Since I have discovered Agile approaches, I’m drawing more and more parallels with other fields than IT. At first glance, nothing surprising: many Agile values are applied to other business fields. However, I realize that, in fact, certain principles can actually go as far as to influence my private life and my personal development.
Thus, some notions brought forward by the Scrum framework, particularly the reiteration of production sprints allowing to deliver functional increments, seem very appropriate in the sphere of personal development.
In fact, when it comes to changing aspects of the way I live, I often tend to make a mountain out of everything and feel paralyzed by the magnitude of the task. As in the world of software development, breaking down the task at hand allows me to better prioritize what needs to be done and, especially, not to become overwhelmed by its scale and the planning it requires. The segmentation also allows me to be more responsive and to better adapt along the way.
Furthermore, when I’m making progress, it’s easier for me to take advantage of the momentum and build on what has already been accomplished. In this context, taking things one at a time allows me to keep my morale up and enjoy the benefits of each change as I go along.
Whether for physical or mental health, setting achievable and functional goals allows me to feel good about the process and to quickly take advantage of the positive effects of my actions. Of course, as in any process of change, patience and dedication remain in order, and I must not forget that areas of discomfort and doubt are often the most fruitful for me.
Here, let me quote Lyoto Machida, the great mixed martial artist:
“The uncomfort zone is very important for us… To feel uncomfortable is important to strengthen your spirit. Like the samurai says, if you feel comfortable you must search for the discomfort, don’t look only for the easy way.”
I strongly adhere to this point of view, and there are many ways to achieve the right balance between challenges and well-being. If I push myself too much, I can easily become discouraged or even hurt myself. Thus, it is important not to undertake everything at once; too much discomfort can lead straight to discouragement and surrender.
Preparing my “backlog” by transposing the concept of business value in the sphere of personal development allows me to better prioritize the tasks that have the greatest potential for fostering my well-being.
Just as in IT, production sprints allow me to limit risks. When I set short-term goals, I give myself the opportunity to adapt quickly in case of failure or obstacle and especially not to be too discouraged.
Establishing mechanisms for fast and flexible response to change helps me maximize the value of my efforts and not feel like I’m getting nowhere fast.
In my case, frequent inspections and a sincere effort of self-criticism are essential. One could believe that it is easier to be transparent with myself than with others, but it is far from always the case. How many times have I lied to myself? They are countless.
The dependence or addiction mechanisms are the first to provide elaborate justifications for behaviours that I know deep down to be unhealthy. Anxiety is also greatly responsible for my “ostrich-like” behaviour; it is often much easier to bury my head in the sand than to face my fears and anxieties.
I notice that when I lie to myself, I also lie to others, and it is anything but constructive. It takes me courage to admit my vulnerability, and I am convinced that it is very fruitful. Even though pride may seem useful in contexts where man is a wolf to man, from my point of view, it is certainly not a virtue. I personally believe that most of the time it is rather a hindrance.
The balance between indulgence and discipline constantly needs adjusting. Especially since, once again, my needs and even my direction constantly change along the way.
I think it’s important that I remain aware of the specific nature of personal development. The idea is to get inspired without making a direct transposition. Indeed, the Agile concepts of collaboration and team are different because of the intimate dimension of personal development. I don’t have all the answers in regard to integrating in my approach the important collaborative dimension so dear to development teams.
However, the mere fact of asking myself these questions both impacts and stimulates me. I can get inspired and learn to share my challenges with my entourage, exchange about them, and enjoy others’ experiences. I think it’s important not to remain captive of a sense of loneliness and seek motivation from others.
Ultimately, I want to be the Product Owner of my own life. Nobody knows my needs and aspirations better than me; I’m the end user…
I invite you to consider these lines of thought in your own context and get inspired by them if they mean something to you. I know they are very helpful to me, and even though they may seem obvious, personally, I often need to remember or question the truths that I’m taking for granted.
Have a great journey!