Saturday, August 18, 2018

Meet the Challenge

When the direction is unclear, when the heat seems unbearable, when the pressure is crushing you, when the problems stack high like a looming tower, put the problem into perspective:

A problem is there to challenge you, not break you.

Meet the challenge.

-- doug smith

Friday, August 17, 2018

Your Team Expects The Truth

You know how easy it is to lie. When people are quiet about it, it might even seem as if you can get away with it. Without a confrontation, who is to say what is truth anyway?

Somewhere, deep in your heart, you know better than that. High performance leaders cannot afford lies. They cannot afford having lies told to them -- the lies must be exposed. And, they cannot afford telling them -- because the lies WILL be exposed.

I have said it many times and I believe it firmly: the truth will always bubble to the top. It might take a long, long time but every lie will eventually be exposed. The truth emerges. When it does, high performance leaders feel good about having stayed with the truth. No spinning. No fibbing. No lies of omission, commission, or submission.

Your team is relying on you to tell the truth. (oh, and they will find out if you do -- or don't..."

-- doug smith

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

High Performance Leaders Learn to Respect

We live in a time when it is so easy to attack, so simple to disrespect. Our beliefs clash and our logic melts into emotions. It happens between friends, within families, and often, within our teams.

High performance leaders avoid the temptation to personalize every dispute. When that rush of adrenaline hits our hearts, we would do well to pause and think it over. Let people be people and lead with respect regardless.

It's harder when we don't know people very well because we jump to conclusions or we defend our emotional turf. Still, it's senseless.

It's harder when we know people so well that they know just how to push the right emotional buttons to flare us up and we know all their emotional triggers so well that we play right into the conflict.

Two extremes invite disrespect: not knowing someone at all and knowing them extremely well. What to do? Pause, and respect.

Pause, and respect.

-- doug smith

Friday, August 10, 2018

Respect Anyway

Respect does not require - or imply - agreement. doug smith

Do people need to earn your respect?

Some people do believe that it is necessary to prove yourself worthy of respect before someone should grant you respect. What's the problem with that? When we put ourselves into the position of judge we also open the door wider to being judged.

Can people tell when you respect them?  Undoubtably. We seem to have an inner radar that differentiates respect from disrespect -- or worse, disregard. We can tell, and we care. Deeply.

Whatever a person has done in the past that we might question, it is still possible to treat them with respect. Kindness, compassion, even love know no limits.

Respecting someone does not mean that you agree with everything that they've ever done -- or even with what they are  doing or saying right now. Respect means that you treat them with human dignity, fairness, compassion, and honor.

I know that it can be tough to show respect in the heat of an argument or when someone is not acting in a likable manner. It can be tough to respect someone who irritates the crap out of you. Hey...respect them anyway.

I will do my best. How about you?

-- doug smith

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Leaders Recognize Anger

Quotes on Leadership - douglas brent smith
photo by Eric Weber
Are your team members ever angry with you?

Whether you are a creative artist, a business person, a not-for-profit consultant...whatever -- when we are doing important, passionate work we will sometimes generate anger. It might be unexpected. It might be provoked. People get angry.

Anger can cloud our understanding. We can disagree. We disagree every day with some one (and sometimes it feels like half the world!) The better path, better than getting upset, is to clarify. If we disagree, we can figure out how to understand. Unless we understand, all the anger in the world is wasted energy. High performance leaders find ways to disagree respectfully while staying open to new possibilities. Ever been wrong? I'm wrong at least once a day.

Disagreeing with my truth is often useful. Getting angry at it seldom is.

-- doug smith

Test Those Terms of Agreement

Have you ever really read the complete terms of agreement on any device, any contract? If so, when was the last time that you did it?

We skim over those things. We click "agree" as fast as we can scroll to it and move on with whatever it was that we wanted to do.

That's high risk. You know that, I know that, and yet we do that anyway.

It's hard to stop. But here's what I would like you (and me) to stop, to desist from, to resist. Stop doing that to others. Just don't do it.

