15 Ways to Enhance Your Time Working on Federal Proposals

Jan 14, 2013

You’ve heard it before but that doesn’t stop me from saying it again: proposals are tough business. Don't get discouraged! Before you reach your breaking point, here are 15 actions to heighten your enjoyment when working on a long, complex, and demanding project or proposal.

1) Maintain Perspective.

Remember your work is important. Your company is chasing intrinsically important work. It matters–to your nation, customer, company, and family. You are not just laying a brick, you are building a cathedral.

2) Display Your Attitude.

Smile at the one team member who needs it most. Your smile may be the only one your colleague will see that day.

3) Offer Support.

Constantly look for ways to show support to your leader or Proposal Manager. Encourage him or her to press on.

4) Look for Reciprocity.

Return the favor. Some say “pay it forward.” Do something unexpected to lighten someone’s load.

5) Demonstrate Appreciation.

Be appreciative for the opportunity provided by your company…and show it. Many talented and deserving people are desperate for work and you have an important job.

6) Model Cooperation. Volunteer.

Offer to take on an assignment, big or small, that others avoid. Or tackle a project task that is lagging behind.

7) Maintain Equilibrium.

Keep your balance. You are of no value to anyone if you are toast. Make time for exercise, reading, hobbies, reflection, family and friends.

8) Safeguard Your Health.
Watch your diet. It is so easy to feast on pizza, chips, soda and excess caffeine. You know better and know what your body needs to feel good. 

9) Show Value.

Think of your ultimate customer. Each day, develop something of value for your customer and build a story around it.

10) Offer Optimism.

Stay positive. It's easy to be a cynic, a doubter, and a naysayer. Be different. Be a beacon of hope when your team is grinding it out.

11) Listen.

Good ideas sprout from creative individuals collaborating on a proposal. No one person has all of the answers. Instead, look for the kernel of wisdom in every well-intentioned point of view.

12) Present Compassion.

Don’t pile on. Is a teammate under fire? Has conventional wisdom marginalized someone? Support the underdog. Show respect for all individuals. Offer constructive feedback and support your colleagues.

13) Notice What Counts.

Give others credit. Be on the lookout for opportunities to compliment another teammate. Then do it publicly.

14) Be True to Your Word.

Be accountable. Meet your commitments. Make your deadlines. You will feel better about yourself and the result will be that others will be lifted with you.

15) Showcase Humility.

Accept constructive criticism. Learn from your mistakes. Welcome feedback, especially when it is less than positive. Be flexible and willing to yield as long as your integrity and that of your company is not at stake.

Try these pain management techniques. You will not only survive, but will thrive—no matter how challenging the circumstances. If you must work hard, the least you can do is squeeze out every drop of enjoyment available to you.

Jim McCarthy

Written by Jim McCarthy

Jim McCarthy is the Founder of AOC Key Solutions, Inc. (KSI). He has almost forty years of GovCon experience and leadership—first on Capitol Hill, then as founder of KSI. KSI is a leading consulting firm that has helped clients win over $200 billion dollars in government contracts. He also hosted the CBS/ WUSA9 television show Government Contracting Weekly from 2012-2014.

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