Displays the areas of the brain that outline the primary systems and their coordination to Project Management
The Five Key Drivers of Decision-Making.

If you have not yet joined a monthly Saturday ATS offered by PMI-OC, you are missing out on a great opportunity for personal as well as professional growth. The ATS offered on 23 January 2021 is a perfect example of this. We are all privileged to sit in a virtual world and enjoy a highly interactive four hours of learning, laughter, and personal development under the instruction of Leisa Reid, a trainer with Productive Learning Center. Leisa has over twenty-eight years of experience to offer as a business owner, author, trainer, speaker and executive leader. She has spoken on six continents to more than 15,000 participants.

The title of Leisa’s presentation is the same as the title of this article, and the material was well-formatted to bring us all into a focused self-examination of where we are with our thinking. We were introduced to “The Mind Model,” what it is, and how we use it. In addition, the outline for the session included:

  • Understanding how to use the Mind Model as a PM;
  • Review of the tenets of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and assessment your own EQ as a PM;
  • Learning the 3 Keys to Transformation in relationship to your role as a PM;
  • How to achieve your PM goals using your creative mind.

One of the things I most appreciated about Leisa and her approach is that she does not pretend to have all the answers. Much of what we learned was through self-examination and introspection: what makes us tick and how are we motivated? The session embodied two fundamental principles of Productive Learning Center

  • The belief that everyone has their own answer, no one knows what is best for you other than you.
  • Creation of your environments that reflect your thinking back to you, leaving you more empowered, awake, alive, and resourceful.

Leisa’s refreshing approach helped me feel I was not being “preached to” about what was wrong with me; instead, she invited me to look inside myself and examine where i am and what I can do to improve myself.

The Mind Model is comparable to an iceberg. You only see about 10% of an iceberg above the level of the water. Ninety percent is hidden from view under the water, and that’s what makes it so very dangerous. Leisa illustrated the Mind Model with the diagram shown below.

The Mind Model is comparable to an iceberg. You only see about 10% of an iceberg above the level of the water. Ninety percent is hidden from view under the water, and that's what makes it so very dangerous.
Mind Model comparison to an Iceberg

The Mind Model is made up of:

  • “T” Thoughts: Electrical impulses that run through our minds. What we do with our thoughts and how we process them determines the outcome.
  • “F” Feelings: Emotions (anger, sadness, joy, and pain) physical and mental.
  • “A” Actions: What fuels my actions are my feelings. The more aware of my feelings I am the more I understand my actions. Sometimes I know exactly what to do is to obtain your goals, but you don’t want to do it.
  • “R” Reactions: My actions create a reaction in the world, or we react to external forces. People do things to us and we react
  • “R” Results: The results in our life are an accumulation of our thoughts feelings, actions, and reactions

This model is a constantly revolving cycle in our lives. For example, our “Thoughts” while they may seem obvious to us, run deep under the surface of our minds. We will reveal only the tip of the iceberg or our thoughts, but our thoughts run very deep and are mostly internalized and never revealed. The same could be said for the rest of the pattern with our “Feelings, Actions, Reactions, and Results.” We can use this as a tool to figure out what has happened in the past to make it better for the future.

After explaining the Mind Model, Leisa led us in an exercise to refresh ourselves on the five categories of Emotional and Intelligence (EQ). Our EQ can help to reveal how much of the iceberg of the Mind Model is exposed and how much is hidden.  Most all of us have gone through some level of training on Emotional Intelligence, but by way of review, the five categories of EQ are:

  1. Self-Awareness: A level of comfort with your own thoughts and emotions and understanding of how they impact others.
  2. Self-Regulation: The ability to control and manage your impulses and emotions. Acting rashly or without caution can lead to mistakes being made and can often damage relationships with clients or colleagues.
  3. Motivation: A passion for what you do. This leads to sustained motivation, clear decision-making, and a better understating of the organization’s aims.
  4. Empathy: The ability to understand and react to the emotions of others. Identifying a certain mood or emotion from a colleague or client and reacting to it can go a long way in developing your relations.
  5. Social Skills: “Friendliness with a purpose” …meaning everyone is treated politely and with respect; yet, healthy relations are then also used for personal and organizational benefit.

