Beyond PMO Consulting

"welcome to my personal blog," Ammar W Mango

  • about me

    Organizational Project Management Consultant, using profession as a platform for learning beyond just work. My passion is learning more about self, people, universe, and God.
    I am into Religion, Meditation, Yoga, and Tai Chi. I love learning about human behavior and motivation.
    I am a gourmand who loves healthy food and following latest research into health and natural healing and remedies. I jog and swim whenever I get a chance.
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    Ammar

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Archive for the ‘Understanding SELF’ Category

I like to learn about self. Understand spirit, mind, body, and their interactions that results in the I.

Can You Stop Thinking about that Project?

Posted by Ammar Mango on June 7, 2014

The controller project manager needs everything in order.  And since nothing is in order almost ever, the project manager’s mind is always working to find ways to put things in order.  The result is a mind that is always trying to change things, never happy with things as they are.  This mind is a tired mind.  Stressed.  Unable to take a break.

If this describes you sometimes, then that is OK.  This is part of urban life as designed for us modern urban-ites (is there such a word?) But when this becomes “you” most of the time, then it might be time for some changes.

The human mind needs to rest the same way the body needs to rest.  Sometimes people neglect this fact, as the toils of the brains are not accompanied by sweat and physical movement.  So we do not feel the need to rest.  However, a preoccupied brain causes tensed muscles, irregular breathing, and the feeling of being flat out beat.  This is more stressful than physical work.  So how do we put our minds to rest?

Ahhh, the million dollar question.  I personally have not figured out a cure-for-all on this issue, but if you have, please do share.  Luckily there are a few things that can be done, so if one does not work the other might, and each person is different so do not dispair.  Here are a few proven methods that worked for some.  Which one is for you? it is up to you to try:

Some swear by prayer.  Personally, I believe nothing can be as calming as asking God for help in complete surrender.  Now, if you have tried this and did not work immediately, remember that the problem might be in your approach not the prayer itself.  Prayer works.  However, sometimes we are too hasty, or do the physical moves, but the brain refuses to succumb.  Then prayer might not be as effective.  However practice makes perfect.  One thing I learned form a colleague is to speak to God in my own language.  Tell him what is bothering me, and asking him for guidance.  Try that after formal prayer see if that works for you.

For some, intense cardio exercise gets their mind off work.  When the body tires, it requires full attention from the brain.  A friend of mine runs, not jogs.  When he is “tired” from work, he runs as soon as he gets home.  Before anything.  It helps him remove the clutter from the mind.  Another friend took more extreme measures.  He loves boxing.  He says “nothing will keep your mind focused and clear like someone trying to punch you square in the face.”  He also loves his punching bag.  Before starting, he remembers the most annoying thing on his mind that day, then punches away until he can go on no more.

Then there are the yoga types.  Some say that 20 minutes a day of yoga can help you reorder the “top shelves” (i.e. the brain) and feel in sync with surroundings, no matter how stressful the day is.  Some practice “moving” yoga in the form of Tai Chi.  Some practice yoga by watching their breath.  There are numerous ways of doing this and any might do the trick.  Try breathing deeply and slowly, allowing more time to exhale than inhale.  after doing this for a couple of minutes, try to pause for a few seconds after the exhale.  How did that feel.  Some swear by it.  You judge what is right for you.

Another thing to consider, is that you might have a personality that is prone to over thinking.  This is very common in today’s day and age.  Some (OK many) have obsessive compulsive tendencies, so they repeat the same thought over and over again in their mind, ruthlessly over heating their systems, so to speak.  Someone once described it as “a car being stuck in first gear.” To get out of that gear, you need to be consciously aware of the problem you have to agree with self to move on to another subject, or get off thinking altogether.  Obsessive compulsive behavior can be mild but also can be a mental illness that requires medication to control.

Not only obsessive compulsives overthink, but also regular personalities that are more on the “sensitive” side, like empaths.  Empaths will scrutinize their behavior in fear of being wrong, or in having to defend themselves from verbal abuse.  Some people do not care how they come across to others, or what others say to them or about them.  These are rare.  Most do care.  However, some care too much, and as a result overthink ways to protect themselves from these “attacks” by others.  Empaths need to be aware of their tendencies to be sensitive, and accordingly deal with their, sometimes overwhelming, emotions.  Deal does not mean suppress, or reject, or demean.  To the contrary; it means accepting and respecting self for what it feels and how it feels.   Then letting go.

