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Three Little Rules

At 2C, we’re project managers, but we’re also humans (thankfully). Awhile back, I broke down what kind of project manager I wanted to be and came up with three simple rules. Play Fair, Don’t Lie, and Earn Trust. I wrote these down and posted them on my bulletin board to serve as a reminder. As I continue to look at them, I think well those are just good rules that humans should naturally learn throughout their lives. All of them are rules that children could figure out. A toddler learns how to play fair by sharing their toys. A 6th grader gets reprimanded for spreading rumors (lies) around school. A high schooler earns trust with their parents as they begin to responsibly explore the world on their own. So why did I feel I had to write down these simple rules as a reminder for myself? And why do they fit so well for project management? Because somewhere along the way, you forget what’s right. Because corruption and temptation can so easily drag you back down if you’re not careful. What stands out to me now about these rules is that they are all rules for how to treat other people. And isn’t treating people right the entire game? If it’s not for you, then you’re playing the wrong game. You’re playing the game of conceit, deceit, and corruption which are the antitheses of my three rules. A conceited person is unable to play fair because they don’t recognize the other person’s value, they only see their own. A person practicing deceit manipulates others for their own gain. And corruption happens when a person appears to be trustworthy but are reaping selfish benefits behind closed doors. So as project managers (and humans), how do we play fair, don’t lie, and earn trust? The same way those kids that we used to be figured it out. This time just don’t forget. A project manager can play fair by taking responsibility and owning their team’s mistakes. If the customer’s in a bind, a project manager can give up a little bit on this one if they know that it benefits the long-term relationship. Ultimately, they can be leaders by lifting others up. A project manager is open and honest with all the stakeholders they are working with. A lie to your own engineer helping you out on the project is the same as lying to the customer VP. Every time you lie, you will have to dig your way out of it with someone. Not only does it hurt your relationships with others, but it eats away at your insides. You try to justify it over and over in your mind but you can’t. A project manager can earn trust by being a friend. If you like to serve others without expecting anything in return, only then can you earn trust with people. The next time somebody comes to you with a problem, and you think well that’s not my responsibility to help. Check yourself. Think, respond, connect others to the problem. If you do, a universal rule might ring true, you get what you give.

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