Dr. Earl R. Smith II

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It was during one of the first mentoring sessions with a new client that the following exchange occurred:

  • Me: Life is much like that path of a bird through the sky. It leaves no trace. There is only the bird and flight.
  • Client: So you are saying that your life and mine are like that.
  • Me: Yes, in a very important way. Living in the present makes all questions about such things meaningless.
  • Client: But that sounds like such a dark view. I would like to think that my life will leave a trace; that people will know that I was here and who I was.
  • Me: That is leaving the living of your life and tending to an artificial reality. You convince yourself that such a thing is so important that you abandon the chance to live.
  • Client: But it seems like such a waste. The bird leaves no trace in its flight. That is such a hollow way to look at it.
  • Me: Maybe for you, but how about for the bird?

That question seemed to be one that he had never considered.

  • Me: What do you think the bird is experiencing? Living in the moment, with its intention to go from one place to another and doing just that. Do you think it worries about whether its flight leaves a trace? In the joy of flight and with the feeling of its wings providing lift do you think that such things matter much to the bird? The lesson here is that the bird is much better at being a bird than you are at being a human. The bird lives the exact moment it is living while you worry about moments past.

Some hours later I was sitting in a park on a sunny afternoon. A mockingbird flew out of the trees and across the meadow. I watched the bird’s flight and wondered at its immediate experience of living. Clearly nothing mattered but the process of flying. Its intention was to do exactly that. About half way across the meadow it dipped down and soared up. I took it as a sign of the joy it felt at being just there in just that time.

The mockingbird knew what mattered and spent no time wondering about what did not. Of all its flights that had left no paths through the sky, there was the wonder of being able to fly through this one at this time. The bird was alive to the moment it was living.

Then there was another thought. I remembered how another bird in another sky and time had first taught me that same lesson. We humans can go far astray chasing things that simply do not matter. In doing so, we give up the chance to live in the moment and the wonderful experience that comes with simply being fully alive and present in the moment.

My client may have had the first glimpse of that insight. That mockingbird reminded me that even such a lesson is a trap and a diversion. We give up the immediate experience of living for such silly things as posterity. We lose track of what really matters. The bird’s experience is his own. I spent the walk back to the office reveling in mine; and did not worry about not leaving tracks.

© Dr. Earl R. Smith II


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