Project Practitioners > Back to The Future: Outlook

Back to The Future: Outlook

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 be more optimistic:


Redefine Optimism

Optimism is not happiness. It is not rainbows and unicorns floating around space on fluffy pillows of sunshine. You cannot ignore the stressors of the project. Yet, you do not have to let those stressors kill the dream or outlook.

Approaching the hardship productively is a sign of optimism. A previous boss, when presented with a problem, would always say, “We will figure it out. We always do.” No matter how large the issue at the time, the response was the same.

It is not ignoring the issue but placing it in a manageable box stating no problems have trumped the team yet, so why is this one any different? This optimistic approach is contagious. It builds belief and fortitude. Again, the stressors exist, but the outcomes are encouraging.


Be Conscious

Notice the patterns in your thinking around people, projects, vendors, and so on. If you think it is negative, you are right. If you think it is positive, you are right. A person’s name pops up on your phone. Sometimes, you cannot wait to answer that phone. You look forward to those conversations. Other times, those calls cannot go to voicemail quick enough.

Every time this person calls, it is a problem you have to solve for them. It is never words of encouragement or positive. Always something you did wrong, forgot to do, or could do better. Think of how other people react to your number or email popping up on their phone. Do you think others have those same visceral reactions? Or are you the person they cannot wait to answer because it is more work for their small business or appreciation for the work they do?

This consciousness helps you to be the change you want to see. You are aware of your words and actions and how they come off to others. You say something harsh and apologize rather than let it sit out there to grow toxicity.


Write It Down

Gratitude journals are becoming a thing. In the morning, before you open up your email or check your notifications, write down what you are grateful for. This simple activity reframes your day. You are focused on the positive.

You can be thankful for your team who helps you manage a project, for the project itself which gives you a role to support yourself and family, for the sunshine on your face, the air you breathe, and the food and water you consume.

Unfortunately, for me, it sometimes takes a negative event to reframe the positive. Whether a natural disaster tarnishes a region of a country or innocent lives are lost due to an absurd action, these events tend to make me appreciate the things I do have.

Writing down positives and things you are grateful for starts each day on a positive. There is no need for an outside event to occur to know you are in a good place. Apply this to your project. If everything seems to be going wrong, there must be something going right. Even if it is delayed, the drywaller did a great job when the task is complete. The painter was over budget, but the owner loves the outcome. Find the silver lining.


Embrace the Negative

Blocking it out does not mean it goes away. What is making you negative? Is it the company you keep? Is it the environment you inhabit? Take these issues on instead of taking the out of sight out of mind approach.

Being optimistic about the negative seems counterintuitive. How can you be happy about the negativity? There is always a silver lining, and it is your job to find it. Take on the waves of criticism. You are in this position for a reason. You have developed the tools and techniques to handle any and all comers.

You have been to the deep end of the pool. Instead of panicking, you are comfortable in the whirlwind of issues. You are the brick house in the tornado. The wolf can huff and puff with all of the might. It does not matter. You stand tall because you embrace the grind.



The outlook you have determines the direction you take. If you think the project is out to get you and your team does not care anymore, you are correct. If you think you have the best team on the planet that can solve any issue in a matter of moments, you are correct.

Your outlook determines those outcomes. The mind is a powerful thing. Once you harness and control it, you become next level. No one can stop your progression or divert your path. Obstacles in your way? Cool. Another thing wrong? Awesome. Someone else quits? Even better.

Those instances can easily bring people down who have a negative outlook, but not you. You have seen, heard, and experienced too much for those events to stop you.

The success of the project, team, and organization rely on an outlook that matches the results.

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