It is amazing how we evolve and “grow” as human beings, and with that comes changes in our personalities and the ways we deal with work related stress. We need to be in tune with these changes and be accepting of ourselves and emotions.  To some, this might be the hardest thing to do, and the biggest hurdle on their road to cope with stress at work.

In the end, please remember that most projects fail, most stakeholders are dissatisfied, and when projects succeed, you might be the last to be recognized.  So, where does that leave us? Have a good day!

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Values To-Go

Posted by Ammar Mango on July 21, 2013

It is amazing how even with the most graceful and hospitable nations, individuals can become so aggressive and unfriendly on the street and at work.  Examples of that are seen on the streets in the way people drive, at work in their ethics, and in how they deal with “strangers.”  While many would welcome a stranger home and share with them food and tea, they might not allow another driver to cut in front of them except after a big fight.

This is not an article about driving etiquette, but about the things that we leave at home when we need to have with us at all times, including at work.  I made a list of the top nine things a human should carry at all times, but many do not.

9.  Positive Attitude: encouragement or a feel-good comments.  Some consider it part of honesty or telling it as it is when they criticize or put others down.  It has nothing to do with either.  Be honest about something that will make others feel good.

8. World Citizenship: Thinking of the world as home.  Keeping it safe and clean just like one would own home.

7. Vulnerability: To deny our vulnerabilities is to deny our humanity.  It is a sign of strength to accept vulnerability.  Many try to look strong in a fake fashion that exposes their vulnerability further.

6. A Smile:  Smiling is not a weakness.  It is a positive gesture.  Smile to make self and others feel better.

5. Compassion: The love we share with our families and friends can and should be expanded to fellow human beings.

4. Forgiveness:  To forgive others when they make a mistake is something that many think is a weakness. It is a weakness if you do not confront and resolve.  However, to forgive is to accept our humanity.

3. Kindness: We are willing to help our children even if at our own expense, but not a stranger.

2. Fairness: “The noble thing to do” should not take a backseat to “doing whatever it takes to win.”

1. Values: We teach our kids not to lie, but many do it themselves without thinking about it twice. Some see it as the only way to adapt and get by.

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Leadership as a positive sum equation

Posted by Ammar Mango on July 2, 2013

How does one seek differentiation? A question that has been making history even though most are not paying attention.  And it is how a human being answers this question results in how he or she contributes to society.  The contribution is not only as an individual but also as part of a company, society, culture, etc.

Differentiation means the ability to do something different, and outside the norm.  It is that simple, but the repercussions are not. Humans and the social and business structures they create seek differentiation; being better, stronger, richer, better, etc.

Differentiation is anything that differentiates you from others.

For some, they are different in the most basic ways; their physical appearance, tone of voice, their food taste, etc.  Other than that, they go with the flow of leadership groups they belong to, like their company or society.  Their behavior and response to a situation or a news bit can be expected to be around the norm of their surroundings and culture.  Sometimes without even understanding why the society or culture adopts this point of view.  They follow without much understanding, just repeating what they hear from others and in the news.

Some are positive leaders and are willing to consider that the answers society offer are not always the right answers.  They want to look into, inquisitively, the answers to questions they care most about, and find the truth not for themselves, but for everybody who is willing to listen.  They influence themselves and others to contribute and be a force for the betterment of the world and its inhabitants.

There is a third group of leaders who are interested in change.  However, it is a change that is centered around themselves. Like the positive leaders, they too challenge the answers society offers, the norms, the culture, everything else, but for one cause only which is their betterment and improvement, even if at the expense and detriment of others. So, any situation they influence has to give a positive return for them, even if it results in negative effects on others.

