Tag Archives: Personal Development

Do You Go All In?

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As we neared the project deadline it was amazing to see the dedication and commitment of the team. People where putting in long hours if needed, helping out with things outside their responsibility and just looking for ways to ensure success. It was a great feeling, particularly when we hit a really ugly snag a couple of days before our deadline. When that happened it was amazing to watch everyone pull together, pull out all the stops and get things done. We hit our deadline to almost everyone’s amazement. The team members humbly told the stakeholders that they just did what had to be done.

This was a team where everyone was ‘all in’ when it came to the project. There were many different factors that created the conditions leading to the formation of such a high functioning team. One of the most critical pieces of that puzzle was the personal choices made by the team members to fully commit to the project.

Each person was 100% vested in the success of the project. This wasn’t something we discussed amongst ourselves, it was just how each of us showed up. Not everyone started off that way, a few went through the motions at first; they did just what was needed and not anything more. As time went on the team grew together and by the last few days everyone was on board and giving their all.

More recently I’ve been part of teams where there were a few members who just did the bare minimum. When their shift was over they left right away. These team members did what was mandated but did not go out of their way to do more or learn more. Sadly it meant there were many more issues as the project rolled out. The people who held back during the preparation ended up playing catch up later. Additionally they were surprised when there were problems and issues. These problems were obviously the fault of the rest of project team.

Why the difference in the commitment level of these two teams? Part of it is their personality, part the business culture and lastly the expectations of the project leaders. When expectations are set that each person is expected to be fully engaged it builds an environment where that is the norm not the exception. Team leaders must give 110%, hold people accountable for their commitments, and bring an energy that helps keep the team excited and going during the rough patches.

Yet each of us has a responsibility to bring our all to whatever we are part of each day. The most engaging, inspiring and exciting teams can still have people on them who just won’t go all in. This means they are missing some of the benefits of being fully engaged. There are three key things gained when you are fully engaged with your team.

  1. Experience: When you are willing to do more than expected you get the opportunity to experience new things, learn new skills and see things in different ways.
  2. Satisfaction: Most people want to know that what they are doing makes a difference. When you give your all you have the satisfaction of knowing that you did your best to create success. Whether you succeed or not you will know that your efforts mattered.
  3. Perception: Those who are seen as going all in on a project are seen as valuable team players. These are people who are get recognized as having potential because they can be counted on to get things done. This perception of dedication and ability can make your next career step a move up.

It’s so easy to say ‘let someone else do it’ or ‘it’s not my job’ or ‘someone else is responsible’ because it means less risk and less work. Yet it means you are creating limitations for what you can do, now and in the future. Holding back means boxing yourself in to a limited role. If you want to only be in a supporting role then only do what you are told. If you want to lead and grow you must break out of the box and show initiative, show commitment and go all in.

Like in poker when you go all in you can lose big or you can win big. However, you will never know how big a win it can be until you risk it all.

If you are ready to take the risk and go all in you can start today. Ask yourself what more can I do today to help create success? Is there something I can do to help someone get more done today? Where can I lend a hand?

Image from iStockPhoto.com

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Thought for Monday

Montain summerIn the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

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Top 5 Posts of 2013

Office party

Thanks to everyone who stopped by, commented and shared my posts this past year.  Here are the top 5 posts from the year:

  1. 5 People Every Team Needs
  2. Defining Personal Productivity
  3. 10 Tips for Project Success
  4. A Leadership Parable
  5. Making Hard Choices

I’m looking forward to 2014 and sharing more thoughts with you as well as learning from your comments and feedback.

Let’s make 2014 the best year yet!  Have a great New Year!!

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If you would like help developing your project management or leadership skills contact me at carol@delta-group-llc.com.  I can help you create clarity around your goals, develop a strategy to reach them and support your during your efforts.

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Thoughts for Dec 19th

BelieveTo accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.
Anatole France

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.
Colin Powell

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Are You Moving Forward?

GoThis is a time of the year when many of us look back on what we accomplished during the year.  Did we achieve our New Year resolutions?  Did we move closer to our big life goals?  There are a wide variety of similar questions we ask ourselves whenever we reflect on our success.  It’s important to reflect on our achievements and understand what we accomplished.  However, it’s even more important to look at what our vision and mission really are and how do we get there.  This is a great time of the year to identify how we can move forward in our life.  We then set the stage for even greater achievement after the first of the year.

