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April 2014
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Full Contact Project Management

Like many in America, I did watch some of the Winter Olympics. But I was particularly struck this time, not by the thrill of victory, but rather the agony of defeat. It was all about how the various Olympic athletes finished up their events. For many, if you had not seen their competitions, but just their reactions afterward, you could get a pretty good idea of how they did. There is a giant Olympic lesson for mason contractors.

The ice skaters come to mind. Immediately after the routine, the skater usually had a pretty good smile. But, sometimes, when the jumps were not landed or someone fell, the body language said it all. That body language translates immediately to the crowd, and they respond with polite applause for the athlete who is expecting the poor marks, and shouts of praise for those who did extremely well. The judges hear this. It affirms what they thought in their own minds. In essence, the athlete gives the judges permission for a low score.

It is the face of failure.

The Olympics, with all of their world class athletes and coaches, also reminded me of another coach in my life, and he had nothing at all to do with athletics. He was a pots-and-pans salesman turned consummate motivational speaker and coach: the late Zig Ziglar, whom I had the privilege to meet.

Zig is like a secret weapon. When things aren’t going well, a little motivation, clarity and love can go a long way. A good dog will show you unconditional and instant love; a beautiful scripture can impart wisdom and love; and a book or tape by Zig will get you motivated – but with tough love.

Zig was the first I’d ever heard talk about the loser’s limp. His example was that of a football game, in which the receiver caught a pass and made a dash toward the end zone. The defender gave chase, got close, but when it was obvious to him that the receiver couldn’t be caught, he’d make a futile diving attempt at a tackle, get up and instantly develop a limp. I’m pretty sure I saw at least one skater with head hung low, drooping shoulders, defeated, begin to leave the ice and, at the last second, develop a limp!

Some of the snow boarders also were acting this way, in an event that includes the scoring by judges. You could tell, after they completed their runs, whether they thought it successful. They were scored accordingly.

Contrast that with the pride shown by, arguably, the world’s favorite: the Jamaican bobsled team. After their second of four scheduled runs, they were 30th out of 30 teams, and did not make the cut to run the final two. Disappointed? Sure. But look at their faces and the realization that they accomplished the nearly-impossible. They were raising funds up until the last second just to get there, competing with old equipment. But they were there – Olympic athletes, nonetheless.

But this is not just an Olympics phenomenon. You can be watching a singer on American Idol and see the same thing. Your body language conveys something powerful to a judge. Anyone who competes should also be coached on how to finish. And here’s a tip: Always finish well!

Let’s bring this lesson home to your business. You’ll always have critics out there. The finish on your concrete or block work is not always 100 percent on everything, but it’s probably pretty darn professional looking. Even so, you might still have critics – particularly from the person who is paying your bill.

A great tool to have on your belt is the MCAA, which excels at defending our work against all complainers. Membership does have its privileges, so take advantage of it. And, always stand tall at the conclusion of each project. Give your judges and your critics a reason to praise your work and your organization.


Gary Micheloni is a construction company marketer, working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach.

Copyright 2014 Gary Micheloni


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Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 19:16