Being a finisher is one of the keys to a great project mindset.
Projects are a game of start and finish.
I found my project mindset in Formula One Cars, Mickey Mouse and the humidity of Indian community halls.
I first became a project manager in sports administration. I had the best job in the world, running my own project management consultancy and getting to work every day on public and profile events such as Formula One Grand Prix, Commonwealth Games Bids, Goodwill Games (Turner Sports), ladies golf events and numerous Walt Disney special events across Asia-Pacific.
Directing Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard to their seats at official engagements such as The Grand Prix Ball, entertaining dignitaries from Commonwealth countries at Australia’s premier racing event – The Melbourne Cup, to opening the curtains on a show in a local town hall space in Chennai, India for hundreds of young Disney fans, who have come to see their Disney heroes. I’ve lead, managed and participated in 100’s of projects and every time, the mindset of the people involved plus a little luck) along the way, gets projects over the line.
The thing about an event project mindset is that there is always a moment of truth when it all has to work. A moment in time, when all the hard work and preparation comes to a head.
The moment the curtain opens to start a performance and the audience gasps as they see their famous face or hear some beautiful music or the princess floats so glamorously out onto stage
It could be weeks, month or even years of preparation, planning, and execution of a gazillion moving parts and multiple personalities all focused on delivering the one result.
And often times that moment of truth can come down to a few seconds.
The moments before Usain Bolt lined up at the start line of the 200m sprint ready to set a new world record, the event organizers must be ready. They better be ready! Those officials better be in place, the technology better be working ready to record the official time, the cameras better be on and recording and someone better have a Jamaican flag ready at the finish line!
I learned what a project mindset really meant on those sporting events, where there was very little room for error and it has stayed with me until this day as I embark on helping others deliver their projects – personal and business, local and global.
It’s helpful to learn the mindset of a project expert, how they think and approach their projects.
For a long time, project management as an industry was seen as a specialist skill, but I believe now it is a generalist skill. In fact, I personally believe it should be a ‘skill of demand’ in any workplace or organization and a ‘skill of choice’ for anyone who wants to achieve results and go after what they want.
We all have projects on the go in our lives – personal, family, business, community, service, even legacy projects.
Some common sense, a bit of ‘know how’ and shed load of action taking, will usually get you from Point A to Point B.
A good project mindset is not only your insurance policy for your project, it is the glue that sticks the landing.
Here are 4 simple things you can do to develop a good project mindset
- Start to think and act like a project person
Projects have a start, an end and a reason to live.
At any one time, a project manager (who is the person who leads and is responsible for the project) may need to be a lion tamer, a peacekeeper, an analyst, a creative gene-its, a marathon runner, a sprinter and know a lot about many things.
A project expert thinks in logical steps, thinks with the end in mind, thinks about how you can make more progress simpler, faster and easier, thinks about the plans and changes them on the go – and they are geared for results!
As a project person, you need to know both the strategy and the tactics and be able to often switch between the two. And that’s why projects are so compelling and interesting.
Projects require a broad range of skills and a ‘do what it takes’ attitude.
- Be a finisher
A project expert finishes what they start. They are focused on the finish line and getting results.
The commit to getting the project over the line. They may need to change the target date often, but their eyes are firmly fixed on the horizon. They can tell you exactly what it will take to finish the project, what it will feel like when it is finished and will remind all, along the way, of the ‘Why’ behind why we are doing what we are doing.
If for any reason, they feel a project cannot be finished, they won’t just leave it hanging open. They’ll deal with it. They’ll make the call and wrap it up leaving space and energy for the other more important tasks or projects at hand
- They absolutely know the Why
Simon Sinek in his amazing work, Start with Why tells us to always ‘start with the Why’ and for good reasons.
Every project needs a really good reason to live. Few individuals, businesses or organizations have the time, energy or resources to pursue something that has no purpose to it. We might for a while, until life’s competing priorities kick in and then often times it hard to extract ourselves from the commitment to finish what we have started.
Avoid at all costs, getting caught up on back solving the Why (or purpose) for a project, once its started, in order to justify doing the project itself. If we really thought about the Why, before we started something new, we may not even start it, saving us all a lot of time, resources, and valuable energy.
Do you ever think that Usain Bolt would get to the start line of the 200m and wonder Why he was there? Do you ever think a Formula One Grand Prix driver has the luxury of second-guessing what he is doing out on the track driving at 200+mph?
- Be laser focused on the one thing, the most important place to put your energy
Do you know right now, what the most important thing you could be focusing on to give you the biggest gain on your project? There’s always one thing that is going to give you leverage or accelerate the project forward.
A project expert is constantly re-prioritizing what they are doing. At any one time, they know what the number one most important thing that they can be doing next. they always know their next step. And that is because they have taken the time to create a plan and be conscious about what they are doing and where they need to get to
A project mindset teaches you that you can’t-do it all right in the same moment, so find the most strategic thing you could be doing that is going to make the biggest difference and do that!
Project people get the complexity and ambiguity of projects and develop a mindset around being able to manage the changing nature of projects.
Thank the project people you are working with right now, for their mindset. It can deliver world record performances for you.