Earl R. Smith II, PhD

Sep 262016
 

Earl R. Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com
Dr-Smith.com

For most of today’s leaders, their success largely depends on their ability to persuade people, such as employees, other staff members, and even family members, to get things done. In order to be successful, in today’s tough corporate world, you must be proficient in the art of persuasion. You must convince others to take action on your behalf even when you have no formal authority! Continue reading »

Sep 172016
 

Earl R. Smith II. PHD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com
Dr-Smith.com

Every so often one of my mentoring engagements comes to focus on an essential question – one so basic that I have to stop and marvel at its simplicity and clarity. That recently happened. I was in the early stages of working with a CEO who was having problems with his senior management team. In fact, this CEO had had a series of problems with a series of senior teams. So I decided to turn our discussion directly into the issue and put the question directly to him – let’s call him Bob[1] for convenience – “so, what makes you a leader that people should follow”? Continue reading »

Sep 102016
 

Earl R. Smith II. PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com
Dr-Smith.com

I always take a few minutes at the end of each day to journal. I have found this time is always well spent. First I re-read the entries from the prior week or so – it helps keep things in perspective – to connect with what some Native Americans call the ‘long view’. Then I turn my attention to the day. I think about each thing that I did – the people I met – experiences I had – things that I learned – and how it felt to live through the day. Continue reading »

Aug 262016
 

Earl R. Smith II. PHD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com
Dr-Smith.com

Organizations wishing to improve the abilities – and value – of their rising stars often offer them executive coaching. The use of this type of coaching is now fairly wide spread. Coaching programs are no longer only for executives who are ‘problem leaders’. Executive coaching offers an opportunity to leverage leadership talent as well as resources. Senior executives such as CEOs and Chairmen – who understand the role their executives in the growth of the companies – frequently seek coaching arrangements for them. Yet sometimes coaching just does not seem to work. Why? Continue reading »

Aug 232016
 

Earl R. Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com
Dr-Smith.com

Good leadership is always part nature and part nurture. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are continually leading yourself and others. The question is “how good are you at it?” The good news is that, with focus and effort, you can improve your leadership skills and get more out of life. Here are some things you might think about in your effort to become a more effective leader: Continue reading »

Aug 172016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

Many of my mentoring engagements are with CEO’s who are dedicated to improving their abilities and growing into their ever changing and expanding roles. One of the areas which we tend to focus on is the decision-making process. Interestingly, it is actually the pre-decision part which gives most of them problems. I regularly encounter clients who spend a great deal of time and energy dreading the meeting or situation in which they will have to make and implement an important decision. Then there are clients who, under the pressure to make such a decision, race right to making it in order to relieve the tension. Both end up with unanticipated first and second order effects from their actions. Continue reading »

Aug 162016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

According to many modernist social theorists, questions of identity center on an ‘authentic knowledge’ of the ‘self’ and of the shelves of others. It was generally accepted that there was a unique core within each person which formed the very foundation of who they ‘were’. According to these theories, most of that foundation was laid down during the early or ‘formative’ years. Those early ossifications constituted the fountainhead from which the mature individual arose. Continue reading »

Aug 142016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

The years since the 2002 passage of Sarbanes-Oxley have seen a number of positive trends in board structure, management, operation and influence. At the same time, counter trends have highlighted companies which have attempted to maintain the ‘old paradigm’ of business as usual. These attempts have often resulted in conflict between management and the board of directors. Continue reading »

Aug 132016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

It’s seldom the dog that you love that bites you
it’s almost always the one you can barely tolerate.

Many companies fail for reasons that have little to do with their core product or service. It is often the afterthoughts or ‘under-thoughts’ that cause failure when success has been looming on the horizon. Continue reading »

Aug 102016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

There is danger in living on a non-stop endorphin high. In the first place, the human body is simply not engineered for such an existence. But more importantly the human soul requires an alternative to the nonstop, heated rush that such a life entails. Continue reading »

Jul 182016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

Most behaviors are patterns – recurring tendencies – rather than one-off acts. People tend to do the same thing over and over even though it generates unsatisfactory results. They don’t seem to be able to take the most common sense advice.

If hitting yourself in the head with a hammer is causing you pain, put down the damn hammer!

This sage advice is so routinely ignored that I have come to accept that the underlying drivers of the behavior are beyond the control of the individuals who continuously run into walls and can never seem to figure out why they are hurting.