Be gentle. Be kind. Be honest. Be real. And (when you can) be brief.

Overwhelming people;le with long, extensive, even convoluted terms of agreement is a low form of coercion and manipulation. Here's why:

  • it's not an agreement, it's a weapon
  • agreements that are unjust and unfair are NOT agreements
  • it's not clever or smart to trick someone (say, your customer) into signing away rights -- it's evil and it's theft
  • the ability to take advantage of someone's ignorance does not give you the right to (read that one again!)
  • obedience implies oppression
  • play fair or face an unfair consequence
I mean that. Play fair or face an unfair consequence. It may take a while, but the equation always seeks to balance itself. When things even-out, it could get ugly.

Besides, you DO want to be able to sleep at night, right?

-- doug smith

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

You May Not Need Every Tool

Do you have a lot of tools?

I don't. I had a nice collection inherited from my dad (I call them a collection because I collected them but when they were his he actually USED them) until they were destroyed in a fire.

Now, an apartment dweller, I have few tools. I still don't use all of them -- but I know how.

When we are solving problems we have many tools. The temptation is to use them all. It's oddly satisfying to bring out tool after tool. Satisfying, but sometimes inefficient. Simplicity - elegant simplicity is often best.

Use the tools that work, and leave the rest for another time.

It isn't always necessary to overwhelm a problem in order to solve it.

Sometimes the solution is right there in from of you and in need of only one tool. Dialogue. Talk about it and see what happens. You might just solve that problem faster than you expected.

-- doug smith

Monday, August 6, 2018

Do You Understand?

It's not always easy. We don't always succeed. There is so much distance between some of us that the easier path is to isolate, seclude, allude, and dig in. Hiding from the truth does not keep it at bay. Pretending that ignorance is fine is...not.

I have often failed to understand someone -- sometimes for lack of trying enough and sometimes because they were not telling me the truth when I thought that they were. But making the effort -- that's where I rest today. It's not enough to hope I've got it right. I must work at it, dig deeper, ask better questions, and stop judging. All tough, but helpful. All the tools of love.

Understanding someone is an act of love.

Do you understand?

-- doug smith

Sunday, August 5, 2018

High Performance Survival

High performance leaders solve problems. They solve their problems and they work with their team members to solve collective team problems (because any team problem becomes a collective problem - impossible to isolate.)

Using the right balance of clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion high performance leaders facilitate the kind of dialogue that challenges, encourages, cooperates, and collaborates. They talk about it. Their team talks about it. They get it done.

It can be rough going solving problems. Personalities can get excited. High performance leaders find ways to remain centered. How? Of course it depends. Here are some ways to remain centered when you're solving problems:

  • Breathe
  • Pause
  • Maintain respect
  • Think creatively
  • Consider many, many possibilities
  • Suspend your inner judge and stay curious
  • Trust that others have ideas as great as yours
There's more to it of course. Solving problems is a dynamic, difficult adventure. But by taking the time to solve problems your team will become more cohesive and your results more productive.

High performance leadership thru clarity, courage, creativity, and compassion

Survival depends on ever-increasing problem skills.

And when you DO constantly learn and grow your problem solving skills, teams can move from surviving to thriving.

Isn't that what you want?

-- doug smith 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Develop Discipline

Leading on the front lines can wear you down. The day-to-day routine with its reports and meetings can wear you down. That rut can take over just when you need to grow some wings and fly.

High performance leaders works thru those ruts. They find time to grow, to learn, to develop their skills even as the demands of the every day wear them down. It takes resolve. It takes experience. It takes discipline.

Successful supervisors value and develop discipline. In themselves, in their team members, and in their organization.

-- doug smith

Monday, July 30, 2018

Avoid Surprising Your Boss

Your boss likes to know what's going on and that you are on a path to achieve your goals. Things happen you didn't plan on. You might even get surprised by a negative outcome, or a team member who goes over your head, or a customer who simply can't be pleased. Don't let that happen too often. Stay in touch. Keep connected.

