Tag Archives: yes for success

Failure and Success

One of the biggest challenges associated with creating life balance and personal success relates to how you manage failure.

Yes For Success, Life balance, plan for personal success, Gary Ryan, Organisations That MatterFailure can manifest in many ways:

  • You don’t get offered the job after you attend an interview
  • The project you are working on doesn’t achieve budget
  • You lose three kilograms instead of four kilograms
  • You have a ‘rest’ day when you were supposed to go for a five kilometre jog
  • You yell at your child when they climb the fence
  • You only read three literature articles when you had intended to read five

Creating success invariably includes many small failures. None of us are perfect so you will let yourself down from time to time. However, if you focus too much on when you have let yourself down and failed, you risk letting the negative energy from failure grow even more and cause more failure.

Equally we can’t disregard failure and pretend that it doesn’t matter. Clearly it does matter when we fail because it delays us from achieving the success we desire.

What then, can we do about failure?

In simple terms you can learn from it. Not a unique concept I know. Your learning will be on multiple levels. For example, what did you learn about your expectations? Were they realistic? On this point it is my experience that one of the only ways to discover what is realistic is to create an expectation, ideally a high one, and then go and do everything you can to achieve it. In doing so you may then have a ‘reality check’ in which a lot of valuable learning can occur.

What did you learn about your planning? Was the planning process itself ‘solid’? Did it help you to consider unintended consequences?

What did you learn about how you put your plan into action? Did you follow your plan or did you just make up each step of your journey as you went along in complete disregard of your plan?

When you did whatever you did, how could it have been done better? This last question can also lead to too much focus on failure if it isn’t done correctly. In retrospect it is always very easy to say that you should have known better. No doubt sometimes you should. There will be other times when your plan was the best that it could have been at the time. How you executed your plan could have also been better. Retrospect highlights the gap between what we did and what we could have done based on what we have just learned. In other words it will be rare for you to take action and then decide that there wasn’t anything that you could have done to have done it better. Retrospect, by nature highlights learning gaps.

Despite your failures, when traveling the journey of creating more success and life balance it is important to notice your progress. Become acutely aware of your small successes and despite all your failures, focus on learning from them to help you continue your journey toward more and more success.

Find out more about the Yes For Success Program here.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Multi-tasking is about focus

Creating both personal and professional success requires the ability to make things happen and to get things done.

Being ineffective with your use of time is not an option. Yet there is so much that needs to be done.

Surely learning how to get more tasks completed at the same time is the most important skill that you can develop. And isn’t that what multi-tasking is all about? The truth is, it isn’t.

The most important skill that you can develop is the ability to focus on one task at a time.

iStock_000008217437SmallRecent research conducted by Michigan State University (MSU) highlights the importance of focus. This is especially true if you are performing complex tasks. The more complex the task, the larger the negative impact of letting yourself be distracted. Even small distractions as little as 2.8 seconds, such as checking a buzzing smart-phone, has dire consequences for your focus and your ability to complete complex tasks. Results indicated that error rates doubled even when these extremely short interruptions were present.

Multi-tasking is about your ability to focus on one task at a time. Then, as soon as you have completed that task or finished the time that you had allocated to that task, you quickly switch to another task and shift your focus to that task.

This means that you have to be pro-active and minimise distractions. Turn off your smart phone. Shut down your email application. Turn off your browser (unless you need it for the task you are completing) and explain to colleagues that you need a set period of uninterrupted time to focus on completing a task. If you have the option to work from home (assuming your home office provides an effective work space) complete complex tasks there, distraction free. This may be especially important if you work in an open space environment where staff interactions may generate a lot of distractions.

Train yourself to be a disciplined multi-tasker. Mastering this skill will have those around you wondering what your secret is. You’ll know that the answer comes from mastering a skill and that it doesn’t have anything to do with secrets. Just plain old focus and a willingness to be disciplined.

Gary Ryan enables leaders and their teams to move Beyond Being Good™.

Lead by giving up control

Captain David Marquet spent 12 months learning every pipe, the procedures, the people, computer programs and the layout of the USS Olympia. Two weeks before he was to be deployed he was assigned to a different submarine, the newer nuclear powered USS Santa Fe. Upon taking command of his ship he did what every good naval Captain did. He gave orders.