This is no trivial issue, neither is it theoretical.  All the implications that the world is living in today are results of actions and influences of such leaders, whether positive or negative.  Look at civilization, technology, health care, and you will see that a lot of what we live in today was influenced by leaders, at corporate, country, and individual levels.  On the other side of the coin, look at wars, famines, massacres, unemployment, injustice, and racism.  How do they come about? Negative influencers or leaders, again at different levels.  So leadership cannot be looked at from an individual perspective, but also from a plural perspective.  One can lead as an individual but also as part of a collective social structure.  Consider banks as leaders and their effect on the economy.  Also companies, and their effect on the environment and society, or countries as leaders, and their effect on other countries and the world.

Leadership is about influencing others.  So, one has to look at how he, or the social and business structures he or she belongs to are influencing others.  Each one of us is part of a “bigger” leader; a family, society, company, culture, and country.  All  of these are leaders at a collective level.  And each of us is  a member of these leaders, and part of their contribution to the world.

The contribution of leaders to the world, whether individuals or groups, has to be a positive sum equation.  Which means, considering all the effects a leader has, whether a company or individual, the sum of the effect of this unit of leadership has to be positive.  This is how we make the world a better place.  If the sum is negative, then the world is better off with So an employee To know the true effect of these leaders on the world, one has to look at the whole “equation,” and not from a personal perspective.  Am I making a positive or negative effect on the world? not only as an individual but as part of a company or society.

Remember to look at all sides of the “equation,” not only your side.  It is an equation because positive has to be the sum of an equation for all parties, not just for you.  Negative influencers work to ensure their side of the equation is positive, usually at the expense of everybody else.  Remember these negative influencers can range from your colleague at work, to countries and societies.

No “negative” leader will admit to their negative influence.  To the opposite, they will try to look like they are philanthropists, doing their best to improve the world.  So, one has to look beneath the surface to see the truth about who is doing what in reality. Why is this important to an individual? because it affects all of us in more than one way.

We have to look at ourselves as leaders and ask: what is the sum of the equation we are influencing?  This is as individuals, and also as a companies and societies.

If you are into metaphors, this story might clarify the point:

A young man grew up in a mansion where he always knew they are the envy of the neighborhood.  Kids in the neighborhood  were either “good” or “bad” from his perspective.  The good ones treated him nicely and with respect.  The bad ones used to harrass him constantly.  He never understood why.  He never hurt anyone. His dad was a good man who helped those in need and well known in the society.  One day, he decided to go on an exploration journey and find out more about the bad guys.  He decided to hide his true identity and go on the street and find out what was really going on.  He hid in a service truck and left the house with some money to get by and decided to explore the world.  Once on the outside, he found that the people who he once saw as enemies were the victims.  Those who were nice to him were those who were managers at his dad’s companies.  However, the “bad” ones were from families that worked at his fathers’ plants for minimum wage.  Farmers at his fathers’ plantations were given little for the produce that he, his family, and their friends are eating and enjoying.  For his family to afford to live in the big mansion, many had to be deprived of the most basic services.  He saw the world from a different angle.

We are fed the world, so to speak, from spoons of those who have been “taking care” of us throughout our lives.  It can be a father, mother, boss, or society.   Most, out of complacency and convenience, accept happily the situation and continue to be taken care of, accepting the picture drawn by others for us about the world, and who the “evil” people are.  Very few dare to go out there and look independently and see the picture from different perspectives.  Many are not willing to check the other side of the equation: How their side of the equation is affecting others.  Many are afraid of what they will find.

A very good friend of mine and I had an argument over this once.  We were torn on what was really going on regarding a problem between our companies.  I asked him “do you notice that we are both prejiduced? ”  each of us is saying what he is told about the reality of the situation.  So I proposed we do our own independent research to figure out what was really going on.  He is an honest man my friend.  After thinking about it for a minute, he politely told me that he cannot do that.  He is afraid of what he will find.  Can you blame him? You and I find ourselves in this same boat everyday.  Accepting others’ view of reality because it is convenient or because we are afraid of what we might find the truth to be.

At work and in life, many times our opinions of the truth are tainted by which side we are on.  As if the truth is a tool to serve our selfish purposes.  Once we fall into that trap, we become part of a negative sum equation.

