Project Practitioners > I am an imperfect project manager

I am an imperfect project manager

By Alfonso Bucero


Some weeks ago I delivered a speech on the subject “Today is a Good Day- Why attitude is important for project success”.  In that talk I emphasize the importance of positive attitude for project success, and one of my suggestions is that you need to respect yourself and love yourself before respecting and loving others. After I finished my presentation and as the hall was clearing, one of the speech attendees came rushing toward me. His first words were surprising me: Please I need your help.

I’m a manager of some project managers in my organization, and I have a junior PM who has a great and sustained performance in most of the projects he managed. For some reason he is feeling bad with himself and believing that he is not able to manage projects correctly, he believes that he will never be a great leader. However he believes people don’t like him. He is in a wheelchair since the age of 10 years old. It’s breaking my heart that he cannot see that is good as a project manager, and I know he has a lot to learn but his leadership skills are not bad at the moment. How can I make him see what I see?

I could understand this manager’s distress, since one of the most difficult things for managers to endure is their people getting demotivated or frustrated. He was trying to help him get through this self-hatred, which was so important, because if we cannot accept ourselves when we are young and healthy, how will we feel when we age and experience the medical problems that come with advancing years?

This young project manager was not satisfied with himself. Perhaps he was focused on his physical disabilities, not in his intellectual ones. Why is it so difficult for us to love ourselves just as we are? Why do we so often become burdened with feelings that we are not good enough, not thin enough, or not beautiful enough? I am sure this manager lavished his junior PM with love and respect, trying to build his confidence and esteem. We become vulnerable and fall into the victim’s mentality when we base how we feel about ourselves on other’s people opinions or compare ourselves with others. When you are unwilling to accept yourself, you are less willing to accept others, and that can lead to loneliness and isolation. When you judge yourself harshly or put intense pressure on yourself, you become judgmental of others. Loving and accepting yourself opens the door to a much greater sense of peace and fulfillment.

When I started my professional career I had a lot of fear about speaking on public. I got very nervous when I had to do it, and it was painful for me until one of my managers talked to me and said: Alfonso, nobody is perfect but you need to think that when you are presenting the only person who knows your subject is “you”, with your imperfections, errors and so forth. Then you need to do it positively and try to learn to improve.

The kind of self-love and self-acceptance I’m advocating is not about loving yourself in a self-absorbed, conceited way. You give more than you take.

Instead of dwelling on your imperfections, your failings, or your mistakes, focus on your blessings and the contribution you can make whether is a talent, knowledge, wisdom, creativity, hard work, or a nurturing tool. You don’t have to live up to anyone else’s expectations. You can define your own version of perfection.

Every time I’m starting my speeches I say to the audience: I’m Spanish, nobody is perfect. Then the audience smile and relax. I’m a human being like them. Use that to connect with people. Do you connect well with people? Think about it. Smile every day and be focused on your blessings.  Probably you will be imperfect, but you know that so be focused on learn and improvement and you will be successful.  


Alfonso Bucero, MSc, PMP, PMI-RMP, PMI Fellow

BUCERO PM Consulting

Book author, speaker and PM Consultant

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