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Tag: Career

Managing the Present Moment Even If You Don’t Like It

A project manager asked what she could do about not liking the present moment.  She was learning to do mindfulness meditation and was finding that when she was being mindful of the present moment, she found it stressful.

She was bombarded by problem after problem experiencing anxiety centered on the fear that her project was going to fail and that she would be fired.

The stress was getting to her. She was experiencing stomach pains and a torrent of thoughts about the impossibility of meeting her schedule commitments and what would happen if she failed. She ruminated about what she could have or should have done differently.

 

Being Present – Here Now

“I find it much more helpful to drop all our ideas, concepts, and beliefs and return again and again to the openness of not knowing and the immediacy and simplicity of this moment, this living presence Here-Now.”[1] Joan Tollifson

From Here-Now you can do whatever needs to be done, say whatever needs saying. The process is simple – note, accept, analyze, act, repeat.

 

Mindfully Present

I practice, write about[2], and teach techniques for being present, to live attuned to the experience of the present moment – mindfully self-aware. That is the objective of mindfulness meditation, breathing techniques, mindful movement, grounding, awareness of physical sensations, and all the other mental and emotional wellness techniques.

Being mindful is being present – fully engaged and aware of your body’s sensations, emotions, thoughts, the environment, and the others you share it with.

Being present fuels healthy relationships and helps to manage stress and anxiety. It is a foundation for emotional intelligence and is linked to the ability to be focused and able to choose the most effective course of action.

Being present is the opposite of being spaced out, distracted, reactive, and in denial. Focus and objective choice enhance productivity and creativity.

 

Accept and Let Go

So, what can you do when the experience of the present moment is unpleasant?

The answer is simple, though not easy – accept and let go into Flow.

To accept is to take note of the unpleasantness and your feelings about it, acknowledging the present moment for what it is. To let go into Flow means to see if you can do something to manage a change skillfully.

 

Common Sense Wisdom

If you know you don’t like the present moment and can ask what you can do about it, you are being mindful of your experience and conscious of the possibility of taking action.

Common sense wisdom lets you know that you cannot change the past or the present moment and that you can influence (but not control) the future. You can accept the feelings and the situation that has triggered them.

Alternatives to that are denial and suppression.

Denial is making yourself believe that the present feelings aren’t happening. It is sticking your head in the ground like the myth of an ostrich hiding from a predator.

Suppression is medicating or meditating yourself to relieve stress symptoms. This is a better tactic than denial. Relieving the symptoms can be healthy if it is a conscious choice used to be more effective at managing your emotions and making change.

 

Manage Your Emotions

Denying your feelings and the situation is the least skillful approach. It offers no way out of the situation. Your project is still going to be late and at some point, you will be confronted with reality.

Suppression is a way to moderate the effects of your stress. Medicating or meditating away the symptoms can be helpful if you do it as a conscious choice to put yourself in a better position to address the situation and avoid the damaging effects of stress, depression, and anger. Suppressing your feelings as a knee-jerk reaction is a form of denial that leads to habitual or addictive behavior.

Acceptance gives you a choice. You can choose to suppress the stress responses, or not. But most importantly you can choose practical options for handling the situation.

With mindful self-awareness, you can manage your emotions. That means you can fully experience your emotions without reacting or being driven by them.

 

Analyze

Then, analyze to see what about the present moment you dislike, why you dislike it, and what you can do about it.

Without analysis, you are reacting. With it, you are responding.

Analysis is using your intellect to break the issue down and objectively consider alternatives. It includes the assessment of your gut feeling, criteria, priorities, and facts.

 

Act – Do Something, Or Not

If it is feasible, do something to make a change. Remember that doing nothing is a choice, though it is usually not the best in the context of projects.

In any case, accept that you can influence the future, but you cannot control it. The outcome is uncertain, and you may not like it.

 

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Application – Manage the Project

Applying this process of noting, accepting, analyzing, and acting in the real world of projects is what skillful project managers do when faced with unpleasant situations. They apply the technical skills of planning and controlling.