“Engineer, start-up the reactor.” “Aye Captain!”

iStock_000002959290Small“XO make preparations to get underway.” “Aye Captain!”.

All was as expected. He was expected to give orders and the crew expected to follow orders.

On the ships first day at sea he decided to test the technicians, so he ordered the crew to ‘fake‘ a fault that would shut the reactor down. The engineers had the task to restart the reactor as soon as possible. When this occurs the ship operates from its backup battery engine. In an effort to create urgency, Captain Marquet ordered his Navigator, the most experienced sailor on board the USS Santa Fe to, “Go ahead two-thirds.” “Aye Captain! Helmsman, ahead two-thirds!”

Such action would drain the back up batteries at a faster rate, placing time pressure on the technicians to restart the reactor so that the main engine could return to operation.

“Aye Nav!” called out the helmsman.

But nothing happened. The vessel did not increase in speed. Even Captain Marquet could tell that nothing had happened. Yet the order had been given.

Peering around the telescope at his helmsman, Captain Marquet could see his hunched shoulders, indicating something was wrong. So he walked over to his helmsman.

“Helmsman, why hasn’t the ship proceeded to two-thirds?”

“Sir, there is no two-thirds speed on this ship.”

Captain Marquet had made a mistake. As all ‘good‘ command and control leaders do in such a circumstance he covered up his mistake.

“Good job Helmsman, you passed the test!”

He then questioned the Navigator. “Did you know that this ship could not proceed at two-thirds on battery power?”

“Yes.” replied the navigator.

“So, why did you give the order?” queried Captain Marquet.

“Because you told me, Sir.” came the reply.

Here was the most experienced sailor on the ship passing on an order from the most inexperienced person aboard the ship that he knew was wrong and he did it purely because of rank. He did this even though they were aboard a nuclear submarine where the consequences for errors are potentially catastrophic.

In that moment Captain Marquet knew that something had to change if he and the crew were going to make it safely through his captaincy.

He realised that even if he had been given the USS Olympia, the complexities involved in running a nuclear powered ship were such that it was ridiculous to think that any single person could know everything there was to need to know to properly run the ship. The command and control model of leadership was flawed.

So he met with his senior crew and they discussed their dilemma. They resolved that he would no longer make any orders (although he did keep the authority to launch weapons as he felt that because they could kill people it wasn’t appropriate to pass that responsibility on to someone else).

To support this change in behaviour they changed their language. The navigator would say, “I intend to submerge.” Captain Marquet would reply, “What two questions do you think I have in my head?”

“Is it safe and is it the right thing to do? Both questions are affirmative.”

And the Navigator would submerge the ship.

Captain Marquet decided that as far as possible authority needed to be given to where the information existed. So the crew in the engine room were the best placed to know when to replace the filters because they knew the engine and they knew when the ship needed to be quiet because of what it was doing and when it was okay for it to be making more noise, which it would be doing when maintenance was taking place. For such a system to run successfully two pillars need to be present.

1. Competence. Each crew member had to be competent at what they were doing. They had to be trained and be ‘expert’ in their role.

2. Clarity. This was provided by the answer to the question, “Is this the right thing to do now?”

Upon deciding to take this action improvements were made in 24 hours. It took under three years for the culture to be fully imbedded throughout the 135 crew on board the USS Santa Fe. Their results included the highest assessment score for any naval vessel in the history of the US Navy and the highest re-enlistment score of any submarine, which meant that the sailors wanted to continue to serve in that high performing environment.

The biggest challenge that Captain Marquet faced? Himself. His own need and desire to be in control was his biggest challenge. But he managed to resist his own needs to become a better leader.

If such a culture change can occur in the navy, why couldn’t it occur in your organisation? The lessons here are self-evident. Give control to where the information is; make sure your team members are competent in what they do (which includes selection and training); and make sure your people understand the ‘big picture’ so they have the ability to work out if their actions are the right thing to do at any moment.

These are powerful lessons on leadership. Give them a go. The results will astound you.

View a short video of a TEDx Talk that Captain David Marquet gave here.


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

Leaders cannot motivate employees. Period.

The most common question that I am asked when I facilitate leadership development programs is, “Gary, how do I motivate my employees?”.

