The Art of Project Management: Expert advice from experienced project managers in Silicon Valley, and around the world
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4 Secret Weapons in the Battle for Your Project Management Career

Every time you contemplate what you need to do to take over the world further your project management career, do you get a sinking feeling in your stomach?
CIA Secret Weapon, after Otto Messmer
Do you worry that it won’t be enough, or that you don’t know what you don’t know?

It’s a fear that many beginning project managers know well; the fear that you won’t be prepared when opportunity comes.

Fortunately, there is a process you can follow to combat this fear.  It’s going to take some work…are you ready to start?

Describe the End State

Just as with any project, you should create a crystal clear picture of what the end state should look like.  You won’t know all of the specifics, but you can pick out a handful of things that are very important to you.

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”
— Zig Ziglar

These are your anchor points.  Document them somehow, in some way that you will see them often as a constant reminder of the goal you are trying to achieve. They will change over time, and that’s OK.  As you learn more, you will discover new desired goals to conquer.

Consistent, Sustainable Action

Baby steps.

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years through organizational change management, personal productivity studies, and continuous improvement methodologies, it is this:

Consistent, sustainable action is what creates progress. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

Set aside 15 minutes a day that is solely reserved for doing something to progress you towards you goals.

Don’t try to conquer the world in a day.  You’ll be surprised how much progress you’ve made when you look back a year from now.

Limit Work in Progress (WIP)

Fighting on too many fronts at once will result in failure.

You can’t read 10 books, do project management training, and go for your PMP certification while attending night classes all at the same time.  Trying to do so will result in a less sustainable and less powerful effort on all of these battle fronts.

Remember your description of the end state?  With that in mind, prioritize the things you want to do on your way to success.  Start with the most important one, and work your way down the list.

Seek Inspiration

This isn’t just about gaining knowledge and experience in project management.

You also need to stay inspired.  You need someone who will ‘get your motor running’ when it comes to the goals you are going after.

The sources of inspiration are many.  In the early years, I gained inspiration from sources like the Project Management Podcast and interacting with project managers from around the world online through this blog, forums, etc.  Other sources of inspiration included my exuberant professor and friends who were just as passionate about project management as I was.

I was so inspired, you couldn’t get me to shut up about project management.  (Oh wait, you still can’t)

Now that I’ve been doing this for many years, I gain inspiration through helping budding project managers through my project management training and interacting with them via this blog and the many forums and other blogs I frequent. My teams also serve as a great source of inspiration as I work with them on tools like Kanban to get better and better at what we do, every day.

Little by little.

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About the Author

Josh helps new and aspiring project managers reach their career goals. He has been managing projects in Computing, Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Aerospace for over a decade. Josh’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Project Management and he is PMP certified. The best method for tapping into Josh’s knowledge and experience is his training for project management, where Josh shares his best practices for how to get ahead in your project management career and his best practices in specific project management processes.
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