Scrum Notes 2013-20

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You++ ▶️

I talk with a lot of people. I like doing that. I learn things—about them, and about me. One thing I learn, frequently, is that many people think they should change, improve, become different to what they currently are. They hear suggestions from managers: maybe you should... I recommend... They seek coaching, counseling, mentorship. All fine things, of course. And yet, the search to be what we are not tends towards a widespread sense of inadequacy.

The books Strengthsfinder 2.0 and Now, Discover Your Strengths address this, to some extent, promoting the idea of discovering and building on innate strengths rather than trying to be good at what you are not. I like that, but find the ideas very action-focused. Of course, good for the business folk for whom the books are intended. I am more interested not in what we do, or how we do it, but in who we are. I'm interested in the Why of You, the Why of Me.

I feel a little sad when I hear good people express a sense of incompleteness, inadequacy, incompetence, people feeling less-than (sometimes better-than, which actually tends to be a mask for possibly even greater self-dislike). I wish I were more... If only I didn't... I don't know how to...

I'm rather a binary thinker, so I see people in terms of two things: what we are and what we have learned. The two are often inelegantly interlaced, resulting in a tangled mess, and difficult to tease apart. We mistake learned values for innate ones (the reverse is less common). What we are is life-given (or if you prefer, God-given). The environment we evolve in, e.g. parents, neighborhood, friends, school... will influence us in many ways, but somewhere deep down there is the essential self. And too often we lose that essence. In our desire to comply, to fit-in, to be accepted, we add layer upon layer of learned behavior. And we strive to add more for each new situation.

In the field I work in, I have long socialized the idea that Agile is not about gaining knowledge, but about removing knowledge. We know too much, and this blocks us from our innate wisdom. Knowledge, qualifications, certifications, these all outrank gut-feel every time. But in fact they do not, it's just that we have been taught not to trust our instincts, that our self is weak, ignorant, and only the knowledge of ages, of the teachers, lecturers and finally managers that will give us value as humans. The rewards and punishment systems we dwell in exacerbate this belief.

If I could simply wish for a better future, I'd wish that all of us would strip away the layers of useless knowledge, the behavior learnt in schools and workplaces, and rediscover our essence. That's what this post is about. Find out who you are, and become more of that. You++ is the incremental approach to becoming more of who you truly are.

While we live in fear of our own inadequacy as seen through the eyes of others, we will always be limited in our options, we will always approach in fear and we will always, ultimately, be disappointed. But if our workplaces were populated by genuine, raw humans, living in trust and confidence of self, and of one another, courage would be commonplace, options plentiful and relationships rich. In such a world there is nothing we could not achieve. We would soar.

Idaho Falls, 26/10/2015   comment