This is an interview with Gary Ryan Blair often referred to as the “Goals Guy.” He is the author of the best selling book “Everything Counts: 52 remarkable ways to inspire excellence and drive results”. In this interview he talks about how people should consciously create a personal strategic plan for achieving goals just like how major corporations do. His handbooks, training programs and consulting services are field-tested and used by more than 80,000 organizations and 4 million employees worldwide.
Vinil: Gary, I want to start by asking you about your training program: “The Personal Strategic Plan”. What is “The Personal Strategic Plan” and why do you need one?
Gary: You know…very simple concept. It’s based on the work I’ve done for corporate America for a number of decades now. And, I’ve been doing strategic planning at the highest level, very successfully by the way and I came across the idea that the exact same principles that I actually teach and share and implement with my corporate clients could be adapted towards an individual.
So if you look at it, what does a highly successful organization have? Well, they’ve got a very robust and a very strong vision for the future.
Every individual needs to be able to do that. They’ve got an over-riding mission that really helps them conceptualize their core goals. They’ve got a structure in place, a set of systems and ways they go about setting and achieving their goals. Systems that they will implement in order to effect outcomes. Obviously, they’re going to be driven by deadlines, measurement systems and everything else, that helps in achieving goals. And I just took the same exact concepts and re-engineered them so that it would work towards an individual’s life. And everybody, quite frankly, could benefit from having a good, solid plan for the future.
Vinil: What if you’re an employee in an organization? I meet people who say: “Well, I go to my job, I do what my boss tells me to do. So how is this plan actually going to help me? Why do I even need a plan? I just show up to work. I leave at 5 P.M. and I do whatever my boss tells me to do.” How do you answer that question?
Gary: Well, the first thing I would say is that’s a pretty frightening attitude if that’s the way someone would take it. In this day and age that attitude quite frankly is no longer acceptable. I’d say in a previous decade and even before that, going back and you know quite frankly for the entire working regimen that would have been fine. But nowadays, everybody and I emphasize everybody needs to look at themselves as an entrepreneur.
Quite frankly they need to develop and have a plan in place for their own skill sets for their own future. They’ve got to have a vision for themselves. They’ve got to make sure that they’re in control of their own future rather than just being absent in the direction of their future and letting somebody else do that for them.
Vinil: Does this plan need to be written? Because I meet people who say “ I have a plan”. And, when you tell them “Show me your plan,” they say, “It’s in my mind.” So, does this plan need to be written?
Gary: I’ll make it very simple. Your mind is blessed with permanent memory but it’s cursed with lousy recall. And an example very simply is this: Let’s just say that you’re going to go to the supermarket and you have a list of twenty items you wanted to get. We’ve all had this experience. Where somewhere between the green peas and the corn or the cereal, your brain takes a vacation: You can’t remember what on earth you went in the store for.
And of course you wind up coming home and you forget a number of items and you have some extra ones you didn’t plan on getting. When you unpack the bags all of a sudden you have perfect clarity. You remember suddenly: “Oh goodness, I forgot this is what I should have done, or needed to pick up”. Well, your mind is exactly the same way, but quite frankly, gets even more complex. If you just try to process everything and solve problems and plan for your future in your mind. You know the phone rings, there’s interruptions there’s email. There’s a whole host of different things that are constantly fighting and challenging for your focus. There’s no way you’re going to be able to do that. So the written process helps you to clarify your thinking. It helps you to objectify on paper, black and white and facts and figures and it removes the emotional connection and just look at it almost as if you were a third person. Look at the facts, the figures, the strengths, the weaknesses of the situation and then base your strategy moving forward based on your current data. And that’s not a process you can do in your head.
Vinil: What if somebody does not have a purpose? I meet people who say: “I want to do something with my life. But I’m not sure what I want to do. I don’t have a purpose yet. I don’t have a passion yet.” How would you answer that question?
Gary: There are a couple of parts to it. Let me talk about why it’s so important how this whole thing works. And then what happens if you don’t have it. Well, first let’s just look at your body for a moment. I think this is very, very important. You know, everything in your body, the way God created it has a specific purpose. Your eyes have a purpose, your nose has a purpose, your fingers, the skin on your body, your fingernails and toenails, your lungs, your small intestine, everything has a definitive purpose the way with which it was constructed.
Now, there were three things we were gifted at birth that we need to give purpose to. It’s what we think, it’s what we say and what we do. People think that the only thing we have control over is what you think. No, Not at all. Where people make mistakes and problems in their lives is that they think the wrong thoughts, they say the wrong words and they engage in the wrong activities. And that’s the crazy part about it because those are the things that were gifted to us at birth to control our own destiny.
Therefore, we need to wake up, get serious and realize that we can control what goes on in our mind, what we think about. We can choose to focus on solutions, we can choose to focus and talk about virtuous behavior. We can choose to engage in activity that is goal directed rather than that which is destructive. But it’s important for us to realize that those are the three tools that we have to effectuate a result.
Now, relating to your life’s purpose, if you’re not sure what it is then here’s the thing that you need to do: Number one: You need to make it your life’s purpose to find your life’s purpose. What that means is you need to pay attention. Look at other people. Pay attention to the activities that you’re engaged in. Which ones provide you with joy? Which ones you do with relative ease? Which ones do you just absolutely just disdain so you know which direction not to move in and so forth. Finding your purpose is not an accidental experience. It’s a conscious thing that you have to work your way through.
And, the other is that, in the mean time while you are going through that process, here’s what you absolutely have to do. There’s no alternative to this. You must commit your life to excellence. And here’s the reason why. Even if you’re not sure what your purpose is, if you are a receptionist at an office, you must answer that phone as if it is a Broadway performance. If you’re a waiter at a restaurant, you must give it everything you’ve got. Give your clients at that moment, at that table, a fantastic experience. If you’re giving a presentation, you must absolutely nail it and give it as much enthusiasm and as much benefits associated with it for your client so that you’re doing your job well. But the demonstration of excellence, what that is going to do is that is the qualitative aspect of your results. So even if you don’t know what the quantitative thing is, you can always focus on the qualitative aspect, which is excellence. I certainly hope that makes sense.
This is part 1 of the interview with Gary Ryan Blair. Part 2 of the interview is available here.
About Gary Ryan Blair
Gary Ryan Blair is the author of the best selling book “Everything Counts: 52 remarkable ways to inspire excellence and drive results”. His handbooks, training programs and consulting services are field-tested and used by more than 80,000 organizations and 4 million employees worldwide. His latest program the 100 day challenge has been a best seller helping people from all over the world in achieving goals.