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what Conviction is, and what it is NOT

Posted by Ammar Mango on February 21, 2013

A manager must have conviction in his /her mission, objectives, values, and ways.  Conviction can be confused with poor management behaviors, and here are examples:

– Conviction is not about being rigid, or stubborn.  On the contrary.  Conviction means the belief in your God-given ability to analyze a situation and choose what you believe to be your best alternative.

– Conviction does not mean that you cannot be wrong.  But it means that you accept the probability of being wrong and having the guts and faith to move on and accept that possibility.

– Conviction does not mean that you do not change your mind.  It means that you have the guts to do so when you believe it is warranted.

– Conviction does not mean refusing the advice of others, but it does mean that you do not take it blindly and let others lead you into doing things you believe are wrong.

– Conviction does not mean being always right.  But it does mean that you are not afraid of being wrong, and willing to take responsibility for mistakes and apologizing when due.

– Conviction does not mean arrogantly shunning people who honestly come to you with advice.  It means to empathize and appreciate their candor and their sharing of their views.  It means thanking them for caring.

– Conviction does not mean convincing others of your point of view.  Conviction is knowing that you do not have to convince anyone of anything.  People make their own choices.  Your job is to help them see things from different perspectives.

Without conviction a manager is whimsical; following what others say not because he believes what they are saying is right, but because he is afraid of being wrong, and prefers to blame others for the mistakes he makes.  A manager with conviction will move on a decision and take responsibility for it.

Project Managers especially need to have conviction, as projects are always unique and require taking some un-chartered paths surrounded with uncertainties.

Managers with conviction are assets to their companies.  They have style, panache, and the determination to see their visions through.

Conviction in dictionary is defined as “A firmly held belief or opinion.”  However, in business life there is no such short definition that does the word its justice.  The best way to describe it is by how it is manifested in the business world.  For example: when others come to you explaining why the path you are taking does not work.  They tell you many reasons why it will fail.  Then, they advise you on what is the right thing to do.  You listen carefully, take note, thank them for their input.  Then, you sit down revisit the options, check your emotions, what they are telling you.  Then you check your ego to see where it is leaning and why.  Then you check how much of your decision is logic, how much emotions, how much ego, and how much fear.  Then, based on all the information available but independently from any of it, you make your choice.   That is conviction.

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Conviction what it IS ..and IS NOT

Posted by Ammar Mango on February 21, 2013

A manager must have conviction in his mission, objectives, values, and ways.

– Conviction is not about being rigid, or stubborn.  On the contrary.  Conviction means the belief in your God-given ability to analyze a situation and choose what you believe to be your best alternative.

– Conviction does not mean that you cannot be wrong.  But it means that you accept the probability of being wrong and having the guts and faith to move on and accept that possibility.

– Conviction does not mean that you do not change your mind.  It means that you have the guts to do so when you believe it is warranted.

– Conviction does not mean refusing the advice of others, but it does mean that you do not take it blindly and let others lead you into doing things you believe are wrong.

– Conviction does not mean being always right.  But it does mean that you are not afraid of being wrong, and willing to take responsibility for mistakes and apologizing when due.

– Conviction does not mean arrogantly shunning people who honestly come to you with advice.  It means to empathize and appreciate their candor and their sharing of their views.  It means thanking them for caring.

– Conviction does not mean convincing others of your point of view.  Conviction is knowing that you do not have to convince anyone of anything.  People make their own choices.  Your job is to help them see things from different perspectives.

Without conviction a manager is whimsical; following what others say not because he believes what they are saying is right, but because he is afraid of being wrong, and prefers to blame others for the mistakes he makes.  A manager with conviction will move on a decision and take responsibility for it.

Project Managers especially need to have conviction, as projects are always unique and require taking some un-chartered paths surrounded with uncertainties.

Managers with conviction are assets to their companies.  They have style, panache, and the determination to see their visions through.

Conviction in dictionary is defined as “A firmly held belief or opinion.”  However, in business life there is no such short definition that does the word its justice.  The best way to describe it is by how it is manifested in the business world.  For example: when others come to you explaining why the path you are taking does not work.  They tell you many reasons why it will fail.  Then, they advise you on what is the right thing to do.  You listen carefully, take note, thank them for their input.  Then, you sit down revisit the options, check your emotions, what they are telling you.  Then you check your ego to see where it is leaning and why.  Then you check how much of your decision is logic, how much emotions, how much ego, and how much fear.  Then, based on all the information available but independently from any of it, you make your choice.   That is conviction.