For Julie, our project manager, schedule overrun began as small incremental slips on critical tasks. Then, about halfway into the project, a key team member left for a better opportunity. Replacing him took two weeks followed by a learning curve and the work of integrating a new team member.

After an initial bout of panic, Julie took a few breaths and observed her feelings. Stepping back, she took an objective stance and considered her options – let stakeholders know what was going on, work faster, rescope, accept that the project would be late, and take action to minimize the damage.

She realized that hiding from the reality of the situation is a no-win approach. She also assessed her fear of being fired and realized that if she was fired because of events beyond her control, it would be an indication that her superiors were not particularly skillful.

 

Bottomline

The message is that if you don’t like the present moment, accept what you can’t change, analyze the situation and your options, and take action to influence the future. And while you are doing that become comfortable with adversity and uncertainty.

 

[1] Tollifson, Joan, “Death, The End of Self-Improvement”
[2] Check out “The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-Aware Livinghttps://a.co/d/97LpYib . It addresses the mindset and techniques to cultivate sustained wellness by accepting and letting go into Flow.

 

Focus – A Critical Success Factor

The ability to focus is a critical success factor for project managers, business analysts, and anyone else who is in a task-oriented position.

On the project level, it is costly when resources divide their attention between multiple projects. Stop, start, and stop again performance has an overhead. The same is true for individuals. Without focus as a power of mind, you are like a straw in the wind, randomly blown here and there.

The more you can focus without being distracted, the more likely you are to succeed at whatever you intend to do – whether it is to pass a test, get a job, complete a project task, write a proposal, get the most out of a meeting, or paint a picture.

 

Distractions

To be focused means that you can stay with or come back to the “object” you have chosen to focus upon in the face of distractions. Life is full of enticing distractions. They may be thoughts, feelings, sounds, images, or other people’s behavior.

Pleasant or unpleasant distractions grab your attention. When you are taken away by a distraction you go on a trip, a mental journey. If your ability to focus is strong, you can skillfully choose to go on that trip or stay focused on what you are doing. Alternatively, you may be unable to choose.

 

Train of Thought

Imagine being on a train heading home. The train pulls into a station and there is another comfortable-looking train across the platform. You get off your train and jump onto the new one, and off you go. Then you realize that this train isn’t as comfortable as it looked. You get off at the next stop just in time to get on another enticing train. Off you go. Until you become attracted to another even cooler train and off you go again.

You may never get home. But, maybe, you don’t care because you like riding trains or are having fun and seeing new sites. Or you get on a train that takes you on an unhappy trip into a dark and dreary place and you can’t get off until it reaches its last stop.

That is how the mind works. A thought comes up, you keep it going by thinking about it, adding details, and thinking about what should have or could have happened. You make up stories about the future or dwell on the past.

 

What Happens at Work

Take a more project management-specific example. You are assigned to write an explanation for why your project is late. You start writing and your phone pings notifying you of a text message.

It’s from a friend and you read it. Then you respond and are off into a conversation. You realize ten minutes later that you have not been writing your explanation. You go back to it but must remind yourself of where you were when you popped out and then get back into a “groove”.

Any interruption during the performance of a task is costly. There is the effort of winding down and ramping up. The less winding down the higher the cost of ramping up. That is why multitasking is frowned upon.

 

Sustain Focus

If the ability to decide what you want to think about and do is important to you and you are willing to do what it takes to give yourself a choice, then you need a method.

You can reduce distractions by finding a quiet space free from interruptions. Shut the door if you have one. Ask others not to disturb you. Turn off the phone, or if you can’t because you are on call, do what you can to filter calls and alerts.

But, even in an ideal workplace, your body and mind are still there to disturb you with thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Even the work you are doing can face you with opportunities to go down a rabbit hole. For example, you might dive into levels of detail when writing a summary or think about an interesting, but irrelevant concept suggested by some aspect of your task.

 

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Concentration and Effort

That is why cultivating concentration is so important. Concentration is the mental capacity to focus, to choose and stay with an object, overcoming the urge to follow distractions.

