Category Archives: Planning

Positive Self Talk Is Not Enough

Throughout your career there are many times when you will doubt yourself. Am I worthy of a promotion? Will my boss laugh at me when I ask for a pay rise? Can I really do this project that I have never done before? Will the audience really want to listen to what I have to say? Can I manage people who are older and more experienced than me?

For over 12 years I have coached leaders and developing leaders about the power of positive self talk. In simple terms, the words that you say to yourself in your head promote an image of success or failure in your mind. This image influences your performance.

Imagine that you were asked to do a presentation to senior management on a project that you had worked on. Throughout your university degree and career you have done your best to avoid presentations because you think that you ‘suck‘ at them.

In this example you are cornered. You can’t ‘run away‘ from this presentation. You have to do it. Imagine your self talk. “I’m going to be terrible doing this presentation. The senior management team are all going to know that I’m a terrible presenter. My future here is going to be damaged. Oh my god why did this have to happen to me!“.

No matter how much practice you did, if you maintained this type of self talk you will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. Moments in to your presentation your mind will go blank. Then it will fill with the words, “See, I knew I wasn’t any good at presenting and now look at what has happened! My mind has gone blank and the senior management team now thinks that I am useless!

When your performance matches your self talk it re-enforces it which in turn re-enforces the image that you have of yourself either succeeding or failing. This can result in either a virtuous or vicious cycle that affects your performance.

The point of leverage is your self talk. You don’t have to create ‘fake‘ self talk. This is the type of self talk that even you don’t really believe. In the above example, ‘fake‘ self talk would be something like, “I’m going to be the best presenter the senior management team have ever experienced. I’m going to have them eating out of the palm of my hands.

You might have this type of self talk if you were already an accomplished presenter, but if you were coming off a low base then this type of self talk will be ‘fake’ and actually won’t help you (because you won’t really believe it!).

A more effective form of self talk is something like, “I’ll be the best presenter that I can be today. Period.” This type of self talk is believable and gives you the opportunity to see yourself as a ‘learner‘ rather than an expert. When you see yourself as a learner and you make a mistake it is far easier to recover than if you have used ‘fake‘ self talk.

However, self talk is not enough. It must be balanced with doing the right work and focus. The right work in this example relates to learning how to do an effective presentation and putting what you learn in to practice before you do your presentation to the senior management team. Focus refers to the skills and structure that support the action that you are taking. In this example your focus would relate to the core message that you want to convey, the key supporting arguments that you have for your message and the call to action that you want the senior management team to adopt.

These self talk principles can be applied to any situation.

If you aren’t doing the right work and don’t have focus, then all the positive self talk in the world will amount to nought.

How do you manage your self talk?

Gary Ryan enables talented professionals, their teams and organisations to move Beyond Being Good.

Passion Matters If You Want Success

If you want to achieve anything worthwhile in life then there is a simple secret that successful people know.

The first principle for achieving success is passion and I absolutely believe that you have to have it in your life if you want to have access to the energy that is required to create success. 

Passion provides our energy, our drive for taking action, especially when those actions are hard and/or challenging. In simple terms we derive energy from our passions.
Try this quick exercise.

Stop and close your eyes for a moment think about your passion. It could be one or more of many things such as:
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Singing
  • Physical exercise
  • Playing sport
  • Water based activities
  • Drama
  • Art
  • Reading
  • Gaming
  • Studying
  • Learning
  • Cooking
 This list doesn’t have an end! It could go on and on and on.

Once you have identified your passions focus on one of them and think about it, remember yourself doing, see yourself doing it. Notice what happens to your body when you start imagining yourself doing your passion.

When I ask participants in my programs to do this exercise you should see what I see! While their eyes are closed as they are imagining themselves doing their passion, whatever it is, people smile! It is as if they can’t help it. Smiles simply appear on their faces!

It just happened to you too, didn’t it.

If you require evidence that passions drive your energy then here it is! Just notice the smile on your face. 

However a sad fact is that as many of us get older, we stop experiencing our passions. Just when our lives get busier and more serious, just when we need more energy to create the success we desire, we stop living and experiencing our passions. If you think about it, isn’t that just plain crazy?

