Build it Right or Tear it Down

The best innovative designers solve the problem. They don’t settle. And they don’t back down. Neither should you.

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Photo: Colleen Murphy

One of my newest opportunities at my current position is in project management in construction. I am a complete novice and in the position of figuring out how to operate in this new role. Since I love a new challenge, it has been a fun adventure. But the stress of having no experience in this arena has certainly gotten to me at times over the course of the last year. The experience has offered so many lessons I have been able to apply to my life at large. And taking on this new challenge has made me feel open to taking on a huge variety of more difficult projects.

Project Management in any discipline essentially comes down to daily and sometimes hourly problem solving. You never really know what your day will bring. I could look at it as being constantly sidetracked, but in actuality, it is inherent to the job. Things go wrong every day and the requirement is to adjust and accomodate.

The parallels to everyday life are apparent to me each work day. In life, either you are a problem solver or you aren’t. Tackling huge projects require the ability to take life as it comes. First solve one problem, then the next. Having a vision of the completed work is key to making it a reality. But holding on tight to every detail of execution will not get you where you want to be in the end.

Disney Imagineers are currently hard at work creating one of the most innovative, immersive experiences ever designed for a theme park. Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge is destined to be one of the most groundbreaking worlds at Disney. You think new ride and your mind goes to roller coaster. But the design for the new ride, Rise of the Resistance is way beyond anything guests have seen before.

This project is one of the most difficult challenges Disney has undertaken. Rumored to have 18 show areas and 5 ride types rolled into one attraction, the thing is a monstrosity. It is hard to picture the incredible detail required in building an experience of this magnitude. What could go wrong?

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Photo: Disney Parks

As completion date approaches, Disney is ripping out the floors and tearing down the walls. And still planning on meeting their opening date of December 5th. The ride uses a trackless technology where the car you are traveling in is guided by floor sensors. Apparently, those sensors were not functioning properly and Disney ripped the floor out and started again. It has to work. Bottom line, if you are the best in the world at theme park rides and expected production value is through the roof, you need to be perfect. So they tore it down and started again.

Plan A doesn’t always work. You can map it out in your mind, think through every detail and plan accordingly. And then it is supposed to work…but it doesn’t. No matter how much preparation you put into anything, you can still lose. Successful project management requires the ability to think quickly and switch gears. Find the right answer and move faster because now you are late.

Cultivating relationships is the single most important factor in business success. When things go wrong, you will need help. And you never know where that help will come from. Each conversation you have, each contact you make is incredibly important. No one can pull off any success alone. Having a support system you can rely on saves a lot of situations. Being surrounded by the right team is the best security you can provide yourself.

Failure is our best teacher. Each time we experience challenge, we know one more way it will not work. Trial and error is part of life. The ability to clearly think through a problem will get you further than any other qualification. It is true in construction and true in life. What is coming next? It doesn’t matter if you are prepared to roll with it. Reveling in your success is great. You should celebrate accomplishment. But when everything goes perfectly the first time, what did you learn? It is the failures that determine the correct future path.

Personal and professional development are not like handing in a book report at school. You are never finished growing. You keep learning and moving upward. Becoming a better version of whatever you are is always the goal. The moment you think you are done developing is the moment you stagnate in every area of your life.

Never think that this all isn’t intertwined. Who you are all day is who you are in every aspect of your life. Be curious. Use your creativity. Look for areas where you can improve, always. And if it is just not going to work, tear it down and start again.

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Writing about the beautiful journey of life and love. We are all figuring this out together

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