Especially, keep in contact with your boss. Let her know what's going on and what risks are out there. Let her know that whatever happens, you will handle it and that her good name is safe with you on her side.

Because unless it's your boss's birthday, your boss does like surprises.

-- doug smith

Build Enthusiam

If you want your team to be excited about your goals, you've got to set the example. Talk about them, promote them, staff them, resource them, and mainly keep your leadership focus on your goals. When they are important to you -- and obviously so -- they are much more likely to be important to others.

Successful supervisors build enthusiasm for their goals.

-- doug smith

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Who Makes The Rules?

Have you ever known a leader who loves to make up rules?

One of my favorite quotes comes from that great fictional leader, Lou Grant, who once proclaimed "I don't like to make a lot of rules because then I just have to enforce them!"


High performance leaders develop team members who always do their best, who exercise their best judgment, and who constantly grow. They also make mistakes, but they don't need a lot of rules about those mistakes. Learn, grow, adjust and move on is more like the approach that works rather than "follow these exact rules or we'll write your butt up and ship you out..."

Of course we need rules. Of course their are boundaries and ethical limits. But, be care about unilaterally imposing rules as a test of your will.

Your rules are not automatically my rules.

To test that theory is to court disappointment...

-- doug smith

Saturday, July 28, 2018

High Performance Leaders Keep Their Promises

Do you keep your promises? I do my best, and yet I know I've broken some serious promises. We can learn from broken promises but it's easier to learn than it is to heal. A broken promise is a lie proven. A broken promise is a heart stomped on and painted over brown. A broken promise hurts.

High performance leaders keep their promises. I've learned that could mean to make fewer promises AND to keep track of them. Ask someone to hold you accountable. Write it down. Believe it.

Making any promise lightly comes back a heavy load. The hurt of broken words exceeds whatever convenience felt worthy at the time.

Here are some promises leaders make:

  • Of course I've got your back
  • You'll get all the training you need
  • We live by our values every day at this company
  • I promise to review your work and make it worth your while
  • Your place is secure here...
You get the idea. Promises that leaders make are promises that they should not break.

The thing about promises is that at least one person never forgets.

Even if you do...

-- doug smith

Friday, July 27, 2018

Leaders Forgive

Your people will make mistakes. Your people will disappoint you. It's what humans do. How you react as a leader will determine what they do with those mistakes.

We can fix our problems. We can learn from our mistakes. We grow, we build, we correct, we change.

But condemnation? Once a leader has written off someone by disrespecting them so severely that they won't listen, won't forgive, won't adjust...that becomes a leader who has not only failed to nurture the troubled relationship, they will likely end up with nothing but troubled relationships.

I can fix my mistakes but not your condemnation. How about you?

-- doug smith

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Love Leadership

Can you be a high performance leader without loving your gig?

I've know some great leaders in my life. Some were happy. Some were not. The ones who seemed to live the happiest of lives not only worked harder than anyone else around them (the price of leadership) they also loved what they did. They loved their field of play, their work, their calling, with  an unrelenting passion.

When a leader can give all there is to give out of love, it makes the hard work and service of leadership more than worth it -- it makes it a joy.

Leaders do need more than love. They do need ambition, hard work, discipline, education, and sometimes a little luck comes in hand. But they do need love.

Love isn't always enough, but it always belongs in the mix.

-- doug smith

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Unconditional Love's Payoffs Take Time

Unconditional love's payoffs take time. At first, it can feel like you've given way too much. For a time, it can seem like an imbalance that will never center itself again. The wings are heavy, the time feels hard.

Let the conditions go. Let the symptoms go. Let the time relax.

Unconditional love may sometimes feel like it costs more than it gives -- until it doesn't.

Hang in there.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A High Performance Leader's First Task

Your first job as a leader is to be in charge of stuff you believe in, because unless you believe in the stuff that you are in charge of it's going to be very difficult to excel as a leader.

