Project managers make mistakes and must deal with the consequences of these mistakes continually. Dr. Stephen Covey talks about mistakes and consequences and we should consider his words carefully.
As Dr. Covey states, "While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequence of those actions. Consequences are governed by natural law. They are out in the Circle of Concern” (See Dr Covey’s book ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ to learn more about the Circle of Concern and the Circle of Influence). He continues, “We can decide to step in front of a fast-moving train, be we cannot decide what will happen when the train hits us”. To take this further, Dr. Covey says, "We can decide to be dishonest in our business dealings. While the social consequences of these decisions may vary depending on whether or not we are found out, the natural consequences to our basic character are a fixed result."
Dr. Covey continues, "Our behavior is governed by principles. Living in harmony with them brings positive consequences; violating them brings negative consequences. We are free to choose our response in any situation, but in doing so we choose the attendant consequence. When we pick up one end of the stick, we pick up the other".
What does this mean? As project managers we have the capability to motivate and empower members of our team by demonstrating honest and ethical behavior. At the other end of the spectrum we can send our projects (and reputations) quickly off-track if we are dishonest or unethical. We must be willing to quickly admit our mistakes and at times suffer the consequences.
To quote Dr. Covey again, "Our response to mistakes affects the quality of our next moment. It is important to immediately admit and correct our mistakes so that they have no power over that next moment, and we are empowered again. It is not what others do or even our mistakes that hurt us the most; it is our response to those things".
We all make mistakes. We must atone for and make amends to others for those mistakes quickly. In my opinion, our unwillingness to admit our mistakes is the biggest obstacle to personal growth and strong relationships. As Dr. Convey says, "By making and keeping promises to ourselves and others, little by little, our honor becomes greater than our moods”.
Have high integrity and make and keep your promises. Your projects (and your life) will be the better for it.