Tag Archives: goals

In Out? In Out? Or shake it all about?

Voiceover people do what we do for numerous and varied reasons.

We’re all different people from different backgrounds with different circumstances and different motivations. Some motivational factors may be more common among us than others. Family is a big one for me, it might be for you too?

But there’s an even bigger motivator for me. To explain it, I first need to cover two separate and discrete areas:

Input and output.

Many people make, in my opinion, a mistake with their focus. They spend too much time focusing on output. I have seen it time and time again in many walks of life. Chasing a ‘number’. Seeking a ‘success’. Aiming at a particular ‘outcome’. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s important to measure the outcome. After all:

If you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there.

Often incorrectly quoted as a line from Alice in Wonderland – but the paraphrase works here.

I am a huge fan of goals. But. I’ve learned that setting the goal, measuring the outcome or deciding ‘what great looks like’ should only be a small proportion of our focus. Output happens, it’s a ‘result’, an ‘outcome’. And it happens well, after we’ve finished working on great quality input.

Pareto sits nicely here for me to express a good balance:

  • 20% of our time working on, measuring and reviewing output
  • 80% of our time working on, measuring and reviewing input

So how can this apply to voiceover?

I’ve built my own recording area – as most of us have. That’s involved everything from carpentry, to rearranging furniture. From treating the walls, to moving around the room. Of course none of that input effort is driving the result whilst I’m working on it. Plainly, It’s not getting me a role there and then. Obviously that input is going to affect output at a later time. Our input is ongoing, and we work hard at it:

  • We create studios
  • We buy expensive equipment
  • We practise our practice
  • We learn ( every day is a school day )
  • We audition
  • We fail, often – because it’s in the nature of what we do. Picture the door-to-door brush salesperson with his philosophy, “Every door that slams in my face, gets me one closer to the customer who will buy!” That’s us!
  • We learn from our failures and we get better.

All this is input.

As a result of working on this, we deliver quality output in the form of our recording. But it’s the next bit which REALLY adds the magic for me:

Seeing this ‘output’out there‘.

The words we’ve delivered, crafted, worked up, transformed into something relevant and useful and interesting. Those words, sitting out there in the ether. With a life. People listening to them, and commenting on them. Sometimes even enjoying them!

That’s where the true magic is for me, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.

So next time you’re trying to work out why you didn’t get that role. Or trying to deliver the same sentence for the 13th time in an audition. Or spending time experimenting with the sound. Or marketing your business with seemingly no response – remember, it’s all input, and it’s all good. And the better quality the input, ultimately the more rewarding the output.

Have a great week.



3 minutes and 58 seconds…

As many of you know, I’m a huge fan of ‘positive thinking’ – ensuring you are in control of your frame of mind.

Something happened to me this week in voiceover, It wasn’t a life-changing thing, but it did impact me; it impacted my confidence.

However, it wasn’t a bad thing that happened, it was a good thing! So what’s wrong with letting positive things impact your confidence? I’ll tell you.

Incidentally, this piece isn’t just about Voiceover, but about what I mean by ‘positive-thinking’ and why it’s vital.


Firstly, let’s be clear on what positive thinking is not:

  • Running around blissfully grinning from ear to ear, while the world falls about those ears
  • Blind ignorance
  • Pretending things are great when they aren’t
  • Wishy-washy fuzzy sunshine mode

Positive thinking, for me, is about recognising that the outcome is directly affected by your belief of how it’s going to turn out.

Henry Ford was quoted as saying “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re probably right”. There is some debate on whether it was actually Ford who originated it. In 1905 (some 40 years prior) a poem by Walter D Wintle entitled ‘Thinking’ was published for the Unity Tract Society.

The first lines of the poem are:

If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.

And it ends…

But soon or late the man who wins

Apologies for publishing the innate sexism – I guess it was the early 20th Century and people still had a lot to learn! But it looks familiar doesn’t it? I have put a link to the full poem at the end of the blog if you wanna read it all.

These days, there is plenty of discussion on the web about positive thinking, and the validity or otherwise of ‘believing you can’. Sadly, some lazy chatter takes the comments at face value – and tests them by seeing whether they apply to ‘being able to levitate’ or such some other nonsense.

Infinite number of Monkeys+typewriters = 2/3 of the internet – Steve O’Neill 2014

You can decide whether it was Ford, Wintle, or someone else who coined it – but what does is “whether you think you can or you can’t…” saying ?

I believe it refers to the fact that success, achievement and quality comes via an open gate. A gate which is opened by believing that the success is possible, and something worth working towards. Of course, you need to work towards it with vigour and determination – but always with a belief in ‘yes’ it will happen.

YOU have to open the gate, and YOU have to work hard AND – sometimes – FAIL.

Now that might sound like a contradiction, how can it be good to fail if you believed you were going to succeed?

