Thursday, December 31, 2015

Creativity Thrives In The Unexpected

Have you surprised yourself today?

Boo! Nah, I don't mean like that. What creative ideas have occurred to you? What brand new actions emerged today?

Creativity benefits from frequent encounters with the unexpected.

It's that painting that distorts the way we see faces. It's that bridge that goes nowhere. It's that snowman in Miami.

People surprise me, sometimes. When a friend says something unexpected and kind, it generates a burst of creative energy that propels me forward. Suddenly my goals seem more achievable.

When a collaborator suggests an idea that surprises me completely I get a sense of confusion followed by profound delight. It's a possibility! It's creative! And, there's no way in the world I would have thought of it without this surprise.

Surprise yourself, often. Expose yourself to people and ideas that would not normally come your way. Find the connections. Creativity thrives on the unexpected.

It's hard to plan to surprise yourself. You just have to explore without judging.

But you can surprise someone else easily enough. What creative surprise can you spring on your team today?

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Analyze Into Action

Have you heard the expression "analysis paralysis"?

It is often said derisively about people who over analyze and then do not put into action any of their conclusions. Perfectionists tend to keep looking for more data.

But sometimes we have not analyzed enough. When we give up, our analysis has been incomplete. When we are disloyal, our analysis has been flawed. When our problems remain unsolved, our analysis has been ineffective.

Problems without solutions have not yet been fully analyzed.

Once the right answer appears, why wouldn't you act on it?

So think about it. Not too much -- but think about it. That solution is in there somewhere.

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Turn Off The Noise

Today I'm adding a bonus entry from my friend, David Spiegel. So many of my own clients complain about being overwhelmed by stress. Dave discovered a big point in his stress, and how to deal with it. He still does just as much work -- just with a bit less stress. And just in case you think you can't -- pay attention to where he mentions 50,000 text messages!  Doug



by David Spiegel

In May I began coaching with a weight loss company. Every morning texts would come in  and my job was to respond to them. In the early days, it was exciting as my client base grew from a handful to eventually a few hundred . After a short while the texts were rolling in at a pretty steady clip.It did not take long before it became an avalanche of messages.I couldn't answer them fast enough. I would open my phone and it would show 75 unanswered messages.

As I set about answering a few dozen more and more came ringing in. Each time my phone would chime telling me I had received a new text. After answering the first 25 of 75 I would look and see that I now had 87 unanswered messages! AAAARGHHHH!

Another text rang in, and another and another. I literally could not catch up. Brrring another. Brrrringanother. Brrrrrrrring another! Every time my phone would sound my stress level would grow.  I could hardly breathe!


Then one day in l;ate October, my phone just froze. 


I could not text back to any of the messages I was receiving. I immediately got a replacement phone and transferred all of my data.


In the 5 months from May to October, from my start date to the day of the crash, I had received just over 50,000 texts. Received and responded to. Along with each incoming message was the audible reminder that yet another text awaited me.Like the constant dripping of the faucet, each text tone drove me crazy.


While setting up my new phone, Becky asked, "do you want me to put the text tone on silent?" You can do that?


Well, hell yeah!


And then there was silence!


Day after day, the texts keep coming in, without the noise. Without the clammer. No longer was I subject to the constant reminder that someone else wanted a piece of me. The demands on my time were now completely in my control. It has been delightful.


Along with the absence of noise has come a notable absence of stress. I can breathe once again. The tension in my neck has gone. The twitching in my cheek has ceased. I am relaxed. And every text still gets answered.


My point?

Sometimes you just have to shut off the noise!


-- David Spiegel

Today's resolution:
2015 is just about done.....whether or not I am ready for that to happen or not.
I have a few more hours left today to address the balance of 2015 items. Tomorrow, they will all make their way on to the For 2016 list!

If you or someone you know needs to lose weight -- let Dave know!  david@live2xlcoaching.com

How To Study for Life

Did you get the owner's manual to life when you were born?

Me, either. And, ever since it's been one learning experience after another. Some were pleasant (oh, so that's how she shows me she love me!) and some were awkward (maybe I should have measured the room before I cut the carpet!)

If we do nothing else, we'll learn what we need to learn completely inductively -- by stumbling around, discovering, exploring, and more-often-than-not making mistakes. So if breaking things, crashing systems, mangling relationships, and crushing communications is not your idea of fun, I'd recommend doing some proactive learning. Read ahead. Study. There is good news:

Life is an open book exam.

Once we finish school, there is absolutely nothing preventing us from finding the information we need and turning it into knowledge (and then into action) before we fail a test. Even before we get a dreadful "C" on that test. With so many learning tools available, we can absolutely ace the testing times of life.