Now you would think that it is so obvious that one should avoid self-sabotaging behaviors that it is unnecessary to focus on it. But that is not the case. Let look at one of the most visible and self-damaging patterns.

SelfSabotageFrom the World of Politics: There are a group of people in this country who support a political party that has been the cause of their increasing economic and social discomfort. Daily we see images of people who have nothing or next to nothing supporting a political establishment that is dedicated to transferring wealth upward from the poor and middle class to the wealthy.

Take the example of Elkhart, Indiana. The policies of the Bush administration had decimated the economy and social structure of the town. Unemployment was very high, jobs were being moved overseas, homes were being lost to foreclosure as a result of the free market philosophies of simple-minded Radians and Libertarians. In short, the town and its population were the victims of a cabal that was dedicated to sucking every last asset out of places like Elkhart and passing it on to their wealthy patrons.

So the Obama administration comes into office facing a major economic and financial meltdown – not to mention having to deal with wars that the Republicans started so that they could accelerate their project of making the wealthy wealthier. Elkhart was on its ass. But, over a period of seven years, and as a direct result of sensible policies, the town recovered. Unemployment went down as jobs came back, housing prices began to rise and, most importantly, so did disposable income levels. Elkhart was back big time.

It seems reasonable to assume that the people of Elkhart have the same aspirations as the rest of us. They want a better future for their children, good jobs, a town that flourishes and is a great place to live. They want to be secure in their homes and live the American Dream. That makes what came next so difficult to understand.

President Obama recently made a visit to Elkhart. The reception he received was striking. Instead of being welcomed as the leader of a highly sucessful rescue effort – an effort that gave them their future back – that put Elkhart back on the map – he was treated as the enemy. It was clear that the people of Elkhart could not wait to vote for another Republican as president. The question is why.  How could blind partisan politics trump self-interest? Why would a group of people prefer the group that almost destroyed their town to the one that came to its rescue and helped to save it? Why would the people of Elkhart risk the future of their town, their own future and the future of their children by backing a political party that clearly screwed them before? Why would they favor the decimator over the rescuer?

urlEnjoying The Pain? There is no explanation available that meets any standards of logic. No step-by-step analysis will provide even the remotest sensibility. The behavior is simply irrational and self-sabotaging. It is like insisting that your daughter marry the guy who regularly beats her up because you like his aftershave. The residents of Elkhart are apparently eager to drink the koolaid and suffer the stomach cramps with a smile.

Try this possible explanation: The people of Elkhart have such a low opinion of themselves and their town that they believe that they deserve to get screwed and cannot understand how anybody would come to their rescue. They believe that they don’t deserve to succeed and anyone who helps them fail is their friend.

The strength of any hypothesis is measured by its ability to predict future actions. This one pivots on the assumption that the people of Elkhart enjoy getting screwed and are willing to do everything within their power to make sure that they get screwed as often and thoroughly as possible. That seems to be a fair predictor of what the people of Elkhart are likely to prefer.

Overriding Fundamental Human Responses: Self-sabotaging behavior are potent as much for what they proscribe as what they prescribe. Simple human responses such as gratefulness for improving opportunities and a tendency to thank those who helped to make their lives better are strictly forbidden. How do you explain this? The closest I can come is the Stockholm syndrome.

Capture-bonding is a psychological phenomenon described in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.

The captives in that 1973 hostage crisis not only accepted their role are prey of their captors, they came to identify with and actually admire them. Perhaps the residents of Elkhart have accepted that they and their children are appropriately the victims of the Republican party and are determined to play their role even at the expense of their well being and the future of their children. That they are eunuchs in the elephant’s harem.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds.svgHierarchy of Needs: In 1943 a professor named Abraham Maslow published A Theory of Human Motivation. In it he outlined a hierarchy of needs that defined human reactions to the situation they found themselves in. The bottom of his pyramid – the very basic of human needs – was physiological. Air, water, and food are metabolic requirements for survival in all animals, including humans. Clothing and shelter provide necessary protection from the elements.

But the voters of Michigan apparently prefer to be governed by a cabal that provides some citizens lead poisoned water. In other areas, they support organizations that seem to be dedicated to making it as easy as possible for terrorists to get assault weapons. They back a political party whose policies drove millions of their fellow Americans out of their homes. Gas prices go up, food prices go up, trade deals are structured to benefit corporations at the expense of workers, unions are busted, the right to bargain eliminated, taxes go down on the wealthy and the very needs that Maslow saw as fundamental to the human condition go unmet.

