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Showing posts from July, 2015

Confirm Your Credibility

How do you confirm your credibility?

How do you build the confidence from others that you need to act relentlessly on your plan and achieve your goals?

With courage.

Courage to stick to your goals when others tempt you to leave them behind. Courage to operate within your values and not cross any ethical lines (even for a moment, even a little). Courage to say what you mean and follow through.

Courage confirms your credibility.

And with credibility comes collaboration and cooperation, key ingredients in building your team.

How's your courage today?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training

Never Doubt

Is your world filled with things designed to create doubt and uncertainty?

I get them all the time. I don't ask for them, they just show up. Snide comments from a disgruntled participant. Clients asking for the impossible. Relationships too busy to ask how things are going.

We all get that stuff and yet we must all go on. Doubts are our own personal business and our own task to control. They don't help. Doubts simply slow us down.

It's fine to proceed with caution and responsible care - that's not the same as doubts. What we don't need are those nagging little thoughts of insecurity and suspicion that slow us down and even stop us. I've had my share, and I'd like to be done with doubt. How about you?

Never doubt - it will only get in your way.

Are you ready to drop doubt from your plan?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training

Get Answers Quickly

Are you waiting for perfect answers?

I do that sometimes. The data has to be just right. I like as much certainty as possible before moving forward. But, when I'm not careful (or maybe it's TOO careful) the forward motion stops while waiting for perfection.

Get those answers quickly. Maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong, but all they are is a start anyway. The data will change. The direction requires some flexibility. Get moving.

The answers to your questions need not be perfect to achieve your goal.

They just need to get you moving.

Are you ready to act relentlessly on that plan to achieve your goal?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Get Tough On Yourself

How tough are you on yourself?

I'm tough, but I'm working on getting tougher. Not abusive - not a bully or negative about it, simply disciplined. Hard working, insistent, persistent, and disciplined. No one can give us self-discipline - it's up to each of us.

The discipline to work when we might feel like letting up. The discipline to solve the tough problems. The stamina to stay true to our goals when others wear us out with unrelated requests. It's not easy, but if you are the toughest coach you've ever had you will likely accomplish far more.

If you're not the toughest boss on yourself that you've ever had then you need to get tougher.

How do you feel about that?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Take Feedback from Those Who Share Responsibility

How much do you insist that people who work with you share responsibility for success?

I think it's one of the key agreements for centered, high performance leaders. How willingly our teams share responsibility for success determines our workload, our balance, our goal achievement, and even our happiness.

As leaders we should be open to feedback. We work best when we allow perspectives to inform us how we're doing, how our team is doing, and how our organization is doing. But not all feedback is equal. Some is valuable. Some is useful. And some is simply of no use at all. Knowing how to differentiate is how strong leaders can make the most of their feedback.

I care mostly about feedback from people who are willing to share responsibility for success.

They collaborate. They cooperate. They work with me on solving problems and achieving goals. They don't complain or attack without constructive suggestions. They share responsibility for success.

How do you decide what feedback…

Pay Attention To Stress

Is the stress in your life trying to tell you something?

Do you know what that is? Maybe it's that you're working too hard. Maybe it's that you are working on the wrong things. Maybe it's simply that you need to find time for more laughter and fun.

It's worth paying attention to stress, mainly because it seldom goes away on its own. It begs for intervention. It asks for decisive action. What you do is up to you.

Stress compels us to do something productive.

Something productive like finding a better way to get through the tough work faster. Finding a way to balance our workload and our workflow. Finding a way to make work fun. And, most importantly - working on what we love.

Sure, it's easier said than done - but if stress is pushing you around, don't you think it's time to push back?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Focus On The Goal

Want to solve that big problem?

Focus on the goal you want to achieve instead of the pain your problem presents. 

Work to create your ideal situation.

When we focus positively on the goal that we want to achieve, rather than the symptoms of a problem we perceive, our energy and focus helps us get where we really want to go.

Try it. Convert that problem statement to a goal statement. Then, get busy. I think you'll like the results.

What's your biggest goal today?

-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training
doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Give That Problem Your Full Attention

What would happen if you gave your biggest problem your full attention?

You could find the root cause. You could develop a list of solutions. You could create an action plan that would be unstoppable. You could solve that problem.

