Project Practitioners > What Are You Consuming?

What Are You Consuming?

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes

 

The crash from a pot of coffee or pounds of birthday cake is real. You get this spike of energy that leads to a coma-inducing nap. You feel gross and tired because you decided to fuel your body and mind with junk.

However, you wake up with the sun and gulp down a glass of water, and all of a sudden, your day does not start so badly. You follow that up with some eggs and bacon, and you are off to a sprinting head start. The difference in attitude and energy comes from the difference in the diet.

The same goes for your information diet. What you consume shapes your emotional intelligence. If you decide to punish your brain with low-frequency debates that spiral in a never-ending loop of theoretical topics, you are consuming junk. The louder the person, the greater the victory. If you scream and shout your point, it must be true.

Inversely, pick up a book or watch a video from an expert in the field where the answers become long-winded and well thought out. Three to eight minutes on a talk show reveals very little about a human being. A 300-page autobiography may give slightly more detail into the how and why.

The talk show interview gives the quick burst of energy that leaves you crashing. The questions are scripted. The answers are rehearsed. No one learns anything about the guest. It is a 100 calorie snack of information.

The book or video is a slower burn with a more satisfying finish. The stories are long form with intimate details about the characters involved and situations. No quick snippets or anecdotes. A book or a podcast is like a salad topped with avocado, fruits, and vegetables. Call it rabbit food, but you will go all day.

So what types of information can a person digest?

 

Theoretical

Think of all those books you purchased throughout college. Crack one of those open and embrace the theory behind them. They describe a likely scenario and ask for an answer. Unless it is a science, your answer cannot be wrong, only more correct.

Theories can be disproven. As time goes on and more information is available, theories can turn to dust. A new microscope can see 100x better than the last one used in an experiment. This advancement in technology proves vital to the theory’s correctness. It can substantiate it or disprove.

That danger is ever present with theoretical knowledge. Sometimes, things happen. Logic is thrown out of the window. Someone lands a lucky punch, which in theory should not have happened. A crane tips over and injures many, which in theory should not have happened.

The theory is fun to philosophize. If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, every day would be a holiday.

 

Practical

A step-by-step guide or how-to are great examples of practical knowledge that can be consumed. Learning a technical aspect of the job likely involves a practical session on how it works. Engines and robots have schematics that can be followed to point to issues in operation.

Practical applications of consumption are tangible. X and Y create Z. Connecting the positive, negative, and ground for an outlet makes electricity work. Diagnosing appliances has a practical application. If you are a technician of any sort, practical knowledge is probably your greatest strength. For project managers, it might be the greatest overall weakness.

Subject matter experts are hired for a reason. You may bring the theory to their practice. It is a beautiful relationship.

 

Inspirational

Go on Instagram, type in Dwayne Johnson, and try not to get motivated. I dare you. You will see a human being shooting a movie for 16 hours, hopping a plane across the country, working out, then doing an interview. It appears as if the man never sleeps.

While this type of information can be a quick spark and fade quickly, every so often, it is nice to get that momentum going again. Self-discipline can be difficult to develop. A motivational video or quote can be all you need to spark that flame again.

Sometimes, this information borders on corny. Too many random quotes from a theoretical basis appear everywhere. Instead of quotes, you can get inspiration from a story about a project due to fail, yet the team came together and turned it into a success.

Inspiration can come from the negative as well. You see how it could be, realize you do not have it that way, and start to live up to your potential. Your team is not as bad as it could be. You have a stable organization. Your boss is pretty cool. Those things start to stack up in your favor.

 

Tactical

Strategy is a fantastic thing to absorb and digest. It may not always apply to the task at hand, but eventually, you will find a use for it. Like jiu jitsu, these new techniques today will become old hat years from now. You get a blueprint for idea generation and start to develop ideas you never thought possible.

Tactical combines your theory with your practical knowledge. You start to put the pieces together. Combine this theory with this strategy and that team, boom, success.

War books are a great way to take tactics from the battlefield to the board room. Plan while the enemy sleeps. Make them think left while you put your resources to the right. And maybe a few more resources dead center.

 

Takeaways

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Sugar is delicious, but when you eat a lot of it, you become obese and open the door for a multitude of health issues. Water is beneficial, but if you are exposed to too much of it, you can drown. Information, like a diet, has its balance.

Too much motivation and discipline starts to lack. Too much theoretical and your practical deteriorates. Too much practical and your creativity stalls. Like everything in life, moderation is key. Adding doses of each component until something sparks is what works for you.

Some people cannot consume gluten or their body reacts violently. For you, tactical resources may cause you to recoil. That is fine. There is no one balanced diet of food or information that satisfies every individual. Find yours. Play with your food, or information.

https://www.crcpress.com/The-Entrepreneurial-Project-Manager/Cook/p/book/9781498782357



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