Constantly Varied & High Intensity: CrossFit & Project Controls
CrossFit is defined as constantly varied, functional movements with high intensity. All across the world, likeminded people can be found in their local affiliate performing the same daily workout – pushing at their own limits and having their own goals in mind, but doing it as a community. Ask anyone of those members and they will share how their experience inside the gym translates to much more outside of the gym. I am no exception to that rule.
Training for CrossFit competitions has reinforced ideas learned from my years as a Big Ten collegiate athlete, and have helped to make me the Project Controls professional I am today.
When I prepare for a competition, I focus on all the little elements to reach the bigger goal. Prep work starts well in advance of actual competition, and disciplined actions create better results. I dial in nutrition, focus on sleep quality and quantity, minimize outside stressors, and follow a training plan to prepare.
This same discipline applies to preparing for a project. I focus on all the pieces of the project and create a plan to execute. Estimates must be thoroughly reviewed, budget allocation and schedule development occur, and input is gathered from stakeholders and historical data. The preparation determines the success of a project.
ABILITY TO BREAK COMPLEX IDEAS INTO MANAGEABLE PIECES
CrossFit includes some very complex and technical movements. The movements can be incredibly intimidating as a whole, but if you drill the individual parts and pieces, it becomes easier to understand and conquer. Start with the fundamentals, always.
This is exactly how I approach large projects, or program level jobs. It can be easy to be intimidated by large dollar values or complex scope. Focus on one piece at a time and truly grasp the basics. Read the contracts, learn the initial planning and estimating of the job, and ask questions. Start understanding parts and pieces of a project, and suddenly it’s more manageable.
ABILITY TO ADJUST ON THE FLY
Typically in competitions, the workouts are announced prior to the event. I have time to strategize a workout and decide on a plan. However, once the clock starts that plan might not be effective anymore – I suddenly can’t hold the pace or I have to change the rep scheme. I can’t just quit because the plan failed, I need to figure out what’s working and what is not working and then adjust.
In project controls, we have a critical role in the front end of the project in the planning stage. Most of the time and effort is spent understanding the project and coming up with an effective execution plan. Then there are curve balls, unforeseen conditions, and items we simply could not anticipate during the planning. Again, the project team doesn’t quit – we adjust. We focus on where we can recover time in the schedule, or if there are possible cost savings to offset a curveball.
In CrossFit, there are a variety of team formats in which to compete together. It’s critical to know my teammates and adjust my approach to produce the best results as a team. When is it appropriate to be a vocal leader? Is it time to push my team past their comfort zone? During training, I learn how my teammates operate and how we can be better together.
Teamwork is the most straightforward trait from CrossFit that translates to my work life. It takes some time to learn my teammates on a project – how each individual learns, how they communicate best, the strengths I can learn from them, and the weaknesses I can fill in with my skill set. The project team “trains” together every day and we learn to be successful together and operate with the best interest of the project in mind.
These traits become second nature from CrossFit training and have become part of my professional life. I use them as a template as I finish one project and start the next challenge. Like CrossFit, projects are constantly varied and happen at high intensities. I love the challenges presented by both.