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Showing posts from September, 2015

Fuel Up

What keeps you going?

Is it a great conversation? Maybe a note from a trusted friend? Or could it be that long phone call with someone you haven't talked with for a long time?

I find all of that energizing. Also, reading great books, taking long walks, and yes of course - achieving goals along the way.

Every goal achieved is fuel for even greater success.

So as I work on my smaller goals, I know that they are leading to bigger goals. As I achieve my big goals, I know that I'm ready for even more.

How about you?

-- Doug Smith

What have you learned today?

Add Up Your Goals

What do you goals add up to?

Do they add up to major changes? Do they show the progress in your career? Do they provide motion for your growth and change?

I realize that many people wander thru life with no true goals. They clock in and out. They go thru the motions. They walk beside their shoes. We are meant for more than that. We are meant for great things. We are meant to leave footprints that help others to walk - not cause them to trip.

Our goals add up to a different life.

A different life than the one we started out with. A different life than the one we are living. A better, more purposeful, more directed, more powerful life. A life of growth, change, and helpfulness.

I'm going to start paying more attention to what my goals add up to. How about you/

-- Doug Smith

What have you learned today?

Make Progress On That Big Problem

What have you done to fix your biggest problem today?

My biggest problem is relocating. I'm not even close to figuring out what that means or where it will be, other than it is highly likely to be back to my home state of New Jersey. For a variety of reasons, it's time to come home.

It's easy to get polarized and immobilized though when it comes to making big decisions and solving big problems. So today I'm going to do what Brian Tracy calls "chunking it down". I'll take that monumental problem and find a small piece of it that I can do.

I will also practice what I preach when it comes to problems and convert my problem to a goal. Instead of "don't know what to do about moving" as a problem, I will rephrase it as the goal of "Relocate my business and my life to New Jersey by August 2016."  As is the case with most of my goals, I hope and plan to achieve it far ahead of the deadline - but the deadline is real.

It's energizing to…

Create Better Goals

How do you get better results?

Create better goals.

It's not all that you need but it's a great place to start. Whenever I create a goal that I find to be energizing that translates into more attention and action. Whenever I create a goal that has a noble outcome, I feel better about devoting resources to achieving it.

Great goals are exciting. Great goals contain opportunity for growth. Great goals get you going.

Here are what I believe to be the three key ingredients for great goals:

The action word explains exactly what you will do. Create, make, deliver, teach, propel, design, change, sell, fabricate, transplant, modify, steer, obtain, tell, paint, draw, write...words like that.

The result is what you plan to achieve, usually expressed with some unit of measure. For example - a 200 word novel, 150 pounds, a graduate degree in chemistry, fifty new prospects, a year without crime, three healthy meals a day...whatever it is that you want to achieve.


Adjusting How We Interact

Do you find some people difficult to get along with?

There are all types of difficult people. Some are difficult because they say things that offend us. Some are challenging because they do not say what they are thinking and yet expect us to read their minds. Some people have opinions so sharp and abrasive that we wonder how anyone gets along with them. We can find a hundred ways to disagree and a thousand ways to avoid people who make us feel uncomfortable.

Is that our best choice?

I've discovered that to some people I am that difficult person. My insights around that are that I didn't set out to become that difficult person. It wasn't my idea to say things or do things that anger the very people I most want to influence. Sometimes it happens by accident. Sometimes it happens out of misunderstanding. And, it's always unfortunate.

What if your difficult people didn't mean to be difficult either?

What if we could adjust something that would improve our interactions?…

Learn How To Solve Them

Do you know how to solve every problem confronting you?

I sure don't.

I teach problem solving and yet there are some problems that I'm wrestling with that I will need to learn how to solve. Like practicing a dangerous sport, there could be some bruises. But I will learn what I need to learn.

We aren't meant to live without problems - we are meant to learn how to solve them.

That means moments of discomfort. That means cognitive dissonance when we don't know what we don't know. That means staying the course even when it's dark and dreary. We can learn, we will learn, and when we do learn we are better as a result.

What are you working on learning today?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

What have you learned today?

Stay Encouraged

Do you ever get discouraged?

It's not a weakness, but it is a roadblock. Even when we don't choose to get discouraged, once that feeling is there it can stand in our way.

We missed. We made a mistake. We failed. Crap happens. What I've learned (and keep relearning) is to dust myself up, jump back up and find something compelling to get encouraged about.

Sometimes picking the positive path really is empowering.

Getting discouraged isn't going to get you what you want. 

Remaining unhappy won't achieve your goals.

Let's move forward.

I've had some really big disappointment in my personal life this year and yet as I see sparks of sunlight at the end of a rather dark tunnel I know that I've kept moving through the encouragement of friends. When I am not able to encourage myself, I am not without help - friends will encourage me.

