5 Things Every Project Manager Should Know Before They Leave Home

When we see men of a contrary character, we should turn inward and examine ourselves.
– Confucius

This summer I bought a book called 1001 Things Every Teen Should Know Before Leaving Home. I have long since left my teenage years behind and I have no teenagers, but I picked it up because it pointed out things like:

16. They should know that life isn’t about avoiding struggles, but overcoming them.

246. They should know successful people are delusional: they’re not as good or as smart or as necessary as they think they are. But their confidence takes them to the top.


1001. They should know to look forward. Not homeward.

Not only did I not know these things before I left home, the further I read into the book, the more I realized that there was a lot I still didn’t know.

This week I was idly paging through the book again when I realized that there were things that every project manager should probably know about themselves. They’re not as funny, but they’re just as important.

5 Things that every Project Manager should know about themselves:

  1. You should know your Hot Buttons
    Losing your temper in the middle of trying to explain an issue not only fails to communicate your message, it can undermine the point you were trying to make. Knowing what situations can put you on edge or what situations can trigger your temper will make you more effective. At a minimum, you can avoid those situations. Then you need to go do the work to understand why your buttons were pushed.
  2. You should know your physical limitations
    When you are wearing two or more hats and carrying a heavy workload, it’s important to know when you’re feeling a little thin. When you’re feeling tired or just not feeling very good, you should stop. Turn off your computer and go rest. This is hard for you as you are a project manager, it is not in your nature. I give you permission: Go Rest.
  3. You should know your strengths and weaknesses
    This is the one that I have read so often that I almost don’t read it any more. I usually skim over it. The reason you’ve heard it repeated is because it’s true. You should know what you love to do and do well versus those things that you don’t. Math is not my subject. It never has been and probably never will be something I am particularly good at so I tend to stay away from things that involve numbers. Understand your weaknesses and lean on your strengths.
  4. You should know when you’re ‘On’ and when you’re Not
    You know what times of day you are at your best and what times you feel like you’re moving through sludge. Is it 4 in the morning? 3 in the afternoon? Sometimes this is lack of sleep, other times it can be blood sugar. Fight against the slow drain of energy by getting a pick me up: chocolate, soda, or caffeine. I’m guilty of this, so it’s something I need to work on.
  5. You should know how to push your own buttons
    Rather than letting your circumstances or your moods affect your entire world, you should know how to drive your own moods. I wrote about this in my previous post because I think it’s important. Understand what lifts you, what drags you down and how to get back up. I use music and hobbies to drive my mood back to where it needs to be. You know what makes you happy, find out how you can use it to manage yourself.

This is a short list. In your opinion, what things should a Project Manager know about themselves? Leave me a comment or send me a tweet, my id is jgodfrey.



  1. Great article, especially the advice on “knowing how to push your hot buttons”. I also think I may need to check out that book you mentioned for my teen (and myself). Thanks for sharing.

  2. regarding 1st item, if somebody contradicts me in public & if i m convinced that i am right, then it becomes very difficult for me to not lose my cool. unless & until i do not take it out by confronting the offending party, i cannot proceed further.

    so does it mean that i cannot become a good project manager, if i do not overcome this weakness….

    Prof. Atule Kedia

  3. Hi Professor Kedia

    In my experience, when I’m angry – I’m always not thinking as clearly as I should be. If you can, ask if you can table the issue and address it after the call. You don’t want to turn the meeting or discussion (if you ‘re in front of a team) into a stage. Keep your meeting moving and accomplish your purpose for the meeting.

    Thank you for reading!

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