Your biggest problem probably isn't big enough to stand up to your full attention and best solutions.

Why not take that problem on right away?

-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training
doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

David Gets More Creative

Here is another entry from my friend David Spiegel. He mentioned me in his daily inspirational email so I couldn't help sharing it here today. Thanks again, Dave!
"As long as you believe it is impossible, you will actually never find out if it is possible or not."
- John Seymour: English author The Universe is sending me messages once again!

After receiving today's quote of the day, I received my daily insights from my mentor and friend Doug Smith at Front Range Leadership: 

Every problem is an invitation to get more creative.

They seem to go hand in hand. If you believe a thing to be impossible then it absolutely will be. Change the word "problem" to read opportunity the outcome is inevitable. Change! And with each new opportunity the creative waters flow. First they trickle and after some time and with repeated use they become like flood waters,unstoppable.

20 years ago I told a vendor I was working with that I had made the decision to sell only Halloween. His…

Stop Running From Your Solution

Why do we run away from the answer?

Sometimes it's right there in front of us - the solution to our problem, and yet we turn away. It's a bad habit and one that keeps us from finding what we're looking for when it comes to solving a problem.

The solution to your problem is looking for you -- you just need to stop running.

Can you hear those footsteps?

-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training
doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

To Solve That Problem, Get More Creative

How much creativity do you bring to your problem solving?

I've found that no matter how much creativity I generate on a problem, there is still room for more. Better ideas. Crazier connections. Faster solutions. More pleasing shapes, colors, and sounds.

We tend to stop being creative just before the most creative stuff happens. Let's practice staying with that creative flow. Let's stay creative.

Every problem is an invitation to get more creative.

Why turn that down?

-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training
doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Speak Up and Listen

Do you enjoy getting the "silent treatment" from someone when you're in a problem situation or conflict?

You probably know the feeling - someone has something to say but they won't tell you. They won't talk. Maybe they'll make the little artificial small talk efforts but keep the deeper stuff buried within. How do you get deeper? How do you find out what's going on?

When we have a problem we need to get to the core of what's going on. We need to discover the root causes of our discomfort. Especially when people are involved and you have no instruments to measure the results. It's all perceived, or deceived, or received through misunderstandings and filters. We can do better than that.

We can stay curious. We can ask questions. We can practice a centered silence that allows whatever the other person is feeling to emerge without danger. When we are open to receiving a message the message is much more likely to arrive.

Ask. Listen. Wait.

Patience tak…

Listen With Your Heart, Decide With Your Mind

How do you like to make decisions?

I'm a fact-based guy who likes to keep the emotions out of the decision, so there's my bias. Some people are emotions based deciders and don't like the facts to get in the way. What if we considered both the heart and the mind?

I'm learning to listen better, with my heart. To hear what is really going on and not just what I think I hear through my heavy filters. Sure, one of those filters is my heart, or how I feel. That requires a certain mindfulness to be able to discern which emotions am I bringing to the decisions apart from which emotions is the decision bringing about.

Yes, there is a difference. By finding a place of center, of neutral feeling, we can hear what emotions are going on within the choices. We can better discover possibilities if we refrain from judging them for a while. We can better understand the full picture if we listen with a heart that's open.

If you want to supervise for success, listen with your heart bu…

Stay Curious

What sparks your curiosity?

Do you see part of the job of a leader as staying curious?

I've been working at staying curious as much as possible instead of choosing to judge. Our backgrounds might make it easier to judge, but as high performance leaders we get much more value out of staying curious. Curious about:

How people react to our goalsWhat people are looking forOur customer's needsThe emotions behind a positionThe position behind an emotionHow our team members can bring their whole selves to workThe real causes of the problems we work to solveThe best steps to take to achieve our goalsWhy people say what they doWhy people believe what they believe... The list is endless. We can choose at any moment to stay curious. If the need to judge emerges ("does that make sense? Is that good for me?") we have plenty of time to make that choice as well. Staying curious keeps our possibilities open and dramatically improves our influence because once people know that we are …

Show Your Courage In Action

What is courage?

If your team were asked if you were courageous, how would they know? What would they say?

I'll admit that it's easier to desire courage than it is to act with courage. But courage comes from action.