Do you have friends who encourage you? Are you encouraging your friends? We're all in this together, my friends. Let's stay …

Who Is Number 2?

Who do you count on the most for help with problems? It's probably you. You, fully centered and alert, are you most valuable problem solving ally. Most of the time, it is all up to you.

Do you feel like you need help sometimes?

Of course! It may not always be the same person, but we all occasionally need help with the problems that we are working to solve. I've been blessed with some wonderful allies recently in solving some tough problems. They aren't yet solved, but the help that I'm getting from close allies is making the problem solving not only easier, not only more centered, but also more life affirming.

You are your most valuable problem solver you know. Who's number two?

-- Doug Smith

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

Navigate The Detours

Do you ever get lost?

Some days it feels like I could get lost in the shower. Before the days of navigational devices I spent a lot of road time simply finding my way and getting back on the path to where I was going. Some of that was do to vision problems that have been corrected, but some of it was also failing to skillfully navigate the detours.

Things will throw us off track. Things will alter our path. We'll take trails we hadn't counted on and be asked/required to use routes that are new and strange. Keep moving.

Even the fastest path to where you're going might contain a detour or two.

When we learn to navigate the detours, the view is much more enjoyable.

Think about a detour that you didn't expect to take. What did you learn from it? Have you ever had a detour that turned out to be the best possible road for you to take?

Navigate the detours - and enjoy the view.

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how…

Keep Your Focus

What happens when we lose track of what we really want?

We get problems. We get delays. We get excuses. None of that is what we want or need.

Sometimes problems develop because we lose focus on what we really want.

We get distracted. People make us busy. Procrastination overcomes us. None of that is necessary and none of that is unavoidable. We can stay clear on our mission. We can maintain our focus on our goals.

How is your focus today? What will you do to redirect yourself if you should get distracted?

How else will you ever get exactly what you want?

-- Doug Smith

Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training

doug smith training: how to achieve your goals

What have you learned today?

Embrace The Possibilities!

Stay with me for a moment on this - are you happy about your problems?

If you're like me, "Yes" would not be your first answer. What makes them problems is what makes them aggravating. And while it may sound like a cliche, problems really are both a pain AND an opportunity.

Each problem represents a very real opportunity to make something better. Each problem means that have a field to play and grow in. It's a lumpy field, a gnarly field, a field where we may fall and skin our knees, but it's a place to grow.

More problems just means more possibilities.

Not that we want to create more problems. Life will present us with all the problems we need without us looking for them. But those problems are gifts. Those problems are possibilities.

What possibility is confronting you today?

-- Doug Smith

Tell Your Family

Have you ever worked on something so important that you could hardly stop thinking about it, and yet didn't tell your family about it?

How will they know what drives you? How will they know what that "distracted look" on your face means?

I have too often gone too long completely immersed in my work while keeping my family members in the dark about what I was working on. I need to learn to tell them what exactly is so compelling and so exciting about it so that they know, when I get pulled to that work, that it isn't because I'm avoiding them.

Don't avoid your family. That's not what meaningful work is about. Involve them. Talk about it with them. Show them that you can and do enjoy a healthy passion for your family and your work.

Does your family think your job is as cool as you do? Why or why not?

Your work is your gift to the world. Your family is God's gift to you. Don't slight or take for granted either one, and don't keep either one in a b…

It's All A Work In Progress

Have you reached perfection?

Of course not. Neither have I. It's easy to expect perfection but we already know how that turns out. What is reasonable to expect is progress. Growth. Change. Discipline. We can work toward perfection without losing interest because we don't reach it.

Working on our work.

Working on our skills.

Working on our problem solving.

Working on our relationships.

It's all a work in progress.

Are you making progress today?

-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training
doug smith training: helping people communicate more effectively

What have you learned today?

High Performance Leaders Show Confidence, Curiosity, and Courage

What do you consider the most important traits of a high performance leader?

We could create a very long list of those. Five core strengths of a centered, high performance are clarity, courage, creativity, compassion, and centeredness.

High performance leaders also show confidence and curiosity. Not so much confidence as to appear arrogant, but enough to assure the team that you are headed in the right direction and developing every day. High performance leaders also show an above-average amount of curiosity. Curious about questions, curious about answers, curious about what motivates the people on the team.

To build your team to become its best, stay curious about each team member. What makes them tick? What motivates them? What challenges them? What do they need to bring their top performance to the team.

Because high performance leaders build their teams, improve performance, and achieve their goals.

They also operate effectively under pressure.

How much pressure are you under? We …

Focus Your Determination

How determined are you to achieve your biggest goal?

