Posts in ‘Project and Program Management’

Ever been tortured by an expert or SME (subject matter expert) who has the ability to help the project? They can create nightmarish situations for the PM by becoming the tail that wags the project dog. It is especially true when senior management needs to bail itself out of a situation and sees the expert as a White Knight.

How can this happen? How can someone who has so much to offer become a black hole whose gravitational force distorts the project in a way that pulls it outside realistic parameters? I’ve seen this with newly minted PMPs© who want to defend the honor of PMI® and what the profession stands for. In general, fighting for one’s standards is perfectly fine; in fact I enjoy working with such individuals as long as they are reasonable. The extreme situation brings to mind a PMP who said he would have to turn his PMP credentials back in if he were forced to follow the project plan. The code of ethics demanded it!

Again, I want to repeat. People who are committed to their professional standards and take action accordingly are the ones worth working with. They are to be prized. Think of your own surgery.

But what about those who are over-the-top (which can apply to engineers, programmers, craftsmen, etc., in addition to project managers)? Just what is “over-the-top,” anyway? Psychiatry can help. There is a term, “inflation,” which can be associated with psychosis. Psychosis occurs when there is a split with the outside world. The psychotic is consumed by a universe within himself or herself – a dream world, so to speak. (By the way, I am not a psychiatrist, so if some toes have been stepped on I beg forgiveness and welcome feedback.)

Now, this isn’t all bad. It is what shamans do in a very disciplined way. They split from conventional wisdom to seek alternative and deeper meanings. It is like thinking outside the box only more extreme. Once the shaman gains his/her internal insight and truth they bring it to community and share it with others.

That thinking outside the box sounds pretty good. Could probably use it on a lot of projects.  So, how do things get derailed? Let’s get back to that term, “inflation.”

Inflation involves confusion:

“It is when a person confuses themselves with being the truth rather than a reflection of it.”

You know the type I am referring to. Even when within ethical boundaries there is no negotiation, no shades of gray, and no compromise. This is when they become a danger to the project. Essentially, everyone else is a lesser being. They only work independently for to work interdependently would sully THE TRUTH. People, including the PM, are to report to them. If this doesn’t occur the inflated individual truly believes the earth will start wobbling on its axis and spin into the sun. They can become the PM’s worst nightmare.

So, what to do? The options include:

  • Work with them as they are and accept the drop in performance because others have to suffer this individual who is insensitive to their part of the project;
  • Get someone else to take the White Knights place. Group wisdom is superior to individual genius. With everyone pulling together they just might craft a realistic solution;
  • Delay the project or that phase until a more realistic person can be found.
  • (This is the tough one) take the White Knight to task and hold them responsible for integrating others work. Keep them in the pressure cooker until change occurs.
  • Hold your ground and let the White Knight quit. Graveyards are full of indispensible people.

I’ve had a client go through the last option. Senior management was Chicken Little running around thinking the sky would fall and wore themselves out trying to placate the White Knight. He’s gone. Work is better. Several humble, good engineers stepped up and shouldered the responsibility. The work improved.

Interestingly, (this is where yours truly comes in to play) senior management was “hooked” on the White Knight. They had to go through withdrawal, withdrawal associated with thinking the White Knight could do magic. They had to be nursed through the process of being realistic and seeing that projects take what they take in order to get accomplished. Last check, things are going well.

Is the lifeblood of your project sucked dry by project vampires? You know the type, e.g., belligerent bosses, unreasonable customers, passive-aggressive subject matter experts (SMEs). This is a challenge that a good leader must learn how to handle if any success is to be gained.  There are three solutions for dealing with them. Before getting to those, though, a little background will help. It boils down to one word, “Powerlessness.” You might be wondering, “How does that relate to leadership?” The answer is simple and is based on another word, “Humility.”

Humility is simply knowing where the boundaries are. In this case it means knowing what one can (power) and cannot (powerlessness) do. It is essential in avoiding over-reaching as well as making sure one is reaching as far as possible.

One of the single biggest mistakes Project Managers can make is lacking awareness of where that boundary lies. There is a wimpiness associated with not reaching as far as possible and hubris with reaching too far. The process of seeking that boundary and skirting it can be a source of torture for a Project Manager. So what to do?