The answer is simple – failure to meet the goal is disappointing, but it still has value if you learn by it.

Failure without learning is total failure, that’s fairly clear.

But I believe that succeeding without learning is just as bad.

Let me explain why:


On 6th May 2014 it was the 60th anniversary of Roger Bannister’s success at breaking the four minute mile barrier.

This event is often used in training and sports motivation as significant – that before it happened, medical science said ‘your lungs would explode and your heart would jump out of your mouth‘ etc. The anecdotes continue that within ‘X days X number of people beat the barrier‘ because they suddenly believed etc. It would be a neat story if all the rhetoric were true, but sadly it wasn’t.

Believing is important – but only part of the story.

Within 46 days Bannister’s record WAS broken and bettered to 3 minutes and 58 seconds – a story which we don’t hear so much about.

Of course there’s significance in 4 minutes, we like round numbers and neat things – we tend to celebrate:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • New Year
  • Centuries
  • Things that go faster than 100mph
  • Weekends

We don’t usually celebrate:

  • Being 17 years 5 months and 3 days old
  • The 23rd day of November
  • Things passing the 83mph barrier
  • Tuesdays

And yet the things which happen on those days, after that period of time, at that speed, or at that point in our life are just as important as the nice neat round numbers.

Whatever you are working towards, you must have two things:

1) A goal

2) The belief you can reach it

Without BOTH of these, what do you achieve?

Arguably you’ll achieve what you set out to achieve – nothing.

Ok, so you’ve set a target. However, if you don’t believe you can achieve it – what is the point of setting the target in the first place?

The goal or target doesn’t have to be a round number – in fact I would argue it shouldn’t be a round number, because it then becomes about the roundness of the number (4 minutes etc) and not the achievement or what you can actually do.

No one set out to break the 3 minute and 58 second barrier, yet it’s clearly a better achievement.

And the belief you will succeed should NOT be about blind ignorance – otherwise it will dent your confidence every time you miss the goal – or you’ll just be too busy smiling to notice.

It’s easy to be positive when you’re winning. True courage, true reward comes from focusing on a positive outcome to drive you via failure – towards success.


I am not interested in the size of a voiceover job, how glamorous it is or whether it’s going to get me fame – I’ll leave those ambitions for the ’20 somethings’ in life, I am interested in making it the best quality I can, something to be proud of, and delivering the best result I can for the client.

If I don’t achieve something I planned to – an audition, securing a role, a quality recording etc – I work hard at reviewing why, because it’s important to review.

What’s more important, is what you are going to do differently next time.

Sometimes – it’s nothing. You don’t need to do anything differently, because it genuinely was external factors which influenced the outcome. Casting is subjective, if someone thinks our voice fits, it’s a matter of taste. But we MUST know the difference – because if we let those external factors become the reason, the success (or failure) EVERY time, then we’ve lost it.

And that’s where your plan, and positive attitude come in together – because each time you can compare the outcome to your plan and decide:

1) I met the plan – don’t change anything

2) I fell short of something – change something

3) The plan is wrong – change the plan


Back to my original point, why did I get upset because I was HAPPY at the outcome?

Because I allowed the external factor of the success to affect my confidence.

And that isn’t my plan. My plan is not:

Hope you get a success where you didn’t expect it


Expect results when you least expect them

How can you DO anything about those outcomes? you can’t!

In reviewing why I achieved the success – a small success but a success –  I became clear on what I should do differently next time around.

Because, if I do it differently next time – it’s more likely to result in a success as opposed to a failure.

That’s what I mean by positive thinking:

Being clear on what WILL affect the outcome in a positive way

Reviewing your successes is as important as reviewing your failures – because if you are clear on WHY it was a success, you’re more likely to be able to replicate it next time.

So, my suggestion is – when you get a win if course smile, enjoy – DO get excited. But when the feeling has passed, review REALLY clearly why you got that win, what worked, how it met with your plan, and then set out to replicate it next time.

THEN – you’ll open the gate.

Then, you can ultimately have ANY colour rainbow you want, so long as it’s…


In summary then:

  1. Have a plan
  2. Set goals and targets based on what you CAN achieve, some simple, some stretching – but ALL achievable
  3. Focus on what WILL support you achieving the goals
  4. Identify what WON’T support you – and ditch it
  5. Review the results, and compare them to the plan
  6. Identify what YOU did which supported the positive outcomes, and commit to doing MORE of those things (be clear about what YOU did, separate the external factors)
  7. Identify what YOU did which did NOT support the positive outcomes, and bin them
  8. Review the plan, it’s flexible!
  9. Challenge everything you read on the internet – including this, find contrary evidence and then make up your OWN mind
  10. Actually I just re-read point 9, and I’m now I’m stuck in a bit of a paradox – but you get the point!!!
  11. Don’t always aim to create lists of things with nice round numbers

Have a great day