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“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” - Author Unknown
“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” - Author Unknown
February 21, 2013 7:00 AM CST

Pick just one and get it done

Full Contact Project Management


So, I have this coach in my life named Mark, and he keeps on telling me to only focus on one thing. The way Coach Mark teaches it: “Work at doing one big thing at a time.”

First I have a confession, and then an explanation.

Here’s the confession: Coach Gary has coaches in his own life, hence, Coach Mark. More than one coach, actually, and I’ll bet it’s the same for you – at least I hope it is. I have coaches for different things: some are work related, some are personal. Some are even spiritual. The point is that I have a number of people in my life who I trust to be honest with me, guide me, and in whom I have the utmost respect for their experience and integrity. And you need that, too.

Now the explanation for why it’s important to focus on just one big thing at a time. Let me give you an example from my own life. Several years ago, I was thinking about writing a book. In fact, I was thinking about several books – four different books, I think. Well, I was getting nowhere fast. I was doing stuff, researching things, talking to people, but my efforts were diluted. Ever hear the old saying that when you try to be all things to all people, you end up being nothing to anybody?

I was certain that all of my ideas had merit, but I was getting nowhere with my goal. Finally, some sense prevailed in our home, and my wife Karen said it so clearly to me: “Just pick one and get it done!” Once she said that, the fog lifted, and suddenly I could see, choosing a direction. That’s how my book, “Get Paid for a Change,” came to be.

“But Coach…but Coach…,” I know you’re saying, “…we don’t want to write a book. We just want to win at our projects. Help us with that.” Ah…Grasshopper; patience!

I know the feeling. You’re sitting here at the beginning of a new year, sure you need to do something new and different, and you’ve got an idea or two…or three…or more! Right? Raise your hand if you agree!

Look…don’t get overloaded with info. Hardly anybody in our country does NOT suffer with information overload. Dozens of well-meaning friends, teachers, family—even salespeople—all have some great, new idea and direction for you to consider. Problem is, with the lousy economy of the last few years, you really do need to consider where you are and where you need to go. And you have no shortage of choices.

You know, after a number of lousy or mediocre seasons, it’s important to turn the team around. The last thing you ever want to do is to have another bad year. So what I want to do right now is to tell you to look at your situation the way a scientist would. Scientist? Yes, because a scientist wants to find solutions, so the way to do that is to experiment—to test—and determine what the cure—the solution—the answer is.

How do you best do that? Can you test everything and then change everything, simultaneously? Of course not! The way you do this successfully is simple:

  1. Establish a baseline—where are you currently? You know your numbers.
  2. Of all the things you might consider changing, prioritize them.
  3. Implement this number one “big” idea.
  4. Evaluate: was it better or worse?
  5. Adjust accordingly.
The point here is to not change everything just for the sake of change, and just because your gut is telling you that you need to change something! Let’s do this intelligently. Play it out fully, but don’t continue with it forever just because it happened to be your own best idea. Trust me: you’ve got more good ideas than just that one.

“You learn you can do your best, even when it’s hard, even when you’re tired, and maybe hurting a little bit. It feels good to show some courage.”
- Joe Namath
Maybe your big idea is that you ought to try some public works projects. So, find some bite-sized pieces of work, go after them, and then evaluate. How did that taste? Think you need to concentrate on new residential? Then go that way. The mistake might be in trying to evaluate both of those new, big ideas, simultaneously. But you sure as heck could check them out separately sequentially, and then make a comparison.

Even a skilled captain, when trying to turn a huge ocean liner, can’t just hang a right turn! It takes some time. Your boat’s probably a lot smaller, and can turn more quickly. Just don’t try and turn left and right at the same time! You’ve got to pick one direction.

This is where good coaching comes in. I trust you’re getting some here, with ‘Full Contact Project Management’, in the pages of Masonry Magazine, and with MCAA. They’ve got whole staff of coaches over there, people who actually know what they’re doing, whose counsel you can trust, and who can help you put together an effective game plan.

Sometimes the Big Game just comes down to the one big play, where a smart coach puts it in at exactly the right time. In 2013, your success will come from hard work and skill, but also in knowing where to go for the resources you need.

About the Author

Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at


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