Your first job, if that's not true, is to align that -- to make that true. If you can't do that in your organization, to show -- to demonstrate that you are a leader you may have to lead yourself someplace else.

Otherwise, how will you ever have credibility as a leader? How will you ever have the authenticity to truly lead? How else will you ever really walk the talk, model the role of a leader unless you believe in what you're commanding, what you're directing, what you are, more importantly, facilitating?

So that's it -- your first role as a leader is to be in charge of stuff you believe in. If you can't embrace what you're in charge of you could be in the wrong place. If you're not in charge of stuff you believe in, there is your opportunity for growth.

-- doug smith

Friday, June 29, 2018

High Performance Leaders Improvise

It sounds like name dropping here, so forgive me, but I once studied improv with Paul Sills. Paul is the son of Viola Spolin, who wrote the best book ever on improv - "Improvisation for the Theatre." My time spent taking Paul's class in a little space next to Second City in Chicago changed my life for the better in hundreds of ways.

I became a much better actor. I took more risks. I stopped over-reacting. The work became a team effort instead of a test of egos. It was like magic.

As it turns out, improvisation is not just good for actors - it's great for everyone. We all must improvise sometimes. Problems may have process-based solutions much of the time, but sometimes the solution is just not easy to find. People may follow our leadership gladly much of the time but sometimes they need something different, something that's hard to define. As high performance leaders, we must improvise.

It's not just making things up. It's not going for the punchline or trying to be clever. Paul would sometimes say "stop playwriting" meaning -- stop trying to force the creativity. It must instead flow, and that comes from being real. High performance leaders are real. They show integrity. Just as a talented improv actor does NOT pretend to be someone else* a high performance leader does not "fake it until they make it." You are who you are, in harmony with your team, in alignment with your mission.

That's not just powerful, it's fun.

The basic rules of improv do apply to leadership:

- say yes / and, instead of either / or
- support your team instead of invalidating them
- there are no mistakes, only opportunities

Depending on what you read, there are dozens of other possible improv rules. Those three will take you far - in acting, and in leadership.

High performance leaders improvise. Here are a few ways you might want to improvise as a leader:

- discovering how to best motivate your team members
- creating new solutions to problems
- connecting on a human level to create deeper conversations
- making presentations that spark interest and influence people

How can you add improvisation to your leadership style this week?

doug smith

* True, to some degree acting is pretending to be someone else. To complete BECOME someone else is dangerous for the art and dangerous for the artist. We still hold onto who we are, just as a leader holds onto who she is. It's beyond pretending, though. It is feeling, showing, and sharing real reactions to situations, not faking them.

P.S. For a deeper dive:
Alan Alda wrote a useful and highly entertaining book on using improv skills to communicate more effectively. "If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?" (My Adventures in the Art and Sciend of Relating and Communicating) shows how to take the basics of improv and dramatically improve your ability to communicate and (most importantly) connect with other people. High performance leaders will benefit from reading and applying this book.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Keep Learning

When we reach our limit, it means we have an opportunity. We can stay where we are, which eventually leads to sliding backwards, or we can find a way to learn.

We can do better than our best by learning.

Learning is how we grow.

Learning is how we improve.

Learning is how we do better than our previous best.

What have you learned today?

-- doug smith

Monday, June 18, 2018

Your Goals Need People

No matter how great a goal is that we've set, we still need the right people and the right actions to achieve that goal. Writing a splendid goal looks good on paper. Action is where the action is.

The right goals need the right goals working them. If that's your goal, then you are one of those people.

Our goals are as effective as the people involved. Engage the right people, and the rest is easy.

-- doug smith

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Clarify Your Goals

How could someone have goals that aren't what they say they are?

Lots of ways, such as:

- their boss assigned the goals but the team member doesn't commit
- they are confused about what results they really want
- they don't realize how under-whelming the goal is and feel uninspired
- the goals have expired and it's really time to set new ones

Lots of reasons.

We need to check in on our goals frequently. We even need to change them sometimes. Goals are important -- isn't it worth getting them right?

