Project Management

An Experiment That Can Significantly Improve Your Performance

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The source of your greatest joys as a project manager will be the same as your biggest challenges: people. This is a blog for discussing issues related to leading teams and delivering projects.

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Today could be just another day for you. Or it could be one of your best.

The next project meeting you lead could be just another gathering of the same people. Or, it could be one of the best you've ever led.

I've been running an experiment lately. I'm challenging myself to approach every interaction and experience with the goal of achieving a personal best. For example, before I get to the venue for a keynote or workshop, I'm asking myself, "What would it take for this to be the best keynote I've ever delivered?"

Athletes are constantly striving to beat their personal best. And in many ways, it's easier for a runner or swimmer to know if they achieved it because there's a timer to prove it. Our success as project managers and leaders may not be so easily measured.

But what if we aspired for it nonetheless?

The Problem

It’s so easy to get into a rut. We can coast toward complacency. Though we may not acknowledge our creeping comfort with status quo, we subtly, slowly, unsuspectingly settle.

Over time, settling for status quo sucks the joy out of what we do. It dilutes our potential and can easily spread to those we seek to lead.

What Difference Would It Make?

What difference would it make if you and I walked into any project situation this week, striving to be the best we’ve ever been? I’m not suggesting it’s even possible to achieve—it’s about the aspiration. And I’m suggesting it’s a worthy aspiration.

Today's meetings. The next stand-up. Your discussions with team members. The email you're about to write. The deliverable you’re assigned to work on.

And what about tonight, after you’re home from work? What difference would it make if you aspired to make interactions with your loved ones the best you've had despite a long day of work? This challenge has led me to reduce, even if only a little, how many times I turn to my devices. I feel more engaged in discussions.

Can anyone tell? I don’t know! Until now, I haven’t announced the experiment. But I can tell the difference. That’s enough to keep the challenge going.

It’s About Getting Better

Maybe it sounds exhausting! Maybe it sounds like we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment and failure because, as with athletes, it's impossible to hit a personal best every performance. But the challenge thus far hasn’t yielded a cloud of disappointment. To the contrary, I’m finding it invigorating.

The athlete wants a personal best. I’m just looking to get better, and that’s what I’d love for you (and your project team) as well. Aspiring to make it the best helps move us closer to growing our potential and the potential of those around us.

Strive for a Personal Best Today

I'm about to head into a session to address a group of leaders at the United Nations. I am asking myself how I could make it the best session I've ever delivered. It may not be—in fact, it probably won’t be the best. But I suspect it will be a better experience for them and me because of the aspiration. And then I’ll learn from it and try to make the next one even better.

Join me in this challenge! Strive for some personal bests today. And let me know how it goes! Leave a comment below with your thoughts. I invite you to share this with your network to help them go for some personal bests today as well! Thanks!

Posted on: April 30, 2018 05:26 PM | Permalink

Comments (13)

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Sante Delle-Vergini Senior Project Manager| Infosys Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Continuous improvement in ourselves is of equal importance as products, projects and services.

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Andy Kaufman Host| People and Projects Podcast Lake Zurich, Il, USA
@Sante, I love how you said that. Brilliant! And easily forgotten.... Thank you for the reminder.

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Kiron Bondale
Community Champion
Mentor| World Class Productivity Inc. Welland, Ontario, Canada
Andy - you & I are on the same wavelength! My most recent article also covered the importance of setting a PM personal best!

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Sante Delle-Vergini Senior Project Manager| Infosys Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Kiron I noticed that also. You two might be brothers in arms. Good work from both of you.

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Andy Kaufman Host| People and Projects Podcast Lake Zurich, Il, USA
Hah! Crazy! For the record, any time I can be in the same sentence with @Kiron, it's a good day for me! I can't wait to read it!

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Michael Delaney Partner| Delaney Management LLC West Chester, Pa, USA
Interesting challenge, puts some fun into our tasks.
Thanks for sharing

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Alok Priyadarshi Project Manager| Tata Consulting Engineers Limited Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, India
Very inspiring challenge. Thank you very much.

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Drew Craig Coach, Practitioner, Consultant, Humanist| North Highland Philadelphia, Pa, USA
I'd say most of us strive to be better each day, whatever that means, and certainly, better is relative as each day can bring many challenges. Trying to recap the day internally to look at opportunities for further improvement tends to be a helpful exercise. Thanks, Andy, agree, complacency can be a dangerous road.

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Cibin Thomas Reston, Va, USA
Thanks Andy!! This acts as a gentle reminder not to get complacent but to strive for the best in everything that we do, no matter whether our personal best can be measured up or not.

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Eduin Fernando Valdes Alvarado Project Manager| F y F Fabricamos Futuro Villavicencio, Meta, Colombia
Very interesting article, thanks for sharing

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Anish Abraham Privacy Program Manager| University of Washington Auburn, Wa, USA
Informative article, Andy and thanks for sharing.

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Kevin Drake Business Manager Electrical Engineering Services | SGS Australia Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Thanks Andy, you let me feel good about myself striving to improve myself without waiting for the financial return

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Andy Kaufman Host| People and Projects Podcast Lake Zurich, Il, USA
There is no doubt in my mind that your commitment will pay off in many ways, @Kevin, including financially. Keep up the good work!

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