Many project managers and leaders wonder if there is a better job for them out there. We are always trying to better ourselves and our situations, but never quite seem to get exactly where we want to be. Much is written about which industries are best, which skills transfer, the benefits of certification, and much more. I would argue that introspection, or a look on the inside, is at least as important as a look to the outside, as this is a personal decision driven more by personal factors than by external considerations.
Here are 6 quick questions that we as project managers can use for some very basic but effective introspection:
- What have been my favorite/least favorite projects? What did I like/dislike the most about them?
- What skills that I already have do I most enjoy using? Do I ‘shine’ when using them?
- What skills do I really want to add and become known for?
- What are some areas where I am not naturally talented, but have been asked to perform, how did I perform, and how did I feel about working in those areas?
- With whom have I most/least enjoyed working? What factors that made working with those people more or less than optimal?
- In what working environments have I thrived/not thrived? Why specifically?
If we write down the answers to these questions, and think about them for a few days, we are likely to see some patterns in the answers. It is important to identify them. If at all possible, it is helpful to converse with some colleagues and mentors about the subjects that come to mind, as they can provide further insight into our thinking and can even enlighten us as to things to consider outside our own frame of reference.
It is important to understand our comfort levels. It is also important to understand where we naturally stand apart from others, with little effort. We need to develop and understanding of the types of ‘stretch’ experiences where we might most likely shine, and where we might be running an unacceptable risk. The best ‘stretch’ experiences will be those that bring us into new experiences but clearly leverage some of our inherent strengths. Leaders stretch, and we do our best work in roles and settings that play to our strengths, but that also enable us to grow.
John Reiling, PMP
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