What kinds of actions?

Standing up to a bullying boss. Taking the blame for a mistake that your team made. Confronting an ethics violation. Defending your values. Facing down someone who is discriminating or disrespecting another person.

The list is long. It's not about thinking about courage or talking about courage -- it's about doing.

People will respect your courage but first you must show them that courage in action.

How have you most recently displayed your courage?

What can you do to develop (and then show) even more courage?

-- Douglas Brent Smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training:  how to achieve your goals

Love The Person and Fix the Problem

How are you at fixing people?

I've discovered that I'm not very good at fixing people. Whether or not they are broken, there's not much that I can do to fix people.

But problems are very different. Problems are caused by things that can be changed. Problems are caused by what we've done, are doing, or have created. As Dean Gano points out, problems tend to be caused by either conditions or actions. Discovering what those conditions and/or are and changing them is not only easier than changing people -- it's the better way to solve the problem.

People are in the mix. People do the actions that might be causing the problem, or create the conditions that may have created the problem. But changing people usually fails and frustrates everyone concerned. Changing actions or conditions is the way to go.

It takes patience. People might not want to change anything at all, and may need to be convinced. But they don't need to be changed -- we only need to change what the…

Test Your Solution Ideas

Did you ever get an idea for a solution to a problem and then couldn't get it to work?

We can fall in love with our ideas and in so doing miss what they're missing. Maybe they don't actually meet our solution criteria. Maybe our team members aren't equipped to implement them. Maybe our constituents have no appetite for the changes the solution will bring about.

No one wants to implement a solution that won't work. 

Test ideas carefully against your problem solving constraints. Qualify them.

Yes, it's another layer of analysis after a wide open time of creativity -- but that's the breath of centered problem solving - the flow between convergent (creative) thinking and divergent (analytical) thinking. We need both.

--- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training
doug smith training: how to achieve your creative goals

Argue Fairly with Respect

Do you like to argue?

Healthy disagreement can lead to lots of bright new ideas. Strong debate identifies the strengths and shortcomings in the positions and if explored imaginatively can lead to insights that build better relationships and more high performance results.

If...if we're willing to live with the discomfort of disagreeing. If we're willing to be influenced while we try to influence others. Those are big "ifs".

Healthy debate can help select the most robust ideas when played with respect and clarity. 

We do better by respecting each other. We communicate better when our messages and intentions are clear.

We might not reach agreement. But the journey there might be the next step that we need.

When was the last time you participated in a lively, spirited and yet respectful debate? How did it turn out?

What do you now care passionately enough about to debate? Can you do that and still remain open to new views?

It might feel paradoxical. It might feel discomf…

Plan Important Conversations

How many conversations have you taken the time to plan today?

Leaders conduct highly important conversations. While we can sometimes do that on the fly, what about those conversations that require deeper thinking? What about those conversations when the people we want to be most communicative with resist our thinking or our message?

Those deeper conversations benefit from planning.

What do we plan? Here are some areas of planning that I've found useful:

The goal of the conversation - Is it just to touch base? Are you trying to influence the other person? Do you need to reach agreement on a next action? Be sure to set a goal (I'd recommend  a goal with these three elements: an action word, the result that you want, and the time involved).Transition time - It's often jarring to be thrust into a conversation unexpectedly. Create some transitional topic or ice-breaker to transition into your deeper conversation. Small talk works here, but make it more personal than the weather …

Escape Negativity

How does it feel to be pulled into a negative state?

For me, it's a bit like an old ride in a amusement park. You think you're going into a fun house, but it turns out there's nothing fun about it. Poorly paid teenagers hassle you with textures and unwelcome contact. Distorted sounds surround you. Lights flash unexpectedly and you could just about swear that a rat just ran across your feet. Not fun.

Who would willfully choose a negative state? Circumstances sometimes suck us in. Darkness descends around us without our knowing why and certainly without choosing it. But let's not stay there.

Let's escape negativity. Let's work as centered, mindful, high performance leaders to stay aware of our mental state and choose our best path as often as possible. And, it's usually possible.

Centered leaders find ways to escape negativity.

Ways like challenging an out of bounds criticism. Staying curious instead of judging. Listening carefully and taking caution to avoid…

Get Through Your Filters

Did you ever put the wrong glasses on?

