APRIL 14, 2014

Project Management and Passover: A lesson in letting go

Project Management and Passover: A lesson in letting go

Written By Dr. Rebecca Cory

Project management can be one of the greater challenges we encounter as leaders. Keeping multiple aspects of a project going at once, coordinating their completion and integration and pulling it all together into one comprehensive deliverable can be a challenge and exhausting.  One of the challenges for leaders is to know when to declare a project complete.  How to say this is good enough, even if more time could make it even better, how to balance the time to completion with the quality of the product.

On Monday, I get to recite my favorite prayer in all of Judaism.  It is a prayer we only say once a year, on the morning of the day that, at sunset, begins the first night of Passover. According to the commandment to set apart a week where no leavened bread is in our possession, we rid our houses (and cars) of all crumbs of leavening. In order to do this, we do a full cleaning of the house, focusing especially on the kitchen. Cabinets are wiped out. We even move the refrigerator and clean behind and under it.  Then, when all the cleaning is done, we say a nullification prayer:

The words are as follows:

 All leaven and anything leavened that is in my possession, whether I have seen it or not, whether I have observed it or not, whether I have removed it or not, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.

This prayer has been adopted into my secular and professional life for any major project. When I have a project to do, I work hard on it, do my best to pull it all together, then when it is finished, I recite a made-up form of this prayer, where I say that I have done my best to rid the project of any errors and anything problems left are nullified.

This is not to say I don’t take responsibility for my work.  Instead, it is saying that I’ve done a thorough job of completing the work to the best of my ability, but I recognize that I am human, and no job will ever be “perfect.” The prayer assists me of letting go of the little things, and moving on to the next project.

I find the ability to let go of the small errors especially helpful in writing projects, where there is always a different word choice that can be made, or a finer nuance that can be articulated.  Writing is never perfect, and nullifying all remaining errors, or changes to nuance, can help me get a project out the door to the publisher.

As a leader, a writer, and a project manager, I find my productivity increased with my ability to let go of the crumbs, and make them dust.

Dr. Rebecca Cory is a full time faculty member in the Division of Doctoral Studies at CityU.  Currently, she is the Program Coordinator for Adult Learning and Higher Education.


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