about that. But thinking of my friend Jack, I suspect that
there may be greater life lessons in turning back at 18,000
feet ( 5,486 meters) than in actually making it to the top.
Good Old-Fashioned Failure. There is a danger in
waxing too nostalgic on the positive side of failure, but I
don’t think Jack had ever fallen short at anything. He was
widely seen as having something of a charmed life, in every
aspect—family, professional, social. Is it possible, even
likely, that when faced with the first failure in his life, he
literally didn’t know what to make of it?
Religion and Philosophy. While some people find
their strength in religion, others gain it from philosophy
and education. Admiral James Bond Stockdale was a hero,
the Medal of Honor winner who led U.S. prisoners of war
in the infamous Hanoi Hilton prison during the Vietnam
War. He later credited his U.S. Naval Academy philosophy
courses—especially the ancient writings of Epictetus and
the Stoics—as giving him the strength to survive.
Whatever the source, we know that project managers need
more than the usual reserves of strength and resilience. PM
Bud Baker, Ph.D., is a professor of management at Wright State University, Dayton,
Ohio, USA. Please send questions for
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