When our goals are not what we say they are we aren't likely to get what we want.

-- doug smith

Bring the two-day workshop "Supervising for Success" to your location

Give your front line supervisors two days of training that will pay off in improved performance, engagement, and motivation for years to come.


  1. Developing leadership capacity, strength, and flexibility
  2. Ten keys to leadership success
  3. Achieving your supervisory goals
  4. Communicating for results
  5. Building your team
  6. Motivating yourself and others
  7. Manage your time without driving yourself crazy
  8. Coaching to improve performance
  9. Facilitating highly productive meetings
  10. Solving team problems collaboratively

Supervisors are challenged in every direction. They usually don't get the training they need and end up with more problems and headaches than they'd ever imagined possible. It doesn't have to be that way.

The key tasks of a supervisor can be learned. Our time tested and field tested training methods get your supervisors to explore, discover, and practice the key skills that will make a positive difference in their performance, their teams, and their lives.

How to bring this workshop to your location:

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For more information, contact us here:

Supervising for Success - Leadership Training in Bucks County, PA

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

High Performance Leaders Build Positive Habits

High performance leaders surround themselves with positive people. They recruit and develop people who take positive actions instead of complaining or blaming. They set the example by modeling positive behaviors. They spot their counter-productive habits and redirect them to positive ones.

Reading everyday.

Developing collaborative relationships.

Taking competition seriously without destroying anyone.

Solving problems with the strength to create solutions that leave no victims and no losers.

A positive leader builds a positive team. What you see may be what you get -- but it's also true that what your TEAM sees, from you, you will get.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Honor Your Team

Have you thanked everyone on your team this week? If not, how many of your team members have you thanked?

It's easy to take your stars for granted. They keep working hard no matter what and delivering on their promises. But if you take your stars for granted too long, they go away. Possibly to a competitor. Stars have choices.

It's easy to take a typical performer for granted. Aren't they getting paid to do their job? Shouldn't they be grateful? But typical performers can turn into poor performers if they are ignored. Without the coaching to perform, how do you know they will continue to grow?

It's easy to take your poor performers for granted. Maybe you even dream about an exit plan for them. But while they are there they could be doing irreparable harm to your team, your customers, and even your organization. Behavior is contagious. Ignore poor performance and soon you've more of it than you can stand.

Everyone on your team is important. You can, as a leader, make the most of them and help them grow, or think the least of them and watch them sink. Choose growth. Choose performance.

Never take anyone for granted.

-- doug smith

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Manage The Important Time

How do you manage your time?

I've taught time management skills for longer than most people I meet have been alive. Some things change (technology, styles, priorities) and some things stay the same (healthy habits, counter-productive habits.) It's all important and some of it is helpful to apply. But what comes first?

Once I realized that time is the one common currency -- the one resource we are all truly created equal in -- I realized how important it was to not get everything done but instead to get what is important done. To focus on the vital. To savor the healthy. To grow.

Because all the time in the world doesn't matter if it's spent on things you don't like.

It's why some minutes feel like hours and yet some weeks feel like days. When we are happy with our actions, when we are in that blissful flow of creative sparking and helping -- time truly flies.

Managing time only works if you're happy doing what you're doing.

Do that, and manage the rest.

-- doug smith

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

High Performance Leaders Get Out of the Way

If you've ever had a leader slow you down, you know how frustrating that is. Not enough resources, not enough support, even undermining your efforts. That's not leadership - that's obstruction.

Leaders provide guidance. Leaders provide direction. Leaders provide training and inspiration. At some point, high performance leaders need the trust to delegate and stay out of the way.

My limitations have no business slowing you down.

How about yours?

-- doug smith

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Always Forgive

I do not enjoy it when someone breaks a promise. And yet, I have broken promises.

I do not like it when someone lies to me. And yet, I have lied.

I'm not fond of broken hearts, yet truth be told I have broken hearts I should have loved unconditionally.

We are flawed creatures in need of learning, in need of helping, in need of forgiving.