To achieve anything we have to first envision what it is we want.  These may come in the form of written goals, a clear vision and/or mission statement, a vision board or just a deep sense of what we are called to do.  Being clear on the desired endpoint is a critical step in reaching it.  How do you know what to do if you aren’t clear on where you are going?  This clarity takes time to develop; you must get in touch with your skills, your passion and who you want to be in the world.  Establishing that vision of your future world creates a mindset that allows you to start moving towards it with purpose and determination.

Once you know where you are going it’s time to get moving forward.  It can be hard to create a vision for the future but it’s even harder to take action to get there.  Dreaming is so much easier than getting down into the trenches and working hard to reach your goal.  Part of the reason taking action is so hard is because we of goals think in terms of grand accomplishments or big projects.  Instead take the time to identify the first simple steps you need to take to reach your goal.  This is about what can you do first, then what would come second, then what’s third.  Start with the first things to do and the steps required after that will become clear.

You really don’t need a plan of action that details every single thing you must do to reach your goal.  In fact, if you spend time creating that detailed of a plan you are closing the door on flexibility and new opportunities.  As well, you set yourself up for failure.  If you have a highly detailed plan and a detour comes up that is the right thing for you to do it creates a conflict – do I go with my plan or the detour?  Many then get stuck or start second guessing their decision.  This stops them from moving forward and they end up not reaching their goals.

So look at your goals and ask yourself these questions to get moving forward today:

  • What can I do today to move towards my goal?
  • How can I take advantage of the resources I have at hand to help reach my goal?
  • Who could help me move forward today?
  • Where can I learn a needed skill or gain a resource I need today?
  • Why am I procrastinating on working towards my goals?
  • If I take no action today when will I take that next step?

Moving forward towards your dreams and your goals is a series of small steps that ultimately get you where you want to go.  You just have to take the first one to start moving forward.   As you move forward your goals will get closer to you and you will find the next steps to take in front of you.

What step will you take today?

If you are stuck and would like help figuring out how to start moving forward contact me for a Jump-Start Coaching Session.

carol@delta-group-llc.com

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Rising Above Adversity

As I read all the information about the life on Nelson Mandela one thing that struck me was his ability to forgive and move forward.  After spending years in prison he emerged and embraced his oppressors when he was elected to office.  He went out of his way to bring the two sides of South Africa together to create a new unified future for that country.  His legacy will live forever.

The lesson for us as leaders is that we can rise above adversity by being willing to let go of the hurt and bitterness.  There will be people who oppose our ideas and actions.  This leads to arguments and heated battles.  Often these workplace battles leave people hurt and bitter.  As leaders we must repair these rifts and heal the pain.  When we set aside our own pain we can move forward to create new opportunities.  By working with our opponents to find a new ways to work together we create a better and stronger future for our organizations.

The challenge is finding ways to build a bridge that will allow you to collaborate in the future.  Here are some ways to take those first steps forward:

  • Let go of bitterness:  Hanging onto your anger, hatred or bitterness will keep you stuck in that ugly place of hostility.  Let it go to open the doors for a better tomorrow.
  • Look for common ground:  There are things that you and people who oppose you have in common.  Find those items to start building a future that benefits both.
  • Acknowledge their perspective:  You don’t have to agree with or even like other’s perspectives on issues; however they have a right to their feelings and opinions.  Be willing to acknowledge their thoughts without accepting them as yours.  A great phrase is “I can see you feel strongly about….”  That shows your willingness to listen to them.
  • Extend the olive branch:  Be first to reach out to others to mend rifts and resolve disagreements.  Your willingness to find a way to move forward can help them open up to you.
  • Be sincere:  Make sure that in all you do you are sincere in your efforts to build a better future.  Doing it just to look good will be obvious.  When you sincerely want to improve the situation it will ring true and people will be more willing to work with you.