It's great to set a noble goal. It's necessary to design a robust plan for achieving that goal. And you'll need to relentlessly act on that plan. You'll also need determination.

A goal is only as good as your determination to achieve it.

No matter how good it sounds. No matter how great your intentions. Sometimes we need to dig in and work hard to get the goal moving. Determination matters.

How determined are you?

-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training
doug smith training: helping people communicate more effectively

What have you learned today?

Share Responsibility, Not Blame

Do you know someone who always blames someone else for their problems?

I think we've done that - blame someone else. It's so easy. We'll be so much happier just as soon as THEY fix their problems. I've come to learn, through hardship and heartbreak, that a lot of the time that I'm hoping for someone else to get their act together that it's ME who needs to improve. The good news on that is that I can control what I do. I can take steps to improve. I just need to know what to change.

When we share responsibility for success, instead of spreading the blame around, it no longer matters who is at fault. We are all at fault. None of us is perfect. If the issue didn't initiate with us, we likely did something to spark it or perpetuate it. Sharing responsibility for success allows us to move beyond that and take hold of better habits, better ideas, and better solutions.

Once I accept sharing responsibility for success in solving a problem I realize how silly it is t…

Follow Up With Your Team

How is your most important project team doing?

When we lead projects we must stay on top of the performance. No matter who is on our team, it's best to not take performance of their goals for granted. It's best to occasionally follow-up.

I'm a focused and goal oriented person, and yet I know that I benefit from a leader following up with me to keep me accountable. We're all so busy, it's easy to take our eyes off the target and drift from our center. High performance leaders help people stay on track. High performance leaders follow-up.

No matter how reliable your project team is, they still need follow-up.

What follow-up will you do today?

-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training
doug smith training: helping people communicate more effectively

What have you learned today?

Some Feedback Doesn't Matter

Do you ever get feedback that irritates you?

I've had feedback that just bothers me so much that I can't even do anything with it. But then I stop to assess the source of the feedback. Just because someone gives you feedback doesn't mean that it is correct and it most likely doesn't mean that it's complete. There's more to the story.

One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite college professors from graduate school, Dr. Jay Desko, is this: "feedback says more about the person delivering the feedback than it does about the person receiving the feedback."

I quote Jay on that often because it's so important to keep that in mind. Yes, feedback is important. Yes, I know that I need MORE, not less feedback. And, yes, we should do something with that feedback positive and useful. But sometimes we can safely let the feedback go. Let it drop. Release it.

It's safe to disregard feedback from someone who is so unhappy with themselves that they have…

Celebrate The Problems You've Solved

Did you ever stop to review the problems you've already solved?

It's likely an extensive list. Sometimes we can get bogged down by all of the problems that we face. It seems like so much. How will we ever make progress?

But if we take some time to think about how far we've already come, we can get a renewed sense of confidence and that leads to more energy to solve those upcoming problems.

If we created a list of all the problems we've already solved we might be amazed.

Amazed, and energized.

Next Steps...

Create a list of problems that you've already solved. How does it feel to have solved them?Take that energy you feel into your next challenge. You can, and will, do it!
-- Doug Smith
Front Range Leadership: High Performance Leadership Training
doug smith training: helping people communicate more effectively

What have you learned today?

Manage Your Constraints

Do you have a constraint that's bossing you around?

Maybe it's a budget that's too small. Maybe it's a lack of time. Maybe it's a process that isn't optimized and keeps slowing you down.

Manage that constraint.

Give it attention, but not surrender. Give it focus but not control.

Centered problem solvers manage their constraints rather than letting their constraints do the managing.

A constraint is asking for attention, not giving you a command.

You're still in charge.

Now, what constraint is pushing you around today? How will you deal with it?

-- Doug Smith

Talk About Possibilities

Do you focus mainly on possibilities or on limitations?

We need people who focus on limitations so that we can determine how to overcome them or avoid frustrating our efforts.

We need people who focus on possibilities because the answers are out there, we just need to find them. There are always better ways to communicate. There are always better solutions. There are always new ways to bring joy and to reduce suffering. These are all in the possibilities that we develop.

I'd much rather talk about possibilities than limitations.

Often, by expanding possibilities we overcome what we had perceived to be as limitations.

We can get creative. We can patiently pursue perfection without judging our imperfections.

Possibilities are our future.

Without thinking critically of those who think critically, I like the expanded (and expanding) view.

What's your view?

-- Doug Smith

Have Faith

My good friend and fraternity brother David Spiegel shared this quote in his daily newsletter:

"Accept what is.Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be "- Sign on church around the corner

...and my first reaction was "easier said than done." I've been taking a long walk thru a dark tunnel since April and some of what I see is obscured in the shadows. This quote, though, is a ray of sunlight.

