Project Execution -- Allies

As you work toward your project goals, there will come a time when you realize that you can't do it alone. Humans are by nature social creatures and thrive best when they have others around them. We crave love, acceptance, connection. This is the case for most of us for most endeavors. However, for PMPM workings, you need something else: allies.

An ally in this scenario is someone who is aligned with the goal(s) of your working -- nothing more and nothing less.

Jesus Christ this guy is heavy!


Before we discuss what allies are though, let's discuss what they aren't: People who love you.

Of course the people who love you can be allies if they are aligned with your goals. However, they aren't necessarily allies by default. My parents love me unconditionally, but they've also found a lot of my goals baffling, weird, risky, etc. Bluntly, they come from another time, when you took a job out of school and stuck with that company forever. We know that doesn't work, but for many years they didn't. So my career plan just seemed flaky and wrong. Clearly they weren't allies, but they still love me and I love them (I just don't take their career advice).

I so need one of these (etsy for the win)!

There are also people who love you who are actively dis-aligned with your goals and may even work against you (anti-allies). This is the partner who fears you will leave him/her behind if you change and who acts discouraging. The best friend who resents your goal to lose weight and brings over cupcakes. The high school buddy who's jealous of your success and refuses to help you when you ask. Even the child who resents the time that meeting your goals takes and gives you a dose of parental guilt. These people can sincerely love you and still have these attitudes that are contrary to your goals. How you deal with these people is up to you and very individual. Maybe you reassure the nervous partner, dump the jealous friends, and carve out special one-on-one time with the child. But whatever you do, don't mistake these people for allies.

Allies can be aligned with your goal for various reasons:

  • They care about you and want you to do what's best for you (the friends and family that we all wish we had)
  • They like you and like seeing you do well (colleagues and other successful and secure people you already know)
  • They get an ego boost from supporting you (mentors and bosses often fall into this category)
  • You have a reciprocal relationship (they support your goal, you support theirs)
  • They have a pay it forward motivation (someone helped them once, so they feel a strong obligation to help you)
  • You pay them (employees, consultants, professional services)
Don't make the mistake of assigning comparative value to these people depending on their motivation. It's great when people care about us and like us, but paying someone creates an equally powerful ally. For example, you might hire a designer to rework your website, a personal trainer to help you reach a fitness goal, a consultant to advise you on your startup, or a kid to mow your lawn and give you more time on your art. The key is that, for whatever reason, all these people support your goal. Maybe their support is more passive (emotional, networking) or active (task accomplishment, moving obstacles, providing training) -- maybe it's paid for -- but support is support.

Of course allies don't have to be corporeal. You can argue that your most powerful allies are the spiritual entities with whom you have a relationship. Your ancestors, helpful spirits, patron Deities, guardian Angels... all of these can be aligned with your goal. Some will want to help you because of who they are (ancestors often have a drive to support their descendants). Others because of who you are (while helping you with your goals, Deities often find a way for you to help them with theirs, which makes the skills you bring to the table very important). And others still because of what they can get (energies, offerings, etc.).

Does this sounds familiar? In fact, a lot of these people should have been defined as stakeholders during your project initiation. During initiation we were focused on identifying the stakeholders and communicating with them. However as allies, the key is understanding how to work with stakeholders in order to move your project along. Other allies aren't stakeholders (folks who do word of mouth advertising, people you hire, etc.) but still move you toward your goals.

I don't want this to sound mercenary. Your allies value is not only what they can give you! But if they are aligned with your goals, their support and help can be vital to your success. You need to honor and appreciate your allies and make sure they receive the appropriate time and attention from you. This could mean:
  • Expressing through words and actions how much your allied friends and family mean to you and how much you appreciate them
  • Making the appropriate offerings and prayers to helpful spirits and ancestors
  • Paying your employees/suppliers/consultants/service professions fairly and promptly
  • Following the guidance of mentors and Deities
  • Holding up your end of any bargains
If you aren't making traction on your goals, an ally inventory might be in order. Are you appreciating the people who support you? Do you need to reset any boundaries with people who don't? Are you missing a key ally on your list (you're an aspiring artist who doesn't know a single one)? Is there an anti-ally you must deal with?

It is true that people tend to associate with other people who are like them. Statistically, you and your friends/partners are likely to be similar in income, weight, background, etc. Some people take this too literally to mean that if you want to be a millionaire, you hang out with other millionaires (I think they have the arrow of causality wrong). Still, if you want to be more fit, find a couple of athletic friends to hang out with. They will motivate you to achieve your goal (and hey, you may just motivate those of your friends with a similar goal). 

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