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At the end of the last school year, my daughter came home with a summer reading list for young adults.  It has valuable information for all of us.  It is especially helpful for me since once of my goals this year is to read at least one fiction book per month – yes, fiction, not only non-fiction business books. 


What a fun journey this has become – reading The DaVinci Code, Chocolat, Secret Life of Bees, and many more.  And, it has been a way to connect with my 13-year-old on a different level and learn valuable lessons about life.  Each of us reads the book and then when available we watch the movie. Then I like to analyze and talk about the message and experience, although Annie, unfortunately, is less interested in that part.


Last night we watched Secret Life of Bees.  Bees hold valuable wisdom useful in work and life.  No, it is not only that they are headed by a Queen.  They work as a team toward a common goal each innately knowing his/her part in pursuing the passionate purpose—the end result from their superb performance is sweet.  August, the matriarch beekeeper, shares with 14-year-old Lily, who is on a quest to get to know herself and her mother, “Send the bees love.” 


What would the impact on our business and family be if we send each other love while we look out for a greater good?  It would produce real rewards.  Too often, rather than pursue a noble purpose, we individually get lost in doing, achieving, or protecting our own turf while putting others down.  Instead, as August recommends, let’s try to “Lift each other to a higher level with love.”  Consider all the energy, currently wasted in friction and conflict, which could be redirected toward real results. 


In life, there is a symbiotic relationship between the bees and the flowers.  Again, we can learn a lot from Mother Nature.  Passionate Pursuers, those people who successfully find and pursue meaningful intentions, are like sunflowers who possess the SUNFLOWER traits (see Ch. 3 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose).    


Practical Pointers:

  • Act like a bee.  Work as a team toward a common goal with love.  Find better performance.
  • Get clear on what real purpose you are pursuing.
  • Lift each other to a higher level.


Theresa M. Szczurek ( and





The project from hell--most of you, unfortunately, know what projects I mean.  These are the projects that do NOT deliver the needed results in the proper timeframe:

  • Delivery is delayed. 
  • Scope creeps. 
  • Responsible parties do not deliver appropriate solutions on time, on budget. 
  • Team members are frustrated, perhaps due to the incompetence of other team mates or elements beyond their control.
  • The system does not work as expected.
  • The client never seems to be happy. 

The issues/problems go on, on, and on.    The 80/20 rule may be at work-20% of the projects bring 80% of the headaches. 


Here are some lessons, arranged in line with the 4-stage Pursuit of Passionate Purpose process, learned from my clients on how to turn the project from hell around.


Find Your Passion and Stick to It. 

  • If a potential project is interesting and intriguing, but not consistent with your values and does not leverage your core competencies, i.e., your passion – Say No!  
  • Do a risk/reward assessment.  The key is to do a good assessment ahead of time to screen out the most likely problem cases before they turn into nightmares.  Do a situation analysis – find out what problems have occurred before or exist now; ask  why.  If the risks are high and the reward low – Say No! 
  • Screen for project criteria as well as for the people involved.  If the people involved in the project are difficult or suspect—Say No! 
  • Sometimes it is not easy to say no—however, it is easier if you can give a reason why an alternative approach would be better.  “Thanks for considering me for xyz project.  However, I am booked until next year and know person A has the experience you need.”  If you say no to projects that are not a match and are a set up for failure, you will be able to say yes to others that are winners. Say no to the 20% of projects that bring the 80% of the headaches.


Align Passion with Clear Purpose. 

  • Clarify the project definition. Make sure you have a clear description of the project upfront.  Agree on the scope of work, detailed requirements/specifications, and success factors.  Only agree to handle those parts of the project you can influence.  Make sure project boundaries are clearly set so that parts beyond your control are outside the scope. Get all it in writing. 
  • Ensure that everyone knows what to expect and by when.  Put down in writing what is expected by all parties.  Determine project liaisons and their roles.  Clarify how communications will take place and with whom.
  • Ensure a rigorous process is established for completion of the requirements and make sure the entire team abides by it.  Put together and get agreement to a project schedule including the amount of time allocated for final test and approval. Demand that leaders for certain segments of a project follow an agreed on process.
  • Specify a test plan – what steps will be taken to ensure that the system is delivering to the requirements, who will be doing the testing, how long is the test period. 