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Why one should care

Posted by Ammar Mango on November 6, 2012

The stakeholders on your project can be your best allies and worst enemies.  Your actions and attitudes play a big role on which side they end up.  Some underestimate the effect of their attitude on others and assume that “as long as I act professional, how I think about others does not matter.” This cannot be farther from the truth.

Many people think they can keep their attitude towards others a secret, if they keep a facade of behaviour that conveys professionalism.  They are so wrong.  One CEO I worked with once told me “Ammar, these people must fear you in order to get anything useful out of them.” I have seen this manager in executive positions since then in three different companies.  He is well-connected.  However, everywhere he has been, he destroyed the organizational culture and soon after the company he was leading.  He plainly does not care about anyone except himself and few close family members, friends, and colleagues.  Everybody else is “small potatoes.” If you ask him what happened at each of these failures, he would blame it on the unprofessional actions of others, lack of good resources, and many other reasons, but in the opinion of most around him (even though they never dare to tell him) it is his attitude that was his biggest enemy, because he created a persona that no one can trust.

Caring about the client and other stakeholders is a prerequisite on projects.  Without it, even if success seems to be attainable, in reality, a lot is missed due to the wrong attitudes of the project manager. Some unprofessional project managers care less about their clients and their team members.  “They will never amount to anything,” he would say mocking their lack of knowledge and experience compared to his. ” They will never improve,” he would say of the client.  I know that many will make these statements sometimes out of frustration.  But others consistently make these statements in a very cool-headed fashion and all his actions always reflected that.  He would say anything to a client just to get the work accepted and get his payments.  He lies, twists the truth, and fakes his own opinions.  The client believes his ruse for a little while.  Eventually, it becomes evident to the client that this project manager does not care, and his lack of caring leads to him delivering substandard work.   Then all goes south.  When caught finally, the project manager leaves and goes on to another organization and another project.  He will probably do the same again and then again.

I believe that caring for others, the society, humanity, and all life is a prerequisite for building a healthy professional character.  It does not only make one give more and better, but it also creates fulfillment, feelings of love and caring in the person himself.  These feelings are key ingredients to a happy and content life.  I believe your circle of value creation expands with your level of caring.  Even good wishes and intent from a person with limited resources are more useful and value adding to the world than the work of many capable and talented people who lack such passion.

How does one create this care for others within him or her? I think a good first step is observation.  Trying to think of the world beyond our selfish short sighted material needs and wants.  Putting the ego aside for a while and contemplating God’s amazing creation helps.  Even at work, try to learn about the people around you.  Have empathy to their needs and wants.  Ask them questions about what matters to them.  Their goals, challenges, ambitions.  Take actions that reflect caring for others.  Give without expecting any return.  Smile.  Say something positive.  There is a lot out there that one can do.  As one friend once put it “use all your creativity to come up with ways to serve others selflessly.” It is one of the most rewarding things one can do.

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Prayer, Meditation, and Boxing Skills for Project Managers

Posted by Ammar Mango on November 1, 2012

The Project Management field is a very demanding and challenging profession.  This is why Project Managers, PMO’s, Project Coordinators, Team Leaders, Program Managers and all in the project management field are keen to build their knowledge and expertise in Project Management to stay ahead and able to deal with the challenges and stresses of the profession.  The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) talks about knowledge, skills, and personal characteristics as key to a successful career in project management.  It clearly states that the project management knowledge is not enough to succeed, but the ability to deal with people and what many call soft skills is key to be a good Project Manager.  However, the PMBOK and many in the profession miss three important skills for the project management role, which are physical, mental, and spiritual fitness.

Starting with physical fitness, it is very easy for project management professionals to get absorbed into work and forget about building an exercise routine.  Their schedules are usually sporadic.  One day they have time in the morning, the other in the afternoon, and every so often they do not have time at all.