Frankly, this is where I meditate. Taking time each day to sit with the torture created by not knowing where the boundary lies. When ego dissolves the line appears. On or around that line the three options sit:

  1. Power-based behavior. Look to see which resources have yet to be explored that will stop the vampire, e.g., disciplinary activities for SMEs under-performing, gaining support from powerful stakeholders who can help reel in the unreasonable customer;
  2. Powerless-based behaviors (1). Here is were I made up a term call, “The vampiric calculation.” It’s quite simple. The rate at which new energy is created is compared to the rate at which it is being sucked out of the team and myself. I consciously bring this up with the team and we look to see how much we can accomplish skirting the line between power and powerlessness;
  3. Powerless-based behaviors (2). This is the really tough one. It’s when exhaustion sets in after manically trying to please the vampire. Working with the team and after all efforts to turn things around have been made we calculate how, exactly we will abandon ship so to speak to keep our sanity. This doesn’t mean responsibilities are abandoned. Rather, it means we pull together to keep each other’s spirits up as the torture from the vampire continues.  Gallows humor is one of the most common forms of pulling together. Being careful is critical. The humor can morph into cynicism very quickly, which increases the rate at which energy is drained.

A better way is finding activities to stay intact. Personally, meditation, exercise, cooking for friends and family along with an occasional Lagavulin scotch and a good cigar help me quite a bit. You probably have your own list. Put it to use. It helps stay in touch with the real powers and supports a realistic attitude displayed by a student I once had. His boss was calling him in for the umpteenth time to chew him out. The student accepted his boss could do this but also skirted the boundary mentioned. He did this by saying, “Could you speed this up. I have to get back to the team, there’s work to do.”

By taking care of oneself and being free of preoccupation something close to a miracle just might occur. A path may start showing that relates to item “1.” mentioned above.  I want to avoid being Pollyannaish.  That path may or may not be there. The only way to see it, though, is to decide what you’ll do in the presence of  a vampire rather than passively let things happen.

Ever feel lied to? Is it hard to put your finger on what, exactly, is wrong with what is being said or done? It can feel like you are trapped inside an Escher drawing. What to do?

My suggestion is, “Go with it!” If that is what is happening, then call it what it is. Let the team members and stakeholders know (in a calm voice, of course) that their closed arguments just don’t add up. And just how is this done without sounding like a loon yourself? Once again, it is one of those “reads easy, does hard” situations.

Let go of focusing on the outside world. Go within…and drag all that insanity with you. Let people talk. Listen. Absorb without judgment. The tools needed to spot inconsistency are already in your toolbox. Stop thinking and, as Obi Wan told Luke, “use the force.” This force is there all the time. It is called integrity.

I’ve had more than one CEO (but not many), as well as other stakeholders and team members, lie to me on a consistent basis. If challenged, they would say they were simply testing me, wanting to see if I knew my stuff. Which is fine if it stopped there. The problem is when they saw my ignorance or naiveté as a license to stay with the distortion and go on with whatever their (hidden) agenda was.

This may sound a bit paranoid. It isn’t. We all actually do it to some extent. That “extent” is determined by how much we lust after or want to avoid something. Ever fudge 15 minutes on billable hours? For guys, what do you say in response to, “Honey, do I look fat in this dress?”

Those situations to which I am referring to here, though, are the systematic ones. The situations where there is a conscious effort to paint a complete picture that is closed in scope but relies on fabrications. When this occurs the details fail to match up. And this is where the solution lies!

Pay attention to those details without getting swamped by them. The way to do that is by watching behaviors and seeing in what direction outcomes go based on believing what is told. See where that trail of bread crumbs leads. When you get that picture, go back and look at the details again.

Again, trust your judgment. Once you can draw a bead on some of the inconsistencies, i.e., articulate them, keep up the process. The details, upon which you need to focus, validate, look to see if they exist, are mutually inconsistent, etc., will become apparent. It’s as if they begin to phosphoresce.

As you confront (in a respectful, business-like manner) the situation there will be a natural repeating of the illusion. You’ll be asked to stare more closely at it, as with Enron when reporters where getting close to the truth. You might even be told you just don’t get it, that you need to mature and get up to speed in order to see the truth. It can be especially tempting when the person creating the illusion has power.

The fact is, if you work to stay with the inner truth there will be a calm out of which grows the ability to sum (no matter how many thousands or millions of dollars have been spent) the situation in 3 words, “It’s an illusion.” At that point, you can do the best project management possible.