The idea that a leader can motivate their employees is flawed. I cannot motivate you and you cannot motivate your employees. I cannot take my motivation and give it to you so that you can be motivated, just as you cannot take your motivation and give it to your employees so that they are motivated. Motivation is not a ‘thing’ that can be extracted, given, taken, passed on or any other action from one person to another.

Business group showing teamworkIf you are reading this article then it is because of your own motivation, not someone else’s. Even if someone put this article in front of you and demanded you read it, you could choose not to read it. Even if they held a gun to your head and said, “Read it out aloud”, you could easily read it out aloud but not take in this article.

Motivation is intrinsic. Period. Each of us, including your employees is 100% self-motivated. This is critical for leaders to understand. It is not your responsibility to motivate anybody other than yourself. Likewise it is your employees’ responsibility to motivate themselves. If you attempt to take this responsibility away from your employees then you will create a false dependency that is unsustainable.

What can leaders do?

A leader’s job is to create the conditions, to the best of her ability to enable employees to be self-motivated. They must also do everything they can to end the conditions that foster a lack of motivation in employees. They must also do everything they can to end the conditions that foster a lack of motivation in employees. What are the factors that are reducing an employee’s capacity to be self-motivated? Is it that they aren’t being paid fairly? Is it that they are being micro-managed? Is it that they aren’t being recognised for doing a good day’s work? Is it the fact that they don’t have an opportunity to develop themselves? Leaders must also talk and act in ways that support this concept to make sure that their employees are 100 responsible for their own motivation.

To enable employees to be self-motivated leaders must know what drives their employees. They must help their employees to see the alignment between their personal goals and the organisation’s goals. Maybe the alignment will come from the money they earn which allows them to continue to invest in their passion for motorbikes. Maybe the alignment will come through the opportunities that the workplace can offer that will allow the employee to progress their career or maybe the alignment will come from the employee being able to get access to time off work to attend a course they had really wanted to attend but is only offered during ‘normal’ working hours. These are just a few of the endless possibilities that relate to how a leader can create the conditions for their employees to be self-motivated.

What are you doing to enhance the self-motivation of your employees?

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

What are you feeding your mind?

Imagine a farmer has two healthy fields, side by side.

iStock_000009570322SmallIn one he plants corn. In the other he plants poison ivy.

If he nurtures both crops they will flourish. Corn will grow in one field and poison ivy in the other. The fertile field treats the corn and the poison ivy the same. Each, if nurtured will thrive and grow.

Your mind is no different to a fertile field. Whatever you plant in it and nurture will grow. If you plant seeds of success and nurture those seeds with materials that help you to learn and to create your successes, your mind will come alive with ideas and suggestions to help you on your journey.

If you plant seeds of negativity in your mind and you nurture those seeds with self-doubt, negativity and material that is designed to keep your mind occupied and not energised, your mind will fill itself with reasons why success can’t be created, excuses that caused you to fail, resent for others who are successful, blame for everything that prevented you from being successful, jealousy for those who are successful and many more dark perspectives that drain energy and stop you from creating the success you desire.

What is a simple, time effective way to nurture your mind with success?

Multiple studies have identified the benefits of mobile learning practices such as listening to audio learning programs. In Australia data suggests the average commute is 45 minutes, each way to and from work. This equates to an average 600 hours of commuter travel per year (assuming 48 weeks of work and four weeks holiday).

For time poor people, using this time to learn material that will help you on your journey to create Life Balance and Personal Success is an opportunity waiting to be put in to action. Imagine adding an extra 600 hours worth of focused learning material to nurture your mind! Given the research indicates that mobile learning does have benefits (it isn’t perfect, but learning benefits do exist) why not turn your commute (by car or public transport) into your very own mobile university. Buy audio books and subscribe to relevant podcasts that will enable you to feed your mind with material that will nurture it and keep it healthy.

Given an average full time university semester equals around 500 hours of learning, you could be accessing the equivalent of a full semester of academic learning if you choose to use this strategy. 

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

100 days to go

iStock_000005705584SmallSeptember 23rd is a special day for many reasons. It may be your birthday. It may be your wedding anniversary or the date you and your partner first met. It may represent the anniversary of a loved one who has passed away. While September 23rd is special for many people, it may also be just another day for the rest of you. That can change.

September 23rd has a special significance for all of us. It represents 100 days before the end of 2013.

