Project Practitioners > Back to The Future: Attitude

Back to The Future: Attitude

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


In the modern workplace, much emphasis is placed on technical skills and knowledge. However, with the onset of advanced technologies, soft skills are becoming more and more critical to maintaining clear communication and positive human interaction on project teams and amongst stakeholders.

Project management is people management, and teamwork and motivation continue to prove vital to project success. While navigating complex projects and team dynamics, today’s project managers are often inundated with emails, texts, and all sorts of notifications, leading to information overload and interruptions.

In the spirit of returning to the fundamentals, this article will present an approach to Communication that project managers can use to be successful in the ever-evolving technological landscape.

How to develop a positive attitude:


From Have to Get

Instead of I HAVE to go to work, reframe this as I GET to go to work. Instead of I HAVE to make this phone call, state I GET to make this phone call.

The HAVE mindset makes you feel like it is out of your control and someone is making you do something against your will. The GET mindset puts you back in control. You control the situation and the emotions you feel.

Each obstacle is an opportunity to showcase your skills and abilities. You do not have to do anything. There is always another job somewhere else or another boss you can work for. We are all adults. At any moment, you can pull the pin and quit.

You get to do the things you do. You get to hire amazing talent to help your organization. You get to fire a cancerous team member who spreads negativity. You get to present in front of your team the highs and lows of the project. You get to commute to work. One small word change can make a world of difference.


Present Solutions

Problems are easy to identify. Solutions are the difficult part. Every day, you open up your phone or computer to find issues. Someone is late for this. Another person did not do that. You forgot this and that. Issues are abundant.

Presenting solutions to these issues separates you from the crowd. If you find a thematic issue, presenting a problem makes your life easier. Instead of complaining about it, do something. Make a change that makes the difference. You do not like commuting to work, suggest remote work. You do not like hurrying around for lunch, suggest a longer lunch by getting to the office earlier.

In the end, your superiors only care about production. If the project stays on schedule and within budget and scope, you can operate from the moon. The same applies to your team members. Happy team members make for more productive team members.

Get them in the habit of solving problems before they reach you. Give them the tools to become autonomous. Some people latch on to the opportunity for that control while others still want instructions each step of the way. For you, one less person to delegate is one less obstacle in your way.

Be open-minded to solutions. If you shut down most suggestions, people will stop suggesting all together. No one likes rejection and subjecting yourself to it all of the time takes a toll. Use your team members solutions as, more than likely, they have to deal with the consequences, both positive and negative.


The Obstacle is The Way

Every roadblock is not a dead end. Challenges become the trigger for letting you know you are on the correct path. As you progress, tasks do not necessarily get easier. They present different challenges. On your first day, an obstacle may have been the route to work. How do you get there? Now, you can drive that direction with your eyes closed.

The challenges become greater the more progress you make. Think of a video game. The first boss you encounter is way easier than the final boss. Also, your skills have improved to handle the difference. Your weaponry is upgraded. Your ability to control your character is better. You know how the game moves and feels. The difficulty starts to match your ability.

If you find yourself still not running into the bosses or even attackers, you are probably on the wrong path in the game. You need those zombies to pop up to let you know this direction is correct. Without those obstacles, your skills stagnate or even decline.



What is the worst that can happen? Normally, the death of a career is not on that list. Take a second just to breathe. Obstacles and problems start to pile up, and it feels overwhelming. They are not going to take care of themselves. You are the only person who can make this stack disappear.

Take a deep breath and begin. Before you know it, three tasks are down and only thirty more to go. By lunch, only 15 are left. At the end of the day, you are caught up and can start anew. It all started with controlling those emotions with a breath of air. Taking in the moment. Realizing you have done this before and you can do it again.

Use the breath as a small reset to build your plan. It can be difficult once the momentum starts to battle you. That breath starts to curb the momentum.



Attitude can turn a problem into a solution, and it can also turn a problem into an avalanche. How you attack an obstacle says a lot of your attitude. If everything is the end of the world, you are applying unnecessary stressors to your situation. A change order is not the demise of the project. It is what it is.

You missed an email that came in from an owner giving approval. They reach out two days later requesting an update. If you are negative about this issue, you think this owner is going to fire you from the project and find someone who can do their job. If you are positive, you simply reply you forgot, and this has become a priority. You immediately get it in the hands of the team who can solve this problem, and it is solved.

The attitude towards the problem becomes contagious. Everyone has fires popping up. Yours is no more important than the next person’s issues. If you attack a problem with a positive attitude with a positive outcome in mind, the likelihood of progress increases. Put the result out into the world. Of course, it takes hard work and an intelligence to handle these problems but adding negativity to those situations only hurts.

There is no benefit to the negative. Be the change you want to see.

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