June 2010: Full Contact Project Management


June 2010
Full Contact Project Management

Masonry Magazine
project management

The ‘Rocky’ Project Manager

Five years of leadership lessons from a movie

This month’s column marks the fifth year of the relationship between Masonry Magazine and the “Full Contact Project Management” column. Over the years, we’ve been able to use fun, non-construction topics to make real construction points. Today is no exception, as we continue with this year’s theme: how sports-related movies help PM lessons come alive.

To make this issue even more memorable, I was hoping to get a huge guest coach, and I succeeded. Rocky Balboa has volunteered to help Coach make this anniversary issue really special. So, let me introduce to you the Rocky that I know, courtesy of some scenes from his many movies.

Do you see Rocky like I do? For instance, don’t we see Rocky in the ring, battling hard, bloodied, but not beaten? In my mind’s eye, I see him lying on the canvas, having just taken a series of huge hits, and it looks like it’s hopeless and over. And his trainer is yelling at him, “Stay down!” His trainer doesn’t believe he has what it would take to win.

And, I also see him lying on the canvas, in another fight, after having endured yet another series of punches, with his trainer yelling, “Get up, Rocky! Get up!” Because now, his trainer has come to believe in him, seen his heart, and watched his training program. His trainer knows Rocky will never give up.

Those of us who have seen all those movies (aren’t there a couple of dozen?) know Rocky did lose a couple of fights. But also we know he never quit, he never gave up, and he always gave it everything he had, plus a little. Having a plan puts you in contention. Get Coach Gary’s Plan for your own bouts:

One of the things we learned from Rocky is that his opponents always knew that they had been in one heck of a fight, and that they were anxious for the fight to be over. They were often amazed by how he would get up off the canvas, stare at them, and dare them to try and give him more. He actually welcomed it.

Coach Gary says: 

“Your coach has a plan for you. Got a Plan? You need one! Got a coach? Get one! Got your own, better idea? You may not survive Round One.”


So, Team, are you getting the picture yet? Do you see how this applies to your own business? Let’s look at an application for you, out on your jobsite, today.

You’ve identified some possible, extra work, things not covered in your base contract. You’ve sent a winning RFI, but you found out that your client disagrees with you. In fact, he vehemently disagrees, very possibly questioning your ancestry and your experience. In other words, he has knocked you flat, and you are down on the canvas. You hear a voice that tells you, “Stay down! Give your clients what they want.” And you feel so bad, and you just want to go home.

But then, you hear another voice, “Get up! Take another shot! Get up!” So you get up, fire off another RFI, telling your client you disagree. Guess what? Your client is stunned! He can’t believe you’re still battling; heck, you can hardly believe it yourself.¬† But you know you’re right, and you will probably win if you ever have to submit a claim, so you keep on fighting. And you are prepared to go all the way, to never quit, to give it all you’ve got, plus more. Because you’ve been training, you’re a student of the game, you understand your opponent, and because you know you can bring still more.

For a project manager, the plan is this: Begin by getting paid for all of the extra work that you are normally forced to do for free, on almost every job. Then, get up, get going, and get on with it! Get a plan!

Coach Gary’s Corner:

Want ‘The Plan’ for 2010? Go to, and click on the link below the arrows. Masonry readers get ‘The Plan’ and this report for free, along with free video tips from Coach Gary. Go there now.

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