Concentrating to sustain focus requires resolve and effort. You must intend to maintain your attention on an object and make the effort to do it. Don’t expect it to be easy. You may be addicted to being distracted. It may be a deeply ingrained habit.

I am told that staying focused is even more difficult for those born into the age of the internet and social media than those who grew up without them. People have become addicted to short “hits” of attention-grabbing content and the immediate gratification of texts. Engineers and marketers have worked together to sustain this addiction to distractions and profit from it. They want you to get “hooked” on distractions.

Even though I was born way before the Internet Age, I can attest to how easy it is to get lost down a rabbit hole on Instagram, LinkedIn, or YouTube. One thing catches the eye and mind, and, after a few minutes, one thing leads to another and another. Before you know it, an hour has passed before something pulls you out of the rabbit hole.

It is hard to get unhooked – breaking habits is not easy.

 

How to Strengthen the Mind

To break the habits that keep you from focusing the way you want to focus, apply intention, effort, patience, mindfulness, and concentration.

Make the intention to apply the effort and patience required to cultivate the mindfulness that lets you know that you have been distracted and the concentration power to bring your attention to the chosen object.

Taking on meditation practice is a prescription for cultivating focus and choice. Go to https://self-awareliving.com/videos for videos on how to meditate. However, meditation is not a cure-all. People become discouraged when they start to meditate and are confronted with a “monkey mind”, the mind jumping from thought to thought. The meditation practice makes that quality more apparent. That is where persistent patience comes in. Keep observing the mind and coming back to a point of concentration and the monkey will be tamed.

Check out my book “The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-Aware Livinghttps://a.co/d/97LpYib for mindset and techniques to cultivate sustained focus and optimal performance.

 

Mastering Time Zones: Strategies for Leading Global Teams to Success

In today’s interconnected world, project managers often find themselves leading project teams spread across different time zones. While this presents unique challenges, it also offers exciting opportunities for collaboration and diversity.

In this article, we will explore strategies to effectively manage global teams, foster communication, and promote team bonding to optimize performance, which will in turn ensure project success.

 

Time Zones. Help!

Ok. Here it is. You are managing a project team (or new team members), and with the new ways of working (remote, hybrid, or in-office), these team members all just happen to live in different time zones. Some are located across the country; some can even be across the ocean. YIKES!!! Your challenge is to keep the team connected and working towards the same project goals and outcomes. How do you do this?

Let’s start by saying that modern technology is pretty fantastic at keeping us connected no matter the distance; however, working on a project with members in multiple time zones can be challenging. Here is where great online tools such as world clocks or online converters can help you plan meetings and visualize overlapping work hours.

*Hot tip: Be mindful when booking meeting times and recognize that what’s morning for you might be late evening for someone else.

 

Communication Is Key – It is all about the channels.

Email vs. Instant Communications

While email is still essential, consider other platforms, as different team members may prefer varied communication tools.

  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams
  • WhatsApp

Lights, Camera, Action!

Regular video meetings (teams, Zoom) build rapport and allow face-to-face interactions. Appointing certain meetings as “camera on” will help to cross the miles and make the meetings more human.

Project Management Tools

Platforms like Jira, Trello, Assana, and MS Teams facilitate collaboration across miles and time zones.

 

Setting Expectations

  • Clarify Message Response Times.
    • Note all team member’s off-hours (unless they are on an “On Call” rotation) and make it clear that immediate answers aren’t necessary.
  • Encourage Asynchronous Communication.

Use tools that allow team members to contribute when it suits their schedules.

  • Set up group channels as well as project-specific channels, so there are several ways for teams and sub-teams to connect and collaborate.
  • Organizations usually have a channel they promote or prefer, such as teams, Slack, or Discord.
  • Set up one tool and don’t use too many, as communications may get missed or some team members may feel left out.

 

Embrace Flexibility | Be mindful and agile.

  • Overlap Hours

Find common working hours for critical discussions or decision-making.

  • Flex Work

Allow team members to adjust their schedules to accommodate personal needs or local holidays.