Accept what is. We don't have to like it. We don't have to judge it. We don't have to cover it with sticky notes and foil. But it is. The sooner we (I) can accept this, the better positioned I'll be to move forward.

Let go of what was.

Geez, that one's hard. I teach people to let go, especially of limiting beliefs or poor habits. But I've had a habit that's hard to lose - a habit of loving someone so much I couldn't imagine life without her. And now, here I am, living without her in my life. Let go of what was? You've got to be kidding.


How Much Help?

Did you ever offer someone help and then realize that they needed way more help than you could give?

We often say we'd like to help, but keep it so general that the person receiving the offer doesn't know what it means. And, if they think it means "help with everything" that can be a bigger load than we're ready to carry.

Be careful about assuming that a little help is all anyone needs.

Some people need more. It might be too much.

I've learned to offer specific things - can I cut your lawn? can I review your notes with you? can I come over and keep you company for an hour? can I take you out for coffee and chat?

We know what specific offers mean and can accept them or let them go. It's something. And, if they need more -- we can always offer something more. But not the moon. You probably can't deliver the moon.

-- Doug Smith

Take Responsibility for Your Decisions

How does your team decide?

There are many different ways to reach a decision. Everything from full concordance (unanimous agreement on the best decision) to executive fiat (one person decides for everyone) we have lots of choices.

Centered, high performance leaders involve their people in their decisions. I've found consensus to be a robust, durable way of making decisions. But, we don't always have time (or need) for consensus.

Whatever the method of decision making, the leader must stand by the decision. No criticizing the group for its poor choice. No backing down and pulling support from a team decision. If you want to build your team, give it lots of influence on your decisions. Empower your team and get out of the way - but remember, the results are still your responsibility.

However democratic the process, centered leaders take full responsibility for the decision.

No blaming others. No blaming the process. The leader is still responsible.

What big decisions is your team…

Keep Reading

How many books do you read each year?

I'm not keeping score And as a full disclosure you should probably know that part of what I do is sell books and learning resources. Even if I didn't, though, I am a big believer in continuing to learn.

Read. Experiment. Explore. Talk about it. Try things. Watch videos. Listen to audios. Keep learning.

The world is changing so fast, how will you keep up? How do you get the training the need when you're not being offered the training you need? Keep reading.

You don't have to read every book cover to cover to find great value in it.

I used to think that if I started reading a book that I'd have to finish it. That got me slugging thru some poor material. Now I know that you can glean a lot from a book by scanning it, skimming it, reading what you need and leaving the rest for another time.

I do still read books cover to cover (some more than once!) AND I read a lot of books for what is relevant to me right now.

However you read, p…

When Comfort's Got to Go

Are you comfortable with something that's no good for you?

I sometimes find myself completely comfortable with a routine, habit, or situation that I somehow know isn't in my best interest and yet there is something cozy and comfortable about the reliably consistent.

Even when it's reliably disappointing, at least it's reliable.

We struggle to let go of the reliable. We struggle to approach the unknown. We struggle to let go.

Solving a problem may require you to change something your'e still comfortable with.

That won't be easy. That might take some courage. I'm willing to work on that this week - how about you?

-- Doug Smith

Work In The Present

Have you ever made a mistake you'd do anything to fix?

I have. That's a terrible feeling. I know exactly how to fix it now, what to do, the things to say, where to be, how to act...but can't do it. It requires the time machine I don't have.

I can't perfect the past.

It's done. It's stuck where I can't reach it. All the should-haves and would-haves are worthless currency - all I can do with that is learn from it. Learn, and move forward.

I can't perfect the past so I might as well work in the present.

Make things better now. Brush myself off, get back up, and learn.

Here we are. What's next?

-- Doug Smit

What Does A Promise Mean?

How do you feel about broken promises?

I hate them. They break my heart. They tear me up. And yet, I've broken lots of promises of my own.

It feels different when someone else breaks a promise. They've made a terrible mistake. And yet when it's me who has broken the promise I can easily find a rationalization or a reason or even put blinders on so that I don't see the broken promise.

Some days we all have blinders on. Some things we can't see because they're too close.

Then, what does a promise mean?

Is it really so transitory? Is it really just the hope of a promise and not really a promise? When we make a promise, how long are we obligated to keep it?

A promise is a promise. To break it requires a new agreement. If both people do not reach that new agreement, a broken promise is an infraction, a harm.

I'm learning oh so well to be very careful about promises. Careful about what I promise, and careful about what I accept from others as a promise. Maybe the…

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

Keep Growing

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 yo…