I see this as a terrific opportunity to take stock of what you had hoped to achieve this year. On the one hand 100 days doesn’t seem like much time, but on the other hand it is 100 days! A lot can be achieved in that time.

Below are a number of suggested personal achievements or significant tasks that could be achieved over the next 100 days. Use this list to spark your imagination. Write down the achievements that you will create over the next 100 days. If you would like to go one step further and create a plan for those achievements, follow the simple steps outlined in this recent article. Use my suggestions as catalysts for your own actions but try to have at least one specific achievement that you carry out from the six categories listed below.

Health and fitness

  • Lose some weight – and keep it off!
  • Go on a vacation
  • Visit your doctor and have a complete check up – even if you aren’t sick
  • Complete a physical challenge such as a five kilometre fun run
  • Discover the power of meditation


  • Complete an online personality profile tool and share your results with someone you trust
  • Consciously put your personal values into action and ask a trusted friend to give you some feedback
  • Challenge yourself to do something that you’ve always told yourself you couldn’t do, especially if that something is something that deep down you’d really like to be able to do
  • Consciously help someone else on their journey toward greater personal success
  • Offer to take a photo for a group of tourists so that they can all be in the photo


  • Make sure that you complete your work projects and or major tasks to the best of your ability
  • Thank someone who normally doesn’t get recognised for the contribution that they are making to your workplace (cleaners are a great place to start!)
  • Set some clear goals for the conference you will be attending and make sure that you achieve them
  • Update your resume
  • Participate in three LinkedIn Group Discussions on relevent topics

Life-long learning

  • Turn your car in to a ‘mobile university’ by only listening to audio books and other educational material when you are driving (Research by the Harvard Business School indicates that the average person spends between 500 – 1000 hours traveling in their car each year. If this time was spent listening to high quality learning  material, a person could learn the equivalent of a post-graduate business degree in just one year – not bad for people who say they don’t have time to learn!)
  • Read at least one business book to help you with your career development (‘Leading on the Edge‘ is a terrific ‘how-to’ leadership book by first time Australian author Rachael Robertson, leader of the 58th Australian Antarctic Expedition)
  • Do some research on healthy cooking
  • Commence learning a musical instrument
  • Volunteer to coach a junior sports team as a deliberate strategy to start working on developing your leadership skills

Finance and wealth (please seek professional advice for any activities in this section)

  • Complete your tax submissions for the most recent financial year
  • Book in a chat with your financial advisor
  • Draft a budget for 2014
  • Review your expenditure to date for the 2013 calendar year
  • Review your retirement strategy


  • Consider the most important people in your life. Identify one thing that you could do for each of those people to let them know how much they mean to you and do it!
  • Go on a date with your partner
  • Call your friend who lives on the other side of the country or another part of the world
  • Book in a coffee with your mentor and prepare something to focus on during your conversation
  • Help cook some sausages to help your local school raise some needed funds for a specific school development project

How are you going to make the most of the last 100 days of 2013? Sometimes simple lists can act as powerful motivators. When you ‘tick’ each item off your list you feel energised and powerful. You have clear evidence that you do get things done.

It’s just 100 days. Give it a try and be amazed at what you can achieve!

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

Saying I will try is useless

iStock_000005705584Small“Are you coming to the party this weekend?” Your response, “Hmmm, I’m not sure I’ll try to get there.”

“Can you get me the report by tomorrow afternoon?” Your response, “I have a lot on. I’ll try to get it to you.”

Self talk, “I know that I should read more so I’ll try to read fifteen minutes every day.”

“Have you lost some weight?” Your response, “Yes I’m trying to get fitter and to lose a few pounds.”

“Are you coming to training tonight?” Your response, “I’m going to try to get there.”

I’ll try.” When you read the above statements are you filled with confidence that the person is really going to do what they are saying they will “Try” to do?

When I hear people say, “I’ll try” I’m about 98% sure that whatever it is they are saying they are going to “Try” to do isn’t going to happen, get done or achieved.

The statement is pathetic and provides an instant ‘get out‘ clause for not doing something.

If you are serious about creating success in your life you must drop this statement from your vocabulary. Instead, follow this formula.

1. Make a commitment

If you are going to do something properly commit to it. Make the decision. Saying “I’ll try.” is neither a decision nor a commitment.