The key to all of this is to be true to yourself and your ideals while honoring and accepting the ideals of others.  When you embrace your opponents you can create a new environment where everyone feels included and will work towards the same goals.  By consistently and sincerely reaching out to others you become someone everyone admires, even when they don’t agree with everything you say or do.  You show you are working towards the good of all, not just a few.  Nelson Mandela changed the world by doing just that quietly, consistently and sincerely.  He held firm to his beliefs and welcomed those who opposed and oppressed him resulting in a stronger and better society.

What could you accomplish if you rise above adversity and embrace your opponents?

As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison. ~ Nelson Mandela

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Obstacles or Opportunities

Motivation conceptThere are times when you run into a challenge or a problem that you just have to figure out how to get around.  It seems like these times always come at the worst possible moment, when you are swamped with things to do, have pressing deadlines or you have reach the point of burnout and need a break.  Whenever these occur keep in mind that they can be a road block or they can be an opportunity to learn.  How you handle it as a leader or project manager will impact the team around you as well.  You set the tone for the rest of the team.

I know that it’s become cliché to say “we don’t have problems we have opportunities” however there is a great mindset hidden in those words.  If you look at every problem as a challenge or an obstacle than they will often keep you from moving forward.  If you turn your thinking around you can look for the opportunity to learn a new skill or finally defeat an old fear.  It really is up to you.

To help you shift your mindset to looking past the obstacles here are 5 strategies:

  1. Stay positive:  Avoid falling into the mindset that things never go well, that bad things happen, or that this will never work.  Focus on the end result or goal, and take time to look at the good things that are happening.
  2. Avoid pessimists:  You will find people who are like Eeyore who think everything is horrible and doom and gloom.  Avoid them at all costs.  Spend your time around people who accept that stuff happens but look for a way forward.  Who you spend time with will impact your ability to bounce back.
  3. Be grateful:  Yes it sounds trite and it can be hard to do when things get tough.  However, there are always things around you that are good so take the time to notice and appreciate them.  Say thank you to people who help you with your challenges.
  4. Be open:  Odds are there is something new you can learn to solve the problem so be open to new ideas, new methods, and new thoughts.  These will help you find new solutions and get past the challenge quicker.  If you want to move beyond where you are today you need to develop new skills and new knowledge.  Look for those nuggets within your current challenge.
  5. Relax:  The good news is that this too shall pass.  Nothing stays great or horrible forever.  There are times when you just have to hang on and let things improve with time.  Sit back take some deep breaths and clear your mind for a few moments.  Shut out the negative thoughts and pressures to just calm yourself.  Find time to unwind from the pressures for even 10 minutes and you will be better ready to get back to it.

While these are all simple things it can be tough to accomplish them when you feel like everything is going wrong.  It takes discipline and resolve to keep these in your mind as you are facing a challenge or obstacle.  Keep calm and it will work out.

It is important to surround yourself with people who will help by giving you ideas, support or just a shoulder to lean on.  Who you are with has a huge impact on your thoughts and feelings.  There are people you can’t avoid who may be “Debby Downers” and want to suck everyone down with them.  Work with them when needed and avoid them otherwise.  Go to lunch with people who will make you smile and laugh not ones who will moan and groan the whole time.  Pick your surroundings carefully.

Focus is a critical component of creating a mindset that helps you get past the obstacles in your path.  The more you focus on the good in your world the more good you will see so the more good there will be in your world.  It doesn’t mean that negative things will never happen, they will but how you react to them determines the outcome of those events.  If you focus on problems you will have problems everywhere.

Whether you are faced with an obstacle or an opportunity to grow is up to you.  How you view the situation will determine which one of these things experiences you have.  Look for the positive in a bad situation and you will find your way out of the ugliness more easily.

Albert Einstein said it best “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”  Choose your thinking carefully and make it a great opportunity to learn.

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Professional or Personal?

WorkingRecently I’ve been asked several times about building relationships with clients as a project manager.  I am a big believer that having a strong relationship with the client helps you manage the project more effectively.  The trick to this is the relationship needs to be professional not personal.  This is not about becoming best friends, it’s about business so be professional.  The idea also applies to internal customers, bosses, peers or co-workers not just clients.

