Make every project a portfolio piece

Happy at work(This is part of the “Enhance perspective, assume control” series)

One of the things that always killed me about working on the corporate side of the desk was my perspective. I always felt like I owed something to “the Business.” With a big “B.”

There was something beyond the people with whom I worked, beyond the execs, beyond the shareholders. There was the Business. And I owed it my best work.

Because of this perspective, I would often get frustrated–extremely frustrated–with projects.

I was trying to do what was best for the Business. Why was everyone making it so hard?

As such, 99% of those projects wound up in the “I’m not proud of that” category. Which tends to make for a very small portfolio of projects that I shop to other people.

It also tends to kill your motivation. And abuse your pride.

Sounding familiar?

I’m sure you’ve experienced the same thing. You’re working your ass off, trying to make things the best they can be, but you’re getting zilch for satisfaction. You and I are constantly winding up with a familiar refrain.

“I know I’m good. I know I did my best on this project. I just don’t have much to show for it.”

Why don’t we change our perspective?

My old perspective had me assessing the entire project. The end result. The profitability. The beauty. Many of the things that–all opinions and editors considered–had spun completely out of my control.

Is that my fault? Not really. It’s how business works. Eventually, you just have to say “Okay” if you want to get anything done.

Now that I’m on the othe side of the desk, my perspective has changed–drastically.

I realize that I can never control the client. I can make suggestions. I can make recommendations. But when it comes right down to it, the client holds all of the control. If the client tells me to do it one way, I have two choices: do it or walk.

But, if I choose to do it, I gain responsibility. I am responsible–I control–one little segment of the overall project.

But here’s where the magic happens.

Because I control one little segment. And because I see value in my one little segment. I focus on making that little detail the best it can possibly be.

I enhance my perspective and I assume control. And that makes me feel more successful. Even more importantly, it makes my work meaningful to me.

With this perspective, every project I touch is a portfolio piece. In some way.

So, now, I’m going back and assessing past projects with this perspective. Trying to figure out what makes them portfolio pieces.

Sure, this one looks like crap, but read this great chunk of copy I wrote. This Web site looks like it was built in 1997, but look at the workflow I devised to handle the communication flow. Look at this little feature. Look at that little widget. See that glimmer of genius? That’s me.

Changing your perspective. It’s a key to finding satisfaction.

What part of that project you’re working on do you control? How can you make it better?

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Control, Meaning, Perspective. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Make every project a portfolio piece

  1. Toby Lucich says:

    Nice idea, change your perspective. This is much easier than changing a clients’/managers’ mind, and helps me feel like time wasn’t wasted when I poured many hours into the effort.

    It also takes me out of the “polish the turd” business when the entire product was lackluster, and really emphasize the nut, the core element that is worth duplicating or adapting.

  2. Pingback: When On-Time, On-Budget is Only “Ok” | More than a living

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