Next up the pyramid comes Safety – according to Maslow this includes personal security, financial security, health and well-being and a safety net against accidents/illness and their adverse impacts. Again the people of Elkhart find themselves under attack by the policies of the very party they swear allegiance to. As a client of the NRA, the Republicans are doing everything possible to make sure that terrorists have no trouble getting their hands on assault weapons. As a client of big pharma, they are making sure that no company is held accountable for producing the equivalent of commercial heroin. (The don’t want a repeat of the sucessful campaign against the tobacco companies you know) As a client of Wall Street, they make sure that no one is held accountable for almost destroying the world financial system – in fact, they support most of them in keeping their jobs.

Enter the Mirror: It’s time to turn inward. I have seen such behavior in lots of people and you probably have tendencies that sabotage your own interests. How about it? Got the guts to be honest with yourself. One of my most read articles is titled Eleven Habits of Self-Sabotaging People. It was written after I interviewed over a hundred people about their tendency to self-sabotage. Go ahead, read it and then let me know how many of those behaviors you engage in on a regular basis. How many ways are you limiting your potential? It was Socrates who observed that “a life unexamined is not worth living.”

Self-reflection leads to self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the foundation for self-awareness. Self-awareness reduces self-sabotaging behaviors and opens up the possibility of a more fulfilling and considerably less frustrating life. It’s easy to discuss such behaviors in terms of politics. But your life doesn’t turn on those discussions. It turns on the depth of your self-knowledge and your ability to cease making it more difficult unnecessarily.

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD
Dr SmithI provide mentoring to those who have both the courage and determination to make a truly transformational journey. My approach is heavily influenced by core principles of Zen Buddhism. I also provide advisory services to CEO and senior teams – particularly mid-market companies. I don’t offer quick fixes or follow the latest fads. If you are willing to make the long journey – if it’s time for you to come to know the person you really are and the path you should be following – if you want to start living life you were truly meant to live – then perhaps we should talk. Send me an e-mail and we can arrange a time to chat.

Jul 162016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

This article has its roots in a chance conversation with an old friend. He shook his head and wondered why one of his employees kept acting in ways that sabotaged his own interests. It got me to wondering – then asking – then asking some more. This is a journey inward as much as outward. After all, none of us are exempt from being human.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I’ve been a student of human behavior for at least four decades. During that time I’ve become fascinated by behaviors which people adopt and which are self-sabotaging. Over the years I have developed a list of these behaviors which I used to keep track of the tendencies of people that I met. [Have you noticed that there seem to be a lot more self-sabotaging in the world? I have.] I recently began to suspect that the percentage in American society was shifting even more towards the negative tendencies. My natural curiosity – as well as my damaged sense of national pride – led me to do a bit of research. Continue reading »

Jul 112016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

My advisory practice frequently focuses on helping clients alter behaviors and habits which have been allowed to develop and solidify over months and years. Changing habits is a terribly difficult challenge for most people – the longer the habit has been in place and the more addictive its inducement the more difficult it is to break or alter. Continue reading »

Jul 112016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

It is a typical conversation which generally comes more than once during the initial months of most of my mentoring engagements. The client – generally younger and less experienced than I am – will insist that something is beyond their capability. I will insist that it isn’t. And so I urge them to attempt – and they demure. Continue reading »

Jul 092016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

The process of mentoring is different than that of coaching. I describe coaching as ‘teaching you how to do something better than you have been doing it.’ Those of you who pursue the sport of golf may understand what I am saying. If you want to get better at your short game, you get a coach who can help you improve it. Maybe you are not happy with your prowess with a putter. Again, get a coach that really knows how to putt and learn from them. The objective of coaching is to make you better at what you have chosen to do. Continue reading »

Jul 032016
 

… or “The Best Way to Make The Worst First Impression”

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

This is a retelling of a post-modernist nightmare – a journey into the void of virtual relationships that never become real. It is a story about lost possibilities sacrificed upon the shrines of inattention, self-absorption and indifference. The interspersed poem is by Antonio Machado – The Wind, One Brilliant Day. Continue reading »

Jul 032016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

‘Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day, set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.’

