Toolset for Thinking Positively


As youngsters, we knew we had to fall a few times to master any new skill. But as we got older, we started to perceive making mistakes as a bad thing, rather than an essential ingredient in achieving our goal.

Mike Schlappi helped change thinking through his highly inspirational keynote address at the 2010 PMI North America Global Congress. Mike was accidentally shot in the chest as a young man and became paralyzed from the waist down. He went on to win four Paralympic medals and other awards. His message is, “If you can’t stand up, stand out!”

Successful people may not particularly enjoy their failures, but they recognize the value of those setbacks. To develop a new skill or reach a target, complete project managers need to be committed to doing what it takes to get there—even if it means putting up with negative feedback or falling on your face now and then.

As a sponsor of a recent home build project, I fully appreciate how challenging and important it is to have a goal, think positive, and be persistent. All projects have problems; it is how we handle them that makes a difference in achieving successful outcomes.

The Power of Persistence

The key to getting what you want is the willingness to do whatever it takes to accomplish your objective. It’s an attitude that says: If it takes five steps to reach my goal, I’ll take those five steps, but if it takes 30 steps to reach my goal, I will take those 30 steps. If I have to keep asking a subcontractor to get my office cabinets right, well then, that is what I’ll do.

On most occasions in the project field, we do not know how many steps it will take to reach the goal or to complete the deliverables. Persistence is what counts.

Here is a set of ten checklist items in a complete project manager’s toolkit to help become a more persistent project manager:

1.  I will have no regrets. Even if the desired result does not come about, I know I tried my best.

2.  I will achieve my dreams through small actions. I don’t need to take major action each day. Even little steps will bring me closer to my goal.

3.  I will live in the moment. I won’t focus on the past or dwell too much on the future.

4.  I will keep my goals in sight. To keep my vision front and center, I will carry a written copy of my goals and review them every day.

5.  I realize I will encounter obstacles. Goals are lie behind stumbling blocks. If I can’t vault over these obstacles, I will maneuver around them.

6.  I will focus on one or two goals only. Too many objectives dissipate energy, and loss of energy is followed by loss of persistence.

7.  I will trust myself. If others can do it, so can I. I know all the power to achieve my goals lies within me.

8.  I will take a break every now and then. After every success, no matter how slight, I will let myself rest and then get back on the job rejuvenated.

9.  I will be flexible. Sometimes I have to break with traditional processes.

10. I will be patient. Time defeats persistence. It is my greatest friend and my greatest enemy.

More similar toolsets and suggestions, along with other elements of a complete molecule, can be found in The Complete Project Manager’s Toolkit, and The Complete Project Manager: Integrating People, Technical, and Organizational Skills.

Randy Englund

Englund Project Management Consultancy,



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