There are two types of projects in my life.
One type is the slow, massive projects that take weeks, months or longer. There are plans, goals, and a litany of other things that go into these projects.
The other is the little things that go between. This covers everything from getting groceries to doing laundry, making some appointments, calling clients, and all the other stuff.
So it’s a fairly easy concept – big stuff and little stuff. The funny part is how the little stuff can dominate the big stuff so the big stuff doesn’t get done. Or maybe a step of the big stuff doesn’t get done all the way so I need to go back and work on it when I’ve already started the next step. You get what I mean. Next thing you have is five steps going concurrently plus a few small projects then there you are, talking business in the checkout line while getting groceries. Sure the client says ‘they understand’ and it’s ‘not a problem’ but in reality, ‘they understand’ they need to find a new business consultant and it’s ‘not a problem’ to find that replacement.
To combat that, I often say, “There is only one way to spell DONE and it doesn’t have the words ‘almost’, ‘halfway’ or ‘pretty much’ in front of it.” Since I am a consultant and my time is very flexible, family problems would often get on my plate so I drill the same thing into my family members. It might seem a little overbearing, but if your problems end up in my life then I’m obliged to help out. For example, while making sure my son is all set for college and the usual appointments and purchases need to be made, we go over everything together. We check every box, cross every ‘T’ and dot every ‘i’ and push forward as a team. We have ‘business meetings’ to check progress and make sure everything is going the way we planned and establish next steps. I don’t have to pound on him. It’s more of a mutual responsibility type of thing, but WE are going to college and WE are making it happen and WE make sure everything is DONE and DONE well.
The other thing I say is, “Everything is a problem until it’s not.” I actually use that quite a bit. It’s why I check everything twice and then check again. It’s why I come up with three sets of plans for the business change you’re working on. It’s why my projects might have to pivot and adjust, but we meet the goal. It’s not that I’m paranoid; it’s just that I have seen so many improbable things go wrong and countless failures that I can’t help but be cautious and meticulous. You might think I’m slow. On the contrary, nothing impresses a client more when upon hearing disruptive business news, I would simply go through my personal notes, show a few figures and say, “Not a problem, we can work around that”. It’s not arrogance. It’s more of an understanding and acceptance of Murphy’s Law which states, “What can go wrong, will go wrong”. So I pretty much plan for everything being a problem and expect a level of resistance that most people wouldn’t think about.
In the end, when we’re at the finish line, nobody really remembers the five times I pushed to get everything done and completely accounted for, nobody remembers the three separate times we had to pivot and make changes to the plan. It doesn’t matter because, “Everything that was a problem is in the past” and “this is how you spell DONE.”