Hidden deep within this adolescent obscenity lays a fundamental truth about the nature of leadership. The fire in this case is, of course, the fire of the mind. It can be kindled, for instance, when an individual first experiences how much they have to contribute to a team and, if they set very high standards for themselves, how excellent they can really be. These lessons learned are among the greatest gifts that any human being can give to another. Personally I mark these lessons learned and taught as among my greatest gifts received and finest contributions made. Continue reading »

Jun 272016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

If I am faced with the option of mentoring someone who is too cautious or someone who is too rash, I inevitably choose the former. There are a number of reasons for this but the most important is that progress always comes faster when working with a client who is learning to gradually put more pressure on the accelerator. I know what the ‘common wisdom’ is when it comes to entrepreneurs – that they love risk and are relatively immune to it – but I have found that to be only true for ‘wannabee’ entrepreneurs. The successful ones are risk averse and incredibly good risk calculators. Continue reading »

Jun 272016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

The other day I was leading a discussion focused on the ways that the digital revolution was impacting relationships. The group of eighteen were evenly divided between those under thirty and those over – with two in the latter group over sixty. About a half hour into the discussion, the question of the nature and meaning of the word friendship came to center stage. The discussion that followed was so defining that I want to summarize it.

~~~~~

friendship1_1The meaning of the word: One thing became clear early on. The definition of friendship was significantly different for the two groups. For the older group, friendship had a more nuanced meaning which involved not only a deep personal relationship but a commitment to the welfare of the ‘friend’. One guy described a gathering that took place twice a month. He and his friends would get together with the sole purpose of just being together. Business talk and cell phones were verboten. They gathered because they ‘liked each other’ and referred to it as their ‘meaningful time’.

I could tell that members of the younger group were intrigued by the description of this gathering. Some of them asked questions while others referenced their own experience as different from the ‘older generation’. Here are a few samples:

“I never do that kind of thing. My life is so busy that I can’t waste time just hanging out.”

“I have lots of Friends on Facebook most of whom I have never met.”

“You guys grew up coming from a particular place. I’ve grown up as a gypsy – not from any place in particular.”

“I wish that I had that kind of gathering.”

 “What do you guys talk about if you can’t talk about business?”

The last comment shifted the conversation in a new direction. “We talk about each other’s lives. We look out for each other. Maybe one of us needs help with something. Maybe there is a cause that needs supporting. But mostly I was brought up to think that life without this kind of relationship was meaningless.”

The two groups reacted differently. There were nods of understanding from the ‘older’ ones. A couple of ‘damn rights’ and ‘sure things’ got muttered. The ‘younger’ ones were less sure what to make of it.

The Source: Then one of the ‘old’ guys put in in perspective. “My idea of friendship came from my parents, family and experience growing up. But it was forged during my time in the military and in battle. (He had been in Vietnam during the war). You came to know what friendship really was when you have people who would give everything they have in order to help you. You video game guys have no idea what that is like.”

One of the younger old guys chimed in. “When I grew up we were mostly all in one boat. One America. One Americans. We felt a camaraderie – a connection. Maybe it wasn’t what we thought but we believed in it and that pulled us closer together. It was us against all comers. There were unions that protected workers rights, military service that bound us to a common cause, women got the vote, the civil right acts and much more. Now everybody is in it for themselves and the politics of division for personal gain is dominate. For Christ’s sake, kids are getting slaughtered, 90% of the people are for sensible gun control and those dickheads in Washington are to busy sucking the contribution wrapped phalluses of the god damn NRA.” There was a silence that followed before the conversation started back up.

The F-Word: What then followed was a discussion that began as fairly adversarial but drifted towards an unexpected destination. One of the younger guys asked the question that set it off.

“What is the difference between how you see friendship and how we see it?”

kellerThe response was, “Friendship for me is a personal commitment that is not faded by events or circumstances. It’s a commitment to be faithful to a commitment. It doesn’t turn away because of an opportunity for personal gain or advantage. It is not disposable.”

For the second time it became clear that something meant one thing to the younger group and another to the older one. One the one side, the question of friendship was mostly linguistic. You have a friend because you say they are your friend. On the other side, it was a question of action. You have a friend because you were there when they needed you – because you sacrificed for that friendship – because there was real evidence of what that friendship meant – tracks in the snow. On the one side it was more kumbaya – on the other more of the grit of humanity.

Again and again the conversation came back to the difference in experience growing up. The one group had come of age during a time when Americans saw themselves as Americans first and Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, etc. secondarily. They had come of age during a time when the country was tested by wars and deep divisions politically and had lived through the coming back together. They had participated in all the travails and joys of the decades – from the first landing on the moon to the slaughter of three of the most inspirational leaders in American history.

The other group seemed to feel deprived. They had no such binding feeling towards their country or countrymen. They are Democrats, Republicans, Conservatives, Liberals, etc. first and Americans secondarily. They had observed rather than participated in wars. Increasingly their lives were apart from nature. Most of them felt that the world was against them and that the system was rigged. But the one thing that became clearest was that they felt isolated and unable to connect with others of their generation. One comment stands out.

mentoring-makes-a-difference“I have never made the kind of commitment that you guys have. If I am in a situation where my interests are in conflict with a friends, my interests rule. As Tolkien had the Ent say, “I am on nobody’s side because nobody is on my side.”

That comment was the door through which the group journeyed to a different place. The older guys began to realize the unfulfilled needs of the younger ones. The younger ones realized that these ‘gray hairs’ not only knew something that they needed to learn but had something that they very much wanted to get.

The discussion went on for hours. We closed the bar we had meet in. As we were breaking up, one of the youngest asked, “Can we do this again?”

