Monthly Archives: November 2014

5 Crucial Keys to Becoming a Great Leader


Dave Ramsey has coined an interesting phrase:

Leaders pull, managers push

Within the framework of your life and your business, are you a leader or a manager? You can figure this out by asking yourself a simple question:

Am I the type of person who leads by serving others, and by being out in front of the pack and encouraging them to come along for a wonderful ride?

Leaders cast a vision for the future and then serve others, helping them to catch that vision and then working to equip them with the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual skills that they need to help in the accomplishment of the goals that lie ahead. They lead and draw (pull) others to their cause.

Managers, on the other hand, are at the back of the pack, constantly pushing people and struggling to overcome the stagnant or backward momentum of the group. They are only concerned with getting to the goal and are not focused on the one thing that will insure the attainment of the goal – their people.

If you really want to achieve unusual levels of success in your life and career, one of the key questions you can ask yourself is, “What kind of person do I really want to work for – a leader or a manager?” All of us want to work for leaders because they are the ones who make life, and work, fun. They are the ones who help build the kinds of businesses that provide job security and profitability. And they are the ones who are people of integrity and who care deeply about others.

If you want to start down the road to becoming a great leader, here are some suggestions to get you started:

  1. Get over yourself. There is no place for an ego in business. In the long run, selfish, self-centered people will ultimately fail. True leaders are among the most selfless people in the world.
  1. Fess up! If you’ve been a manager in the past and are truly committed to becoming a leader, come clean and admit your faults to your people. There is no shame in doing this because they already know all of your faults. The keys here are to commit to making the needed changes in your life, asking your people for their help, and then being will to listen to their feedback. If you do this, your people will help you and they will love you for embracing them and including them in the process.
  1. Communication with your team is critical for success. Be open with them about what’s going on in the business and what you are struggling with when it comes to surviving and growing your company. Include them in the problem-solving process and use their ideas for making and driving positive changes in your organization.
  1. Celebrate your wins. As your organization begins to move in the right direction, learn to celebrate the little victories. Give people credit for what they do and encourage them to keep the ideas coming. Note that celebrations don’t have to involve a lot of time or money. Something as simple as supplying coffee and bagels for morning break time can be a home run.
  1. Consider hiring a professional. If you are in a quandary about where to start but know something has to change, engage a professional coach/consultant to guide you and your people through the process of creating and executing a strategy to move you forward. If you hire the right person, the return on your investment will be many times the amount of money you will spend.

© 2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC ( All rights reserved.

3 Keys for Responding to the Grit in Life

speed bump

I recently put the following post on a LinkedIn group:

Unless you encounter some grit in life, you will never become a pearl. Grit irritates and aggravates. It pokes sharply at our souls until we coat it and surround it with caring — expressed in service to others. What are you willing to do to change your irritating grit into a beautiful pearl?

In my line of work, I encounter many people who try to avoid the “grit” in life. They will do almost anything to avoid difficult circumstances. It’s almost like they feel that, after years of paying the price for success, life owes them a break.

When we feel this way – and we all do at times if we’re really honest with ourselves and others – we are missing a very key point:

We don’t pay the price for success. We enjoy the benefits of success. We ultimately only pay the price for failure.

Becoming successful is an investment – one that pays amazing rewards if we learn to successfully and cheerfully embrace and deal with the “grit” that life gives us.

Here are three keys to effectively responding to the “grit” in your life:

  1. Maintain Your Focus. Stay focused on your mission and your goals. Realize that the challenges we face, in life and in business, are just speed bumps we need to get over on the pathway to achieving our dreams. Keep moving forward and doing what you know is right.
  2. Don’t Make Mountains Out of Mole Hills. The little speed bumps we encounter can often feel like mountains, especially when they hit us late in the day when we are weary and are already drained from the day’s activities. When this happens, take time to refresh yourself. If the problem will wait, attack it the next morning when you are fresh, full of energy, and can deal with it in the right context. If it won’t wait, at least take a break, reframe your thoughts, and remind yourself that it’s not as big a deal as it first seemed.
  3. When you drive through a parking lot, you can see the speed bumps ahead. Life often affords us the same opportunities if we will keep an eye on the road ahead. Learn to ask yourself quality questions regarding your personal and business situations.   Anticipating often affords us the opportunity to avoid some of the grit in life – or at least it gives us time to prepare to deal with it.

Don’t shun the grit that enters your life. Use it as a powerful tool to change and become better at your craft. You’ll be glad you did.

©2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC ( All rights reserved.

Four Ways to be Happy & Productive

happy and productive

Are you doing what you love to do? Do you wake up each morning with an attitude of gratitude and expectancy?

I posted these two questions on Twitter this morning as part of my daily interaction with the online universe. Part of what I try to do with many of my posts is to stimulate people’s thinking and help them to get engaged with their lives, their careers, and their businesses.

Have you ever thought about these two questions?

How about a few more questions, like:

• Would you say that you are generally a happy person?
• How do you think that your current attitudes are impacting your ability to live the life you’ve always dreamed of?
• Have you defined a worthy set of goals and are you pursuing them?

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Have you made a conscious decision to be happy? If not, here are some ideas to help you move down the road to happiness:

1. Make a decision. Do something that may seem silly, like writing the words “BE HAPPY” on a piece of paper and taping it to your bathroom mirror, to serve as a daily reminder that you have decided – committed – to becoming a happy person.
2. Smile. As many times a day as you think of it, smile broadly and let out a laugh from your soul. As you do, you’ll find out that you can’t simultaneously smile and be negative.
3. Dream. Spend some time thinking about what really makes you joyful in life. What are the positive things that really get your “happy juices” flowing?
4. Create a purpose from your dreams. Once you’ve identified your dreams, get busy creating and executing plans to achieve them. We are always happiest when we are pursuing, working, and accomplishing worthwhile things with our lives.

Happiness is truly a decision, because it comes from within and not from other people or things.

©2014 by Gary L. Smith and Optimum Performance Technologies, LLC ( All rights reserved.