Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2016

There Is No License for Laziness

I like to take a day off once in a while. I enjoy long walks with nothing to do but walk. It's not all about outcomes and goals. But those outcomes and goals ARE still important. We earn our leisure, don't we?

The trouble with casual laziness is that it's contagious. And, laziness is persistent. And, before you know it, laziness becomes a way to be.

Don't be lazy. (That's me, talking to myself. Listen in if you want to!)

I like to come up with crazy ideas. I like to do weird work. I like to take long walks with nothing to think about but thinking.

I've lived long enough to be eccentric. But not long enough to be lazy.

Now, get busy...

-- Doug Smith

Know Why You Do What You Do

Remember that advertising slogan for a very questionable publication that kept saying "Inquiring minds want to know"?

We all have inquiring minds. We all need to know. And what we need to know the most is why. Why do we do what we do. What makes what we do cool, important, necessary?

It's never just a job. It's never just an interaction. There is always a reason why.

Know why. Figure out your why. Identify your mission.

Then roll with it.

-- Doug Smith

My good friend David Spiegel has pointed out that Simon Sinek is a great source on WHY. Here's the video where I first was drawn to his thinking on this:

Beat Chance

"That was lucky."

"If it's meant to be it will happen."

"Guess it just wasn't my time..."


It's not up to chance. It's not up to the universe. It's not up to luck.

It's up to you.

Get busy.

-- Doug Smith

Work Through Distractions

How many times today have you been distracted from your goal? Maybe THIS is a distraction? So I'll make this short: are you working on your most important goal today?

-- Doug Smith

Grow Beyond Your Limitations

What holds you back the most? For me, it's often that I over-analyze. I want to be sure. I calculate possibilities and assess risks so much that the energy can drain right out of the moment. And, when the moment is gone, we can lose the opportunity.

I'm working past that. I'm not quite at the point of the movie "Yes Man" (a great flick and a step in the direction of take the action, do the thing, just say yes!) but I'm better than before. Isn't that our job? To get better than before. To grow more. To keep going in the direction that set off in, to make things better?

You've got limitations. I've got limitations. All G-d's children have limitations. It's out job to grow beyond our limitations.

-- Doug Smith

It's Up To You

There is a lot of material out there declaring how the universe is on your side, how all you need to do is manifest what the universe is sending you, how you can attract good things by just being open to what the universe offers.

Some of it is quite inspiring. Much of it is entertaining. It's even delightful. It feels so promising, so hopeful, so optimistic. But, it's nonsense.

The universe does not care.

I believe in a higher power (G-d!) and I do believe that G-d cares and will facilitate what is within G-d's will. But the universe?

It's random. It's mathematical. It's endless. It's amazing. But it does not give a crap about you, me, or anyone else.

You want to achieve your goals? It's up to you. You want to see the biggest problems solved? Again, it's up to you. You want pizza for dinner? It's up to you.

-- Doug Smith

Work To Be Done

Many years ago when I was music director and touring with Child's Play Touring Theater we were putting together a show for children with a work-related theme. Children are often fascinated by jobs, by what their parents do, by what they see adults doing in the world.

It was just one of hundreds of shows that we did, but I remember one song from that show that I wrote especially. The first verse was:

there's a little bit of work to be done an American phenomenon there will always be a little bit of work to be done to be done, to be done, by everyone...
I can't take credit for the lyrics because we used poems and stories written by children as the basis for our material. It was fun.

And it reminds me today that what was true then is still true today. There's a little bit of work to be done. We have problems to solve. We have goals to achieve. High performance leaders are never finished.

Even as I near retirement age (don't fret, my bills will keep me working for yea…

Inspire Noble Goals

You know how to set goals. You do your best to lead. Are you setting more noble goals? Here's what i mean by noble goals: achievements to make the world a better place to live. Goals that do no harm. Solutions without side-effects.

That's tough work.

It starts with setting the right goals.

They might be bigger than you can ever imagine achieving. Don't wear yourself down. Be reasonable. But, set those noble goals anyway. We all need something big to work toward. And, heaven knows, we all need a better world.

-- Doug Smith

Make Room for the Big Stuff

When will you get to the big stuff?

Are you working on the big stuff right now? Are you working on the energizing, team-changing, life changing problems and goals that make the difference between a leader-in-name and a high performance leader?

