Dr. Earl R. Smith II

I 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 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 can become – if you intend to finally find 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’ll arrange a time to chat.

It is my hope that you find the writings below helpful and a sincere effort to help you along on your journey. Nothing gives me a warmer feeling than having contributed to the life of another. We are all on this path together. It is my fondest wish to share part of it with you.

Running On Empty: I recently took a client who came to me through a good friend. She - his friend - was concerned for him and wanted me to help him if I could. Years ago, they had founded a company together and built it up to the point that another, larger company had decided that they just had to have it. The cash out was very good and both of them took off with their respective families for an extended and well-earned vacation. (Read More)

Transformational Journeys: I was asked the other day, “What do you focus on as a mentor?”

I responded, “I help people make transformational journeys.”

“And what does that mean,” was the response?

The exchange got me to thinking about the mentoring work I do and why it is important to the people I work with. Here is what I came up with.

Charting a New Course: Most people who come to me, either because they read something I wrote or were referred by a friend, have had successful careers. They have reached a point in their lives where they are feeling a need to get more out of life. Maybe that’s the result of accumulating frustration with the outcomes they are experiencing. Or they have begun to think that it’s time to find a new direction. In each case, they are looking to get more out of their lives. (Read More)


The Long View

I am a firm believer in the power and usefulness of maintaining a personal journal. I require all my mentoring clients to make daily entries into their journals. I provide them with the following guidelines:

The journal should be used to record your thoughts as you are working through your assignments. It will be important as a record of the evolution of your thinking as we work together. Try to make an entry each day.

Add each new entry at the top of the journal so that you can read it front to back. If there are things that you are thinking consistently about, put subject headings at the beginning of each paragraph. Don’t go back and edit prior entries.

Such a journal provides a line of breadcrumbs which allows you to go back and re-experience what you were thinking. The focus particularly useful when someone is learning a skill or developing a capability. There are early entries will show how they struggle to come to terms with a new idea or a new way of looking at things. My prohibition against editing the entries is important because one of the lessons that a journal can teach is how you respond to new ideas and new perspectives. Think of it is a double learning curve. (Read More)

A Jigsaw Puzzle in the Dark: Whether you think about it in terms of a newborn baby or a pre-language ancient human, the thoughts can lead you to the realization that, for each human who has ever lived, there has been a time of great confusion. A period of being overmastered by an uninvited occurrence – the emergence of sentience.

The tendency of all sentient beings to try to make sense of their environment and living experience produces a frustration during those times when the demands of experience exceed the ability of the tools at hand. Pre-linguistic and without the accumulated experience necessary to begin to build useful models of the world and life as it is found, it is like trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle in the dark.

At first comes unspoken fears and useful instinctive responses. But, as these prove less than adequate, tools are developed which support a more sophisticated understanding. (Read More)


Take a Chance – Change the Dance: Take a different view. Think of your life as a dance. Some of the steps in that dance are free and easy while others are constrained and laborious. It takes a while. But stay away from judgments about this step or that. Just concentrate on seeing the steps that make up your life. Feel the rhythms that define. Touch the motions of the dance.

Once you have a clearer idea of how your life is working, start to think about the role that each step plays in forming your life experience. Habits are steps. Mostly limiting ones. Things that you do without thinking. Out of reflexes that have built up over the years. Then there are the steps that take you beyond your comfort zone. That take you into unexplored areas and bring new experiences. That make you grow and reach beyond. (Read More)

Making Time: It’s an interesting pairing of words. I can think of half a dozen possible interpretations. But, in this case, I am focusing on a rather limited and probably unanticipated meaning.

Habits degrade situational awareness. What we do without thinking isolates us from the richness of experiencing what’s happening around us. That doesn’t make habits intrinsically bad. Some are very handy. They are shortcuts which we have developed to reduce complex situations to reflex actions. Such shortcuts may be as simple as a greeting which we habitually use or the routine which we follow in the morning. And, for the most part, these habits don’t do us any real harm.

But there are habits that do us real harm. And some of them restrict the depth and quality of the life we experience. It’s three of those shortcuts that I want to focus on. Unthinking actions which damage our life experience and debase the people we encounter. (Read More)

A New Direction: Many people who come to me for mentoring support are certain of one thing – that they are facing a problem which is unique to them. To their relief, they discover that the situation they find themselves in – the challenges that they are facing – the decisions that they have to make – and the options that are open to them are shared by many of their fellow travelers. One of their first lessons is that ‘they are not alone’. (Read More)

How a single habit feeds gluttony:  You are at a restaurant and the waiter asks, “May I take your order?” So you look at the menu and run down the categories – appetizer, salad, main course and deserts. One of each is what you order. Then the bread and butter shows up. By the time you get to the entree, your appetite has diminished substantially. Desert arrives before you finish the entree and you soldier through. Leaving the table feeling overstuffed and driven to eat at the kitchen’s pace. (Read More)

I look back on the first three months of my work with Dr. Smith with wonder. My journal reflects a journey of self-discovery so vast that I hardly recognize the person who wrote the first entries. It's been a year now and I am happier now than I have ever been.

PJ, Mentoring Client

"It's the most amazing experience I have ever had. I needed to find a new path. A friend recommended Dr. Smith. What was most amazing was the wisdom and perception that he brought. New vistas have opened up and, as a result, a new chapter in my life. There's no way that I could put a value on what he has contributed to my life."

Mentoring Client, CEO and Serial Entrepreneur

"Chief - that's how Dr.Smith was introduced to me and, based on our work together, I have come to understand why - helped me focus on the possibilities that I had been missing in my life. He guided through developing a new vision for my life. My life is richer because of working with him."

Mentoring Client

"Earl is a wise mentor with lots of experience. He has a great way of explaining things and getting you to look at them from another perspective. Dr. Smith is a tough mentor, but, if you can learn just some of what he knows, your life will change forever."

Mentoring Client, Deloitte

“Dr. Smith is a very different kind of mentor. If you’re looking for a warm and fuzzy adviser, this is the wrong guy for you. But if you are dedicated to change and want to be challenged by a very experienced mentor Earl may be just what you are looking for.”

CEO of Croix Connect and Host of ABC Radio’s ‘Taking Care of Business’

“Dr. Smith's mentorship has been of great value and inspiration to my personal and professional development. I felt the need to take a new direction. He helped me sort out the possibilities and showed me ones that I never considered. Working with him has been a truly life-changing experience.”

Partner, IT & Telecom, Defense Solutions