Personally, I was most impacted by my introspection on the categories of “Self-Regulation” and “Empathy.”

The discussion led us to use these tenets of EQ to move into a further personal use of “3 Keys to Transformation” in relationship to your role as a PM. As we review these, you will see the value as they once again turn us to self-examination and introspection instead of being judged by or judging others. The better I understand my EQ the more effective the Keys of Transformation can function in me.

3 Keys to Transformation:

  1. Understanding One’s Self: Understand how your experiences from your life have shaped the way you think and feel about yourself, others, and life in general.
  2. Developing Awareness: The ability to identify what is currently going on that can pull you away from your ideal (habits, obstacles, or distractions).
  3. Having a Compelling Vision: A consciously defined future state of being (inspiring and fueled with emotion).

These 3 keys are designed to build one upon the other. The first key is to understand myself and how my life experiences have brought me to where I am in how I feel about myself, others, and life in general. This then helps me have a better awareness of what is going on in and around me. By understanding that I am a creature of habit and the obstacles and distractions those habits create, I am then able to raise my vision from what is going on currently in my life to create a vision for the future. For me, I find when I get a vision of the future and set my sights on those goals, I am inspired and fueled in my emotions.

All of this is very important in our lives as Project Managers. We all need to know how to achieve the goals of our project using our creative minds. Leisa encouraged us to close our eyes and “think of a problem in your life you would like resolved.” Without a doubt, even as you read this, your mind immediately went to the “elephant in the room” in a project you are currently dealing with. This is what is referred to as “Today’s Focus.”

The next step in this process is “Your Past Thinking and Actions.” What have you done so farto solve this problem (but hasn’t worked)? This is where a lot of frustration comes in as we reflect on all the time and effort we have put into a problem, without having a successful outcome.

I really like where the discussion takes us next. Who is your favorite Superhero? We all have someone who is or has been a superhero in our lives. This superhero, real or imagined, is someone who steps in and, no matter how bad things are, “fixes it.” “Imagine how your favorite superhero would solve this problem,” Leisa urged. The next step is simple but so profound: “Solve this issue AS IF you were the person you admire.” My own personal superhero is my dad. I find myself in the position many times thinking about life and how my dad approached life and its challenges. I then find myself interjecting those thoughts into the problem I am facing and thinking about how dad would “fix” this.

The final step to this process is to examine the differences between how I imagined my superhero would solve my problem and how my superhero self actually did solve my problem. None of us are alike and we are never going to “solve” life exactly as a superhero or role model in our life would. However, there is value in exploring the questions:

  1. How did YOU solve the problem?
  2. How did your SUPERHERO SELF solve the problem?
  3. How did your PERSONAL HERO SELF solve the problem?

What are the differences? Once again, more introspection and self-examination, but no judgment.

While none of us will ever “solve” issues like our Superhero or Superhero Self, we can use this as a tool to think of the alternatives that are offered and make a decision based on what we know to be true and possible in our situation.

In conclusion, Leisa was kind enough to share with us a link for some free information from Productive Learning to get us motivated and moving on the road to using Productive Thinking and Learning and making it a regular process in practicing Project Management. You can gain immediate access to this free information by visiting: https://www.ProductiveLearning.com/Gift. You will discover the following tools to help form a better you and discover new and better ways to overcome my thinking as it is now and ways to expand my thinking to make us better Project Managers.

The 5 Steps to Create New Thinking for New Actions are:

  1. Discovering your awareness gap
  2. Create a compelling new vision
  3. The power of our mind in action
  4. How your thoughts become beliefs
  5. Recognizing results as information

This was a personally fulfilling use of time and I would encourage you to visit the Productive Learning site and take advantage of the tools offered. Leisa was an exciting and interesting speaker that engaged our attention and our thinking.

Again, if you are not a part of the monthly PMI-OC ATS experience, join us. If you are not yet a part of the invitation that goes out monthly, reach out to Judith Berman Director, Advanced Topics Seminars for PMI-OC at dir.ats@pmi.org.

Photo of Dennis Burns MBA, PMP
Contributed By: Dennis Burns

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