How are you studying today?

-- Doug Smith




Monday, December 28, 2015

Develop Your Creative Tools

What has been your most creative act this week?

I know it's been a busy week. They are ALL busy weeks, and this one has been busier than most. Still -- what creative brilliance have you displayed?

It could be as simple as substituting cashews in a recipe when you run out of pecans (well, OK, so I burned the pecans!) It could be as breath-taking as writing a new poem (did that, too.) Think about it. Every creative impulse that you turn into an action propels you forward to achieving your goals. It may not be obvious at first, but it is fuel for the journey.

Every tool that leads to achieving your goals benefits by developing creativity.

So celebrate those creative moments and nurture more. Find new ways to become ever-more creative. The pay off leads to your success.

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Get Creatively Busy

How many goals are you working on?

I'm not saying that you should have too many goals. A hundred should be plenty. (OK, you can pick yourself back up now, I don't actually expect anyone to list a hundred goals.)

Creativity likes to be busy. Creativity likes idle time, too and if we're idle long enough the creative mind gets busy.

Your goals stand a better chance of achievement when your creativity is cranked way up. So keep your creative mind busy and your creative impulses, ideas, notions, and results will multiply.

- read more
- draw more
- paint more
- exercise more
- walk more
- listen more

The creative mind is always busy.

We just need to pay attention.

What is the creative side of your mind telling you right now?

-- Doug Smith

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Centered Problem Solvers Get Unstuck

How long do you want to stay stuck on that big problem of yours?

You know the right answer: not long.

Here's another answer to consider: no longer. Let's solve that sucker today.

What does it take? Things to think about include staying centered (it's harder to solve a problem when we're a problem) and staying creative. A problem is just a reason to develop new ideas. A problem is just a way to build better processes. A problem is just a way to grow deeper relationships.

Creative problem solving presumes you don't want to stay stuck.

You don't want to stay stuck. Not when creativity is there for you to use right now.

Stop judging, start sparking, and see what happens. That big problem has a big solution. You just haven't thought of it yet.

-- Doug Smith

PS
I suppose that it is possible that you have thought of the solution but just not implemented it yet. If that's the case, what you need is an assertive action plan and then to act relentlessly on your plan. What's your next step?


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Check Your Boundaries

Do you favor tight boundaries, wide boundaries, or flexible boundaries?

When I worked at GE there was much talk about creating a boundaryless organization. But it turns out that wasn't so much without boundaries as it was to have permeable boundaries -- boundaries we could navigate as needed and expand under the right conditions. The only way that worked was to hold true to the values of the organization (some boundaries may NOT be crossed, such as "integrity"). So, it wasn't yes or no, right or wrong, when it came to defining boundaries - it was both/and. Some boundaries are flexible, and some are not. Knowing the difference is leadership. Knowing the difference is integrity.

Boundaries that are impenetrable, but unreasonable, get in our way. They get built for good intentions, but outlive their usefulness. We establish rules for a time, and then that time passes and the rules remain. They are so out of tune with what we need that they can even become embarrassing. Those boundaries need to break. Those are boundaries we must change.

We can also build walls to keep out danger and later find out that the walls are keeping out bliss as well. Interpersonal walls formed from habit. Legislative walls built from mistrust. Status walls built out of misperception of who the "other" is and who we really are.

If that wall is not necessary, useful, and kind, it probably should come down.

When we get rid of unnecessary boundaries we are more open and free to collaborate, to cooperate, to optimize our present and our future. When we let down our walls, the magic can begin.

What feels at first impossible may be possible with the right changes in boundaries.

What boundaries are slowing you down? What if they weren't there? Who had established those boundaries? What if you talked about it today?

-- Doug Smith


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Garden or Laboratory?

Where do you test your best creative ideas?

Not all creative ideas are the same. Some require a sort of close inspection with careful boundaries and controlled conditions, otherwise they will become impossible to work with or change into something we hadn't counted on.

But not all creative ideas are like that.

Some creative ideas benefit from a quick planting and careful observance to see how they're doing but are left to grow on their own. We tend to them, we remove obstacles and aberrations, but we let them grow naturally.

Some creative ideas need a garden and some need a laboratory.

If no one can get hurt, if you you've got lots of time, and if you want the unexpected to be welcome, plant your creative ideas in a garden like atmosphere of freedom and spontaneity.

If the risks are high, the conditions are dangerous, and the talent is exposed to sudden change keep a laboratory-like grip on your creative conditions. Focus your attention on them but don't let them explode in your face.

What kind of environment do you tend to set up for your creative ideas?