Our passions ‘leave’ our lives or they simply fade away from being present in our lives. Yet we need our passions in our lives in order to give us the energy to get through some of the less passionate things that we have to do. No matter how successful we become there will always be things that we have to do to create our success that aren’t the most fun in the world to do.

As you consider your passion or passions, are they present in your life now? When did you last experience your passion? When is the next time you plan to experience your passion?

Interestingly your passion doesn’t have to be ‘present’ all the time for you to benefit from the energy it provides. As an example many people have travelling as one of their passions. For many of us such a passion is ‘serviced’ when we have annual leave holidays from our work. So what people with this passion will do is book in and pay for their travelling experiences a long time in advance. As a result they have the positive energy benefits of looking forward to experiencing their passion.

If you don’t have a passion and can’t remember ever having one, you have a wonderful opportunity to include this in your Vision. For example. as part of your personal vision you could write, “In 12 months’ time I will be living and regularly experiencing at least one passion in my life.”

Remember, when planning for success it’s okay to write things down into the Vision section of your plan even when you have no idea about how they are going to be brought into reality. In fact, this is usually true for most things that you write down in the vision section of your plan and why writing them down is so powerful.

In wrapping up, what’s your passion or passions? How are you leveraging the energy that they generate?

Gary Ryan facilitates the OTM Plan for Personal Success® program. Click here to find out more about how you can create a plan for your personal success.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Don’t plan your future – just live in the moment

I don’t plan for my future. I live in the moment and everything works itself out. After all, I used to plan everything and then I got burned by my ex wife. Everything that I had been working for came crashing down around me. So living in the moment is what matters. You need to be happy now. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow.

I hear this type of view fairly regularly. There is no doubt that it is a valid view for some people.

However, when I have the opportunity to drill down and ask a few questions from people who hold this view I discover that when they said that they used to plan for the future, the plans that they are talking about were in their heads and contained no detail about how they were going to be put into action. Their plans were really just high level goals.

When they then got “burned”, usually by their partner or their employer, they externalised the situation and believed that they had no control over nor contribution to the negative outcome. It was everyone else’s fault. It was also the fault of their plan, even though it wasn’t really a plan, it was just a list of high level goals. So that’s why they don’t plan anymore. It’s safer to just go with the flow.

My experience is that when you have a plan that includes your high level goals and what you are going to do to achieve those goals, you are more likely to be happy in the moment as you travel the journey of creating the future you desire.

Recently my eldest son and daughter provided such an example. My wife and I have clear plans regarding how we want to raise our children so that they are respectful, happy and contributing members of society when they are adults. The journey of implementing our plans is at times challenging as we balance teaching our children vital life lessons while enabling them to enjoy life at the same time.

On a Sunday morning when I wasn’t home my daughter noticed our 85 year old neighbour struggling to mow his lawns. Sienna called to her 12 year old brother who was still in bed to let him know what Joe was doing. Liam quickly climbed out of bed, put his clothes on and went across the road to offer his services. Thankfully Joe let him complete the task.

When I returned home and was told this story I was delighted. My daughter and my son had both seen an opportunity to help our neighbour and had taken action to do so. This was an example of the behaviours we are hoping to instill in our children for their future being lived today. Do you think my wife and I were happy in this moment?


When you plan for your future and you know both why and how you are going to bring those plans into reality, your capacity to be happy in the moment increases. So planning for your future is not about post-poning happiness. It’s about doing the things that will enhance your happiness in the future, that also increase your awareness of happiness in the moment.

How are you planning for your future?

Gary Ryan facilitates the OTM Plan for Personal Success® Program. Visit here for information about this program.

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

What does ‘Realistic’ mean?

Through my work in facilitating the OTM Plan for Personal Success® Program, which has now been provided to over 5,500 people in various formats, I am constantly asked, “Is this goal that I have written down realistic?”.

I reply by helping the person to understand that there is really only one person who could possibly know the answer to that question, and that is them. In addition, it may be a question that does not have an initial “Yes it is” or “No it’s not” response.

Often the only way to find out if something is realistic or not is to go and try to achieve it.

Our mindset plays a huge role in self determining what is realistic and our mindset regarding ‘reality’ is forged at a young age.