The Soul of a Project #8: The Project Shaman

by Gary Monti on March 27, 2012

Is five o’clock, Friday, the best time for your project? Ever wonder why you became a project manager? Does it all feel like it’s crashing down around you? If so, you are in good company. George Lucas had similar feelings regarding R2-D2 and other production problems when shooting the first Star Wars (now episode four: A New Hope).

When it comes to dealing with difficult situations Lucas has some very good advice, “It helps to be nuts.” There is a lot of truth in that statement. I’d like to believe, thought, there is something deeper implied in that humor. It has to do with shamans and how they helped tribal chiefs find their way in guiding the tribe. Shamans were usually a little bit nutty, almost schizophrenic, and often would live beyond the edge of the village. There was a reason for this.

The chief guided tribes on a routine basis, making sure the rules were followed and adjudicating accordingly when there were disputes. But what about when the rules didn’t work? What about when a decision was needed as to whether or not the tribe should stay where it is or move to a strange, new land?

This is where the shaman came into play. The shaman was unencumbered by the body politic of the tribe and its rules. He was free to look within and without as far as his minds eye could see. There is a trivialized phrase that apes what the shaman would do, “think outside the box.” The shaman would go further and wonder, “Why bother with the box? What about a sphere? What about nothing at all?” You get the picture.

So the question is, “Would your project benefit by you taking a shaman’s approach?” Is there a different way you could see the situation that would bring about improvement? Here’s an example. I had a client whose customer was driving him nuts. E-mail after e-mail was sent every day questioning the progress of the project. My client was going crazy and falling into an ever-increasing reactive state.

A simple question flipped the situation into a new universe, “Do you know your customer?” he proceeded to spew a great deal of what was already known, e.g., how difficult he was, how his demands were unrealistic, etc., etc. The question was then modified a bit, “Do you know your customer personally?” That brought a blank stare.

It was the pursuit of doing something about that blank stare that turned things around.  A slow but concerted effort to find out more about the customer revealed he liked custom cars and fishing – the same hobbies as my client! You can probably guess the rest from here. My client got permission to fly to his customer’s for an extended weekend. They went to a custom car show as well as fly-fishing over a 4-day period. The flurry of e-mails stopped and they got down to business and were able to focus on completion of the project.

So, is there a shaman within you? Can you color outside the lines and view the world from a different perspective? Would doing so possibly show where a door exists through which you’ll find a solution to your project’s problems? Give it a shot. Go ahead and dream!

The Soul of a Project #7: Revenue and Trust

by Gary Monti on March 20, 2012

Increasing revenue can create quite a challenge. Doing more of the same is not necessarily the formula that works. Over the years I’ve come to see there are revenue plateaus companies hit. No matter how they try they can’t break through these sales barriers. So what is going on? One element that shows up 99 times out of 100 is trust. Or, should I say lack of trust.

The typical approach prior to engaging me is trying to “put a tire pump” on what’s worked in the past – more of the same. This lead to exhausted, frustrated employees and executives who feel let down. The approach seems so simple – just do more of what we’ve always done. What could be simpler? Plenty.

During root cause analysis what typically surfaces as the culprit is lack of trust. Senior managers want more of what benefits the company but they don’t want to let go of the reins of power. You might be asking, “What does that have to do with increasing sales?” The short answer is, “The people need to be empowered.”

Correspondingly, the employees try to work the same old work patterns. They shy away from the seeking the increase in responsibility that goes with the freedom to explore and grow the company. They might get slapped down. They want assurances.

In the end it boils down to one word – trust. How does that figure in to expanding an organization? What is happening is a change is needed for the growth to occur. Some of the old rules need to be retired and new ones need to be brought in. This creates a huge amount of stress. Managers fear for their jobs (of which there are fewer and fewer as one climbs the organization) as do the team members (who might have to leave the company if failure occurs).

This fear comes about mainly because people have to go to places within themselves of which they are afraid. In interviewing them the response I get goes something like this, “The skills I have honed are working fine – thank you very much! Go get the other guy to improve his work habits and turn more power over to me. Get out of my office. I have work to do. How much are we paying you to do this?”

If this attitude fails to change the revenues will stay the same or fall back to lower levels. This falling back throws gas on the fire and the tension gets even greater. The confusion also increases because efforts to grow have only made things worse!

