How Important It Is To Go Back to Basics in Life.
Hello people how are you doing? I am back to writing after 6 months and I must say I missed it. The reason for this is that I am back in the corporate world after a hiatus of 2 years. And it’s been difficult to take out time to pursue my passion for writing. However, this does not mean that I did not get reasons to write. My new blog on back to basics is an outcome of these experiences.
A little flashback for my readers especially those who are following me on Medium. On rejoining work, I had written about a promise I made to myself about taking out time to indulge in my creative passions. I discovered my creative side during my break from work and am determined not to lose it in the corporate race. While I am guilty of not following those in the last few months, I am slowly trying to get back on track.
But there is something more that prompted me to pen down my thoughts today. An interesting experience as I coped with new challenges at work both with people and the ecosystem.
The December Solstice
The dictionary meaning of Solstice is the point where the sun appears to reach either its highest or the lowest point in the sky for the year. Translating this to my world, the highest point of the year 2021 for me was that I was finally travelling to my homeland in December after two years. Singapore had finally eased restrictions, and this was the best news we could have got.
However, this euphoria was short-lived as I faced some challenges in my workplace days before I was supposed to leave. I had multiple resignations in my team and some of them were supposed to be my backups for team members going for their scheduled holiday break. Hence I was left with only two of us managing key client projects during that time of the year which I was looking forward to the most. We were also expecting a new and important client to be onboarded at the same time while the assigned project manager was on leave.
Hence my highest point of the year turned out to be my lowest point as I faced a mini-crisis at my workplace which I joined only 4 months back.
The Mind Trap
Have you noticed that our mind travels faster than light when we are faced with any unexpected situation? We get into a negative spiral and start thinking about the worst possible situations.
That’s exactly what happened to me. The excitement of going back to my home and meeting my family after 2 years was suddenly scarred by the thought that I won’t get enough time to spend with them as I would have to manage additional work due to the unexpected absence of my team members. Not to forget I was still new in the organization and have to establish my credibility.
The next week was spent scanning all my networks for any help that I could get including additional helping hands from different teams and scanning resumes for new people. However, it’s difficult to find people in the project management field who are willing to join quickly as they cannot abandon their projects in between or have any spare time to take on additional responsibility.
I spent quite a few sleepless nights trying to find a way to manage these multiple projects and only one answer came to my mind.
Bring it On.
Being the head of the function, I realise I cannot shy away from my responsibility and if there is no one to do the work, I will have to do own it. And that’s what I decided to do. While this may sound obvious, it’s not always easy to get your hands dirty again. While I have always been a hands-on leader, I have not actually made a project plan myself for the last few years.
As soon as I made that decision, a sudden sense of calm and reassurance came over me. This decision meant that I may have long & stressful days but I could trust myself to do my best till my entire team is in place. And the only person I was dependent on was “Me”.
Thus started my journey of repositioning myself as a project manager after a gap of 10 years. This also meant going back to the basics that I had learnt over the past 20+ years in the corporate world.
- How Important It Is To Go Back to Basics in Life.
- The December Solstice
- The Mind Trap
- Bring it On.
- 7 Simple (Yet Important) Back to Basics Tips To Remember
- 1. Belief In Your Self and Your Capabilities:
- 2. Start from Scratch:
- 3. Focus and Prioritise
- 4. Be Open To Learning From Your Subordinates
- 5. Appreciate People and Their Learning Curve
- 6. Understand the Pulse
- 7. Hand Over Control
- To Summarise:
- 7 Ultimate Reasons Why Going Back to Basics Is Important.
- More Management Posts
7 Simple (Yet Important) Back to Basics Tips To Remember
1. Belief In Your Self and Your Capabilities:
Many a time in life you come across situations which make you doubt yourself and your abilities. This is all the more true when you are starting something new. You forget that you are in a certain position today because of what you have accomplished and what you are capable of. You get into the Mind trap syndrome and start looking for external anchors when the biggest anchor for yourself is you.