When I used to wear prescription glasses I had a vast collection developed over the years with varying degrees of prescription. If I put the wrong glasses on, I couldn't see so well. The filters I relied on distorted, instead of helped.

I don't even know why I kept all those old glasses. They weren't useful anymore. Maybe they reminded me of sights I'd seen before. Maybe I thought they'd be useful as a costume or to develop a character (I'm also an actor). It didn't make sense, they proved not to be useful, and I eventually donated them where they could do some good.

You may not have a box filled with old glasses, but you probably do have a set of filters that you look through. You may not even be aware of these filters.

We all see the world through the filters that we have developed. Some filters help - some don't. They all to some extent distort what is really going on. Unless we develop the ability to set aside…

Measure Success Carefully

What happens when you set a metric target for your people?

They'll do their best to achieve it. That's what you want. But, the thing to be careful of is setting an unrealistic target that requires "extraordinary" means to achieve. And, by extraordinary, I mean cheating.

Not everyone will cheat. Fortunately, most people will do their best without cheating. But there are some who will find a way to game the system unless you pay attention to the how as well as the what of your target.

Be careful about how you measure success to avoid tempting people to game your system.

There's not much point in getting upset -- it makes more sense to get vigilant. What people achieve matters, and so does how they achieve it.

--- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High performance leadership training
doug smith training: how to achieve your creative goals

Take Charge of Your Productivity

As a leader, what kind of example do you set for you people when it comes to productivity?

Do you make the best use of your time a priority? When your people look at you (and yes, they are looking) do they see a model of productivity?

One of the best ways to boost the productivity on a team is to boost the productivity of the leader. It's hard to resist the great example of a person who does not waste time. It's mobilizing to witness a leader who applies every minute to something vital, important, and mission centered.

We are each in charge of our own productivity.

Will you take charge of your productivity today?

-- doug smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: developing creativity

It's All Connected

Is your personal life very different from your professional life? Do you have hobbies or activities away from work that would surprise your associates at work?

It's great to enjoy a well-rounded life. It's beneficial to exercise, play, and have fun away from the job. Everything that we do has the opportunity to contribute to our development, our strength, and our happiness. And, whether or not the people at work know what we do away from the job, it does effect how we do our work.

What happens to you anywhere effects you everywhere.

Mistakes at home have a way of tugging at us at work. Accidents on the job impact our happiness at home. It's all connected.

To see someone who thinks that abusive behavior or habitual substance use or character flaws away from work think that it won't effect their performance is heart breaking. It's all connected. It may take time, but recklessness always catches up to us, and what we do in one arena effects how we act in another.

Are …

High Performance Leaders Build Character

How do you feel about inconsistent character? Have you ever known someone who seems to be upright and filled with integrity one day, but then occasionally cuts corners or blurs the boundaries on what's fair and right?

That's not the kind of leader that I want to work for, and it's not the kind of leader your people likely want to work for. We want leaders of character. Integrity is not just a catch phrase to use like seasoning and disregard when it becomes inconvenient. Character is something that we build over time with lessons learned, promises made and kept.

There's no such thing as a hall pass on character.

Yes, leaders will make mistakes. Yes, leaders will accidentally cross lines that cause trouble. But the development of character takes no holiday. It takes constant vigilance, discipline, and focus.

What's your true test of character? What are you doing to make sure that you pass that test?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: Training Supervisors for Succes…

Be Careful About Leaps of Faith

What was your most recent leap of faith?

Did you make any assumptions about how it would turn out? Did those assumptions prove true?

I consider myself to be a man of faith and so I know that at times faith is all that will get me through. There are challenges so big (changing jobs, moving to a new city, getting married) that only a leap of faith will get me past the the anxiety of deciding. But, not every decision requires a leap of faith, nor should it.

Most decisions need as much data as faith. Maybe even more data than faith. We do better by analyzing the facts, checking the risks, weighing our options, and expanding our possibilities than simply "trusting the universe" to give us what we want. News flash: the universe doesn't care what we want. Our decisions create our results, not the stars in the sky.

A true leap of faith offers no escape, no safety net, and no excuses.

If you're ready for that, then go ahead and make a leap of faith. But, if you have any qualm…