So let’s recap that which we’ve discussed so far. In the introductory blog in this series, we outlined five important attributes, the Five Ps if you will, of project management– prepared, precise, proactive, perseverance, and perpetual learning. The subsequent installations expounded upon these in P is for Prepared, P is for Precise, and P is for Proactive. Each of these characteristics is so important in its own right, but they are also interconnected and I hope that is becoming clear as we move forward. Let’s talk about the next critical element of project management: perseverance.
P is for Perseverance
This concept is a bit more difficult to address as it tends to be slightly more abstract. There are tools and techniques available, as we’ve demonstrated, to help keep one prepared, precise, and even proactive. But what’s out there to aid with perseverance? It really is more of an inherent quality, but that’s not to say that it can’t be taught or learned (luckily for us or this would be a fairly short blog post). Author and Program Manager Richard Newton, calls perseverance the “underestimated skill of the successful”. That’s so true. Very few successes have resulted from managers ignoring or mishandling the inevitable problems which arise during the course of any given project. One of the responsibilities of a project manager then, is to instill in their team an unwavering commitment to their project and having the perseverance to turn mistakes or unanticipated problems into opportunities. While there aren’t as many tangible tools to aid with perseverance, here are a couple of thoughts to keep in mind.
Avoid creating unnecessary problems, keep things in perspective. It can be easy to feel like you’re losing control and that can cause one to feel like throwing in the towel. In most cases, however, simply giving up isn’t really a viable option. Try taking a break, or a day off if that’s possible, to get some distance and perspective and then get back in the game. Spinning those wheels, so to speak, is only going to make the situation more difficult. When you begin missing milestone and deadlines it only adds to the stress and then, well, then the downward spiral continues. Don’t over think. Don’t invent problems. Don’t make it harder on yourself.
Strengthen your resolve, focus on the goal. Don’t get dragged down by an unhappy client or by a project set back. If you experience an impediment, let it feed your flame rather than extinguish it. Remind yourself of your goal and adjust your plan if necessary. If you must adapt your plan, look for new opportunities. Some of the greatest innovations were born from an accident when one was pursuing a completely different outcome. Listen to your inner voice and learn from your mistakes. You may find that your ability to overcome obstacles will actually serve to build your confidence in yourself and motivate you to continue forward. And that’s exactly how you’re going to persevere.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, who could be the poster child for surmounting obstacles, advised that “when you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.” Perseverance is not about avoiding problems, it’s about overcoming them. Hopefully we’ve provided you with a way of thinking which may inspire you to do just that. Check back next week when we conclude this blog series and discuss the final topic in our project management series: perpetual learning.