2. Be clear with your responses

“Are you coming to the party this weekend?” Your response, “Yes. I’m there, count me in.”

“Can you get the report to me by tomorrow afternoon?” Your response, “Done!

Self talk, “I read for fifteen minutes every day on topics that are helping me to improve my skills.”

“Have you lost some weight?” Your response, “Yes I’m getting fitter and healthier. This ‘new me’ is here to stay!

“Are you coming to training tonight?” Your response, “No. Not tonight. I have a more important commitment to my family. I’ll be there next week.”

Your language should support your commitment and decision.

3. Imagine success

Whenever you make a commitment to something, imagine what success will really look like. See yourself handing the report in to your boss thirty minutes ahead of schedule. Imagine the pleased look on your boss’s face when she reads through your report. Imagine the appreciative comments you will hear her say.

When you have a goal to be fitter and healthier ‘see’ the new you being active and looking good, not just for a short period, but for as far as you can see into the future.

4. Create a plan

No doubt many things can be planned in your head. If something is important and really must get done, then having a plan that lives in your head is a major risk to your productivity. Instead, write your plan down. Identify clear outcomes. Identify your starting point. Work out what you need to do (your actions) and then work out which actions have the highest leverage – in other words if these actions don’t happen then the job won’t get done or won’t get done to the required standards.

For example. You’ve committed to getting the report to your boss as requested. It now has to be delivered a day early. You have already imagined what success looks like so write what you imagined in Step 3 above. Next, write your current starting point. If the report is 50% complete, then write that down. If you are waiting on some data from Jane, write that down. Next, identify the actions that you’ll need to take to complete the report and to get it to your boss as requested. Out of the tasks that you have listed, identify the ones that have the highest influence on achieving your objectives. These need attention and focus and must be completed as soon as possible. In this example, such an action would be to contact Jane directly and explain to her how the deadline for the report has been moved forward and how you will do whatever you need to do to help get that information from her.

Your list of actions will also include less important tasks that someone else could do. Quickly delegate those tasks to other people. If there are no other people then you have to do them yourself. But do these after the most important tasks have been completed or are under ‘control’.

5. ‘Do’ your plan

Take action. Follow your plan. Adjust if necessary but stay focussed. Create the success you desire.

These five steps will take you from being someone who “Tries to be successful” to someone who is “successful”. Do yourself a favour and drop the word “try” from your vocabulary. It’s useless and it doesn’t work.

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

911 My Personal Connection

Nine eleven.Those two words are powerful. They evoke deep emotions of awe, fear, anger, devastation, astonishment, concern and many more of which I am yet to find the words to describe.
Yes For Success
Living in Melbourne, Australia I had gone to bed and was asleep when the first plane flew into the Twin Towers in New York. I was awoken by a phone ringing which is always a little nerve rattling. Phone calls late at night nearly always mean bad news.  As the phone was closest to my wife Michelle, she picked up the receiver. It was my youngest brother Wayne.“Turn on your TV. America is under attack.” is all he said.
We rushed into our living room and turned on the TV to see the North Tower on fire, smoke billowing from the 93rd floor and above.It was an incredible site.

Michelle and I were watching trying to make sense of my brother’s statement. And then we saw it. Live. The second plane flew into the South Tower. I literally jumped out of my chair and stood up.

“Oh my God!” Michelle and I uttered. “Where’s Denis?”, Michelle asked.

“About 400 miles away in Washington DC”. I replied.

You see my twin brother Denis was a manager in the security team at the Australian Embassy in Washington DC. On 911 Denis was in charge of security and the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard was on an official visit to the US.

After seeing the second plane fly into the South Tower Michelle and I were convinced that the US was indeed under attack. And we assumed Washington would be on the list of whoever the attackers were. The Australian Embassy is less than a mile from the White House. So I was genuinely concerned for my brother. For all intents and purposes I was watching the start of a war unfold before my eyes and my twin brother was in the direct line of fire.

We were also genuinely concerned about our world. As our 19 month old baby slept, we wondered, “Is this the start of World War III?”. Michelle was also in the early phases of her pregnancy with our second child.

Then the news flash occurred that confirmed our fears. A plane had flown into the Pentagon.

Surely the White House will be targeted we thought. Denis isn’t far from there.

