Few people understand the integrity of a good project manager. We must be honest, hardworking, a master of multi-tasking, and resilient. We must balance the building code with profits and the desires of our often hard to please owners. We have to keep our subcontractors happy and motivated while doing the same for our superintendents. Architects and engineers, inspectors and owners need information, and we have to do the political dance of change orders. At the same time, we must ensure that all involved are working efficiently and fairly.
All the while, most of us have families to come home to, and bosses with expectations. The job of a construction project manager can be as hard as any doctor, lawyer, or any career that society considers difficult. We juggle all of these tasks, taking the pressure internally. Unfortunately, when we are not performing at our peak both mentally and physically, something has to give.
Although I exercised and ate a healthy diet, my body was giving me signs; something was off. I did a knockout job at work. Sometimes I had 20 projects going from New York to Hawaii, so I knew how to be organized and efficient. My issues were that I took every project to heart and didn't know where the line of a good PM and a therapist started when it came to my superintendents. I spent one morning talking one superintendent out of suicide when I should have called 911. I don't know what I would have done if I failed that morning. Now I see that he needed professional help, not a manager to talk him off that ledge. I took the burden of everything as my own.
Owners would call me so upset about timelines, and I swallowed their stress for them. I took a death threat, sexual harassment, their anger issues, and lies about me and just absorbed it all. Although I knew I had done nothing wrong, I didn't know how not to take it personally. It was inevitable that I would break one day, but I thought being tough was necessary, and it is for a PM. But I didn't know then how to place a respectful boundary for my sanity.
I did look for help in managing it all. I had some support from mentors, but they were often the same or worse than I was, stress-wise. I ended up going to a therapist, but it didn't do anything to help me manage what I had on my plate for 60-80 hours a week. The therapist wanted to focus on imaginary issues, thinking something must have happened to me in my childhood to make me so stressed now. She couldn't understand how one job could be so intense. I didn't need that; what I needed were tools to manage my ongoing day to day problems in a healthy manner. At the time, I had never heard of an executive coach or life coach. Honestly, I am not sure that I would have bought into such a thing, but I hope to change that for others.
When I left my job as a construction project manager, I thought I would take a stress break and get back into it, but I tumbled down the path of illness, which I contribute to eating all of that stress for so many years. After taking a few years to heal my body, I started to look out for ways I could get the knowledge I needed to go back to work and do so with my health in mind, and still be the master juggler I once was. I didn't want to end up the same way.
To get myself over the hump to get me back to work, I decided to find the tools I needed for myself. After several years of study, I certified as an International Coach Federation ACC and graduated from the Bulletproof Human Potential Institute. I learned to help myself to live within my values, to get to a place of peak performance, and to break through barriers that stand in the way of all of us when we set goals. In the process, I realized I am more valuable as a coach than an actual employee in the construction industry.
I can use my coaching to teach others how to find their grit, release the excess stress, learn and implement healthy habits, and get to the top. I work through Zoom teleconference, by phone, or in person around Prescott, Arizona. My new project is not to build structures, but to help others who feel the kind of pressure I dealt with, and to share my tools with them so they can have it all; successful careers, good relationships, and healthy bodies. If I can help someone else be their best, then I know everything I went through was worth it.
If you are like me, your initial reaction would be to think that this is a dumb idea. That is a knee jerk reaction, but that second voice that pops up saying you may need this: that is the real you, and I am here to help bring that voice forward. I honestly want to help people find their best selves. That equates to long-lasting, and satisfying success, which is crucial in the ever changing, always stressful construction industry.