No time? No room. Listen, nobody has room for the big stuff. We all have room for the big stuff. It's all a decision. Make that decision. Work on the big stuff.

Need to find time for the big stuff? Get the little stuff done. Finish it. Get it out of the way. It probably will take less time to finish than fret over anyway, so get that stuff done.

The report you've been putting off. The schedule. The budget. The cleaning. The decorating. Get it all done.

The big stuff is waiting.

-- Doug Smith


Here are the big goals that have my attention. I have no idea how to achieve any of them, but thought that sharing them is a start. I shared them previously on one of my other blogs:

Here are some goals worth growing…

Give That Crazy Idea A Chance

You can't keep a good idea down. Yet, so many leaders think that if they disagree with an idea - no matter how much merit it might have - that they can hold it down. Stopping a good idea is a bad idea.

How can a leader know if an idea is a good one?

You may never know for sure until you try it, but here are some signs:

- most of your team likes the idea
- the idea is a game-changing, even revolutionary concept
- the creative disagreement the idea stirs up creates energy
- you are moved from stasis to action
- the idea promote growth
- the idea is expressed with respect and enthusiasm

I often catch my first impulse being incorrect. I have learned to be careful of following what people affectionately call "gut instinct". My work in six sigma project management proved to me once and for all that gut instinct is often flat wrong. Our gut instinct equals our built in bias. Our gut instinct is that trench we keep marching in because it's too hard to get out of.

Our gut in…

Drop Irrelevant Goals

How does it feel to work on goals that don't matter? Frustrating! And yet we do it. Once committed (or worse, once assigned) we plug along on some goals that have lost their relevance. They don't matter. No one really cares, least of all us.

What's the point?

That slows us down! In my workshops I often quote Brian Tracy on setting priorities. "In order to prioritize we must have the courage to de-prioritize." No one can do everything.

Since we can't do everything, we must decide what we will not do. Often, as unpleasant as it may feel, that means letting go of goals that don't matter anymore.

Drop those irrelevant goals. Work on those that matter. Work on those that energize you and lead you toward your mission. Time marches on. March to the band that makes your heart beat with verve and happiness!

-- Doug Smith

Let Go Of Plan B

Do you always form a plan B, just in case plan A doesn't work?

I do that a lot. I like to manage my risk. It's good to have a back-up plan. One never knows what to expect. Things happen that leave us vulnerable and even empty-handed.

But a Plan B can also get in the way. If you find yourself focusing too much on Plan B, your Plan A suffers. How serious are you about your Plan A? Are you willing to work relentlessly, no matter what, on what you really want? Do you intend to achieve your goal?

So go ahead and form a back-up if it helps. But don't let your back-up drive you. Plan A is Plan A for a reason. Work that thing until you get it.

-- Doug Smith

Focus On The Goal

Don't you just hate it when a problem has you stumped? It is aggravating. Some problems just dance faster than we can keep up. The symptoms grow. The pain persists. The solution hides.

Focus on the goal instead. What is it that you truly want?

Convert your problem into a goal. For example:

"Everyone shows up late for our meetings" is a problem. Changed into a goal it becomes:

"How can I get the right people in the meeting?"

Do you see the difference? It's very subtle, yet profound. The first implies helplessness "oh woe is me" and the second implies that there is a way to do it -- we just have to figure out how.

Go with the goal. Focus on the goal. That will take care of the problem.

-- Doug Smith

Think of it As Coaching, Not Discipline

Are you a tough disciplinarian as a leader?

This isn't criticism about those who chose to hold their people to tough standards. You do what works for you and your team. I do offer the possibility of asking though, how is it working?

Leaders must be tough. There isn't any doubt in my mind about that. Leaders must also be tender. The times to be tough are usually in private. There may be some exceptions. I remember one time I absolutely let a team member know in no uncertain terms that their behavior was unacceptable, and I did it in front of the whole team. They welcomed it. That team member was inching toward out of control which was no good for them or for the team. So I let them have. Loudly.

But I can count on one hand the times that has happened in my over 35 years of leading teams. It wouldn't take a whole hand, either.

One other time that I did that was embarrassing to the team member, the team, and ultimately to me. I ended up apologizing, even though I was complet…