This was not just some news event on TV. It was personal. It was ‘Realer than real’. When was this going to end?

As futile as I expected it to be I tried calling Denis. I didn’t get through.

Michelle and I sat and watched as the TV coverage captured every moment, including what was later to be seen as vision too gruesome to be shown again. To my knowledge, it hasn’t.

It was the sight of people jumping to their deaths from above the impact zone. The number of ‘jumpers’ was more than one’s mind and soul could manage. Yet we kept watching, desperate for news of what was happening in Washington.

Michelle and I continued to wonder how bad the conditions must have been above the impact zones that people were choosing to jump. These people were normal family people like us. Never in their wildest dreams would they have imagined that soon after having arrived at work that day they would be faced with such a choice. This choice and the images of what we saw still haunt me.

The TV coverage flipped between New York and Washington DC. What was going to happen next?

Then the South Tower collapsed before our eyes. To see such a thing happen on live TV was horrific. It was clear that we had just seen thousands of people lose their lives in a matter of seconds.

We wondered about the motivation of people to do such a thing as to deliberately fly a jet airliner into a building. The evil of such an act was impossible to comprehend, and still is today.

The whole night we watched and watched. Terrified of what might be unfolding in the US. I desperately kept calling Denis.

When morning broke we received a phone call from my mother. Denis had called her. He was okay. He’d been assisting the US Secret Service who had taken over the Australian Embassy to look after Prime Minister Howard and his entourage. Our relief that he was okay was enhanced by our knowledge that there were four planes involved in the attack, and all had been accounted for including the plane that had crashed in Pennsylvania.

Wow. My twin brother was directly involved in protecting Australia’s Prime Minister. Who would have thought that a plumber from Clayton in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs could have been directly involved in such a thing. But he was.

Three days later I was able to speak directly with Denis. I discovered that the gap between what the media had reported and what really happened with Prime Minister Howard was immense. The media had reported that Prime Minster Howard had been taken to a ‘bunker’ in the basement of the Australian embassy.

No such ‘bunker’ existed.

Instead Prime Minister Howard was seated on a plastic chair in the ‘Maintenance Man’s Cage‘ in the basement car park of the Australian Embassy. Times were indeed different!

How could we be on the other side of the world yet experience the horror of these events as if we were there? Although it was 2001 modern communication systems meant that we could in fact ‘experience’ a world event as it was unfolding. I’m sure psychologists would have some idea of whether it is a good or bad thing that we have the technology to allow us to experience such events. I still don’t know myself.

In closing I have no words of wisdom to offer regarding my experience of 911. Something tells me that it would be disrespectful to do so. Today I accept that I don’t understand why such horrific events happened and why, more specifically 911 happened. I just know that it did.

The events of that day also reinforce my deep commitment to being the best that I can be. Rather than letting my experience of 911 drive fear to stop me living the life I desire, I prefer to use it as a catalyst for ensuring that I leave no stone unturned in trying to become the best that I can be. I hope it has the same effect on you.

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

What are your ‘Leadership Theories’?

This weekend I will be facilitating a leadership development program for thirty experienced leaders. One of the results of the pre-program research that I have conducted is that only one person enrolled in this program acknowledges that she uses explicit theories/models to guide her in her practice of leadership.

From my experience over time results like this are common and highlight that the majority of ‘managers’, i.e. people in formal leadership roles, do not have a conscious set of theories/models to guide them in their roles.

Businesswomen working on laptop.When I say “theories/models” I mean everything from explicit, research based theories such as the Hersey-Blanchard Situational Leadership Model, or Tuckman’s Stages of Team Development, or Belbin’s Team Roles approach, all of which are solid theories/models built upon academic research. Or you might have your own ‘lay’ model that is reflected as an, ‘If…, then…‘ statement or a guiding set of ‘Do‘ and ‘Don’t Do‘ behaviours. Some of you may even use poetry or quotes to aid in providing a theoretical approach that underpins your behaviour. While not a ‘model’ per se, these can represent high level principles that inform your behaviour.

