When your project, or indeed life is getting you down, always remember you have options.
Even when it may seem like you have no choice in something, believe us, you do. You perhaps just need to briefly take a step back from the coal-face and think bigger, or wider, or longer term.
Some people seem content to just let the world, and everything else, wash over them and accept the consequences. You’ll know lots of those people in life; they’re the ones that moan a lot about how bad everything is and how they never have any luck and how nothing ever changes. Well, there’s a reason for nothing ever changing, and that is because nobody’s done anything about it.
Believe it or not, there are people out there that enjoy their job. You can be one of them too! The trick is that you need to work out what your options are and make your decisions based on what you have open to you.
There are lots of examples in the A-Z about what to do in certain circumstances. Be creative and think about how you can apply them to your situation to gain the kind of outcome you would be happier with. Sometimes you need to include some of the more radical, even ultimate, sanctions in your options to give yourself some clarity on your situation.
You always have options.
You may not like the options you have, but you always have options.
You know the type, you probably have some of them in your organisation; when there’s a problem, they bury their head in the sand, usually because it is beyond their capabilities to do anything else.
They will ignore the inevitability of the situation, hoping upon hope that it will go away. Usually until the very last minute, when they will endeavour to get rid of the problem or otherwise attempt to make someone else responsible for their own failure to deliver. This is often too late to do anything effective and even the best endeavour to help out will result in association with the problem.
Best to avoid these people, and if it’s impossible to avoid them, or you have a sneaking feeling that the hospital pass will be coming your way at the end of it all, practice a little coaching on them as an exercise in splash damage limitation.
Here’s a simple tip. Never say you are too busy for anything. Because its not true. The real answer is that what you are being asked to do doesn’t rank higher in priority than the things you are currently engaged in.
You will hear many people complaining of overload, being too busy, “rushed off my feet“. Lame. Because overload doesn’t exist. Here’s another simple tip. You can only do one thing at a time. So, write down everything you have to do in the best priority order you can do and start at the top. One at a time.
People who say they are too busy generally have three main failings:
- They fail to say no.
- They fail to delegate.
- They fail to adjust priority and expectations when something else goes to the top of the list.
Everyone will always tell you that what they need you to do should be your number 1 priority. Sometimes they will use the word urgent. Often it will be in bold. But there really is no point in taking on 2 or 3 such simultaneous tasks and failing to deliver them all. There is always some give in any ridiculous demand. Try phrases like “OK, I can do X today, but I’ll have to drop Y & Z, can you check with Mr. Y and Mr. Z that they will be OK with that?“
You see, faced against other people’s real priority items, some demands can look a little daft, so let them find that out in discussion with their colleagues. Means you don’t have to tell them, which saves you time.
This is particularly important if its your boss who is asking. You can always deflect this by saying “OK I’ll complete that report you never read by the end of the day, but can you let the client/business/whoever know that I won’t be able to do [task] for them?”
There is never, ever anything to be gained by taking the weight of the world on your shoulders for delivery by 5pm or else. But similarly, you can’t say you are too busy. Because, frankly, that’s a crap answer.
Optimism is reserved for misguided souls and high-level management.
You need to be better than that, you can’t sit around and hope it’ll all turn out for the best. You’ll be dead in the water if you subscribe to such fanciful notions, look around you at all those failed projects.
One thing you need to remember is that you need to make your own luck to be in control your project’s destiny. Few bosses hand out gold stars for, it wasn’t my fault. Not even McDonalds do that.
Think ahead; put the necessary steps in place to prevent the bad things happening, get the right people (see good-guys) involved to make sure the right things do happen, and when people say you were lucky, that worked out well, you can afford yourself an inward wry smile.