“There has to be a better way. I can’t do this to my family again.” I was at the end of a 9-month long project where I’d known from the start that I’d be working 60+ hours a week for the final 2 months and not focusing enough on my new family. And I felt powerless to do anything about it. After I finished the project, I wrote a message to my manager and their manager. It was somewhat long and very professional, but the core message was, “I won’t keep working this way.” They had already been thinking of breaking from our waterfall process and experimenting with an agile approach. My message was both catalyst and opportunity. We formed a small agile team and got to work. We were immediately successful and very quickly the rest of the development organization started working in an agile way. That was my first formal introduction to agile. But, like many of us, the more I learned about what it is to ‘be’ rather than to ‘do’ agile, the more I realized that agile simply put words to what I’d felt and done for years. I didn’t find agile, agile found me. In the same way, I didn’t know what coaching was until I’d already been doing it for a while. And when I found out what it was to be an agile coach I thought, “this is what I want to do, but I don’t know how to get there.”
I will share with you how it felt to walk the path from an introverted developer who spent all day wearing headphones to cut out all distractions to being a coach who spends all day talking with teams and individuals. I went from being able to measure my progress with working software to only being able to measure my progress based on the change in others…something that is not always easy to see or measure. On this journey I moved from being the star of my own movie to an uncredited extra in other people’s. And the irony is I create far more value in the background than I ever did center-stage.
Learn how to learn - owning your own growth is critical, and the thing you learn that moves you to the next level may not be anything related to agile
Find guides - find those who can both encourage and challenge you as you grow
Balance is required for anything that lasts - learning that success isn't sustainable if you are achieving it without balance in your life
Nobody will give you permission to be awesome - there is no roadmap for a unique journey, only what you value and your commitment to continuous improvement