Reclaiming Self

The innocence of children
Children, relatively free of protective patterns of behaviour

When we are born into this world we are innocent (in my belief system) and unfettered by protective patterns of behaviour. As we experience life, encounter pain of varying kinds, we learn to erect protections to keep us safe. These become increasingly complex as layer upon layer of protection is established in response to all that life throws at us. Each protection requires energy from us to support and maintain, and as a consequence robs us of our life force and capacity to freely respond to life. It is often a crisis that makes us aware of how our behaviours interfere with our ability to engage with life in a meaningful way. We may experience ourselves as “too…”, an indication that our internal Critic or Judge (or external, when heard from those around us) considers us as having wandered from appropriate expression. Examples include “too volatile”, “too reserved”, “too pleasing”, “too aggressive” and any number of other judgements, singularly or in combination. These behaviours, when the judgement has some merit, have typically been developed in response to our needs being unmet and us seeking to satisfy them to the point that the behaviours become patterns that are applied without conscious thought, long past their use by date.

In becoming aware of such behaviours, perhaps through the failure of relationships, difficulties fitting in, negative feedback from multiple sources etcetera, the question then arises ‘What should I do about me?’ The process then becomes a matter of reclaiming oneself and finding ways of freeing our life force, returning to a spontaneous, creative and adaptive way of living, being better able to respond positively to the present.

In my own life this process started with a crisis of identity in my early 30s and has subsequently seen me free myself up and how I live and present myself to the world, an ongoing process. Earlier this year the surprise need for life-saving surgery plunged me into a whole new cycle of self-reclamation. The process of recovering from surgery required adapting to the loss of hearing in one ear, and developing physiological strategies to compensate for impairment in my balance processes. The physical recovery, while being a challenge, has been easier in many respects than the process of reclaiming my concept of self. In many respects it is as if the surgery sliced through significant protective mechanisms and unleashed old patterns of thought and feeling that I haven’t seen since I was a teenager and that I found particularly difficult in the first instance. Now, it is difficult seeing poor concepts of Self return, but at least they do so in an environment where I know I can process and work through them in a constructive fashion. In a sense, a very real sense, I’m back to dealing with old issues all over again. The reality however is that I am now working at a much deeper level, as if I have taken the head off and am cleaning out an infectious boil, rather than dealing with a superficial spot. While the issues are similar, feel very familiar, and are, I am better equipped to deal with this new level of emotional healing than I have been previously. The act of staying engaged with what arises within me, riding the wave as it forms rather than trying to escape it, will eventually lead to me being freer than ever before.

Some ways of engaging in the process of reclaiming Self include:

  • develop capacity to identify and observe behaviours in yourself that do not fit well relative to how you would prefer to be and what would work best in your context
  • develop love and acceptance of self that is free of needing to understand why you behave as you do and that opens you up to being able to forgive yourself unconditionally
  • define your core values, life purpose, vision and mission which will provide you with clarity about how you would prefer to live and present yourself to the world, something to aspire to
  • establish goals for moving forward into new, more productive, behaviours
  • find trusted individuals who are able to provide you with love, support, and constructive feedback
  • recognise that life is an ongoing journey and while you may have a preference for where you end up, and how you behave, perfection is out of the question and any vision you hold is a guide rather than an edict that must be obeyed at all costs
  • appreciate the fog that arises when life serves you growth opportunities, and allow that fog to water your life as rain does fertile soil

Through these approaches we can reclaim our lives, incrementally bring ourselves back to a fully free and available space to manifest our full, unfettered potential.

Choosing a Project Manager

Qualities sought in project managers
Qualities sought in project managers

Choosing the right person for a Project Manager role is crucial if you are to gain the benefits you seek. Those benefits are likely to include delivery of your project(s) in alignment with objectives (scope, time, cost, quality, stakeholders, benefits realisation, strategic fit etc.), team leadership and development, and possibly strengthening of project practices and processes. The right person for the role will have the required competence and will have a good cultural fit with the organisation.

Competence is commonly defined as Knowledge, Skills and Abilities. Knowledge needs to include an understanding of tools, techniques, and skills identified as good practice across a broad range of project environments. It may be important to consider specific technical and industry requirements, whether that be non-project management certifications and specific knowledge, experience and practices that are demonstrably beneficial for projects in your environment. Skills are assessed through a review of their track record of delivery, particularly within an environment comparable to the environment you’re seeking to apply her or him and Abilities will include verbal and numeric reasoning, emotional and social intelligence, behaviours, attitudes, perceptions and beliefs.

The leading KSA (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) for Australian and New Zealand industries (Ahsan, Ho & Khan, 2013), when recruiting (provided in advertising frequency order), include:

  • Communication (reporting, presenting, relations management, and interpersonal skills) (62%)
  • Technical skills (related to the technical area of the project) (44%)
  • Stakeholder management (42%)
  • Cost management (37%)
  • Time management (33%)
  • Educational background (29%)

The first five of these are Skills, the last from Knowledge. The leading Ability is Result-Oriented with 16% of recruitment advertisements identifying.

