December 2008: Full Contact Project Management

Words: Dan KamysDecember 2008 Full Contact Project Management
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The Differences Between Winners and Losers

As I write this, we're smack in the middle of the baseball playoffs and the World Series. But I can't quite get the Olympics out of my head, because there are so many lessons there for us.

Let's talk about how winners and losers look different as the Olympics illustrated this perfectly. Let me tell you about a few events that really impressed me. Volleyball comes to mind, and it's not your average, run-of-the-mill, family picnic kind of a game. The volleyball players almost never got down on each other. In fact, it was just the opposite. They were giving each other encouragement after every play. Win the point or lose the point, they were there for each other. As a matter of fact, you couldn't tell from looking at both teams that one of them had just lost the point. They were up!

Let's contrast volleyball to the high dive event. When the athlete completed the dive and came up from the water, his reaction told a story. Did he think that he had just won, or had he lost? The winners practically jumped out of the water, pumping their fists, while the diver who had not done so well just kind of eased on out of the water.

How about gymnastics? When each gymnast completed his routine, the expression on his face and his body language told the story. Was he expecting a high score, or was he "giving permission" to the judges to give him a low score? You could tell. Heck, I'm no judge of gymnastics, or diving, for that matter, but even I could tell what kind of a score was coming. I'll bet that occurred to you, too.

Coach Gary says:

"It's your business, your event, your race. Show success, even when it's tough."

Now, let me take you far away from the land of China, and walk you into a courtroom. Listen to that attorney as he sums up for the day, or as he talks to the media at day's end. You'd swear he'd just had a huge day in court, because he allows himself to only see the positive in his case, and to disregard the negative, with respect to how he presents himself to others.

Consider the politician or the political pundit. Those guys implement what I call a "scorched-earth policy." It's similar to the attorney's style, but it is often developed into a higher level (if one can consider politics as possibly having a higher level). But here's the point. They just refuse to hear you! You can show them the smoking gun, but they will not see it. They sure as heck will not hear it fire, unless, of course, it's their smoking gun, and then they are all over it.

As we consider how this lesson affects us, let's revisit the Games. There are two types of scoring in athletics: physical victory over an opponent, and a judge's decision. Physical victories are always more satisfying and less controversial. After all, a boxer who was just KO'd would never say, "I was robbed!" But a boxer who lost on points - a split decision - might think that.

So, before the judges have a chance to fill out their scorecards at the end of the last round, the smart boxer begins acting as if he has just won. That's what he wants to portray. The boxer who just sits on his stool, towel over his head, waiting, is about to get a losing verdict. After all of that training, all of that physical effort and pain, he just sits there on his stool, and doesn't finish with a flourish.

So, what's your attitude when you talk to your clients about changes to your scope of work and getting paid for them? Are you apologetic, with kind of a "hang-dog" attitude, somebody looking for a handout or a freebie? Or, do you portray the image of a champion - the guy with the best team, the best product, the best schedule, the best crew - who deserves what it is he is requesting?

Do you know what I'm talking about? Of course you do! The actual difference between winning and losing is so very slight. Treat each project of yours as if it is a gold medal event. You, your team, your company and your client deserve no less.

Coach Gary's Corner:

Get a system to build your team with a process. How about one that's pretty darned simple, but extremely effective? Masonry readers get this for free at or Click on the link near the top of the page to sign up for my five-part mini series on RFIs and change orders. Check out the free audio updates and other info that will help your projects. Also, you can get Coach Gary's book "Get Paid for a Change!" Go there now.

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