Why Do Good People Do Dumb Ass Things? 6

Ethics 2Lance Armstrong, Canadian Senator Mike Duffy and the City of Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford – you can replace those names with any number of people  but, the question remains the same. What where they thinking? Why do good people do dumb ass things? Do they do it because they can? Is it because they think no one is watching or do they do it out of a sense of entitlement? They’ve worked incredibly hard, sacrificed much and worked long hours to further their career – and then in one dumb ass move they’ve thrown it all away. Any credibility they had  is gone – wiped out in a heart beat. Some will get back into the public’s good graces but most won’t.

It is better to be defeated on principle then to win on lies.  – Arthur Caldwell 

The first course I ever taught at Algonquin College’s School of Business was a “Business Ethics” course written by one of my personal hero’s, the late Professor Ron Knowles. He wrote it for first year business students in the College’s Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) program. One of the neat things about the course was that I got to work with first year business students to help them write their own personal code of conduct, their own ethical decision-making model that they could use when faced with an ethical dilemma. (A situation where there is no clear right or wrong answer) When you are confronted with an ethical dilemma what series of questions do you ask yourself to help you make a decision that you can live with?

Before the issue of integrity can even be raised we need principles of behavior – moral convictions about what is and is not appropriate.  – Dr. Nathaniel Branden 

Ethics is best described as a set of moral principles or values that defines what is considered right and wrong behavior for a person or group. Some people suggest that there is a difference between business and personal ethics. But, to my way of thinking there is just one. You are either ethical or you’re not. How can you behave one way at work and then behave a different way at home and still be true to yourself and what you believe in? The truth of the matter is – if you have to ask whether it is ethical or not – you already know the answer.

A moral compass – your personal code of conduct.  

What do you hold to be true? What are your enduring principles? What are you not willing to compromise – no matter the situation or the outcome? What isn’t for sale – no matter the price? If you had to sit down and write your personal code of conduct, what kinds of things would you include on that list? Ethics is a process. It is a continuous effort of studying our own beliefs and conduct and striving to ensure that we, and the institutions we help to shape, live up to standards that are solidly based. What series of questions will you ask yourself to solve your ethical dilemmas? Do you believe – I mean really believe in honesty, integrity and treating others fairly?  Is it OK to win at all costs? Does the end result justify the means? I wonder knowing what they know now would Lance, Mike or Rob act any differently? Unfortunately they may not get a second chance.

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. Not to be reproduced or copied without permission. Brian is available for speaking engagements, seminars and workshops. Find out what Brian can do for you and your organization by visiting http://briansmithpld.com

How Are You Holding Up So Far? 6

images (9) We are at the mid-way point of 2013 so how are you holding up so far? Is your game plan for 2013 coming together? Can you see the light at the end of the tunnel or have you already given up on your new year resolutions? If you’re like most people you may still be searching for the motivation to begin. Not to worry – you still have six months to go.  Anytime is a good time to start a new beginning – so why not start now. It’s not necessarily how you begin the race – it’s how you finish. The person who gets hot at the right time usually ends up winning the cup. Most races are won and lost in the final laps.

If you are up to trying a different approach you might consider what I did this year. I got the idea from Susan Murphy (suzemuse) who I think got the idea from Chris Brogan. Instead of taking the traditional route they suggested that you pick 3 action words to help you stay on point. With nothing to lose and much to gain I picked Ask, Health and Networking. I decided that everything I set out to accomplish  in 2013 had to be a reflection of those 3 action words or I wasn’t going to do it. I gotta tell you – it works. It helped me prioritize what’s important to me, either in the short or long-term. It helped me stay focused on what matters most. By concentrating my efforts around these 3 action words I’ve ended up accomplishing more.

ASK: I was never big on marketing or self-promoting. I use to sit back and wait to be asked – not now – I ask for what I want. Like the saying goes, if you don’t ask – you won’t get. I have sent out double the proposals to speak at events or deliver seminars then I did in the past and at the half-way point I’m already ahead of last years numbers in confirmed engagements. All indications are that this is going to be an outstanding year.

HEALTH: I am making healthier food choices on my weekly shopping trips. I rarely ate breakfast or lunch – settling on eating when I got home at the end of day. Not now – since January I haven’t missed eating a simple breakfast (usually oatmeal with dried cranberries sprinkled on top) and a sandwich or soup for lunch. I now schedule quiet “me” time to de-stress after a busy week. I’ve taken up baking on the weekends. (Nothing over the top mind you – oatmeal cookies and banana bread – that my son and grandchild Chloe seem to enjoy) I plan on playing more golf this summer and start exercising for at least 15 minutes a day.

NETWORK: I’m volunteering more now. I haven’t said no to any event that I’ve been asked to attend or be part of. I’m reaching out to non-profits and offering my services for free. I was never big on rubbing shoulders at networking events. I’m happy to report I attended my first ever  and survived to tell about it. And I was the Master of Ceremonies at a Fashion Showcase. (A first for me) My Twitter, Linkedin and Facebook “likes” continue to grow – helping me reach a wider audience for my blog posts and books. If someone is kind enough to reach out to me – I reciprocate – expanding my circle of influence.