When in doubt, sit back close your eyes and flashback to a similar situation you may have encountered earlier. Replay how you handled it. If not this, there might be some different situations which you were able to overcome which were new to you then. If you could win over them then, you can now.
2. Start from Scratch:
It always helps to start from scratch and you can only do that if you have done this job before. Let me explain. My journey as a project manager started 20 years ago from my second assignment onwards. I have made project plans, written the minutes of the meeting and diligently followed up on the action points. Since I have worked my way up the ranks, I know what it takes to manage a project. And it also means that if ever I have to go back and do this again, I can.
However, many times as we move up the hierarchy we feel that certain things or tasks are below us. We feel they are for our subordinates. Sometimes this thought may come in our way of seeing ourselves as a part of the solution. A true leader knows how and when to step down from her ivory tower and take things into her own hand.
In my particular case, I want back to making project plans, writing minutes and becoming a project manager. This was for those few months that I did not have my team in place. Believe me, in hindsight this was the best thing that could have happened. It gave me an opportunity to know the stakeholders better. At the same time, it helped me grasp the various challenges at a core implementation level.
3. Focus and Prioritise
When you join a new organisation, you like to implement your learnings from past experiences to make the current processes more efficient. However, sometimes you may need to prioritise between keeping the ship afloat or forcing it to flow in a new direction. At that point in time, I realised that I need to first ensure that the basic commitments to the internal /external stakeholders are met. My ideas for improvements can happen later.
Thus I prioritised taking charge of the function “as is”. At the same time, I made sure I make a note of changes that I want to introduce later.
4. Be Open To Learning From Your Subordinates
While it’s important to have confidence and belief in one’s abilities, overconfidence can prove a non-starter.
During these 6 months, I have learnt not to take things for granted and let my experience overshadow my thoughts. This means I have not hesitated to welcome help from my fellow colleagues and team members.
So whether it was getting a refresher on the MS project or other tools used for managing day to day projects, I reached out to my subordinates to help me. And why not, I am better off learning from experts than Google.
5. Appreciate People and Their Learning Curve
I always admire people for the work they do and the value they bring to the organisation, especially in my field of project management. A Project Manager’s job is a thankless one. If the project launches on time, it’s teamwork and if things go off track, it’s the project manager’s fault. I understand the pressure and the efforts involved which got re-iterated during these 3 months of me being a project manager myself.
Hence it is important to appreciate the efforts put in by your team, especially newcomers and give them time to come up the learning curve. While it was very tempting for me to immediately offload my work on new team members and start judging them, I refrained. I gave them time to settle in and understand how the system works.
6. Understand the Pulse
When we go down to doing the process ourselves we realise so many missing links which could improve the efficiency of the process. I had probably taken these things for granted which was not the case. Thus this phase gave me an opportunity to identify the gaps and opportunities to amend a lot of structures/templates and bring consistency to the process itself. Now that I have my team in place, I am ensuring these learnings are adopted across all geographies where we operate.
7. Hand Over Control
If you are one of those who like to get their hands dirty, you should be aware of a drawback of this habit. We hesitate to hand over control to someone else. As my team grew and new project managers joined in, I had to start handing over the projects to them. It was tough as I had nurtured these projects over the last few months and was in control. Now giving these away to someone was akin to putting all my hard work at stake.
But that’s where you take the leap of faith in people. You do a controlled handover so that the transition is seamless for your team member as well as the client.
As I look back at these 8 months I have realized that whenever you get stuck, it always helps to go back to the basics whether it has got to do with your competency, value system or your strengths. You will find your solution there. It’s up to you how you channel that solution to work for your benefit.
Hope you found this blog helpful. If yes, please do share it with your family and friends and let them know the importance of going back to basics.
7 Ultimate Reasons Why Going Back to Basics Is Important.
More Management Posts