Pursue Purpose with a Competent Team. 

  • Make sure that the proper players, including high level champions, are involved. Get agreement upfront on what active participation is needed and who will ensure it takes place.  What will happen if this participation does not take place?  Specify what other resources / people are needed and what budget there is to cover this expense.
  • Only allow proven, high competent people on the team.  Especially if you have not worked with certain members before, interview them carefully to ensure tangible evidence of past performance.  Past performance is the best indicator of future performance.  Make sure you check references.  Dig deep to talk to references from the references. 
  • Notice any red flags.  Trust your gut and your head.  Take action to correct problems when they are small so they don’t get bigger.
  • Have a tight contract and put in escalating penalties for not meeting budget and deadlines.


Assess Progress.  

  • Especially with a new project and team, you need to constantly be monitoring results and readjusting.  Keep track of what progress has been made and what has not been made.
  • Issue regular status reports to keep all parties informed – communicate, communicate, communicate.
  • Make mid-course corrections along the way.
  • Smile, believe, and allow the project to flow.


How do you avoid hell and stay in heaven? Say no to certain projects, say no to working with incompetent players, and say yes to important project management processes. These three factors will improve your business and project performance.


Theresa M. Szczurek ( and


Meditating this morning, I was chilly until the big, beautiful ball of energy--the sun--rose.  It brought warmth, encouragement, and hope for making today another day of opportunity.

Energy, the E in the SUNFLOWER traits of successful passionate pursuers as described on page 52 of Pursuit of Passionate Purpose, is the capacity to do work.  Some people have more and attract more of this capacity than others.  They have a strong work ethic, which Venture Capitalist Brad Feld today talked about in his blog "Feld Thoughts" as a desirable characteristic.  Additionally, they can produce real results from their efforts.

What word do people use to describe you? The one-word description people most often use for me is 'energetic.'

How can you have more energy?  There are simple ways to increase your energy level.  David Hawkins, MD, PhD explains in Power vs. Force:  The Determinants of Human Behavior that energy levels can be calibrated into a map of consciousness.  Low energy levels manifest as shame, guilt, grief, and fear.  Courage, acceptance, love, and enlightenment align with high energy levels.  No wonder we are attracted to people with high levels of energy. Positive jumps in energy are possible through intention, will, choice, and motivation.  Many spiritual disciplines of the world are interested in approaches to ascend these levels.  Meditation is one such useful technique.

Practical Pointers:

  • Set the intention to increase your energy level.
  • Be motivated to discover what helps and what does not help.
  • Make the choice to surround yourself with energizers and to leave hindrances behind.
  • Use your will to focus on approaches which help you ascend energy levels.  Do you have a regular meditation practice?  Why not?

Energy is a key element to improving business and live performance. Build your energy.

Theresa M. Szczurek ( and


Americans are more pessimistic about their situation now than they have been in more than a quarter-century.  What can you do about it?  The most successful people and organizations don't despair -- they believe and act!  There has been great interest in Theresa Szczurek's research and work on this topic.  As a result, she's now offering a program, "Actions to Help Firms Survive and Thrive in Tough Times" together with Sandler Sales Productivity Expert, Steve Parry.  The program will be held on August 20, 2009 from 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM at The Denver Athletic Club in Denver.  Lunch is included for only $49.

Space is limited. Sign up now at Say your heard about it from Theresa. For more information, contact Steve at 303.568.1500, [email protected] or Theresa at 303.817.3307, [email protected].

Designed for CEOs, presidents, and senior sales executives, you will learn what actions leaders must take now.  Hear case studies of firms that have proactively acted and produced great results.  Through an interactive exercise, you will explore how to apply this to your company and your situation.  This program has had great reviews, "This is the best presentation I have attended to date. It was relevant, gave immediately actionable tips, and moved at a great pace."

See you there!

Theresa M. Szczurek ( and