Understand that life happens. Being open and flexible to meeting and scheduling changes goes a long way in building trust and strength with the team.

Cultural Awareness

  • Holidays and observances
    • Be aware of local holidays and cultural events.
    • Adjust project timelines accordingly.
    • Be curious about national and local holidays and traditions.
  • Language and Tone
    • Understand language nuances and adapt communication styles to avoid misunderstandings.

 

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Project Management Tools

Some helpful Project Management tools

  • Trello: Organize tasks, assign responsibilities, and track progress.
  • Jira: Organize tasks and responsibilities, assign responsibilities, reporting and track progress.
  • Google Docs: Collaborate on documents in real time.
  • Time Zone Converters: Use tools like World Time Buddy or Every Time Zone to coordinate meetings.

 

Lead by Example

Respect Boundaries

Demonstrate that you value work-life balance by not expecting instant replies outside of working hours.

*Hot email tip: Delay sending emails to align with other’s working hours.

Model Communication:

Use various channels and encourage open dialogue.

Support Team Bonding

Schedule informal team and 1:1 chats to build camaraderie.

During or after meetings, have some informal team-building exercises.

  • Show an interesting TedED Talk
  • Have a topical and fun online quiz hour.
  • Pecha Kucha share-outs: Team members take turns creating and sharing a Pecha Kucha on a topic of their choice weekly.

 

Celebrate Diversity:

  • Embrace different perspectives and learn from each other. Encourage the team members to take turns and share a bit about themselves and their interests.
  • Embrace the variety of cultures and experiences team members bring to the project team.

 

The role of a Project Manager for a global team across multiple time zones requires adaptability, empathy, effective communication, and the ability to be agile. By leveraging today’s available technology, being aware of time zones and cultural nuances, and respecting work-life balance, you can successfully lead a team that transcends geographical boundaries.

Remember, the sun never sets on well-coordinated projects.

Managing Well When Your Project is Falling Apart

In chaos, we can retreat alone to a safe place behind it all.

Safe and alone.

And from there respond as best as possible.

 

Project In-crisis

Imagine that you are in the last month (at least what you planned to be the last month) of a time-critical project and your principal team leader/designer walks out in a huff when the client decides she doesn’t like the design and changes her mind about some key product features. Further, she insists that her changes are trivial and should not affect the end date or cost.

You are in a state of severe anxiety, envisioning a serious blow to your bonus and career, since your upcoming review will hinge on how well you managed this project to the satisfaction of this important client.

What do you do?

 

Retreat

Of course, the quote above gives away the answer. “You retreat alone into a safe place behind it all.”

This answer opens some questions. What does “retreat” mean? Who has time for one? Where can you find such a place? How do you get there? What do you do once you’re there?

When faced with insurmountable forces, a wise general often chooses to retreat to live to fight another day. Retreating, in an orderly way, makes it possible to regain strength, and replan to renew the battle or go on to the next one.

In another sense, a retreat is a personal choice to take time to relax, reflect, and gain a fresh perspective. In effect, retreating is stepping back onto a platform from which you can think clearly and plan your next steps. A quiet, comfortable, secluded place is ideal, but not necessary.

 

Who Has Time for It?

You might be thinking, “Who has time to retreat?” The answer to that question is easy, you do! Make the time. Depending on the situation it might be only a minute, an hour, days, or weeks.

In our project in-crisis scenario painted above, the PM could take an hour or, better, a day to retreat, to calm down before doing anything else. Then with a clearer head, the PM and team can decide what to do next.

 

Where Can You Be Safe and Alone?

That place behind it all, like the eye of the storm, is not a physical location. Even if you could find a cabin or cave, your anxiety would be there with you. The quiet solitude could make it worse since you’d have more time for obsessive thinking and worry.

Retreat to a calm center that is always available, though often unseen, and unfiltered. It is not a specific physical place. It is a felt sense of presence, relaxed, objectively observing, accepting, and letting go. It is more of a feeling.