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD
Dr SmithI provide mentoring to those who have both the courage and determination to make a truly transformational journey. My approach is heavily influenced by core principles of Zen Buddhism. I also provide advisory services to CEO and senior teams – particularly mid-market companies. I don’t offer quick fixes or follow the latest fads. If you are willing to make the long journey – if it’s time for you to come to know the person you really are and the path you should be following – if you want to start living life you were truly meant to live – then perhaps we should talk. Send me an e-mail and we can arrange a time to chat.

Jun 132016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

Last week I could not even spell entrepreneur now I are one!

One of the traps that self-identified entrepreneurs find themselves in comes as a result of a combination of a misunderstanding of the word entrepreneur and a lack of self-knowledge. I’d like to focus on each in turn.

Entrepreneur: I have found that the word has been so stretched as to be almost meaningless. Let’s start with the dictionary definition:

a person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on greater than normal financial risks in order to do so.

That sounds pretty straightforward. But here’s the rub. What does ‘business or businesses’ mean? To some, those words mean a rapidly growing company that employees a growing work force and has a substantial and growing stream of revenue. To others it means a fast food franchise of a private consulting practice. I think you will agree that the two meanings create a very different definition of entrepreneur and the list of who is an entrepreneur.

So here is a list of professions. Which one do you think qualify as entrepreneurs?

  • An individual who develops a product or service, builds a team, assembles financing and manages a rapidly growing company
  • A consultant who sells social media services
  • A used car salesman
  • A self-help guru who sells books and seminars
  • A televangelist selling miracles in exchange for contributions
  • A scammer who sells fake followers on Twitter
  • A doctor, lawyer, accountant or hypnotist who is selling expertise
  • A con man selling dreams to elderly women

Well, it’s a pretty extensive list and surely could be expanded but I think it will do to make my point. Words either mean something or they mean nothing at all. To quote Lotfi Zadeh, the father of complexity theory, “When all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.” To put it another way:

“If you mangle words to fit who you think you are; every word begins to ‘fit’ who you are.”

There are some people who are either faintly or grossly antisocial. They can’t work in organizations because eventually they piss their co-workers off. As a result, they lead a relatively lonely life as a ‘consultant’. It is so easy for these people to claim the relatively positive description of entrepreneur. It sounds so bohemian! But as an old friend used to say,

“We can widen your mouth, cut off your legs and paint you blue but that won’t make you a mailbox.”

self-knowledge-entrepreneurship

My point here is that people tend to choose value loaded words to describe themselves even if it means mangling the words beyond recognition. I encounter this behavior frequently during my mentoring engagements.

So What’s the Problem? The first problem is that there is often a very wide gap between the manufactured self-image which is encrusted with these mangled words and the real person at the core of this manufactured mess. People will go through life telling themselves and all who will listen that they are an entrepreneur. But when the listener digs a little deeper, their understanding begins to be at odds with that of the ‘entrepreneur’.

Dalai LamaThe second problem is that such a manufactured mess virtually guarantees that self-knowledge will be virtually impossible to attain. People who use mangled words to describe who they are not only do not understand the meaning of the words – they also lack the brave self-understanding that is necessary to achieve self-knowledge. A contract between two approaches to self-knowledge might help.

Christians believe that the contents of an old book tell them who they are. Self-knowledge is of little use or no use because knowledge of what’s in the book is sufficient. By studying the book and abiding by its strictures, one becomes a ‘good person’. So the journey to self-knowledge is one of going outside yourself and into the book.

A considerably older approach sees it a different way’ maybe because it is not a religion. Buddhism describes the journey to self-knowledge as one of looking inside yourself. Where the Christian book is full of convoluted rationales and strictures, Buddhism is simplicity itself. Simply put, a person does not become a good person by studying a book but through studying themselves.

Many people lack the kind of self-knowledge that Buddhists develop because they have learned that mangling words is the easier path.

Case Study: I had a mentoring client who evidenced all the characteristics of a faux entrepreneur. During our first session, I asked her to describe herself and the first word she chose was entrepreneur. When I asked her to elaborate, she began describing her work as a personal reputation consultant.

to-be-or-not-to-be-raceanu-mihai-adrianI asked her the logical question. “Why don’t you just describe yourself as a personal reputation consultant?” The response was very telling.

“That sounds a bit tacky. I like entrepreneur better”

“So you are ashamed of what you do?”

“No, it just doesn’t sound as substantial as entrepreneur.”

“Don’t you think that you are running a con on the people you meet?”

“Well, maybe but I want to sound important to them. First impression you know.”

“Don’t you think that you are coning yourself as well?”

The silence that followed that last question was the door through which we entered a productive mentoring relationship.

The Bower Bird: We started to work on the reasons that she reflexively embellished her self-description.

Bowerbirds are renowned for their unique courtship behavior, where males build a structure and decorate it with sticks and brightly colored objects in an attempt to attract a mate

Bower birdThe first exercise I assigned was to develop a list of characteristics that she had. How would she describe herself? Once the list was settled, we took the words and phrases one at a time. “Does this one really fit?”, was the foundational question each time. Often there were spirited defenses of words that seem to be a more important part of her self-image. At other times, words and phrases were discarded with little objection. As a result, the list was pared down to a half dozen. Entrepreneur still surviving the cut.

Then we shifted to how useful each word was in getting people to understand who she was and what she could bring to the table. It was that exercise that broke through the manufactured mess. The realization that the word entrepreneur was so overused that it was virtually meaningless brought about a change in her attitude towards it.

Then came the pivotal question. “If I am not an entrepreneur, what am I?”

It took months to work through but, in the end, she gained that brave self-understanding that she can lean her dreams upon. Now when she tells people who she is and what she can contribute, it is the beginning of mutual understanding.