The question I keep hearing is how do you keep it professional?  Too often people assume that building a relationship means something more personal than it needs to be.  Here are my top three suggestions for having a professional relationship:

  1. Be kind and courteous:  This is about being civil and polite.  Ask how things are going.  Make small talk about weather, sports, holidays, family or whatever flows naturally.  If the person has been ill; wish them well.  Ask how the vacation went.  Be interested in them and their interests.
  2. Keep problems professional:  When dealing with issues or problems keep the focus on solutions to issues not personal attacks.  Avoid judging actions or behaviors.  Strive for win-win solutions that work for both parties.
  3. Focus on business needs:  Remember that you are working with them as a business person, so focus on the business at hand.  You are providing a service or product that will provide a benefit for them while providing revenue to you.  When you act in a way that advances their business goals along with your own the client will notice and respect it. 

The idea is to become a valued business asset to your client.  This means someone they can count on to help them reach their business goals.  When you are working towards their goals as well as your own, you gain respect and build a great working relationship.

If you are giving what they want while sacrificing your profits and goals you can be seen as weak.  Caving to every whim and request for them it raises the question of what you do for other clients.  Where else are you giving in and when will that interfere with the clients goals?  Also, sometimes the client’s requests are actually detrimental to their goals and they need you to tell them that is the case.

If you become too friendly it can get in the way of the tough decisions.  No one likes to point out a friend’s mistake or say no to a friend.  In business you must be able to say no and to keep people focused on the end goal.  This is much harder to do with friends than it is with colleagues.

Building a good, professional working relationship with a client (or boss or co-worker) makes it easier to have a conversation about what is working and what isn’t working.  When you know that you have the person’s respect you can safely point out concerns and get them addressed.  Using the three strategies above makes it simpler to look at issues as business and get them resolved without the drama personal relationships can bring to the table.  Once you have that professional relationship you can tackle tough problems in a mutually beneficial way.  It takes respect and trust to make it work.  Build both and you will be a better manager of projects and people.

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Quote for Oct 23rd

Learning

I’m still learning, and that’s what life is about.
Cary Elwes

If you are interested in learning more about controlling project scope join me on October 30th at 7:00 pm CST for a free webinar.  Get more information and register here.  Webinar Oct 30th

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Making Hard Choices

Caught Between A Rock And A Hard PlaceWhen you are in a leadership position there will come a time when you have to make a hard decision.  It maybe that you have to fire someone or you must cancel a project or deny someone a promotion.  Whatever that decision is you will be required to act on it.  That is your role as the leader.  Unfortunately you can feel like you are between a rock and a hard place.

The key to being effective in making these hard decisions is in your mindset.  How you react to the situation will determine how your team handles it.

If you dread the decision and worry about it then it becomes bigger and harder to make.  You may also delay making the call which can have a negative impact on your team.

  • If you keep a bad employee because you don’t want to fire someone you are telling your team that you will tolerate poor performance.
  • If you let the team continue working on a dead project you are telling them that their time and efforts really aren’t important because you wasted it.
  • If you hold off on a promotion to avoid hurting someone you have missed a chance to help them grow into the job they want and you have given them false hope.

As you can see all of these are discouraging to a team.

If you embrace your role as a leader and all that it entails you will welcome the chance to make those hard calls.  It doesn’t mean you enjoy firing or denying a promotion to someone.  It means that you are willing to do what is needed to keep your team going forward and growing.

  • If you have worked on correcting someone’s performance and they are not making the grade then let them go.  They may even thank you for helping them get out of a situation that was not good for them.  I’ve seen it happen.
  • When you let someone know they aren’t ready for a promotion yet and give them feedback on what they can do to improve their skills you are helping them grow so they will be prepared next time.
  • If you have to cancel a project that is underway and you are open about the reasons you are helping your team understand the business and they can help make better decisions about their work and projects in the future.

Being a leader means you have to pay attention to the needs of the organization and take care of the people in it.  This means you must make the tough decisions when needed.  If you handle it in a calm and professional manner people will respect you for it.  If you drag your feet and delay those decisions your team will see through it and you will lose some respect from them.  You aren’t willing to stand up and decide; which is your job.  Your team wants you to lead, so go ahead and make the hard choices.  Be firm but fair and above all be professional and considerate when dealing with people.  They will like you better for it.

How have you handled the tough choices you’ve had to make?

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