The alternative, of course, is to ‘wing it‘. This means that you ‘make it up as you go‘ and never settle on a consistent approach that keeps you grounded. With all the education that is now available I urge you to find explicit theories/models to guide your behaviour as a leader. Theory and practice don’t have to be separate. In fact they are designed to work together. The whole purpose of research is to improve practice, and practice informs research. They work together to help us improve the world around us. Think of road laws and vehicle safety as an example. The improvements in the safety of vehicles and the laws that are designed to help us drive around our cities safely have, over the past four decades, seen a dramatic reduction in the number of deaths caused by traffic accidents. While there is still a lot of improvement to be made in that area, theory and practice have worked together to improve the human condition.

If you desire to be the best leader that you can be then it is your responsibility to find, practice and gradually master your Theory of Leadership. Occasionally people ask me, “Okay. But what should I do if I discover that the theory I am using doesn’t work in practice?

The answer is simple and straightforward. If your theories/models aren’t proving useful, then find and adopt new ones that do. The principle remains the same. Make sure that at the very least you have conscious theories/models that you are trying over time to master, rather than having no theories/models at all.

You’ll find that this approach will have a positive and everlasting impact on your effectiveness as a leader.

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

Defeat your enemy!

Eastern cultures have taught us that there are equal and opposite forces that co-exist and influence our lives at the same time. Each force cannot exist without the other. Day cannot exist without night. Courage cannot exist without fear. Good cannot exist without evil. These forces are known as Yin and Yang and are present in our lives every day whether we realise it or not.

Gary Ryan, Organisations That Matter, Yes For Success, vision, personal vision plan, plan for success, successI urge you to be the best that you can be; at home, at work, in the pursuit of your passions. To be fair I have to let you in on a direct consequence for such choices. This consequence is something that you will recognise but prefer not to know. But you need to not only know this consequence but you must understand it as much as you understand yourself, maybe even more so. Failing to understand this consequence places the future you desire in grave danger.

When you decide to take action to create a better life an equal and opposite force is automatically released. This force is RESISTANCE. Its purpose is to stop you from creating the success and future you desire. In short it wants to kill your ideas, your passion and your creations. It never sleeps, has a high intellect and is prepared to use the dirtiest of tricks to stop you from creating the life you desire.

You need to be aware of this force right now. If you are not sure what I mean, think about every great idea that you have ever had or any major task that you have decided to undertake. Did those ideas see the light of day? Has your song been published? Did you start that club? Have you lost the weight you decided to lose? Have you kept that weight off? Have you learned to play the guitar? Did you speak to that fellow student who you identified as someone who could help you to achieve a higher grade? Did you cross the room to introduce yourself to that attractive person with whom you had momentarily met eyes? Did you update your resume and apply for the ‘perfect’ job that you saw advertised? Did you make a stand against a decision that your boss was making because deep down you knew that it was wrong?

Why didn’t you do those things? The answer; RESISTANCE!

Right now don’t be surprised if resistance is at work challenging you to stop reading this message. “This guy is full of crap. Don’t keep reading this stuff he’s trying to use some form of hocus-pocus to get you to do something you don’t want to do. Plus, you don’t have the time to read this stuff!” If these thoughts are in your head right now then you know RESISTANCE exists.

It is important to note that resistance is impersonal. It doesn’t just pick on you – it selects everyone. We all have to fight resistance or let it rule our lives. It is ruthless and unending in its attempt to de-throne you from your ideas and your attempts to create a better life. If you don’t believe me, then why haven’t you already created the life balance and personal success that you desire?

Where does this resistance come from? It exists in you, but it isn’t you. This may be hard for you to understand, but it is essential for you to grasp if you are to win your battles against it. You are not your thoughts; like the weather they randomly enter your mind. Resistance likes to take hold of your thoughts and to create chatter in your mind that clouds your desires. It attempts to create fear; fear of success. Yes, that’s right; resistance likes to create fear because fear is its fuel. The idea of being successful is one thing; actually being that success is another. Resistance likes to create fear to stop you from creating the success you desire.

Resistance can be manifest in the people around you; your partner, family, friends, colleagues and bosses. But any resistance coming from them only serves to fuel the resistance inside you. The resistance inside you is far more powerful than any resistance external to you. In fact, resistance is strengthened every time you believe that whatever is stopping you from creating the life that you desire is because of someone or something else.