~~~~~~~~~~

© Earl R. Smith II, PhD
Dr SmithI provide mentoring to those who have both the courage and determination to make a truly transformational journey. My approach is heavily influenced by core principles of Zen Buddhism. I also provide advisory services to CEO and senior teams – particularly mid-market companies. I don’t offer quick fixes or follow the latest fads. If you are willing to make the long journey – if it’s time for you to come to know the person you really are and the path you should be following – if you want to start living life you were truly meant to live – then perhaps we should talk. Send me an e-mail and we can arrange a time to chat.

Jun 102016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

Both strategic and tactical planning and implementation are part science and part art. Like a hammer or a football, the intellectualization of their function and purpose does not make a person adept – let alone effective – in using them. Both require extended experience and careful attention to detail – practice in every aspect that is either involved or affected. But the process of planning – no matter how well it is done – is still an intellectual exercise until the plan is implemented. Creating a good plan is not enough as the results depend entirely on how these plans are executed. Continue reading »

Jun 092016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

As the old saw goes ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’. I am often amazed at how much time and polish people spend on their so called ‘elevator speech’ and then how casually they present themselves, their interests and their company during a first encounter. First meetings have at least two components that demand careful attention. The first is the communication of information about you, your interests and your company. The second (mostly nonverbal) is the impression that you make (and leave) with the other person. Continue reading »

Jun 082016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

I’ve recently written a couple of articles focusing on the dynamics of initial meetings. They have drawn a pile of emails – mostly war stories about lost potential and illusions that never became real. Thanks to all of you who took the time to write. A writer’s most gratifying experience is always to receive responses to what has been written. And thanks for the suggestions that have become the central ideas of this piece. Continue reading »

Jun 072016
 

Earl R Smith II, PhD
DrSmith@Dr-Smith.com

Dr-Smith.com

A while back I was having drinks with a friend who has been involved in coaching senior executives for several decades. During the course of that conversation he offered an interesting and challenging question: “Why is it that some executives find it so difficult to change behaviors in the face of overwhelming evidence that 1) the behaviors are counterproductive at best and often destructive and 2) that such changes will probably radically improve their effectiveness as a leader … and their contributions to their company?” Continue reading »

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