What’s your definition of ‘Realistic’?

Recently my 10 year old daughter had a wonderful life experience about taking a chance and doing some hard work to discover  what ‘realistic’ meant for her.

When the school year began in January this year, Sienna was commencing Year 4. In 2011 as a Year 3 student she had participated in her school aerobics team and had attended the inter school championships in her school’s third ranked team. Her primary school’s first ranked team, which consisted of girls from Years 5 and 6 ended up becoming National Champions, which was a terrific result for them. My daughter’s team were State finalists but that is where their journey ended.

Sienna said that she wanted to be in the “First ranked team this year”, but believed that it was “Impossible” because she was only in year 4 and hadn’t even been in the second ranked team last year.

I said, “If you could have what you really wanted, which team would you like to be in this year?”

She replied, “The first ranked team… But it’s impossible for me to get in.”

“When are the trials?”, I asked.

“Late March.” was Sienna’s reply.

“So, you have about six weeks between now and the trial.” I stated.

“Yes. But it’s still impossible.” Sienna re-stated.

“Okay, just go with me for a moment please. Let’s pretend that it is possible for you to make the first ranked team.What would you need to do to give yourself every chance of making the first ranked team?”

“Well, I suppose that I would need to train every day.” Sienna suggested.

“Okay, what else?”

“Maybe I could ask my teachers what they think I should focus on when I’m training so that I’m doing the right things?”

“That sounds pretty smart.” I affirmed.

“Now, you’ve said that this year you want to be in the first ranked team. You’ve also come up with a couple a smart things that you could do to give yourself every chance to make that team. What if you go and do the two things that you have suggested. Do you think that you might have some chance of making the team?” I asked.

“Well, yes.”, was Sienna’s response.

To her credit Sienna did the practice and she asked her teachers what she should focus on.

In March she made the team, along with two other Year 4 girls. They went on to win their Regional Final. They then became State Champions and last weekend won a National Silver Medal.

So between January to August Sienna went from believing that it was impossible to get into her school’s first ranked team, to becoming a National Silver Medalist.

What a wonderful lesson to learn!

If you are clear about what you want, work out what needs to be done to create what you want, then go out and do it, it is amazing what can then become possible.

The lessons in this story are just as applicable to adults as they are to children.

What are your examples of creating your own definition of ‘realistic’?

Gary Ryan enables individuals, teams and organisations to matter.
Visit Gary at

Three Steps For Creating a Plan – for anything!

Are you one of those people who prefers to keep your plans in your head? Or maybe you prefer to “just do it” and not worry about planning at all?

Research by David Ingvar indicates that there is a significant and positive effect from writing down your plans. What is interesting is that your plans do not have to include detail to the ‘nth’ degree to be effective.

What you do have to do, however, is to write them!

A simple, yet effective process for creating effective plans for anything is outlined below. The process can work for achieving a certain grade for an assignment at university, for drafting a high level plan for a complex business project (that would then be used to create a more detailed plan using tools such as Microsoft Project) or a training session for the local U12s basketball team that you coach. Heck, I use this process all the time for planning my workshops and seminars!

In addition, this process can be used for creating a plan for an individual or a team.

Step One
Describe using dot points, what a successful outcome looks like. Provide as much detail as possible to enable you to clearly see the success that you desire.

Step Two
Identify your current experience and skills as they relate to achieving your goals. Be honest. Include both your good and not-so-good experiences.

Step Three Part A
Brainstorm everything that you will need to do to take you from your description in Step Two through to achieving the outcomes you have described in Step One. Include any research or training & development that you may need to acquire along the journey.

Step Three Part B
Having brainstormed your possible tasks, consider their relationship to each other and their level of importance. What tasks stand out as critical steps for success? These need to be treated as priorities (keeping in mind, of course, that even the ‘little things’ matter for true success).

Step Three Part C
If more than one person will be involved in actioning this plan, assign appropriate tasks to everyone on your team.

Plans for individuals and teams can be completed in under ten minutes and under 30 minutes respectively following this three-step process.

The challenge for most people isn’t following the process, it’s deciding to do it in the first place!

Give it a go, you will be pleasantly surprised at how simple and effective it is!

Please feel free to share your experiences of following this process.