October 2008: Full Contact Project Management


October 2008

Olympic-sized PM Lessons

A focus on winning and losing

headshot-px_fcpm-gary-micheloniBy “Coach” Gary Micheloni

Every four years, I find myself getting caught up in the Olympic Games. I suppose it’s pretty easy for most of us to do. I sort of get hooked into the Olympics and the whole idea of winning attitudes.

I routinely teach, consult, speak and write about the word, “winning.” As a coach, it is important to me and critical for my team that we be concerned about winning.

The idea of representing your country is noble and wonderful, and you’ll see and hear many athletes at the games talk about what an honor it is. I agree that making the Olympic team is a great honor. But don’t forget this: For more than 99 percent of all team members, just making the team was never the goal. And it can’t be your goal, either.

These athletes labor in for years, practicing, working out, pumping up, and trying to improve. And it’s usually not just a four-year thing. Most of them have been working at their sports since they were kids — working with coaches, supported by family and friends, working for understanding employers, and tutored by great teachers and principals. Virtually none of them had the goal of simply making an Olympic team.

As those athletes worked out at dawn, straining for all they were worth, did they simply have a picture in their minds of receiving a letter in the mail, congratulating them on making the team? During those early-evening workouts in the rain, did they just have the picture of themselves getting on some kind of a team bus, heading for the stadium? I doubt it.

Guaranteed, here is the picture that each of them had to have had: Standing on a medal podium, in the center, flanked by the second- and third-place medal winners. The gold medal gets placed around his neck, the American flag is being hoisted up on the center pole, while the “Star Spangled Banner” is playing in the background. As the music ends, the crowd roars, and a lifetime of celebration as an Olympic champion begins.

What are your big goal and huge picture? Why did you start your own business or begin working in your present career? You didn’t start your company just to say that you have a business. You wanted and expected it to be profitable. You aren’t wearing the hat of a PM just because nobody else would. You expect to be good at it, getting better all of the time. You see and expect career success and business profitability to be reasonable goals. Anything less is not an option. Construction is too difficult an industry to do otherwise.

As you become a full contact PM, learning your craft, improving your skills and your bottom line, you expect greatness to come, at least, in time. It helps to reinforce your thinking when you are up at 5 a.m., heading out the door in the midst of a driving rainstorm to check on your job. Or, when you remind your client that the project has changed, and your scope of work has increased, despite the complaining and whining you might have to endure. And, you need to get paid for it.

You see the finish line and the medal podium, and you hear the music. If you have trained hard, learned all you can, and followed the advice of your coaches, you should expect to see yourself wearing the gold. Anything less is simply not acceptable.

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author and consultant.

Copyright 2008 Gary Micheloni

Coach Gary’s Corner:

You need a system and a process to build your team. How about one that’s simple, effective and free? Visit or and click on the link near the top of the page to sign up for my five-part mini series on RFIs and change orders. You’ll be thankful you learned this valuable stuff. Check out the free audio updates and get Coach Gary’s book, “Get Paid for a Change!”

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