 

Benefits

Consider that thinking that there is no such thing as a calm center is just as much a belief as thinking there is such a thing. Consider taking on the positive belief as a hypothesis and seeing what happens.

The hypothesis is that by finding your peaceful “retreat place” within, you cultivate the ability to become increasingly responsive and less reactive. And the more responsive you are, the better your performance. The better your performance, the greater the probability of success.

 

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How You Get There: The Peaceful Warrior’s Path

While some have it naturally, for many, it takes courage and patient skillful effort to overcome reactivity and cultivate responsiveness when faced with emotional and intellectual challenges. The effort applies concepts and techniques to remove the obstacles to responsiveness.

Concepts, for example, models like servant leadership, process awareness, and systems thinking, address mindset. Mindset is the way we think, feel, and believe. Your mindset affects your performance and emotions.

The techniques include meditation, breath awareness and control, and any exercise that combines mindful self-awareness and physical health. It might be running, lifting weights, walking, or playing a sport while using the activity to hone your mindfulness and self-awareness.

 

Courage is needed to confront deeply held beliefs and uncertainty and to accept the discomfort of challenging physical sensations and emotions. Patient persistence is needed because it is hard to change habits and it takes time and practice. Target perfection and accept imperfection as part of an ongoing improvement process.

The good news is that as the concepts and techniques are contemplated, practiced, and integrated, it becomes easier to accept and let go, it becomes your natural way of being.

 

What Do You Do Once You’re There?

This “place”, the calm center, we refer to is a felt sense, a dynamic state of mind, in which you are objectively observing, relaxed, energized, making conscious choices, and performing optimally. “There” refers to this state of mind, some refer to it as Flow, or being in the Zone.

From there, the PM and his team would analyze the situation and revise the plan to reflect reality. They would consider the impact of this project running late on other projects or programs. They would consider how best to communicate the results to clients and sponsors and manage expectations. The PM may determine if the team lead who quit might come back to finish the project.

Anxiety, fear of failure, and fear of confronting superiors with unwelcome news contribute to overly optimistic plans. These create more stress and anxiety later. The skillful manager retreats, stepping back into the calm at the eye of the storm, and plans with objective clarity while managing his emotions and expectations, and the emotions and expectations of the team and all the other stakeholders.

 

The Process is Its Own Reward

In my most recent book, The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-aware Living, I quote Amelia Earhart:

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity . . .

You can act to change and control your life;

and the procedure, the process, is its own reward.”[1]

 

The procedure and process she refers to is the application of the concepts and techniques that cultivate your ability to optimally manage whatever comes. The reward is priceless, it is the increasing self-confidence that leads to acceptance and letting go into optimal performance and wellness.

[1] Pitagorsky, George, The Peaceful Warrior’s Path: Optimal Wellness through Self-aware Living, 2023, Self-Aware living, p.1

 

How to Select the Right Project Management Course for Your Needs?

Many of us do not know how to grow in our chosen careers. After all, career growth seems like a complex puzzle. Making a career switch in today’s job market can be challenging.

If you too are plagued by thoughts of how to make your mark in the world of today, then obtaining a project management certification can help you get out of low paying jobs. A certification course in project management has the potential to increase your earnings significantly.

 

Research shows that professionals with a project management certification can get a salary increase of up to 23% more than those without one! The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics also predict a 7% growth or a demand for project managers from 2021 to 2031.

With this in mind, it’s crucial to understand how to pick the right management course. Read on to learn what to keep in mind when selecting one for your needs.

 

 

Selecting the Right Project Management Course

“Completing a project management course aligned with recognized certifications not only enhances your knowledge but also boosts your career prospects.” – Shaz Shafiq, Career Coach

 

It is not surprising that getting a project management certification can open doors to a lot of opportunities. After all, project management expertise is a highly sought skill after in the current job market.

By enrolling in a project management program, you position yourself as a serious player in the career league.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) provides a variety of project management certifications, such as the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) for beginners.  Additionally, there’s the PfMP designation for portfolio managers and various other certifications for other professionals.

