For some years now, I’ve been working on a part of myself, this allows me to feel accomplished and to feel like what I do is meaningful. I’m the kind of person who has many parallel interests. I like to read, write, watch TV shows, cook, play sports (many!), and try new teas… Yet I have not discovered everything about Agility. When I try to read all of the newsletters I subscribe to, I realize that there are way too many, and that I do not have time to read about everything that is of interest to me. Oh, and I forgot to mention the game I played with friends recently, which I am now addicted to.
There is so much to discover that I find myself drowning in a sea of knowledge. I would like to spend days by myself, “soaking up” all there is to learn.
However, I’m unable to remain a full time expert in these fields. I am also unable to move beyond the infatuation stage and actually master this knowledge. I try to do as much as possible here and there. I try to balance the time spent in each activity so that I don’t lose what I’ve already learned. I make commitments and resolutions to keep each of these interests alive.
I’ve found that my spheres of interest are varied and I’m capable of investing enough time to become very knowledgeable in each of them. I spent 17 years of my life practising aikido every week, and my mastery of this art surpasses that of most people. I’ve spent the past eight years taking in writing challenges. I’ve spent years tasting new teas every week, one cup at a time. I am now able to describe and compare teas from various years. I studied and investigated Agility by reading a book first and getting my hands dirty. I spend 37.5 hours per week applying my knowledge for the benefit of our clients.
I need to state the obvious: I cannot maintain this balance.
My sense of balance is precarious, as there are many things happening simultaneously. There are my interests, my work, my social life, my family, eating, sleeping, etc. I’ve often heard of work-family balance, which lets us care for ourselves and not “burn out” at work. While laudable, I no longer believe in this notion. I see this equilibrium as a form of artificial harmony, whereby I try to fulfill the different parts of myself instead of having them work together.
I’ve long dreamed of a life in which I could combine aikido, Agility, writing, and tea, as those are the four things that define me. I spent many years telling myself that I would never find a job in which I could do all of those things together. I spent countless hours imagining the type of life I should have to achieve it, and winning the lottery seemed like the only feasible way of getting there.
Really? Do I really have to count on that to make it happen? Do I have to have a job where only part of me is expressed? Do I have to give up my passions for the sake of career advancement?
I flat out refused.
I told myself: “There must be a way to make it all work together.”
I started applying Agility directly to my work. Whether in an Agile environment or not, nothing stops me from being “Agile” and living according to those values and principles at all times. Before very long, my passion for Agility became a key part of my daily work life. I thought, “why not apply these principles to something else?” There are many other areas where I can apply certain Agile tools, some Agile tricks, and Agile principles. As a result, I practised Agility while cooking, doing housework, writing iteratively, and by reading books one after another, instead of simultaneously and on five different topics, thus prioritizing my reading and reducing multitasking.
In less than a year, there were few interests that I had to spend time on simultaneously. I’m not doing fewer things. Everything just falls under one sphere of interest: developing myself according to what I want to accomplish.
I stopped doing things that were not in line with my values. I turned my interests into catalysts for learning and continued to discover new things without getting lost in vastness of it all. I began to devote time to self-fulfillment as a person who’s unique, not someone who’s divided into several things. Instead of taking years developing aspects of myself, I started doing so in a continuous flow. It’s as though I gave myself the gift of continuous delivery, rather than delivering once a year (if not more!).
To summarize this train of thought, I distilled many interests into several passions, and ended with one raison d’être. Therefore, when I find something that interests me, I wonder how it can benefit the person that I am and not the other way around. I use my different experiences to get to know myself better and to help me change, rather than defining myself through specific interests or knowledge. It’s much more rewarding. I don’t feel like I’m wasting my time. I gain a greater and more tangible sense of accomplishment in a shorter amount of time. It sounds a bit like an Agile speech, right?
|Fields of interest||Passions||Raison d’être|
I have come to understand that I work with a company, and not for it. My relationship with it is that of a partnership, which allows me to grow and to help it grow. Instead of forcing everyone to adopt each other’s values, our values begin to complement one another. I see this relationship as much healthier. I am Dave 24 hours a day, not just for specific talents.
In terms of work-life balance, I would say that there is only life. I don’t believe that splitting my energy and time to maintain individual parts of me is a good way of honouring the person that I am.
I’d like you to ask yourselves a few questions:
- How does your work or project is serving you?
- Is this activity related to what motivates you in your life?
- Why wait for a good time (retirement) to begin to like what you do?
- Is there a difference between the values you apply at work and those you apply elsewhere?
Where does tea fit into it? It’s simple! It’s a great excuse for having conversations about anything that makes up the vast expanse of our combined knowledge.