What to do? The answer is quite simple but very hard to do: each person has to take charge of leadership in his own life and have the courage to negotiate new connections with those around him. There is a lot of inward activity. The key to success is going deep within and bringing to the forefront aspects of oneself that are a challenge to deal with. When the courage to do that is present and action is taken suddenly the ability to work with others associated with changing and growing seems possible. It is quite rewarding but I have to admit, it is scary and it is hard.

Wish there were more creativity, flexibility, and discipline on your project? Take a page from modern art and improvisational jazz (improv). Improvisational jazz may sound undisciplined. Criticisms can be similar to those leveled against modern art, ” My five year-old can paint like that!”

Taking a page from modern art, Picasso was in reality thinking very deeply trying to determine, among other things, how much he could subtract from the visual image and be left with the essence of what he was seeing (“Bull”).

Similarly, improv can be very deep. One thing it tries to accomplish is playing with the rules to see where things go. (The soloist in a band could switch from Inuit pentatonic scale to Egyptian heptatonic to see if the other players can keep up.) Well, if one is going to play with the rules they’d better have a good idea what they are! Discipline is important.

By manipulating the rules a whole new frame of mind can be created, one that takes people to new places.  Think of Dali’s “Persistence of Memory” with the melting watches.

So what would happen if we combined the two frames of mind? How could this be applied to projects? When stymied the team might breakout from being stuck and frustrated. What would happen if they stripped the project to its essence?

What does the customer need vs. want? How do the components relate? What are the rules? Can we play with them and create a project model that simultaneously covers the breadth of customer needs while integrating the components in a meaningful way?

Think of the creation of the iPad (upon which this blog is being created at 22,000 feet). Remember the early comments that there was no market for it? It is just another gadget with no serious application. It’s too small to be a computer and too large to be a phone.

Working this way is risky. But what if the team broke out to design and implement what would definitely meet the customer’s needs and maybe even more? Could they have a sense of pride, of accomplishment, of being leaders in their specialty? Think about it.

The Soul of a Project #5: Are You a Project Luddite?

by Gary Monti on February 26, 2012

Jack Black in “School of Rock” presented a rather sophomoric but passionate statement regarding, “Sticking it to the Man.” His character, Dewey Finn, decries the loss of soul and individual creativity induced by a regimented atmosphere designed to supposedly create opportunities for getting ahead. Well, he’s not really that angelic since it is a cover for his self-promoting, irresponsible ways…initially.  Finn does eventually get swept up in the idea and experiences self-discovery and a personal transformation which benefits the school community.

How this rings true in projects plays out in answering question, “Does the individual get driven over in the name of success?”

Magical Thinking

In over 25 years of teaching project management there is fairy tale attitude that surfaces on an almost constant basis, magical thinking. It typically comes from the business unit and goes something like this, “Since we’ve spent all this money on project management training we can promise the customer whatever it takes to close the deal and the PMs will have to make it work. We don’t have to be disciplined. We just have to paint the big picture and then pressure the PMs to ‘make it so.’ “ There’s a harsher word for this magical thinking, it’s called “abuse.”

Project Luddites

Recoil to this attitude was violently expressed two hundred years again in England by the Luddites. The Luddite movement is mistakenly viewed as being anti-technology. That couldn’t be farther from the truth! A lot of the Luddites were quite sophisticated technologically. What they were against was the dumbing-down of jobs and the trivialization of the employee through the division of labor and the physically- and mentally numbing consequences of pushing for production while simultaneously removing any signs of unique, individual performance.

Project Success

Being a project Luddite makes you invaluable. If you become one, team members and stakeholders will find you invaluable. As stated in previous blogs, you will be giving them one of life’s most precious gifts. You will see them! Yes, there are curmudgeons and people suffering from antisocial personality disorder. But, yes, they tend to be few and far between with most people wanting to have a sense of place and being recognized.

What usually differs is the style in which people prefer being seen. Some just want an environment where they can express themselves quietly through the creative process of their work. Public displays of appreciation make them very uncomfortable even angry. Others want to have more of an employee-of-the-month-parking-spot approach where having their recognition be public is important.

Said another way, find a person’s sense of flow and lean into it. Imagine what it would be like if the project stopped being work and became a way to connect with oneself and those associated with the project. Think of how far you could go with an entire team of people feeling that way. So, stop reading, be a Luddite, and go connect!

