PM in Non-Traditional Area – Life Lessons Learnt from Kids!

Life Lessons Learnt from Kids!

-Hardy Alexander

Lessons learnt is one of the inputs at an early stage in project management. This is certainly helpful. Lessons are not only learnt in projects, life itself is a great teacher. The teacher could be anyone, including children. The lessons that life teaches can be applied to project management with equal success. Let me recount two instances that added to my experience.

Everyone learns from every situation – age no bar – provided there is a willingness!

Lesson #1: If you have a Goal and work towards it with enthusiasm, success is guaranteed.

Last year, as a student of Standard IX my son was nominated as ‘Vice-Captain Sports’ for his school. He was very excited but at the same time commented that next year (Standard X) he will aim to become the Head Boy. That was indeed an ambitious one to aim, but as parents we didn’t discourage him either.

As the year went by, I wasn’t very sure if he remembered this commitment he made to himself. However, he went about participating in events, both academic and non-academic, won accolades and awards both at school and inter-school levels.

When it was time for the new school council members to be nominated, undoubtedly his name was in the list. After the rounds of screening, he was nominated as Head Boy! On the day of investiture ceremony, as school Head Boy he spoke – “My dad told me, if your dream doesn’t scare you, it isn’t good enough!”

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As a parent, it was a proud moment however a life lesson learnt – if you have a GOAL, you PLAN your activities and EXECUTE them to the plan – SUCCESS is guaranteed!

Every project has a goal. Communication of this goal to the project team in such a way that it drives passion is very important. A goal held with passion always spells a personal success.

Lesson #2: In moments of crisis, don’t let your emotions get the better of you.

On a rush day, my son missed his school bus at the normal stop which meant I had to drop him all the way to school. I was very upset. I would be late to work and while speeding off to his school, out of frustration, was giving him a ‘piece of my mind’ on punctuality.

Though embarrassed, he was quietly listening to my ranting. He suddenly spoke, “can I say something?” I was annoyed, “what do you have to say now, look what you have done?”

Quietly he reminded, “Dad you can save time by dropping me to the next stop instead of going all the way to school” – the idea was simple & logical and I thought, “Why didn’t I think of it earlier?” I quickly steered my car and caught the bus at another stop, dropped him and went off to office in time.

I felt embarrassed as I could have definitely avoided an unpleasant conversation first thing in the morning however, Life lesson learnt – when you let your emotions take control, you lose logical thinking! Patience in times of crisis helps make better choices.

In project meetings no sooner a milestone is missed, the project manager immediately raises a red flag and plans to readjust the entire project schedule at the minimum. It does make lot of sense if an impact analysis is made and alternatives evaluated to mitigate the effect of missed milestone. None may exist, however the comfort is that it has been evaluated dispassionately. If one does exist, what better!

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