To be “fit” as a project manager, one has to try best to take care of his or her health.  Playing sports is not a guarantee of good health, but it is an action that one can take in the right direction.  All sports are good, and can accomodate the busy schedule of a project manager.  It is just that a project manager needs to be smart in managing his or her schedule to include sports activities, not when time permits, but even though time does not permit.  I think if we consider sports a must to improve our careers, then we might have a different attitude towards what priority we give sports activities.  After all, when you need to take care of your health, other activities need to take second priority.  Not because they are not important, but because health is a prerequisite to being able to do a better job at whatever you are doing.

I recommend Boxing, even though I believe all physical activity is good.  Why I think boxing is fit for a project manager? A project manager has to have the drive, courage, and ability to deal with tough situations.  Standing infront of an opponent whose fists are up ready to plunge into your face or body resembles many of the real life situations a project manager faces.  Also boxing requires release of sudden and big bursts of energy which makes one feel better after a frustrating day at work.  Finally boxing requires complete focus and attention.  You cannot be boxing and have straying thoughts into something else.   You have to be present, otherwise you get punched.  Very similar to what project managers face at work.  They need full attention and focus to succeed.

Another part of being fit is the mental fitness.  A project manager needs to stay poised.  Need I tell you how difficult that is?  To me it is a very difficult thing to achieve.  Staying poised.  This requires staying focused and centered.  Instead of being pulled into feelings of anger, fear, disgust, etc.  Yoga, tai chi, and breathing can help a project manager in this area, even though it requires time and patience for mastery.  The good news is that one feels more calm and relaxed just by practicing even if one is not a master yet in these areas.

Finally on the spiritual side, Project Managers can be trapped into a controlling attitude.  We learn about managing risk, controlling the project, etc.  We forget that all are untrue contradictions.  “Management” requires control.  We all know that you cannot be certain about anything, so how can you control it?  So what we do is try to control, but we can never really control.  If we forget this fact and we sometimes do, we become control freaks and get angry when things do not go our way.  Prayer is a great remedy for this.  In addition to all its other benefits, it reminds you that you need to have faith that even though we are not in control, we believe a more powerful one is, and we surrender to his guidance, wisdom, and guidance.

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When their is trust…

Posted by Ammar Mango on September 18, 2012

Trust is a two-way street.  People do not need to prove trustworthy to be trusted.  It is vice versa.  Trust is given, then withdrawn if one proves not worthy of it.  This does not mean you give all trust all at once to someone.  It is given gradually, but the assumption is always that someone is worthy of trust until proven otherwise.  Let me explain:

When you have a new employee working for you.  He asks you to give him a chance to show you how he can do something in a better way.  Depending on how much you “trust” his abilities, you might or might not allow him to do it.

Let us consider Scenario A, if the manager gives the employee a chance to do the work and s/he succeeds, trust rises.  If the opposite, the manager might have less trust in the ability of the employee. So, trust is built over time and must be assumed first.  In the same example, there is a Scenario B: if the manager feels that the employee needs to prove he is trustworthy first before giving trust, then the manager might lose a chance to get value out of the employee by denying the employee that trust.

The difference between the two scenarios, even if subtle on the surface, is a major difference.  In scenario A you are open to benefit from the trust.  In scenario B, you are closed to trust, and will only benefit from it from the few that proved to you already that they are trustworthy.  Think about it: the people who you know for a fact are trustworthy are very few.  However, the whole population out there is available for you to trust by default and benefit from that trust.

Here is another problem with withholding trust except for a few people.  Let us face it, almost everybody are bound to disappoint you one day or the other.  Does that mean they are not trustworthy? under this test, you will end up not trusting anyone.  That is a gloomy state to be in.

Give trust, and allow people to disappoint you once in a while.  You gain much more on the long run.  Another thing I notice is that when you give people trust they rise to the occasion.  When I expect team members to perform, they are more likely to succeed, because they want to rise to my expectations.  But if I do not trust, then their feelings of responsibility and motivation and wanting to rise to your expectations are much less, as they know you do not trust them anyways.  This is why the same team members might do excellent work under one manager, while do less than mediocre under another manager.  In many cases the difference is in how much does a manager trust the abilities of the team member.