Many online platforms also offer courses for project management certification. Apart from PMI, reputed institutes like Transform Learning Academy offer programs, including a certified Project Management course (PRINCE2 certificate) along with hands on work experience and job placement assistance.

So, make sure, you happen to select the program that fits your needs and offers a flexible schedule if you need one.

Evaluate Your Project Requirements

When considering project management courses, it’s essential to start by evaluating your skills and professional background.

For newcomers focusing on fundamentals and basic principles is a must. In some cases, prior field-specific experience may not be necessary. This is true when you are trying to switch careers or when actively trying to find a job in a different sector.

 

If you are an experienced professional, it’s better to pursue an advanced project management certification. Begin by reviewing the course curriculum, and study material.

Thereon, if possible, connect with the instructor for a discussion about your career goals.  It’s better to have a one-on-one chat or conversation with an instructor to know if obtaining a project management certification would help your career prospects.

 

Setting Your Goals

Before starting a project management course, it’s important to list out both personal and professional goals.

Take a moment to reflect on why you’ve chosen to enroll for a project management certification program. Some of the reasons worth considering a certification course in project management are as follows:

  • Improve communication and collaboration
  • Aiming for a salary increase or doubling your income
  • To improve your performance and productivity
  • To achieve desired outcomes and meet deadlines

Hence, having a roadmap outlining how you plan to reach your goals is essential. For instance, certain project management courses offer a three-month program. Others may offer a flexible schedule such as requiring a commitment of five hours per week.

Some courses can help you switch your career within 90 days. Whether your goal is growth or career advancement, defining your goal before enrollment is a must.

 

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Understanding the Course Content

Ensure that the curriculum outlines essential principles, techniques and tools necessary for managing day-to-day projects. At the end of the day, a good project management course will prepare you for handling the projects.

Select a program that covers how to handle stakeholder communication, managing project finances and provides you necessary industry exposure

 

Evaluate the Instructor

The ideal mentor should be a well-known figure in the field of project management. Additionally, he/she should have a proven history of completing real world projects.

To learn more, take a look at their LinkedIn profile. Find out if they have an online presence to understand their background and teaching approach.

Additional Resources

Ensure that the course provides assistance and study material. You must have access to mentors, online discussion forums or supplementary learning materials.

These resources can be incredibly helpful when you face challenges with a section or need clarity on a concept.

 

Testimonials, Ratings and Reviews

It’s best to read the reviews and find out as much as possible about the project management course you wish to take. Online user forums can be a great place to start.

Feedback from previous students can help you make a decision. Generally, previously enrolled students provide honest feedback about the course content and instructor.

 

Cost-Benefit Analysis

Before enrolling conduct a cost benefit analysis. While cost is important to consider, it’s better to conduct a litmus test. You must question yourself against one yardstick alone. It is at the end of the day what skills you will acquire after enrolling in a paid course.

The answer that must resound with you is whether it will help you advance your career or not.

Note: A paid course with a fee that focuses on sought-after skills could be more beneficial than a free one. Think of it as an investment opportunity!

 

Networking Opportunities

Aside from focusing on the course material it’s essential to find out if you will get a chance to network. Getting to network can greatly help you secure a position as a project manager.

 

Global Project Management Consultant Salaries

Now that we have established that getting a PMP certification can be useful for your career growth, let’s take a quick look at the salaries.

Not only can you double your earnings after securing a PMP certificate but also use that certification to access even better opportunities.

However, the income you receive as a project management consultant is influenced by factors like your location, level of experience, and above all, your industry.

Here’s a brief overview of salaries in different regions around the world (sourced from Glassdoor);

United States of America:102,615 USD per year

United Kingdom: 65,354 USD (or £51,098.01) per year

Australia: 83,042 per year

Canada: 60,959 per year

 

Conclusion

Today the demand for project managers is at an all-time high.  Just keep in mind, that you need to stay up to date. Remember there is no perfect project management certification course out there.

Only the one that fits your goals and schedule is the one that is the right project management course. It’s time to get certified to thrive as a project manager!