The Soul of a Project #3: Truth vs. Propaganda

by Gary Monti on February 8, 2012

“Truth is the first casualty of war,” is attributed to Senator Hiram Johnson, R-California, 1918. This can occur on projects as well.  What can really muddy the waters is the confusion between facts and truth. Think of all the political hacks on cable news shows.

Facts vs. Truth

Facts stand alone. If it is 75° F outside that reality is what it is. It is free of dependence on anyone’s frame-of-mind.

Truth on the other hand is different because it is, to some extent, dependent upon one’s frame of mind. In fact, the definitions for “truth” range from “consistency with facts,” to “being true to a set of beliefs.” That latter definition is what muddies the waters. In other words, it gets personal.

Frankly, I’ll support someone who conforms to the facts and has a personal belief system that is disciplined, humble, and compassionate. When that person speaks from the gut I resonate like a tuning fork. I might lead, I might follow. Frankly I don’t care because that person seems trustworthy so I’ll risk they’ll negotiate in good faith.

On the flip side, when propaganda is being used, “run!” is the word that comes to mind. That person’s truth is scary! This is especially true when beliefs I hold to be true are being hijacked and parroted to promote the other person’s agenda potentially at the expense of others, the team, and myself. I can get so caught up in hearing what I want to hear that the ability to see the propagandist is lost.

Truth vs. Propaganda

What makes propaganda so dangerous is its seductiveness. It goes something like this. If we just go along with a bending of the truth we can get something in return. Usually it is relief from a fear or getting something we’ve been after, some possession, recognition, money, sex, the list goes on-and-on. “Tow the company line” sums the situation well. Here’s an example.

Employees can invest highly in consultants brought in to bring about change. The employee believes something like this, “After they listen to me they’ll just HAVE get management to shape up and then my life will be okay.” Those employees will champion the consultant.

This is a form of self-propaganda. How do I know that? By watching employees being left flat when I tell them that for the change to take place they will have to individually, one-by-one, commit to the needed change. The propaganda was this, I would be both the shield and sword that will take on senior managers and get them to follow sound project management principles. Believing this to be true, the employee feels safe.

Now there is truth in this.  Consultants have an obligation to challenge variances from the principles appropriate for a situation regardless of the employee’s position – from Board member to janitor. However, this simply sets the stage by spooling up one frame-of-mind through the organization that fits the project’s needs. There is a second part to this, though. During the one-on-one’s each person must hold their ground in sticking with the planned improvements. THIS can be a very challenging task when the resistant person in the conversation is higher up in the food chain.

Propaganda can set in and emotionally dishonest arguments and judgments surface. Sticking with the example, the employee says, “The truth is, the consultant has failed.”  The unconscious reality (self-serving agenda) is the employee might be afraid for their job and doesn’t want to risk taking a leadership position in the conversation by disagreeing legitimately. Granted, this fear can be very real. However, the bending to the propaganda, whether one’s own or someone else’s, can leave lasting damage.

Socrates said it well. As he was quoted in Plato’s Phaedo:

“False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.”

Unfortunately, in the end Socrates was asked to drink the hemlock since he wouldn’t drink the Kool-Aid. It can be hard leading a project. Tread carefully.

The Soul of a Project #2: Speak from the Gut!

by Gary Monti on January 31, 2012

Good communicators survive fact-checks. Good communication, though, is more than listing facts. That was one of the bullet points from last week’s blog. Let’s peel back that opening sentence and see what lies underneath. It is critical for getting to the soul of the project.

There are three components associated with making a connection and communicating spontaneously:

  • Body language
  • Tone of voice
  • Verbal content

Believability has to do with listeners feeling all three components are interconnected and mutually supporting. It’s what is called speaking with integrity. Now, this isn’t moral integrity since a person committed to dark side behavior can show integrity. There is another component needed…being principle-based. We’ll save that for a later blog.

Getting back to the three components the question surfaces, “What does this have to do with the soul of a project?” The answer is, “Quite a bit!” It goes beyond knowing what to do. That portion, knowing, is wrapped up in the verbal content. To convey the project spirit and light a fire under people there is more that is needed. It is conviction. Conviction shows in the tone of voice and the body language. Combining these with verbal content we end up doing something referred to in everyday language as walking the walk.