-- Doug Smith


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Values Should Help, Not Hinder Collaboration

Have you ever had to work with someone who does not share your values?

In all honesty, I think we all do that all the time. Our values are important, and we strive to live by them every day, but not everyone shares those values and yet we do need the help of people who have different values.

It IS so much easier to work with people who share our values. Shared values build trust. Shared values build understanding. Shared values build collaboration.

But sometimes we have to be a role model for those values and hope that our demonstration of our values in action will show their merit. By being a positive example of our values in action, we might just encourage other people to embrace those values.

And by showing our willingness to work with people we disagree with we can show how we facilitate, rather than force, our way of living.

It's harder to collaborate with people who don't share our values -- but not impossible.

Who have you been avoiding because of their values? What if you could find a way to demonstrate the benefits of living your values by working with them?

Action Steps

- The next time you find yourself working with someone with differing values, talk about it. Talk about how you will approach your work. Talk about how you will cooperate as much as possible AND where your boundaries are.

- The next time you bump against a value that seems to conflict with your values, talk about it. Find out if the conflict is intentional, accidental, or incidental. Communicating for results talks bold and honest talk. Are you ready for that?

-- Doug Smith




Monday, December 21, 2015

Don't Blame People

Isn't it easy to blame people for our problems?

Probably, because people are usually involved. But, most of the time if we fix the conditions causing the problem or the process that leads to the actions that people are doing we can fix the problem. No blame, just change.

Most problems aren't caused by people but most problems are only solved by people.

Instead of blame, we need team work. And that comes from cooperative, collaborative communication.

Who can help you with your biggest problem today? Are you ready to talk about it?

-- Doug Smith



Friday, December 11, 2015

Watch Out For Detours

Are you easily distracted?

I've known some people who are so blessed with brief attention spans that they are easily distracted. They'll start one thing and then move onto another before they've finished what they're working on. Many people are fine with that. It drives me crazy.

It's easy to get distracted. And, it's easy to see what looks like a short cut and grab for it just to make it possible to move onto something else and just to put to rest the stress of it sitting unfinished. Sometimes that works, but sometimes it is something to be extremely careful about.

What looks like the shortest path to success can turn out to be a sizable detour.

Bunny trails, distractions, detours - whatever you want to call them, simply pull us away from our goals. They delay success. They get in our way.

An occasional detour is fine - but I do my best to avoid getting seduced by the simplicity of a false answer. If the goal is challenging, there probably aren't any easy answers and anything that looks like a short cut could prove to be a detour.

How will you safeguard yourself from detours today?

-- Doug Smith


Sunday, December 6, 2015

It's More Than A Label

What makes something creative?

Exploration, practice, training, appreciation, exposure, efforts, failures, falls, boundary-breaking -- it all goes into becoming more creative. There are no easy answers. You've probably seen someone label something as "creative" in order to convince you that it was. How does that work?

Calling it creative doesn't make it so. It takes practice, skill, and inspiration.

Everyday. All the time. We don't turn creativity on an off -- we open the valve and let it flow.

How are you doing on your creative efforts today? Which area should you focus more on: practice, skill, or inspiration?

-- Doug Smith

If you're interested in what I've been doing creatively you can explore that at here.




Saturday, December 5, 2015

All In One Place

douglas brent smith, photo by L. Scott Force
photo by L. Scott Force
For those who are interested, I've gathered much of my artistic side in one place. I would love it if you would follow my art-side blog here:

douglas brent smith

It includes my work in acting, collage, music, and poetry -- plus whatever artistic, creative endeavors emerge in the middle of my world. Most people know me as a trainer and consultant. Here is a peak into the other sides of me.

There are links on how to connect with me on many of the various social media platforms so jump on in if you are so inclined.

-- Doug Smith



Friday, December 4, 2015

Develop Your Creativity

How much do you rely on your own creativity?

I rely on mine all the time. It's how I solve tough problems. It's how I entertain myself. It's how I create training programs that offer more than information.

Creativity is an essential part of every high performance leader's skill set.  Developing our creativity improves every aspect of our leadership - our flexibility, our style, our innovation, our resilience, our sense of centered fun.

Developing your creativity develops everything else.

What will you do today to enhance or develop your creativity?

-- Doug Smith

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Better Relationships, Better Results

Have you noticed how much our results depends on our relationships?

We might be able to achieve short term results on our own, but long time, sustained results thrive when relationships are strong.

That doesn't come naturally to all of us, but it needs to come. If we need to work on it, that's what we need to do.

People care more about your results when they care more about you as a person.

I'm trying to keep that in mind whenever I'm tempted to work heads down without consulting others. How bout you?

-- Doug Smith