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Issue # 30 November 2010


Pow'Rful Presentations Newsletter


November 2010 - Your self-defeating beliefs

 
Pow'Rful Presentations is a relatively monthly investigation of ideas, strategies and techniques to assist readers be more present in life, better project managers and make effective presentations (in all senses of the word).
  
Disclaimer - depending on your background, and my South African origins, you may find some of my spelling and grammar to be "imaginative".
 
© Wayne Botha 2010
 
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Five beliefs that will hurt your project and your career.

On your path to become the best project project that you can be, you may have acquired beliefs that are hurting your projects and career. As Mark Twain said "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

 

Perhaps you are not aware of your self-defeating beliefs. If you think any of these beliefs may apply to you, then review your actions for the past month. Your actions are the manifestation of your beliefs.

 

Here are five beliefs that "ain't so" for project managers.

1. Believing that you know enough and your manager will initiate action if you need to know more. You place yourself at a disadvantage if you wait for others to teach you more. Take the initiative and develop the discipline of self-learning. Learn more about the craft of project management and the business that you are in. Create your own body of knowledge about your employer with the acronyms and services that you provide. This makes you more valuable, because knowledge is power in large organizations and you can become the go-to person.

 

2. Believing that you are immune from being laid off. Don't become complacent, regardless of how long you work at a company. Time after time I meet people who were laid off after a long and dedicated employment, and no longer have skills that are current. It does not matter if you have been a loyal and exemplary employee for 23 years. Both good and lousy employees have been laid off and downsized in this recession. To make sure your skills are current, continue to take courses that are valuable to your employer and other employers. Also develop your leadership skills by joining your industry association and taking a leadership position, especially if you are not qualified for it. There you will be in a situation where you are given the opportunity and forced to grow. Apply your leadership skills at work to take on more valuable projects for your employer. Never allow yourself to become complacent with your employer.

 

3. Believing that developers are driven to deliver highest quality code on software projects. When you are managing IT projects do not expect that developers are committed to delivering high quality code. They may have other thoughts on their mind and delivering code is their objective, without the words "high quality" in their vocabulary. Your developers might have plans for the weekend and their objective is to "Ship this code before leaving the office on Friday." Put plans in place to validate the code you receive and ensure thorough testing is conducted.

 

4. Believing that everyone involved in your project wants it to succeed as much as you do. The truth is that other people have varying levels of support for your project ranging from wanting to see you fail to complete disinterest. Your manager may have an aversion to reporting the truth and want to only report green status on all projects. Some people can be convinced to support you if you speak with them. Other people will always be against you. This is reality and you need to constantly be alert to people's actions to determine their level of support or lack thereof for your project.

 

5. Believing that it is different this time, despite the indicators. No one wants to work on failing projects. Yet, as a seasoned IT project manager, you know more than you think you do. You get a sense of a project that is going off the rails when milestones pass without appropriate progress, and your experts tell you that your project is in jeopardy. As tough as it is to accept what people and your indicators are telling you, you want to believe that the situation is not as bad as it is and that this time it is different. It is not different this time. You need to face the facts and take corrective action and the sooner you do it, the better. Project problems get worse with age, not better.

    

These five false beliefs may long standing beliefs for you. You may not be aware that you have these beliefs. If you are in doubt, then have someone close to you evaluate your actions over the past few weeks. Fortunately, you have the ability to change your beliefs and the course of your career with a new mindset. 

  


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Philosophical moment - your options.
 

When you are faced with a challenge, you may think "I have no options here." This is not true. You always have options. The problem is that you are not aware of all your options and may not like any of the options.

 

You may have disregarded options before you even considered them as viable options in a situation, due to your beliefs and values. However, one of the options you disregarded may be exactly the best option for you in the situation where you believe you have no options.

 

Follow the steps below, when you think you have no options:

1. Assume that you have options. Assume that you don't know all the options available to you or just don't like any of the options available.

2. Using the 20 answer technique, list out your options. (20 answer technique: Write down at the top of a sheet of paper "What are my options?" Then list 20 answers. The best ones will come after you think you have listed them all.)

3. Ask yourself "What options don't I like and don't consider to be viable in this situation?" Then ask "What would make them options that I like and consider viable?"

4. Speak to a peer or mentor. The fresh perspective will reveal that you have not looked at all the options.

5. Take a moment to imagine what this situation would be like three months in the future. Looking back, what options were available to you that you did not recognize at the time, based on the outcome of a worse case scenario?

6. What are non-adjacent options? (We normally think of adjacent options when trying to solve a problem. We need another person to help us think of non-adjacent options which are a normally revealed as a blinding flash of the obvious.)

 

In summary: Don't be fooled - you always have options. You may not be aware of them or like any of the options, however having options opens more possibilities than saying "I don't have any options." 


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Humor moment.
 

At the 2010 Leadership Institute Meeting in Washington DC, the keynote speaker shared a quote encapsulating the experience of leading in a volunteer organization. He said "It is like being the only fire hydrant on a street with 8,000 dogs."

 

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Do you need a speaker for your IT or Project Management association chapter meeting? Contact me and lets see if we can work together for a win/win/win outcome.

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Copyright 2017 Wayne Botha Email Wayne Cell: 860.214.4897