It’s this walking the walk that comes across as speaking from the gut. The sponsor, PM, team lead, subject matter expert, functional support personnel, etc., all can take a leadership position by speaking from the gut.

The example that comes to mind is the commitment to the Apollo program. I’ve met more than one engineer who was fortunate enough to work on that program. They all say the same thing. The work had purpose. They felt significant.

There were conflicts to resolve and problems to solve. The point, though, is everyone had the same resolve, i.e., they wanted to support being part of getting the first man on the moon. Each, in their own way, spoke from the gut.

They dipped into the pool of uncertainty and pushed the limit of what they knew working to create something even better. They had passion. This passion is different than a blind fanaticism. It is more about being grounded in the present day project realities, determining the goals, assessing the gap, and working to achieve success.

When speaking from the gut a leader conveys this and both supports and inspires those around him to strive for the best. Emotions are allowed to flow. This is important. Why? Emotions show where we are with the situation, e.g., confident, afraid, bored, etc. When speaking from the gut the leader lets others see what is going on inside himself. He becomes the living embodiment of the project. His emotional state is a reflection of the project’s status. This is what brings about the connection. Others equally committed resonate with the leader.

Does this mean a leader is dramatic? Not necessarily. We each have our own styles. When speaking with integrity one is true to his style. That honesty encourages others to do the same rather than simply mimicking and being a ”yes” person. They end up working as a team.

A faith sets in that the project CAN be achieved.

Life is breathed into all the documentation. At that point, the project comes to life.

Resilience Engineering #30: Balance and Perspective

by Gary Monti on January 18, 2012

Maintaining balance and perspective is key to leading complex, constrained projects. In the last blog regarding keeping one’s wits, the need for discipline was the first step mentioned. Below is a simple method I’ve used to help establish discipline and maintain balance and perspective.

Risk Analysis: A Traditional Approach

Normally risk is viewed negatively, i.e., problems in the present and threats out in the future. A common communication and discussion tool is the chart below.

Probabilities range from low, medium, and high, as do impacts. This is a good chart. The question is, though, “What would it take to make it better?” That gets to the issue of balance and perspective. It is out of balance because only one aspect of risk is being addressed, the downside. Risk management also has an upside with windfalls being events in the present that are adding constructively to the project and opportunities being future constructive events.

People are very visual. When they only see the downside and then talk to the positive balance can be missing. In other words, this chart will work better if it were expanded to include the good along with the bad and ugly (forgiveness, please, Mr. Eastwood).

Risk Analysis: A More Comprehensive View

In the chart below a better approach is shown.

Let’s look at how this works. (Before getting started I want to point out the vertical axis for negative events is flipped from the previous chart, i.e., really bad events are at the bottom rather than the top.) “Insufficient resources” is the negative event we will focus on. The flow of the conversation in dealing with this goes like this:

  1. “Insufficient resources” is a definite threat to the project with both a high probability and high impact;
  2. “Add resources” is an opportunity that will neutralize the threat and it, too, has a high probability and high impact;
  3. “Integrate additional resources” is a threat projected by the opportunity “add resources.”

Look at what this approach does:

  1. It provides balance by presenting potential opportunity AND the ripple effect in terms of a threat that this opportunity poses. The team gets a chance to have a more integrated conversation – one that leads to more cohesive actions and interactions;
  2. Perspective has been added. The visual is more balanced. We’ve built something that reflects that. Again, people are visual and pay attention to what structures they can feel, touch, and deal with, and;
  3. This is a more disciplined approach. (Remember the previous blog about keeping one’s wits?) The entire picture is presented.

Working in this manner helps dampen the types of conversations that would end at “adding resources.” If this were to happen, after the meeting people might start talking something like this, “Well you know, someone has to take care of these resources. Where are they going to sit? Who’s going to bring them up to speed?” Talking in this manner risks poisoning the underlying conversation and undermining the credibility of the project and project manager.

With the leader bringing as much as possible out in the open for discussion the chart gets increasingly robust by avoiding being naïve and overplaying the opportunities as well as avoiding promotion of only a “downside” frame of mind. It also challenges people to participate and stop reserving comments for the gossip mill. The leader is in a better position to promote participation and a healthy sense of responsibility. Those who are realistic, positive and forward looking get a much-needed boost.