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PM Believer: Courageous Honesty

I am a believer in the power of project management.

As a professional project manager for nearly twenty years, I have witnessed project success drive business results. I have also proven that project management can change lives and help achieve personal transformation. Now I am sharing some practical tips and techniques that you can use to help achieve your own personal goals, live your best life and become a PM Believer.

Courageous Honesty

The pressure was on! It was just ninety days until an important new software system was scheduled to launch. Missing the go-live date would mean significant cost increases and potential government fines for missing a related compliance deadline. 

The project team knew that they would need a minimum of sixty days for testing, training and go-live activities. This meant that all remaining software development activities must be done in less than thirty days. 

Only sixty of the one hundred features required for the software to function had been completed. Three months of software development had already elapsed. If the current velocity continued, the team would not be able to meet the deadline.

It was the end of the week and time for the project manager to deliver the project status report. That means that the project manager had to assign a status color to the project. 

  • Calling the project green, as it had been to this point, would mean that the project is on track to meet the deadline. 
  • Yellow would mean the deadline is at risk, but corrective actions have been identified and should get the project back on track. 
  • Red meant that the project is not on track. The deadline will not be met; additional help is needed.

Calling this project anything other than green would cause turmoil and a potentially unwelcome response from the executive sponsor. What should the project manager say about the project? 

One thing that project managers learn, usually the hard way, is that they have to have courage in their job. When a project is not on track, a project manager needs to be able to say so. The courage to be honest about bad news is critical for a project manager, even when uncomfortable resulting in temporary pain and the need to adjust.

The courage to be honest about bad news isn’t just needed at work; it is also a critical part of your personal goal projects.

Imagine that you have committed to a goal that will positively impact your happiness, your health, your finances, your career or some other meaningful aspect of your life. You build a plan that works for you and start tracking progress every day. For a while, everything is going great, and you are even ahead of schedule. You are killing it!

Then the results begin to slow, you start seeing a loss of progress. You have a choice to make. Do you ignore the slowing progress and assume that things will naturally get back on track? Or, do you admit things aren’t going the way that they should be, do some analysis as to why and then adjust your plan?

By admitting that things aren’t on track, you may have an emotional reaction; it may feel like a failure. You are also likely creating additional work for yourself to diagnose the issue and to replan your project. It is much easier just to hope for the best, right?

Hope is not a strategy!

By having the courage to admit that what you are doing isn’t working, you can take corrective action to get back on track. Yes, you may cause a little temporary pain for yourself. But, which is the greater pain, admitting that you need to change your plan to reach your goal or failing to get there at all?

Isn’t it worth a little temporary pain if it means making your dreams come true?

Courage doesn’t mean that you don’t have fear; it means doing what you need to do despite the fear. For project managers, this means being honest about the state of the project even when it is an unpopular message. This is even more difficult, and even more important when the recipient of the unpopular message is you?

Do you have the courage to tell yourself the truth about your project?

Are you ready to be a PM Believer?

There are many skills and characteristics that project managers need to possess to achieve success. Few characteristics are as critical as the courage to tell the truth about the state of the project. Do you have courageous honesty?

How have you applied project management for your personal success? Tell me about it at and make sure to join my email list to have updates delivered to your inbox weekly.

Make sure to help your friends achieve their goals by sharing this post on your social network and by following me on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Want to know more about how I changed my life with project management? Pick up your copy of my book Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds In Under a Year.

About Operation Melt

Operation Melt started as a blog to share my personal transformation and weight loss story. After achieving success with that goal, Operation Melt has evolved into a platform to help inspire, motivate and equip people to achieve their own personal and professional goals so they can live their best lives. My vision is to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

Published inPM Believer

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