I know from my own experience that resistance grows in stature the closer I get to completing a project. The last 10kms in a marathon are the hardest to complete, more because of the chatter in my mind than the aching in my legs. The hardest part of publishing my first book was pressing the ‘send’ button for my final draft to my publisher. “What if this thing is a flop? What if I don’t sell a book. It owes me thousands without counting my time and effort. What if people don’t like it? I’ll be publicly humiliated!”.

If you have ever lost weight, then you know resistance. Resistance is most powerful when you reach your target weight. Yes, that’s right folks; it is at its most powerful at that point in time. “How?” you ask.

It is at the point of reaching your target weight resistance awakens with all its fury. It does everything in its power to stop you from doing the habits that enabled you to achieve your target weight in the first place. It creates chatter in your mind that it’s now okay to have a little bit of this food and a little bit of that food and you don’t need to exercise today, after all look at yourself, you look fabulous. Before you know it more than half the weight that you had lost has been put back on.

As mean as resistance is, it is selective. It doesn’t present itself when what you are doing is taking you away from the life balance and personal success that you desire. It doesn’t lift you off the couch when you are watching episode after episode of mindless reality TV. It doesn’t stop you from eating more chocolate than you should, from sleeping in, from missing a deadline or forgetting to say thank you to your spouse for cooking dinner. It doesn’t stop you from taking on more and more duties at work even though all these tasks are doing is taking up more of your time and preventing you from doing the things that you really need to do to create the life you desire.

While resistance can’t be seen, touched, tasted or smelled, it can be felt. It is that awkward feeling you get when an idea or action pop into your mind and you know that it is a good idea or the right action to take. But that feeling you get quickly stops you from taking any action. In resistance’s incredibly astute way that feeling disappears as suddenly as your idea or your intended action fade to a distant if not extinguished memory. Resistance’s desire for you not to become your best has been satiated so it no longer needs to create the feeling it generated to stop your idea or action. Remember resistance possesses a cunning that is unmatched and it will sneak up on you like a leopard stalking its prey.

Resistance can also come from those who love you the most. When you change, if even for the better it can be scary for them. Because they love you they will get used to you changing but maintain your awareness that they can behave in ways to stop you from improving. One such example may be putting pressure on you not to spend time on improving yourself. In its extreme, the type of resistance I’m describing is present when a street gang member attempts to leave the gang. “Who do you think you are? Do you think you are better than us?” While this example represents an extreme version of external resistance from the people around you, the same sort of behaviours can be exhibited by people close to you when you try to improve yourself.

What can you do about resistance? First, you must accept that it exists. If you don’t it will blind side you at the first opportunity and you won’t even know. The proof will be that your ideas and the life that you had hoped to create will be left as ideas or even worse as fuzzy memories. Second, you have to be prepared to battle resistance every day. This is no ordinary battle. As Steven Pressfield says in his book Do The Work this is literally a fight to the death every day. You can defeat resistance and you can slay it. But it will rise again tomorrow and take you on once again.

Think of any of your life achievements so far. Were they plain sailing? Hell no! You had to work hard to overcome many obstacles. Where did those obstacles come from? Resistance!

Remember the character Michael Corleone played by Al Pacino in The Godfather III? He is trying to legitimise his business and move away from crime related activities. But his family and associates keep killing people. Michael remarks, “Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in!“. Even Michael, as powerful as he was, had to fight resistance.

The good news is that you can defeat resistance, one day at a time. You already have. Any success or improvement in your life that has taken you closer to being the person you desire to be provides you with examples of having slain resistance. Draw on these examples to give you the confidence that you can, and will, defeat it again and again. On the odd occasion when resistance defeats you, use your knowledge of your past successes to give you the confidence to take it on again. Interact with other people who understand resistance and who are able to defeat it. Let their successes give you energy for your battles against it.

The Yes For Success Program exists to help you win your everyday fight against resistance. When you win a battle, the Yes For Success community wins a battle. Your success is the community’s success. Sharing your successes when you defeat resistance provides both encouragement and energy for others. Likewise the successes of other community members provides encouragement and energy for you to take on this mighty foe! After all, we’re all fighting resistance, myself included!

Take action to defeat resistance now. Join the Yes For Success program and take the execution of your strategies for life balance and personal success to another level. If you have read to this point of the article then you understand the power that resistance has – win your first battle and at least check out what the Yes For Success program includes. Click here now.

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