One of our instructors, Cindy Scheetz, enthusiastically told me about her participation in a fitness boot camp, which is a militaristic approach to physical fitness and exercise. She's a three-time veteran, and has improved with each session. She absolutely loves it. I asked Cindy about the program, and she gave me the contact information. I was intrigued after speaking with the instructor and founder, Dr. Aaron Oberst. I joined the Dr. Drill Instructor Program (DDIP) in Lansdale, Pennsylvania this May, and started on the first day of June. It is an eight week program, three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), from 5:30am to 6:30am, rain or shine.
I've got two weeks under my proverbial belt, and I now understand why Cindy likes the program so much. There is so much positive energy and encouragement from the instructors, squad leaders and participants. I feel like I accomplish something new in each session. I will also tell you it's the hardest I've ever physically worked. There are days where it hurts to blink. As the saying goes, "No pain, no gain!"
There are a few lessons I've learned from the fitness boot camp that are applicable to our five-day Project Management (PM) Boot Camp:
* Leave your perceptions at the door: People who have been managing projects for years will think they know project management. Similarly, I thought I was exercising at my maximum potential by getting on an elliptical machine for 20 minutes three times a week. Exercise is exercise; project management is project management. While it is true I exert myself on the elliptical, and it is a form of exercise, I am learning from DDIP getting in shape is more than just moving your legs and arms on a machine. You have to use every attribute you have: mind, body and spirit. Boot Camps are designed to deconstruct your perceptions and show you what you should be doing. It engages and challenges. In the end, you will work better and smarter than you did previously.
* Discipline is essential: If you cut corners, you will find you are doing more harm than good. Dr. Drill stresses the importance of always having a water source with you. The second week of DDIP, I learned if you don't have a water source, two things will happen: Dr. Drill will make you do your maximum set of push-ups while you are at attention with the rest of your squad, and you get muscle cramps because you lose about 10% of water when you work out. Both suck. No one likes to be called out on mistakes, especially if they are easily avoided by following basic rules. Follow the basics, and you won't experience pain and suffering on projects. Do you really want to explain why your project is over-budget and not finished on time? I'm thinking no. There are reasons there are lessons about work breakdown structures and identifying and documenting risks!
* Motivation is infectious: There are roughly 100 participants in the fitness boot camp program. We are all at different skill levels, and we are all there for one reason: to improve ourselves. What is especially wonderful is that the veterans will encourage new recruits, and in turn new recruits motivate the veterans to do their best and set examples. With the PM Boot Camp, everyone is there to learn and to be better project managers.
* Keep on movin'! Don't stop, no: During one of our runs, Dr. Drill broke out into song. "Keep on movin'! Don't stop, noooo." He asked us to repeat this, even the singing part. The final lesson I'd like to share is once you leave boot camp, you don't leave what you've learned behind. Keep pushing yourself, your teams, and your organization forward in applying solid project management techniques to your projects.
Ready to leave your perceptions about project management behind? To be motivated? To learn something new and to apply it to the way you work? If you are interested in project management and our PM Boot Camp five-day instructor-led training courses, please go to the event calendar on our website.
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