Humans of Kentech: The theatre of managing projects

Those that know me would probably describe me as quite a spiritual person. Maybe even a bit of a hippy. I’ve always known that I thrive in environments where I get to help others, but I’ve only recently realized that the best way I can help others is by also taking the time to fill my own cup. Meditation, yoga, dancing – making time for myself every day has changed my life; my cup is fuller.

I’ve also learnt that in order to cultivate my own growth, in both my personal and professional life, I need to push my boundaries and step out of my comfort zone. To me, it’s the only way to truly grow and, although often scary, new experiences are always something I’m up for.

I love being involved in amateur dramatics and I’ve managed a lot of community theatre projects. I’ve put up quite a few stage productions for audiences close to 200 a night over a weekend or two. Preparing for events such as these can take anywhere from 3 to 6 months with rehearsals, lines, props, costumes, scheduling, set building and so on.

Once, I was on stage performing a play in front of an audience of 60. I was confident that I knew all of my lines and the play was well prepped and rehearsed, but just as often happens in life, no matter how well planned, things don’t always go as they should. I was playing a homicide investigator and had my notes in front of me. I made the mistake of peeking into my notes for my next line and bam! I wasn’t in the present moment anymore. That resulted in the following 30 seconds of hell and awkward silence until I got myself together and came back to the present moment and then, winged it. I wanted to curl up in the corner and die of embarrassment but the show must go on. Reflecting back, I know exactly what this situation taught me – to have trust in myself. I didn’t trust myself to know the next line, I thought I could get ahead of the game by peeking in. Big mistake – but this is how we learn, isn’t it?

Of course, managing projects in a corporate environment is quite different from that of theatre, but the themes are similar. We’ve all been in situations that haven’t gone to plan and had to wing it. Winging it is a term used in theatre, also known to improvise. I’ve learned that roadblocks are inevitable in most projects but the mindfulness with which you go through those roadblocks and improvise, is what builds character, in my humble opinion. Being authentic with yourself and your team members goes a long way, it builds trust amongst you and you just know they’ll be there for you to lean on for support when things seem to go wrong.

I consider myself fortunate to work on projects I care about, both in my personal and professional life. I work with people I truly care for and who care for me, and that’s a winning combination in any situation, no matter what roadblocks you hit along the way.

So, let me share three lessons I’ve learned:

  • Accept situations that are beyond your control; all you have control over is your own mind.
  • When you’re in the present moment, you’re completely aware of yourself and the world around you and at that moment, no matter what storm comes your away – you’re completely at peace and in harmony with yourself.
  • The best thing you can do for this world is work on yourself.