Forgiveness brings peace that even can't reveal.

Always forgive.

-- doug smith

Thursday, May 3, 2018

High Performance Leaders Keep Their Promises

Do you make a lot of promises?

Leaders with credibility keep their promises. To keep their promises, high performance leaders prevent themselves from over-promising. Not too many promises. No promises too large.

Tell the truth. Stretch yourself, but don't break yourself and for goodness sake don't break your word.

We should make few promises because they are so hard to keep.

No one wants to hear "I tried." We're listening for, "Yes, I did."

-- doug smith

Sunday, April 29, 2018

We Are Always Becoming

High performance leaders know that we are always becoming. Every day we have the opportunity to grow. We will stumble along the way. We will make mistakes that make us cringe. But when we keep learning, when we keep growing, we are always becoming a better version of ourselves.

A version of ourselves that makes a positive difference.

A version of ourselves who helps others in need.

A version of ourselves that forgets our troubles and solves problems while achieving our goals.

Let's be that. Let's become.

-- doug smith

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Chaos Screams: Prioritize!

I'm still looking for someone who can do everything. Every task on their list, every task on their boss's list, every goal in their endless stream of goals.

I still haven't found them.

I'm still looking for the person who can finish everything they've started, who can achieve any goal while tackling all goals, and who never gets nervous in the process.

I still haven't found them.

No one can do everything.

Not even you.

Chaos comes when we try to do everything. Chaos comes when everything looks like it's as important as everything else. Chaos comes, and it screams.

Do you hear the screaming? Do you enjoy the screaming?

Chaos screams! Prioritize.

Prioritize and chaos will settle down.

-- doug smith

Friday, April 13, 2018

Clear Enough May Not Be Clear Enough

How clear is your message?

You'll know it's clear when it's understood. You'll know it's understood when your intended audience communicates it back to you, meaning and tone and urgency intact.

Clarity requires constant clarification. Chances are you're not done.

-- doug smith

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Start Prioritizing With Your Goals

It feels harder than ever these days to prioritize. We get pulled into so many directions it's hard to know what to do first. Every day feels like life on the edge of (or in the middle of) chaos. What to do?

Common sense says priories. Decide what is most important and focus first on that. Build the future you want by working on it today.

The place to start?

The place to start prioritizing is with your goals. Limit how many you have. Rank the ones you have set by priority, and then focus your efforts accordingly.

We all have to start somewhere. It might as well be with our goals.

-- doug smith

Monday, April 2, 2018

Test Your Assumptions

When was the last time one of your assumptions was wrong?

It's so easy to jump to conclusions. We fill-in-the-blanks so many times in so many ways because it's just part of being human. But, when we assume that things are not going in our favor, when maybe there is no reason to, we do ourselves no service.

This is a picture of a recent training room for one of my workshops. It was day two of the two-day workshop and since the hotel staff had in the past forgotten to unlock the door to my room. I arrived, and sure enough the door was locked. Rather than get upset (something I might have experienced in the past) I calmly contacted the hotel staff and politely, yet assertively, asked to have my door unlocked.

"I can do that, sir," said a polite maintenance gentleman, "but you could also just walk in thru that second, open door..."

"Oh. Gee. Thanks!"

That was just a little embarrassing. Just about fifteen feet from the locked door was an open door. My assumption ("I'm locked out!") was completely incorrect.

I know better. You know better. And yet, every once in a while it is so easy to jump to a conclusion that I do. And often, when you jump to a conclusion, you've fallen into a trap.

Test your assumptions. The answer you're looking for might be right there all along.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Do Your Best

The fourth agreement of don Miguel Ruiz's Four Agreements is "always do your best." Whatever you do, when you do your best you can sleep at night, you can breathe, you can relax, you can rest assured that your efforts matter.

Things will get in the way. Trouble will follow you. People will disappoint you. Never mind. Do your best and keep moving.

It's the best we can do.

