10 tips on how to survive a project

/5 min read/

What do you do when the going gets tough?

To celebrate our new Project Design Playbook I collected 10 top tips from people who have different backgrounds and experiences, who all have amazed me in some way, about how to survive and not quite a project.

Share your tips in the comments! We’ll use them to inspire & support students to achieve their project goals and lead the change they want to see in their own lives, community & the world. You can download our new playbook here.

Let's go!

Nia Lewis // Learning Architect at Youth Inc. in Australia and the co-author of the Project Design Playbook.

Surround yourself with good people and make sure to make time for kicking back and having fun together, as well as regular sharing of your wins and worries. It’s always other people who have got me through - offering alternative perspectives, sharing new insights and ideas, helping you rediscover the light or just making you laugh when you feel like crying. To quote Malcom X “When I is replaced with we, even illness becomes wellness”. Good Luck!

Carlos Saba // Co-Founder of Happy Startup School. An online community where Nia and I met!

In my experience the worst projects were the ones that seemed to never end because the goal posts kept on moving. I lost all enthusiasm for the work and my creativity melted away. Be focused on the outcome you want to create and tightly manage the scope of the work. Be disciplined when deciding what’s in and what’s out and push back on anything that seems like fluff. Constraint inspires creativity.

M Wallace Green // A dear cheerleader of mine, Business Innovation Coach and Digital Storytelling Expert.

Over the years I’ve worked on formulating value propositions and positioning with hundreds of entrepreneurs. I’ve found that especially in the early ideation and brainstorming phase there are these magic moments - which usually happen in front of a whiteboard :-) - where, after lots of heated discussions and head scratching, that suddenly the noise and complexity around a business idea simply melts away. And reveals a simple solution that seems so obvious that you wonder why it was so hard to see in the first place.

It’s difficult to say exactly where the magic comes from, but I know intuitively it has something to do with constantly challenging the way you look at things. Try looking at a problem from a dozen different points of view, and maybe you’ll find simple truths jumping out at you, and suddenly the things you’ve looked at will have changed.

Agate Catchrain // My partner in crime from Latvia, Chief Marketing Officer of Entertech (KidsCasting & allcasting).

The only way you will be able to survive a project, a project that depends on you to survive, is by being in control of yourself. Being able to react rationally. Think rationally. And to embrace the fact that you are, too, a piece of the puzzle. An element in the game. When you care more about your ego and self importance than you care about the greater good, you can't lead your team to victory. Quite frankly, you can't lead anything. You need to be efficient, go beyond I must say, your animal nature. But that is only if you want to do great things.

P.S. - Don't complain that something isn't fair. Nothing ever is fair. You can either waste your time complaining. Or make the best out of it and show others how it's done. It's fun actually.

Gleb Maltsev // An A M A Z I N G Pitch Coach and Speechwriter.

Writing a story for a founder's pitch is much like making a suit jacket. A coherent paragraph or an inside pocket can take a day to stitch together. By the end of it, you still need to have a clear view of the full pattern in your mind's eye. That and a pinch of hope added to a glass of Scotch.

The trick is to break the process down into a sequence of small tasks without losing sight of the bigger narrative, nor your sanity. Finally, to paraphrase T. E. Lawrence, it's also about not minding when it hurts. Audience feedback and needles can be quite sharp. You'll need to grow a thicker skin as you get better at your craft.

Agnis Stibe // my dear collaborator, Global Thought Leader on Science-Driven Transformation and Professor at Paris ESLSCA Business School.

I imagine my future self being congratulated on the achievement. That makes the shivers of excitement running down my spine. Then I follow that feeling, as it will surely bring me to that exact moment. Works perfectly time and again. There is nothing more powerful that dreaming endlessly and flowing your rivers!

Kirsi Rouhiainen // A true firestarter-lady-entrepreneur and a Lecturer at XAMK University in Finland.

To stay sane and even become a true winner during a project one needs to learn to trust people and their abilities to make great things happen. Especially as a leader of a project it is your most important duty to find and see the positive in each and every team member. Listen carefully and try to help them become better and do better. If you value and respect your team members genuinely, you will see miracles. This way you will ultimately end up working in the best team ever!

Anna Andersone // One more blonde lady and an entrepreneur, Founder of be-with (clothing for hugs).

Mark the done parts and when motivation gets lost, take a break. Do something that gives you energy: lunch with a friend, sports break, go for a run, wash the dishes or clear your desk. Get back to the project.

Jānis Linde // wearables and next generation sports training enthusiast, Co-Founder and CEO of HackMotion. Janis says it's all about a simple decision. To jump and stay in the air. The only thing that separates jumping from falling is the intention.

When it is extremely hard, direct your thoughts to the fact that almost any other endeavour that you would undertake to reach similar results, would take the same amount of effort, the same count of setbacks and rejections. Statistically speaking you are already better positioned at this stage because you have gone through the trouble deciding on the project and taken a lot of hits to get to where you are now. You do not want to go through all of this again, don't you?

On a more practical note - If you have trouble concentrating on a specific task or starting a project, do a quick youtube search on the topic you should work on. Watching a 2 minute video takes almost no energy and pushes your mind into problem solving mode (if the video is on the subject you need to attack).

And lastly here’s a top tip from me, Arta Citko, a founder of Happy Playbooks, Graphic Designer and Author.

Find your way of doing whatever it is you want/have to/must do. This one comes from a time I had school projects. everyone had to make a cardboard lamp. Everyone had to restore a chair. Everyone had the same task. But the end results were very different and so did the attitude about the tasks.

Liking our own creations, also in the process, was highly dependent on our individual approach of making that result happen. To enjoy the process find your fun switch and switch it on - find the approach, the style that aligns with your personality and do it your way.

Summary

Have your vision 💎, have your faith ✨, find your fun 🎠. And mark the done parts! ✅

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Develop skills & competencies while having fun! Get the Project Design Playbook and other playbooks at artacitko.com

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