Give trust.  Build it.  Benefit from it.

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Trying to be creative – memories from my school years

Posted by Ammar Mango on September 4, 2012

Creativity captivates us as human beings.  We are fascinated by creativity: “How did they come up with that idea?” one always wonders.  So, where does creativity come from? Can one learn to be creative, or is it part of one’s nature, so one is either creative by nature, or not?  Or is it an unmeasurable equation of variables that come together to make a lucky person creative?  Is creativity a function of the brain? and how can one become more creative, if such a feat is even possible.

I remember early in my career how hard I used to try to be creative.  It never worked.  It seemed the harder I try, the less genuine my attempts are.   So, I almost gave up on me ever being creative.  Of course, everytime I am requested to find creative ways to deal with a problem, and the more pressured I am to do so, the less creative my solutions were.

Going back further to my graduate studies, I worked so hard to come up with a creative solution to a case study our professor gave us as homework.  I went to the library (there was no Google :)), I read many references, I reviewed the text books, I used decision making tools, I even used probability and risk analysis.  The more I researched, the more constrained my thinking was.  After a week of trying so hard, I decided I had enough.  I put aside everything I read and decided to just write down my solution as clearly and straightforward as I can.  Leave out the rhetoric, the appeasing my professor way of thinking, being political, worrying about the grades.  All of that, I gave up out of desperation.  Then, a strange thing happened: My mind felt so clear.  I wanted to write.  I just wrote what came to my mind, in a page or so, and submitted my solution the next morning.

To my amazement, I did not only get an A+, but I got a pat on the back from the Teaching Assistant who graded my work.  “Ammar.  I love how genuinely you dealt with this case study.  I was amazed at your recommendations on dealing with the business case.”  The funny thing is that it took me little time to write my answers than any of my previous homeworks, which to my dismay I always scored C, which is extremely low in graduate studies.  Next assignment, I was so tense trying to save my reputation and meet my professor’s high expectations of me.  I got a C again.  That puzzled me and I never understood why this happened to me.

Trying to be creative will wipe away any creativity you have.  Stop trying to be, and just be.  Clear the mind, forget pressures, judgments, and worries paused by others or by self, and just be.  I think nothing gets the creativtiy juices flowing like being authentic, genuine, and being yourself.

All of us are creative and all of us can tap into that inspiration that goes beyond brain operations and calculations, and be creative.

 

Posted in Understanding SELF | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Where did the time go? deducting human interaction from the day

Posted by Ammar Mango on August 23, 2012

I went into office yesterday with one main goal to achieve and it was not achieved.  Today, it seems I am heading in that direction.  Where did the time go? I was busy.  A recap of my day showed it was full of human interactions.  “Maybe I should lock my door so I get something done,” was the first thing that came to mind. It is very tempting to do that and I wonder how much of a challenge this is to managers.  Another angle to this is to reevaluate what we perceive as important.

Some might argue that the most value a leader offers an organization is primarily through human interaction, not from ideas the manager comes up with while hiding behind locked doors.  Neither should the manager be “doing” things himself.  Once he does, it is not “managing” anymore.  It is “doing.” The time a leader spends building awareness of her team, customers, competitors, opportunities, and even self is more valuable than time spent trying to do work of others.

Personally, I tend to underestimate the amount of time human interaction should and does take from a manager’s time.  Based on the above argument, the manager’s most important job is to interact with people, listen to them, coach them, learn from them, and find creative solutions from the team process.

In real life though, while some might agree with the argument on paper, they will fight it in real life, as managers and managers of managers.  Managers themselves have the insecurity of being deemed no-value-add if they do not “do” something themselves, or if they delegate too much of their work to their subordinates, or if they teach their “secrets of the trade” to the team members.  Managers of managers also usually have a problem with the manager not doing.  Their is no immediate, direct, and apparent value from the manager managing.  “I wonder if I can do without this guy,” is a thought a manager of managers probably thinks.  “Afterall, everything seems to be going smoothly,” she would think to self if things are going smoothly.  If things are not then “maybe it is not because this manager is not -doing- anything.”

I am interested in hearing from you on this.  What do you think?

Posted in The PMO, Understanding SELF | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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