-- doug smith

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Know the Difference

Whenever I've been too sensitive I have confused criticism with condemnation. I have since come to realize that no-one really appreciates judgment. We do need feedback, but we need it in the form of observations -- not judgment.

We can react to feedback. We can choose to take suggestions, or chose not to, and not take it personally. But judgement just flat out feels negative and so we recoil. We withdraw. We miss the message.

Knowing the difference between criticism and condemnation helps us decide when to react and when to recoil. Criticism, framed as feedback, we can take. Condemnation is of no use at all.

-- doug smith

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Say It With Kindness

I appreciate direct communication. It's seldom that anyone can offend me by being too direct. But, that's not always true about me, and I'm sure that some people find direct communication too much. They resist it. They bristle at it. They send their people to training to overcome it.

I'm not set on changing direct communication except -- except to add this. Say it with kindness. Say it with respect. Dignify yourself and the people you communicate with. Communicate for results in ways that leave room for both courage and compassion.

If I can't say it with kindness then it isn't yet true.

"What do you mean, it isn't true?"

"It isn't yet at its best until it's kind."

"But, it can still be true..."

"Is incomplete still true? Is it still true if it does not return the best possible result?"

"It's the results that I want, I'm just in a hurry. I don't have time to be kind!"

"Maybe. But also, maybe you don't have time NOT to be kind. Think of the reactions. Think of the changes. Think about whether someone feels resentment instead of contentment. No matter how well you say it, won't it sound better with kindness?"

-- doug smith

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Right to Serve

It's easy to think of ourselves first. And, if we're not careful, it's just as easy to think of ourselves last. Honestly, it's easy to think about ourselves all the time. Sometimes I've done it.

But do you know where the biggest payoff is? Do you know where the most profound joy is? The biggest kick the best reward is in helping others.

The strongest action is seldom the self-centered one. The strongest action is one that helps another.

-- doug smith

Thursday, March 1, 2018

You Can Handle The Truth

Why do people shy away from the truth?

Lately, I've been telling my workshop participants that they can handle the truth, and that starting right away they can tell the truth in ways that other people can also handle it.

What's the alternative? We tell so many lies. We cover up so much useful information. We deceive so many people, but always temporarily because the truth will always bubble to the top. Why not stay on the high road to begin with?

-- doug smith

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Say What You Mean

Do you keep it to yourself, even when you're trying to say something?

Have you ever regretted NOT saying something?

I have. Too many times. I kept thinking that another opportunity to say it would come around. There would always be tomorrow. Maybe I'd think of the perfect words to say if I just waited.

But the time would pass, and the opportunity would go with it. We seldom know when some occasion might be the last opportunity we have to say what we're thinking to someone. If it is important, say it.

Oh, sure -- by resolving to say what's on my mind I have not only risked embarrassing myself, I have done a splendid job of doing that. Words are harder to take back than they are to say. But at least I said it. Nobody can read my mind. As my good friend Judi Madigan says, "my crystal ball is broken and all the snow has dried up..." Say what you mean.

There's no point to waiting to say what you mean -- you may not get the chance again.

-- doug smith

Friday, February 23, 2018

Be Prepared

Opportunity doesn't send invitations; it sneaks up on you, surprises you in the middle of doing something else, and then keeps you awake poking you until you rise to the occasion. If you ignore it long enough, it slips away in the dead of night and finds someone else who is more awake.

Are you ready?

Are you ready for your next level of leadership?

It could be ready for you.

-- doug smith

Monday, February 19, 2018

Security Comes From Doing

Do you worry? Do you make things up that never happen? Do you you shy away from opportunity because it might turn out wrong? I've done all of that, way too much. I don't now where insecurity comes from, but it is welcome to go back there, tuck its self in for a long nap, and stay far, far away.

Insecurity is one of those wasted feelings. It doesn't help, but it does stand in the way. Security comes from doing. When I start to feel doubts creeping in, my new resolve is to do. Get started. Act. As one of my old bosses, Jack Macklin once said, "You can always fix a mistake, but first you've got to make it." Get moving.

