Project Practitioners > It All Comes Full Circle

It All Comes Full Circle

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


Jiu jitsu has a fantastic way of linking movements together that start to feel familiar and have connectivity. Class starts with a takedown leading to a pass setup. Next, you complete the pass, and your partner escapes. The escape leads to a transition that ends with a submission.

The class may start with a technical mount position. Then, after each technique is shown, you end up in the technical mount position to end class. After the 3-5 steps you learn, it all comes full circle to the original position. You link moves together to end up in familiar positions where an end to the fight can occur.

Project management is the same in its interconnectedness.

I recently quit my job and started my own business. After a month of recruiting clients, we ended up snagging a few. One of them has an apartment that needs maintenance on a building my former employer is assessing for hail damage.

Even though the names have changed, the faces remain. Because the industry is similar, that full circle feeling is one project away. The titles, vehicles, responsibilities, and so on are fluid, but the people stay the same. A relationship with a laborer ten years ago may land you a project because he or she owns their own business and remembers you from a decade ago.

Here are a few ways life and work come full circle:


Light Bulb Moments

Like in jiu jitsu class realizing the opening and closing techniques are closely related, light bulb moments are everywhere. The unrelated tip you received in a wine and painting class somehow pertains to a conflict on your project.

If you become aware, you start to see connections in all industries and professions. Being unique is something people strive for. Individuality is coveted. In the end, the similarities amongst us all are neverending. The pathways to getting to the conclusion may vary widely, but the targets and milestones are eerily similar.

A project manager on a construction site needs operators, laborers, truck drivers, vendors, and so on to cooperate for success. A project manager in an IT organization needs the programmers, developers, engineers, and so on to cooperate as well.

The soft skills of being a human translate to all industries and professions. A light bulb moment for you may be realizing the crossover is real. Others see the crossover but cannot connect these ideas until the light bulb goes off one day in a meeting.

The nuance of humans is not realized without experience. You see the issue or conflict. You move forward knowing something must be done eventually. Then, one day you watch your favorite television show that is dealing with a similar issue, and you attempt the solution in the show.

Always observe and absorb. At some point, that light bulb sparkles.


Student Becomes the Master

You learn from a mentor for years on end. You take in the information. You implement the best you can. You study the results and continue to adjust. Someone may be starting way ahead of you in this aspect. They can be considered your ‘master.’

At some point, that relationship starts to shift. The up-and-comer becomes the established. The student becomes the master. You start to mentor others the way you were mentored before. Instead of the light bulb coming on every once in a while, it starts to stay on…a lot. Like the room in your head with the ideas and actions is always lit.

The connections are no longer forced. They become second nature. A reaction instead of conscience thought. You are the master of your domain. The black belt is around your waist. You continue to learn, but the overall knowledge exists. Subtleties become your obsession. Why grip this or that to sweep? Why use this brand instead of another?

First starting becomes all about action. You see what happens because questions are everywhere. When you start to master things, thought before action is much more important. You have answers. You see pathways. Now, you must take the best option, not just any option.



Life and work have funny ways of evening themselves. In high school, you never think you will stay in your town or find a person to love from that area. You have big hopes and dreams. Then, a few years down the road, you meet someone that is from your area you never knew. He or she is someone you cannot see yourself without. Even the conscience thought of never going back to that hometown ends up coming full circle as your husband or wife is from that area, and you visit every year.

These light bulb moments come out of nowhere. You see potential in all things so connections can be made at any time. Different styles and approaches work for different people. Your education to this point may not vibe well with your personality. Then, out of the blue, someone comes along and start to speak your language of leadership and management. The light bulb moments are occurring with every sentence.

A priceless moment is a student sharing knowledge with the master. Jiu jitsu, project management, and many other activities have their own language. When you start to converse in that language, it becomes a beautiful scenario. Ideas are shared more fluidly. A common understanding is reached.

What goes up must come down. Hence, full circle.

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