What’s in Your Backpack?
A couple of
years ago, I was featured on CNN pouring out the contents of my
backpack. The story was about how I ran my business virtually from
wherever I was with the trusty items carried on my back. As
you might imagine, there were all the usual suspects: my laptop,
iPhone, digital camera, and chargers. And, then, there were also
some creature comforts: my MP3 player, a book, a sweater, healthy
snacks, water, and noise cancelling headphones.
story aired on CNN, I received a lot of e-mails from people telling
me their own road-warrior tales and what they couldn’t live without
when they traveled. And it got me to thinking about what was in my
backpack that was intangible. What were all the things that really
helped me build my business that could not be physically seen?
my list of what’s in my backpack that matters most, but isn’t
necessarily detected by the TSA at a security check.
Passion: Yes, it’s true I’m a project management junkie. I’m
passionate about the power of project management, and I get excited
every time I use my project management skills to solve a problem or
bring a project to completion. It doesn’t matter what you’re
passionate about, but what does matter is that you carry the magic
of your own passion with you wherever you go. Bring it on!
like an engineer: You may have heard about the lazy engineer?
In engineering, we don’t look at the word “lazy” like every one
else. To us, it means finding a smarter and faster way to do
something that may not take as much energy or resources. In this
context, lazy is a good thing. Think of the person in your office
who spends all of his or her time looking very busy but
accomplishing little. When you think like an engineer, you are
always looking for better and more efficient ways to do things.
Mastery: In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers,” he proposes
that it takes 10,000 hours to truly master anything. Wow. When I
read that, it really resonated with me because I’ve spent my entire
career focusing on the mastery of project management. So, I
realized that a huge part of my success has been the 10,000+ hours
of experience I carry with me in my backpack. I also think that
number is inspiring because it says that if you invest the time and
passion in anything, you can become a master at it. Don’t let
anything hold you back from attaining a higher level of mastery in
project management. Whether it is your PMP® or ongoing
development of your PM skills, make sure you use your talent to the
With all the information coming at us from all directions, the
idea of focus is simple, but not always easy to do. Whenever you
are feeling overwhelmed by a project or a goal, make sure you take
the time to break it down and focus on what you have to do to get
the job done. This is where project plans are invaluable. I’ve
always seen them as calm within the chaos. If a project feels like
it’s getting out of control, the project plan is the perfect way to
get every one and every thing centered and back on track.
Persistence: There are millions of ideas buzzing around, but how
many of them ever see the light of day? The ones that do evolve
from idea to reality are driven by people who follow through with
persistence and aren’t happy until they see the successful
completion of a goal. I had a vision for my company, and I’ve hit
many obstacles along the way, but it has always been my persistence
that has kept me going.
humor: Humility and humor are both powerful friends to have
along with you on any journey, and when you put them together, they
can’t be beat. I’m very good at laughing at myself and knowing when
I’ve made a mistake. It’s very powerful for your team to see the
boss make a mistake, admit it, laugh about it and move on. The air
is thinner at the top of the mountain, that’s why we all need to
tumble down now and again to gain some perspective.
Service. Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “Every one can be
great, because every one can serve.” Service to others has been a
cornerstone of my own personal and professional success. When you
serve others, you learn so much about yourself. You receive more
than you give. Where else does that kind of math work? Another
bonus: service and passion go nicely together. Tie your passion
into a way to serve others, and you have a home run.
Okay, so are
you thinking: ‘Nice backpack you got there, but where do I begin?’
Start here. Think about the successes you’ve had so far in your
life (small and large). What do you attribute them to? Now, ask
yourself how can you build on them? What can you do to take
yourself to the next level? How can you move your project
management skills to a level of mastery?
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