Cowshed Projects - Better projects and profit from flexible project management
This is a personal story of fear and failure and how it can hopefully help you succeed.
There is one thing that makes me angry and sad, one thing I have succumbed to myself, has affected my mental and physical health, that’s been a long journey to understand and is still a challenge today …… Importance. Especially in projects and business.
I’ve seen it have a major influence on success, on happiness, on stress, on culture at work, on profit and have a negative influence on all of these. I’ve seen it bring down companies and I’ve also seen it grow companies.
Now don’t get me wrong importance is important. But it depends where it originates and how you acknowledge it. Importance because its needed works, importance because you feel it’s needed doesn’t.
People get into an important position all the time, we get propelled into areas we haven’t been into before, we feel responsible for things we haven’t had too before. It is a symptom of ambition, a symptom of progress, a symptom that society tells us we should strive for, its important … its being human and it gives us fear.
There is a brilliant book on Fear and how it affects you called ‘Fear less’ by Dr Pippa Grange, it explains that the main source of fear is the fear of not being good enough and how it holds you back.
This runs true in a project and business. At my worst and the worst people, I have worked for, feel they must be seen to be important. At my best and the best people I have worked with, know they don’t have to be important. It is the difference between a good project and a failed project, a lovely place to work and a horrible one.
But how does this manifest itself.
At my worst and its worse its being in a position where you feel that you must give a direction, that everything is down to you, that you have to say something, that everything is your responsibility, you must be right, that you are too important to learn. If you don’t you aren’t good enough, you’re a failure. That’s fear.
This creates stress, it doesn’t help anyone, at its worse it manifests as bullying, at its best it gets things done quickly, but rarely the best way.
When I reached this point a major red flag appeared … I stopped learning. Why? Because I had to know it all or I wasn’t good enough. Why? Because I was so stressed, I couldn’t find the focus to collaborate and find the best solution. I was fire fighting, not just projects and people but myself.
This resulted in failure. Failure of projects, failure of my responsibilities to other people, failure to myself. The one thing I was trying to avoid ….. happened.
And it was a big deep hole that I am still getting out of.
Now at the time I didn’t recognise my fear, but now I recognise it instantly in people.
It makes me angry, it makes me sad, for them and for me. If there wasn’t this fear, you could harness all their amazing qualities and achieve great things. When the people I work with want to learn, ask why, respect other peoples knowledge and skills, they achieve great things, they have a much more enjoyable time, they are less stressed ….. and there are a lot of those people about, hopefully you’re one of them …. they know that they don’t have to be good enough at everything because there is someone who is and they are allowed to find out.
But you can’t do this if you feel that you must be important, because you’ll show a weakness that you are not good enough.
To be important in its fear state is to dictate, is to fire out directives with no solution, is not to be interested what the answer is, is to not collaborate, it’s to alienate people from you and not understand.
To be important without fear is to collaborate, to understand why and how, to allow everyone to be important and a part …. it’s to find the best way…. And to help and show others what could be done.
Importance is a breaker of projects, of companies, of people. It also stimulates success, growth, and happiness. If you can harness the positives of it, you are a success and not a failure. You can turn importance to your advantage and build success rather than build a wall around yourself.
But how? …. Simple, allow everyone else to be important ….. that way you allow yourself to listen, you allow yourself to communicate, allow yourself to be able to find out and learn, allow yourself to not have the instant solution, to be interested.
It’s not a weakness unless you use it not to be interested. To be so important that if everyone else is important you give up.
Understand that not being important is not a failure it is power. That you have everything to give but everything to learn. We are not the finished article; we never will be. That’s the impossible dream. You don’t have to be.
It will enable collaboration, respect, solutions, decision making ….. success!
Oh and don’t treat your lack of self-imposed importance as an excuse not to make decisions, use it as a way to make decisions. The best decisions.
As I say often, I just look pretty, that’s not important …. but it gives me a base to help find a way for everyone to succeed and as I know now, that’s the most important thing …..
Power is not being important.
Thanks for reading
Hi I'm Simon. I've worked in projects for a while now, either management or design. I love projects but they're frustrating. Hope some of this help you.