None of us.

As a member of the baby boom generation I see my hair turning gray, disappearing (well, alright so it's already gone) and my face getting that cowboy in the son rugged look that reminds me more of my dad than me. We all get older.

No matter how old you are, have you asked yourself what you want to leave behind? What do you want to be remembered for? How will this place be better off because you were here.

Big or small, we all have an impact. Big or small we all make a difference. In large part, we get to decide what that difference is.

I'd like for people to explore, discover, and develop more centered leadership because I was here. I'd like for people to remember me as helping them develop their clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion. There's still so much work to do on that I'd better have another forty years or so to do it. But it's my vision.

What's your vision?

You're in charge of your legacy. Is it ready for primetime?

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Take Off The Brakes

Do you ever slow yourself down?

I've done that. I've had times when I set a really great goal but for one reason or another slowed myself down. Maybe the effort scared me. Maybe I was too comfortable in what I knew I could expect. Even driving forward I could feel one foot on the brakes.

We don't need to do that. We can proceed with caution. We can assess our risks and keep moving.

I could go faster if I wasn't slowing myself down.  How about you?

Here are some thoughts on actions to do instead of slowing down:

- Identify any fear. Face it. Is it really that bad?
- List all of the benefits of achieving your goal. Done? List a few more.
- Find someone who will help to hold you accountable by asking for progress updates. It works.

Sometimes the biggest wall in our way is ourselves. That's easy. Let's fix it now.

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Exercise Your Brain

Do you ever think of problems as a way to exercise your brain?

Problems force us to think of new ideas. Problems force us to be creative. Problems invite us to involve other people and therefore build relationships.

We may need to dig for new ideas. We may need to learn. We definitely need to jar that brain out of auto-pilot and help it flex its intellectual muscles.

Think of problem solving as exercise for your brain.

You know it needs it. Why not get started right now?

-- Doug Smith


Monday, November 2, 2015

Own Your Time

Do other people sometimes waste your time?

I facilitate workshops on workflow and time management occasionally and there are usually people in the workshop who blame their circumstances on other people. "It's all their fault" may feel like it takes the responsibility off your shoulders, but does it help? No. Any time we choose to be a victim we get to stay there.

Time. No one knows for sure how much we have, except that we all have only 24 hours at a time per day. No stretching. No expanding. Time doesn't care what we do with it. Time keeps moving.

So why blame other people?

Sure, other people make unreasonable requests. Other people use inefficient processes. Other people make mistakes and talk endlessly when we know we should be working. But think about it. Other people can only do that TO you if you let them. Take charge. Move along. Keep your focus.

Other people can only wast your time if you let them.

Why let them?

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, November 1, 2015

High Performance Leaders Serve Without Pandering

How does it feel when someone expects too much from you?

I've known people, sometimes customers, sometimes team members, some times family members, who simply cannot be pleased. Nothing is ever enough. No matter how I've tried to meet their needs, those needs are deeper than the well of resources that I draw from. They wear me out.

I've learned that there are limits. High performance leaders do serve their constituents, and they do it gladly. But they also recognize their limits. At some point, people need to step up and reach for their own goals. At some point we need to step aside.

You can never give anyone everything that they need. That's their job.

Who do you need to step aside from today? How will they know that you mean it?

-- Doug Smith