Project Practitioners > Be Better

Be Better

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


“Today is victory over yourself of yesterday; Tomorrow is your victory over lesser foe.” – Miyamoto Musashi


When I read the above quote, one of the first things I notice is no constraints, numbers, deadlines, and so on. There is no reference to other people and their progress. No slaying of dragons or toppling of empires required for victory.

It is all about the internal win. It is all about being better than you were yesterday. You do not need to go from 0 to 100 overnight. If you go from 0 to 0.0001, you are better than your previous self.

You called the vendor you have had on your list for the last month. That does not mean your previous 30 days have been for naught. Those are already behind you. That makes you better today than you were yesterday.

Compounding interest is not a concept left solely for finances. Apply the same concept to personal and professional growth. If you progress by 1% every day, at the end of one year, you are 37 times better than the person who started. That kind of growth makes you unrecognizable. It is simple mathematics that can be applied simply.

No secret formulas or hacks exist. Put in the work, even incrementally, and the results will follow. This concept applies to physical and mental skills. In project management, the mental comes to mind more often than the physical. If your meetings, production lines, or teams ran 1% better day after day, you would be a superhero.

How to be better:



Does your organization know who you are or the character you play? Many people in an office setting put on a face and wardrobe to appear like the position they hold. If you are the boss, a penguin suit tuxedo for you. If you are the laborer, grungy jeans and cutoff shirts for you.

Do these articles of clothing represent the person you are? Doubt it. Be authentic with your organization. Do you use big words to impress because of your job title? Why? No one is impressed. They catch on to these tactics easily and start to tune you out.

Speak your story. Be honest with your team. If they are killing it and exceeding expectations, let them know. I just got off the phone with a technician because he received a ‘Wow!’ from a newer client on his ability to perform high quality work quickly.

When your day is filled with complaints, it is important to let people know they are performing well. And not only letting them know but being authentic in the delivery. No need to coax it up or made it some grandiose monologue. Just let them know sincerely.



In your authenticity, be grateful for the work your team and organization does. Without them, you are someone instructing nobody how to do nothing. You are not a leader, just an individual. Leaders require followers.

This gratitude should not only extend externally but also internally. Know you are doing the best you can and defeating a weaker foe every day forward. Eventually, the score does not matter. You have surpassed all expectations that score takes care of itself.

A hundred complaint can be washed away with one sincere compliment. All of the stressors, phone calls, and notifications disappear in a few simple words like ‘Good job’ or ‘Well done.’ People tend to pass that gratitude along too.

Think of the line at your local coffee shop. The second someone pays for the person’s order behind them. That person pays that gratitude forward onto the person behind them. This cycle continues out of the initial gratitude than the peer pressure of being the person to stop the chain.



There is no reason to be intentionally bad at something. Even stating that mantra internally is demeaning your capabilities. Normally, if this is something you find yourself doing, it is because you will not and not because you cannot.

Learn how to be better in front of an audience. Learn how to estimate both sewer and dirt work. Learn accounting, so the numbers are not intimidating. Find your weakness and expose it yourself before a spotlight gets shined on it from someone else.

Most tasks intimidate people because of the unknown. When you start to piece some things together, all of a sudden the image starts to get clearer. You start to figure some things out, and new problems arise. Eventually, you scoff at the old problems because they have become old hat. This development through learning is crucial.



Be better. Simple, clear, and concise in its message. The specificity is lacking for a reason. If you had the answer, there would not be a need to get better.

Personally, authenticity is a great start. Be yourself. If people do not like the person you are, that is fine. If people do not like the person you are trying to be, you are doing the world a disservice.

Show gratitude and set the example. Tell people ‘Good job’ without forcing it or making it weird. Those words can make a person’s day and in turn making someone else’s day. The momentum continues outside of work and becomes contagious.

And if you are bad at those things, learn how to be yourself and show gratitude. Be a student, perpetually. Once you stop learning, life gets mundane. Do not just learn but also apply your knowledge. The magic comes in the application, not the addition.

Be better.

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