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Could You Be an Olympic Gold Medalist in Project Management?

project-manager-gold-medals-olympicsOne of the best presentations I have ever been to was given by a UK Olympic medal holder. On the face of it someone who had won gold by cycling around a track didn’t seem to have a lot to teach a bunch of experienced project managers.

However, as he talked about the dedication and positive thinking which goes into a genuine Olympic attempt it was clear to us all that we could put a lot of his tips into practise in our jobs.

So, if there was an Olympic games for project managers how would you do? To find out the answer I reckon that we need to consider the points below.

How Dedicated Are You?

The amount of effort which goes into being an Olympic medal winner is incredible. Even in a sport which might not seem to be the most popular around the athletes will still have to dedicate years of their lives to giving themselves a chance of taking home a medal. You won’t be expected to make as big a sacrifice in the project world but you still need to be dedicated if you want to succeed. This might mean working the odd evening, it might mean spending a few nights far from your family in a hotel room or it could mean being stressed and worried a lot of nights. Ideally, you will enjoy the job, will be happy to dedicate time and energy to it and will find that the positive results you achieve make it all worthwhile.

Is It What You Really Want to Do? 

I guess that every top sportsperson needs to think very carefully about what they want to do. After all, it isn’t a great idea to dedicate all that time we just mentioned to an activity you lose interest in after a while. In terms of your career, it is always possible to change to a different type of role at some point in the future. However, wouldn’t it be a lot better if you were sure of what you were doing in the first place? If you are lucky enough to find the career which best suits you and which you love then you should be grateful for the chance to do this and make the most of it. Can you imagine practising archery or synchronised swimming every single day for 4 years and then realising that you didn’t actually like the sport all that much? The sooner you work out if you like what you are doing the better.   

Are You Positive and Confident Enough?

The power of positive thinking is a huge issue in sports, especially at the top level. In fact, I think I am right in saying that the biggest difference between a very good athlete and an Olympic standard one is often to be found in their heads. So how does this relate to project management? Well, do you think that a project manager can achieve all that he or she wants without a positive frame of mind? You might have a decent career in this way but to really enjoy it and make the most of it you need to be as positive as you can be. The world’s top sports people have an incredible self belief and can often clearly picture what they want to achieve and how they are going to achieve it. In order to get hold of that high level of self belief and confidence you will need to learn all that you can, from both training courses and more experienced project leaders around you. If you do this then you should find that you start to feel good about the future.

Can You Deal with a Crisis?

Even the best Olympic athlete can have to deal with the occasional crisis. They might have an unexpected change to their training schedule, an injury problem or some other issue which throws their carefully laid plans into doubt. Of course, the very best sportspeople know how to deal with this kind of thing, just as the best project managers do. You will certainly come across a few different types of crisis in your project management career, so it is to be hoped that you have the ability to overcome them and keep cool under pressure. You might never get handed a gold medal for all your hard work but you will have the satisfaction of enjoying a long and successful career if you do this.

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