If I were a better person I'd share the exact name of the person who shared the story, but I'm not. So I guess you'll have to give Acumen $$$ and take the Seth Godin Leadership course to figure out who this came from. The crux of this lesson is that a dignitary was visiting with the Prime Minister and during the meeting two individuals walked in at separate times screaming that the sky is falling (one's hair was on fire). Both times the Prime Minister calmly stated "Don't forget rule #6" and the individuals went on their merry way. The dignitary asked what rule #6 was and the Prime Minister replied "Don't take yourself so ____ seriously". You can figure out what the ____ is but for proper citation it would rhyme with something that holds water back.
1. What happens when you bring mindfulness to the project?
2. Is the Project the same as you? The project is serious. There is a lot on the line. But what happens if you take yourself a lot less seriously? Many people find it makes it easier to take a problem seriously if they let themselves off the serious hook a bit.
3. Give an example of a moment in the past when you forgot Rule 6... and whether, in retrospect, those behaviors paid off. When someone asks why you're not panicking, perhaps the answer might be, "would it help?"
So what does happen when you bring mindfulness to the project? Well I suppose I'd have to know what mindfulness really means, but I'm a stubborn old soul who doesn't really take the time to understand the new fad of "mindfulness". When I was younger, didn't they call that cool under pressure? A calm demeanor? Some might argue that the opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness, but I'd say the opposite is panic. Panic is rarely a good thing and so as best I can I am mindful of the situation as often as I can be. I used to be the IT guy in an environment with 500 computers and 900 potential users. (Give or take a few, my blog I get to fudge a bit) When things would break I could easily have more than a dozen people telling me to fix it all with the best intentions. At that moment I had two choices. I could get frustrated at all the people telling me things are broken, or I could step back and look at the problem as a whole. Backup and look at the cause rather than the symptom. Freaking out about a flooding basement and the insurance claims and the lost baseball cards might be an acceptable thing to do. Don't you think turing off the faucet or plugging the leak would be a better place to start? Perhaps in all this the short answer is that brining mindfulness to a project really brings clarity towards a solution. I can't believe I didn't mention that the best cure for being serious is to be funny. I can't always pull this off, but in the case of extreme anger or frustration to be able to drop a one-liner that puts it all into perspective is so important. It is way more fun solving an incredibly stressful problem with humor than letting the stress eat you up.
Is the project the same as me? Of course not. Unless I'm the project, in which case you'd have to talk to my wife, she'd know more. The project is never the same as me. I'm the doer, the maker, the solver. The product or project is a creation or collaboration that I played a part in. It may contain my preferences or biases, but ultimately it is something I've done, not something I am. The success of the project has very little to do with my value as an individual. Zig Ziglar used to say that "Failure is an event, not a person". What a great quote to answer this question... as much as I (all of us?) like to make our work an extension of our selves as individuals the reality is the project is a thing, not a person. The success is an event. Cherish the time you spend working or the discoveries you make along the way to creating the project, but if it gets turned down pick yourself up, crank some Pearl Jam, and move on to the next one.
Remember what I said about listening in the first giant run on paragraph? Listen, listen, listen, then solve? When I don't listen I jump to conclusions and when I jump to conclusions I'm usually not right. I can't think of a specific example to share, but in general it goes something like this:
a. I see what I content is a problem
b. I create my own reality around the situation
c. I ask for some clarity from someone else
d. Before the person has said the fourth word I freak out and go off on a passionate and angry tangent. This is awkward because I'm not usually serious, so to be angry and serious at the same time only to find out that...
e. I'm wrong. It's awkward. My blowing up because I didn't listen and I forgot rule #6 and I made the problem about me solved nothing. It also made me look bad, and I'm not a looker to being with.
There is a definite line between being in a high stress situation and completely freaking out, and acting like nothing is going on. Find that line and walk it like a tight rope. In my role as an employee or even as a leader is to listen to a problem and make sure it goes away. That is different than solving because sometimes people bring problems because they have the answers, they just need to vent. Which is why you listen first, talk third. In the middle you should listen some more.
In the end panic solves very little. Using your talents and abilities to create and do boldly without being too attached solves a great deal.