-- doug smith

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Switch On The New Lights

There are many ways that a high performance leader achieves high performance, but one of them is NOT staying stuck in the past. It's tempting to focus on what went wrong, or perhaps to revel repeatedly about an accomplishment of the past. Meanwhile, time clicks on, life fills each day, and each day drains a little away.

I like to remember the past. There are some wonderful moments back there. Reminiscing can bring smiles. That's fine. I do remind myself, though, that the power is in the present for the needs of the future. The work is now. The moment is now. The power is now.

The past has no power. Those lights are already out.

-- doug smith

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Try Something Else

It may be natural to think of ourselves first. It's perfectly normal to look out for our own interests. But, that's different than self-centered. We need to consider others in our actions and especially in our solutions. As leaders, the purpose behind our purpose should be to make things better -- for ourselves AND for others.

The strongest action is seldom the self-centered one.

-- doug smith

Thursday, February 8, 2018

There Is Power In What You Say

High performance leaders realize that there is power in what they say. A few words can make the difference between a stronger relationship and a more flexible team or a broken promise and a shattered dream.

What we say maters.

It's amazing how much a little can mean.

Let's choose that little like it's a lot. Because it is.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Choose Your Expectations Carefully

How do the people on your team feel about your expectations? How well are you communicating your standards, your insistence, your urgency?

Your people are listening carefully to you. Maybe more carefully than you imagine. Sometimes they understand you and sometimes (gasp!) they misunderstand you. Be intentional about what you say.

What we say creates expectations -  about what we want, about what we expect, about how we operate and behave.

Your team will do its best to meet your expectations, so choose your expectations carefully.

-- doug smith

doug smith training

Sunday, February 4, 2018

High Performance Leaders Strive for Shared Understanding

We can get stuck in disagreement. We can get stuck reaching for agreement. One thing helps both problems: reaching a shared understanding.

You don't have to agree, but if you understand you are one step closer to influencing someone to your view -- or perhaps even one step closer to remaining open to being influenced.

So many of us are stuck in our positions. It's not working. We need to listen. We need to focus. We need to understanding.

Understanding brings us together. Understanding smoothes our rough edges. Understanding makes us adjust our perspective enough to make room for others, and when we make room for others miraculously there is more room for us as well.

Shared understanding is a powerful bond. Will you work on that today?  -- I know that I will.

-- doug smith

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Past As Lesson

Sometimes I like to imagine that I can go back in time and fix some mistake. Something I said, but shouldn't have...something I didn't say, but should have.

A look, a sigh, a moment taken distracted when someone needed my attention. Could I just please fix all that?

We are who we are and we got here the way that we got here. There is no changing that. And -- there's no stopping us from learning. From it, and from more. To keep learning.

We can't fix the past, but we can learn from it.

To say what we want to say. To do what we need to do. To grow instead of standing still. To make the gesture, hold the hand, hug the friend, attend to the one in need.

We can learn.

-- doug smith

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Stretch Yourself

Are you stretching? Are you expanding your boundaries? Are you trying new things and developing new skills?

No matter how much we resist it, we are born to stretch ourselves and test our limits.

Stretch. Repeat. Don't stop.

-- doug smith

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Deep Confidence

Doubt is a butt-kicker. It slows down performance. Do you know what's way better than doubt? Preparation. Training. Persistence. Discipline. Working harder everyday to get that job done and achieve that goal.

High performance leaders are as capable of doubt as anyone. What they do differently is assess the doubt, look past the fear, and persevere.

-- doug smith

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

High Performance Leaders Forgive

If we can forgive our past we can work on our future...doug smith

It's not easy. Forgiving others is tough enough. Forgiving ourselves is monumental. We can never completely fix a wrong. The long tail of short comings seems to last forever.

But why get stuck there? Unable to fix the past, let's forgive and move forward. Let's work to make something better. Let's work to make everything better.

If we can forgive our past we can work on our future.

-- doug smith