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Shape your own life through experiencing projects

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Literature is full of good advice “how to” manage projects. Projects are treated as subjects distinct to the person managing or participating in it. I would counterargue, we cannot really separate projects from our own life.

Both are strongly intermingled. They influence each other and interact. Having a great life, good mood and high motivation certainly helps to manage projects. It creates a good atmosphere between the team and other stakeholders, unleashes energy and mobilizes all resources for challenges encountered. Struggling in general with life, facing health issues or troubles in relationships certainly reduces the energy for managing projects, the results will be difficult to achieve and stakeholders may be unsatisfied. Thus, bringing your own life into a balance (see recent blogpost about the Japanese model of Ikigai may help you to achieve better results.

The other way around is also an interesting perspective. Experiences collected through projects enrich our own life, they let us grow and shape our personality to a great extent. We need to overcome the artificial separation between projects and our own development. Let´s embrace project experiences as one way of growing, of shaping and developing ourselves. It could be a way of how we resolved a technical problem, how we dealt with difficult stakeholders in projects or how we achieved the benefits through project delivery.

In 2008, I was part of a leadership team of an engineering provider climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The summit is approximately 6.000 meters high. We later described our journey in terms of a project lifecycle: you get a call, struggle to start, with the help of a promoter, a great team and with the support of your family you perform the journey (project) through all difficulties, reaching the top and heading back home. Coming back home (handing over the deliverables to the operations) is often the most difficult part of the journey (project). After successfully reaching the summit of Kilimanjaro we were told by our top management, that it´s not the time for us to talk about the achievements, as the worldwide crisis in 2008 had significant impact on the bottom lines. So we reflected our journey in an intensive workshop with all team members and a coach, who used the metaphor of a hero´s journey. The metaphor builds on Joseph Campbell´s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and highlights the stages of the journey (project). We could understand much better ourselves, why we did this project, what we experienced and how it can be used in other, similar circumstances during our life. It gave us self-confidence that whatever happens in our life, we´ll find a way forward.

Let´s embrace projects, the experiences gained through projects and make use of them in your life. It opens an exciting new perspective…

- Author of this post

Reinhard Wagner has been active for more than 30 years in the field of project- related leadership, in such diverse sectors as Air Defence, Automotive Engineering, and Machinery, as well as various not-for-profit organizations. As a Certified Projects Director (IPMA Level A), he has proven experience in managing projects, programmes and project portfolios in complex and dynamic contexts. He is also an IPMA Certified Programme and Portfolio Management Consultant, and as such supports senior executives in developing and improving their organizational competence in managing projects. For more than 15 years, he has been actively involved in the development of project, programme and portfolio management standards, for example as Convenor of the ISO 21500 “Guidance on Project Management” and the ISO 21503 “Guidance on Programme Management”. Reinhard Wagner is President of IPMA, past President and Honorary Fellow of GPM (the German Project Management Association), as well as Managing Director of Tiba Managementberatung GmbH, Germany´s No. 1 PM Full Service Provider.

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4 responses to “Shape your own life through experiencing projects

  1. Your article really inspires me .I am not formally educated in management but by experience,I am passionate in project management.Thanks for inspiring.

  2. Thanks Sushil, your positive feedback motivates me to continue reflecting and writing about my thoughts. Continue your journey, hope that one time in near future we meet again

  3. Another great example of project skills and lifecycle thinking applied to everyday life! Strikes such a powerful chord – recently traversed Spain (East-West) 775km on foot via El Camino de Santiago – yet again, a classic life project/journey. Imagine the possibilities if we can find ways to share these empowering everyday life project management skills across the wider community 🙂

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