Name Your Obstacle

Every project is like a story. There are characters, a setting, and an obstacle that you have to overcome. If the project goes well, the action builds to the climax when you crush your obstacle and have success beyond your wildest dreams.

What we forget to do in our projects is to name the key obstacle that stands in our way. If you are running a workshop on Project Management, your obstacle might be connecting with enough people to sell out the room. If you are creating a new marketing campaign, your obstacle might be getting the executives to agree on a brand direction.

Whatever friction you face, having a conversation where you agree on the obstacle is important. It will even be worth it to give your obstacle a name. There are two benefits to having a consensus on the obstacle that you are overcoming:

  1. If you can name your obstacle, you know that everyone is fighting the same battle. If you call it, “Fear of selling,” or “Getting executives to agree,” you all know that you are trying to solve the same problem. If you don’t have a name for it, one person might be coming up with a sales pitch, while another is working on motivation techniques.
  2. Naming your obstacle will give your team a sense of victory when you solve the problem. “We conquered the fear of selling,” is a much better story than, “We sold 20 tickets.”

Name the obstacle that is standing in the way of your project success. Once it is named, you have taken the first step in defeating it.