The eXtreme Project Management™ Series: No. 3
Based on the forthcoming book:

The End of Project Management as We Know It:
A Guide to eXtreme Project Management™

by Doug DeCarlo, Principal
The Doug DeCarlo Group

eXtreme Project Management™:
Self-Mastery or Self-Misery: It's Your Choice

In my last article, I summarized each of the essential components of extreme project management:
  • The 4 Accelerators (that unleash motivation and innovation)
  • The 10 Shared Values (that establish the trust and confidence needed to succeed)
  • The 4 Business Questions (that ensure the customer receives value each step of the way)
  • The 5 Critical Success Factors (that represent the winning practices of extreme project management)
Critical Success Factor # 1: Self-Mastery
Extreme projects are stressful under any circumstances. That may explain why extreme project managers tend to live lives that vacillate between frantic and quiet desperation. Their projects follow them home at night and live rent-free in their heads, depriving them of their personal and family lives. In the absence of even a modicum of self-mastery, the extreme project manager will realize that he himself is out of control � that he no longer has projects, his projects have him.

Self-mastery is the on-going practice of leading oneself. Unless you choose self-mastery, you are choosing self-misery by default. The goal of self-mastery is nothing less that inner peace. In the workplace, we can only be as good at managing and leading others as we are in managing and leading ourselves. If we are constantly overstressed, anxious, lack self-discipline, have no life vision and are fear-based, we have little credibility in front of others because we have little credibility with ourselves. By position, we may be able to get others to comply, but we will not motivate nor inspire.

Are You Trying To Get Better At Something You Don't Like?
Many people are. I did so for 22 years when I worked in the publishing industry. I kept advancing but never was happy in my job. Deep inside I had a gnawing sensation that the fit wasn't right, but I didn't pay attention. Instead, I fell into the trap of thinking that when I knew more, gained more experience and got more power, I'd feel better. The fact was I was a fish trying to ride a bike. By the way, becoming certified or getting an advanced degree in a profession that you don't really like only serves to lock in the misery. Doing more of what you don't like and thinking you'll eventually like it, is perverted if not insane.

There are 2 fundamental steps in moving from self-misery to self-mastery.
1. Know yourself
2. Be yourself

Know Yourself. Got 15 Minutes?
A good starting point is to check to see if your temperament and your job match up. This is easy and free. Simply go to www.Keirsey.com and take the 15-minute assessment. Keirsey has identified 4 major temperament types and 16 variations. My own temperament type came out to be "Idealist." This means that my interests lie in the areas of humanities, communicating ideas using words, making presentations. Moreover the areas I tend to focus on have to do with morale, self-esteem, self-respect and building confidence. (So, it's no surprise that I find myself writing this article). As for my managerial intelligences, my strong suits are diplomacy and strategy.

Knowing this helped explain why I was unhappy in my publishing career: a predominant part of the job required a Guardian temperament. Guardians really like rules, regulations and details. They do best with budgets, deadlines, scheduling, record keeping and keeping operations smooth running. Their strongest managerial intelligences are logistics and tactics. Just the opposite of diplomacy and strategy which is what Idealists like and do best at. My recipe for self-misery: be an Idealist in a Guardian job.

Be Yourself. Got The Rest of Your Life?
Personally, I think Socrates only had it half right when he said, "Know thyself." Because to know yourself and not be yourself still keeps you stuck in the muck. So, how does one get out of the rut?

A crisis - job or health - does wonders. For example, you get laid off, re-think your life and decide to pursue your lifelong dream of raising designer strawberries in North Carolina. As an Idealist, I tend to be introspective and motivated to self-search and re-invent myself. Most people however, when laid off, will go into high gear to find another job in their current profession. Given the need to meet one's financial obligations, this is understandable. Yet at some point, if they're lucky, they hit the breaking point. They get sick and tired of being sick and tired and make a change.

It's not necessary to wait for a crisis. One can be proactive regardless of one's temperament. You can choose to make the time to discover your life's purpose and to create an inspiring vision for yourself.

Each of us has a heroic mission, a song that wants to be sung. I discovered that my life's purpose is to open myself and others to new possibilities. How did I come to that conclusion? Someone recommended that I read Barbara Sheer's book, Wishcraft. I followed her techniques. They enabled me to reinvent myself, and importantly, overcome my fears of the unknown. That was 14 years ago and I never looked back. And following her advice, I also made a mental movie of my ideal life. This helped re-program my brain. Once I did that, I was able to pick a profession that made use of my natural talents. Finally, my temperament and my job were congruent and my internal war subsided.

It's not necessary to jump ship if you are unhappy. Once you have a sense of your life's purpose and have a mental picture of your ideal life, you can incorporate some of your desired attributes into your everyday life. There's no need for self-misery. All you need is your imagination and a willingness to dream.

In part 4 of this series, I'll address Leadership by Commitment, Critical Success Factor # 3. Unlike traditional project management where the project manager focuses her energies on the product or service to be delivered, the most important job of the of the extreme project manager is to gain and sustain the commitment of the project's crucial stakeholders: to navigate the business and political environment.

Until the next time, just imagine.

eXtremely yours,


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