So I’ve told you how I’m doing – what about you? If you had to score yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being totally satisfied with your progress to date) what score would you give yourself? If you don’t think you warrant a passing grade then it’s time to get re-energized and get back in the game. It’s time to re-invest  in your own future. Remember – It’s not how you start the race – it’s how well you finish. 🙂

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. Are you looking for a keynote speaker, planning a lunch-n-learn or organizing a seminar? Brian specializes in soft-skills training and leadership development. Visit http://briansmithpld.com to discover what he can do for you and your organization.


Nature or Nurture – Are You The Boss of You? 1

images (5)Are we born who we are – or do we have the ability to change into someone else? Jerome Kagan, who has devoted his career to studying the emotional and cognitive development of children believes it’s a little of both. His research suggests that introversion – extraversion is only 40 to 50 percent heritable. “To ask whether it’s nature or nurture is like asking is a blizzard caused by temperature or humidity – it’s the intricate interaction between the two that makes us who we are”. After reading Malcolm Gladwell’s take on the 10,000 hour rule I don’t think we are naturally born to do anything. I think you can accomplish what ever you set out to do. You can rewire your brain. I believe you are the boss of you. You and you alone get to decide your fate in life. Only you and you alone get to decide where you end up.

Dr. Carl Schwartz, director of the Developmental Neuroimaging and Psychopathology Research Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital, is convinced that we can stretch our personalities, but only up to a point. “Our inborn temperaments influence us, regardless of the lives we lead. Part of who we are is ordained at birth by our genes, by our brains and nervous systems”. However, he also believes that because we have “free will” – the power to choose – we can use it to shape our personalities. Susan Cain – author of “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” refers to this as “the rubber band” theory of personality. Picture yourself as a rubber band at rest. Just like that rubber band you are elastic and can stretch yourself. You can rewire your brain. You are capable of developing different habits to get a different result.

Do you marvel at how some people have the ability to motivate others, inspire people to take action and influence the top decision makers and wished you could do the same? You can learn to do that as well. You can learn to be more patient, empathetic, flexible, open-minded or a good listener? You can learn how to communicate and interact more effectively with others? The question is – Are you willing to put in the time and effort to make the kinds of changes you’ll need to make to realize your full potential? One of the best ways to learn a new skill is to observe someone doing it the way you would like to do it and copy them. Think of someone you admire. What is it about the way they act that you identify with?  Do they remain calm in stressful situations? When they speak – do others listen? Are they really good at making new friends? Do they lead by example? When they walk into a room do others take notice? Are they compassionate towards those less fortunate? You and you alone get to decide your fate in life. Only you and you alone get to decide where you end up. Only you and you alone get to decide the kind of person you want to be. Think it, act it, become it …  You are the boss of you. 🙂

(C) Copyright 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. May not be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith works with people who want to learn how to communicate and interact more effectively; and who want to discover how to get the best out of themselves and others. He is available for speaking engagements, seminars and workshops. Visit http://briansmithpld.com to find out more.

When Will I Know I’ve Become a Leader? 4

13276697651225275782_1_67082723The truth of the matter is there are no naturally born leaders – I believe it’s a learned behavior. There is a “Norma Ray” in all of us. We all have the capacity to lead but not everyone sees themselves as leadership material. What key characteristics do you believe a good leader should have? Think about a leader that you admire. What is it about their leadership style that you identified with? What made you decide to follow them? If you decided to follow them – what makes you think that no one would want to follow you? When will you  know you’ve made the transition from follower to leader?

You know you’re a leader when:

  • When you care more about the success of others then your own.
  • When what you say and what you do are congruent – when you are talking the talk and walking the walk.
  • When you can give up some control and put your faith and trust in others.
  • When you realize you’re not the most important person in the conversation.
  • When you never lose sight of your goals and work towards accomplishing them.
  • When you live your authentic life.  The kind of life you envisioned for yourself.
  • When others choose to follow you.
  • When you decide honesty, integrity and treating others with respect is non negotiable no matter the consequence.
  • When you see a wrong and you work tirelessly to make it right.
  • When you care more about what you think of yourself then what others think of you.
  • When you decide who you want to follow
  • When you decide to do what is right – not what is popular
  • When you can agree to disagree and move on.
  • When you can let go of the past and not let it interfere with the future.

Henry Kissinger, former USA Secretary of State and National Security Advisor said that the task of a leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been. Wikipedia defines leadership as “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task – somebody who guides and directs others”.  We are all leaders waiting for the right opportunity to shine. Waiting for the right opportunity to make a difference in our own way. 🙂

Copyright 2013. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith – Author, Communications Expert and Management Consultant is available for keynote speaking, seminars and workshops. Visit http://briansmithpld.com to find out more.