Cultural fit for the organisation. Key factors to consider include:

  • leadership style (e.g. authoritarian, consultative, facilitative or delegative)
  • behavioural style (e.g. dominance, influence, steadiness, conscientiousness)
  • conflict resolution style (e.g. competing, avoiding, collaborating, compromising, accommodating)
  • personal purpose, values and motivations

These factors can greatly impact the Project Manager’s ability to engage key stakeholders, manage the performance of project teams and suppliers and raise and resolve issues.

None of these items, can be taken for granted when bringing someone in to manage a project. Some of the more important cultural items may also be covert, not even recognised by the organisation but very real for a person coming into it. The fact that there may not be a cultural fit is not necessarily a problem in some areas. Perhaps a different approach is precisely what is required. Be aware that any differences between culture of the organisation and the culture of the project manager will manifest as rubbing and potential conflict, and will need to be adequately resolved for effective results. In my experience, it is often the organisation that struggles with the approach of the project manager more than the reverse, given the PM arrives with a mandate to create something at least a little different, and encounters rigidity from the establishment that holds inertia against change.

Once the initial selection has been made, many other factors need to be addressed such as compensation and benefits, working conditions etc. However, as a recruiting organisation clearly indicates to the market what they seek in a project manager, a better capacity for candidates to self-select exists, and recruitment against clear criteria assists organisational selection of their next PM.

References

Ahsan, K., Ho, M. & Khan, S. (2013). “Recruiting project managers: a comparative analysis of competencies and recruitment signals from job advertisements”. Project Management Journal, October 2013, 44(5), 36-54.

Why Coaching Excites Me

Coaching session
Coach and coachee working together

As an achievement-driven coach, I particularly enjoy seeing people tap into and manifest their potential. When they do this they act from their own personal power, in congruence with their core values and their life purpose and, in doing so, make a tremendous difference on this planet.

I dream of a world of people living at their potential. Imagine being surrounded by people who recognise their own strengths and weaknesses, are willing and able to connect with others who have complimentary capabilities and are able to work through conflict as it arises, as it must where any two people are actively engaged in creating what matters to them. While perhaps fantasy, I am inspired to contribute to this dream every day with every person I work with.

As a management consultant and trainer over the last 20 years, I have been expected to address problems, advise recommended options to fix the problem and teach new tools, skills, approaches and facts that enable a new solution to be implemented. All these methods have their place and I will continue to use them. However, I am particularly excited about the transformational impact of coaching.

For example, one of my clients wanted a job and through coaching, shifted his thinking from ‘find a job so there is money on the table’ to ‘I want to be a sensational leader’ and seeking a job that would enable that growth opportunity. Within two weeks he had found, been interviewed for and hired into a job that offered the environment he needed to step fully into his leadership goal. The role was a major stretch over past roles, and offered all the opportunities he had opened up to and chosen to grow into. We were both excited by his success and his subsequent coaching process focused on him being successful as a leader in this new role.

Unlike consulting and teaching, coaching shifts from advice-giving to eliciting the coachee’s own solutions through probing questions that assist the client engage their own thinking processes. Coaching works to the client’s own agenda, addresses what matters to and will benefit them, and enables them to gain their own insights. As coach, I facilitate the process, provide a safe environment for the coachee to explore new insights and to consider and adopt stretch goals, and then hold the coachee accountable for enacting the actions they freely chose to do. The process allows the coachee opportunity to reflect on their patterns of behaviour, habits and beliefs that may impede their authentic self-expression and opens the window of possibility, inspiring new heights that the coachee may have never considered possible. Coaching empowers because the agenda and commitments made come from the coachee, and the coachee is entirely responsible for implementation.

The process of participating in turning on the light of insight, engaging the self-belief muscle and observing the magnificence of the individual being expressed is a phenomenal and humbling experience. These experiences, one person and one moment at a time, creates a society of people living life to their full potential and that is what excites me about coaching.

Do you aspire to creating greater things with your life? Do you dismiss the possibility of greatness, holding belief systems that suggest failure before you start? Do you know what your life purpose is? Do you know how to make your life meaningful to yourself? Have you got ideas to express and lack the forum and safety to explore them? Do you want something better for yourself and for those you love? Would you appreciate the unbiased, objective support of a neutral outsider to facilitate your process of realising your dreams and ambitions? Would you like a positive hand extended that comes with authentic feedback on what you are doing well on? If there is a yes for any of these questions, coaching may be for you. I would love to see you and work with you on creating what really matters to you, even if you do not know what that is at this point.

For more information, check out Coaching