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 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 to find out more.

Life Lessons: Learning to Cope with The “S” Word 4

Coaching Image

The “S’ word is all around us. It seems at times that we can’t go a day without hearing about it – feeling it’s effects or getting caught up in it. It wasn’t as topical 20 years ago – yet it has  always been there – it just seems now it’s on everyone’s mind. The “S” word – yes I’m talking about STRESS! It’s like that pesky neighbour next door who just won’t move away. You can’t eliminate all of the stressors that are creating stress in your life but you can learn how to deal with them.

Stress is not always a bad thing. A little bit of stress can be a very positive and motivating influence in our lives. Stress can help create a sense of urgency and force us to get off the couch. It is only when stress increases beyond our ability to easily cope with it that we begin to feel both the emotional and physical effects of it. (Headaches, inability to concentrate and a rise in our blood pressure) The negative effects of common stressors are cumulative. A series of very mild stress events can create an exceptionally high level of stress if not dealt with effectively. You can learn how to cope.

Three Methods for Coping with Stress 

Your most critical stress issues are those you feel are high priority to change and you are able to change them. Your least critical stress issues are those with a low priority and are very difficult to change. Learn to change what you can, influence what you will and give up on those things that you cannot control. For those stressors you can change, the key is to develop a specific plan of action for creating the change you want, then follow through with that plan. (I know I make it sound simple but it really is that simple) For those stressors you cannot change, the key is to change your response to them. (Mind over matter. If you don’t mind then it doesn’t matter)

Eliminate the stressors or change your response to them 

To accomplish more with our lives and achieve a greater feeling of satisfaction we must reduce or eliminate unproductive stressors in our lives where ever and when ever possible. and improve our ability to cope with those stressors that we cannot eliminate. (You don’t get to pick your relatives or immediate family but you can choose how much time you spend with them) Attitude – your attitude is 100% in your control. Only you get to decide how you want to react to any given set of circumstances. Only you get to decide when to take a few deep breaths to calm yourself, walk away or simply ignore it all together.

Use the coping resources available to you 

There are a number of social services available to you to help you cope with those major life events like disease, divorce and even death. You don’t have to carry the load yourself. Reach out – it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help – it’s a sign of strength.  Hobbies are also a great way to de-stress at the end of the day. Exercising, eating right and sleeping right will also help reduce the ill-effect of stress in your life.

Develop new coping resources

You only know what you know. If what you are currently doing to cope isn’t working, then you need to discover a better way. Read a book, attend a workshop or better yet join a support group. The last thing you should do is sit at home alone with too much time on your hands. The last thing you should do is sit alone at home feeling sorry for yourself. Getting knocked down isn’t the issue, everyone gets knocked down. Not getting back up and doing something about it is. You can learn to deal with the “S” word. It’s 100% in your control. 🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith. Not to be reproduced without permission. Brian Smith is available for speaking engagements, one-on-one coaching sessions and workshops. Contact Brian directly at or visit his site

Leading From The Back of The Pack 4

Geese in Flight (2)

Geese in Flight (2) (Photo credit: Johnath)

What do great Leaders and Geese have in common? They both give up control to get control. They both let others lead from time to time. Great  leaders know they don’t have to control everything all of the time. They don’t have to have all of the answers all of the time. They just have to surround themselves with people who do know – and then get out of their way and let them take the lead.

“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere” – Ronald Regan

Let’s pretend for a moment that you’ve decided to give up some of your duties and you’ve decided you’re going to delegate some of them to those you feel are capable of and are willing to take on more responsibility. Think of all the tasks that you do and list them on a piece of paper. Now look over your list and circle the ones that only you can do. If you’re being completely honest with yourself there will be some things on that list that you haven’t circled. Those are the ones that you are going to give up.

“Never learn to do anything. If you don’t learn, you’ll always find someone else to do it” – Mark Twain

If you don’t delegate some of your duties and responsibilities you’re robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. If you don’t delegate some of your duties and responsibilities you won’t have time to step back and think about where the organization needs to be and how you and your team are going to get there. You need time to step back and see the big picture and have an idea where all the pieces are going to fit. If you don’t trust the people around you to do the task on their own – then why did you hire them in the first place?

“I’ve got an ego and all that, but I know I need help. So I hire the very best people” – Ross Perot

It’s important that you show trust and confidence in your people. Remember not to get too hung up on how they go about doing the task. Yes – you can give them some pointers here and there – but keep in mind that most people want to put their own stamp on things. The end result is not open for debate. Company standards must be maintained – but how we accomplish them can be. The key to great leadership is about “inclusion” not “exclusion”. Great leadership is about including others in the decision-making process. It doesn’t have to be just your way. The more that you allow your people to have input – the more likely it is – that they will want to come along.  The more likely it is that they will want to follow you. – 🙂