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food for thought, General, Guest Post, life

Sometimes the same thing seems to pop up again and again within a short period of time. It might be coincidence, or it could be that I am just particular aware of that thing.

At the moment that thing is about help – especially help in connection with mental challenges.

Two weeks ago, it was #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek in England, and a lot of tweets appeared concerning this.

This is an area that matters a lot to me. A lot of people living with mental health problems including me, and in many cases, it is a taboo; we don’t talk about it as if it disappears when we don’t talk about it.

It won’t. 

In fact, it might get stronger.

By talking about it and being aware of it, we can start addressing the problems and taking care of the people, who suffer from problems. And equally important, we can start working on good mental health.

I talk about taking care of others, and I believe, we can all help each other. We also need to take care of ourselves, but boy can that be hard. It is so much easier to take care of others; to see how others can help themselves and care for themselves.

I am getting better at it; I have not worked much this year as I was getting exhausted last year doing too many things; awesome things, but never the less too many.

I am not that good at saying no to awesome things 🙂

So, this year I mostly rested, try to eat healthier, drink more water; I might even start this exercise thing.

Still, I have fluctuated a lot and have felt quite down at times. Doubting myself, and my abilities as an agile coach and as a person. Feeling lost, feeling exhausted despite sleep, and I am struggling to find my energy and my joy.

And then I ask for help. Sometimes the help I need is that someone listens to me, sometimes I need something active I can do, some advice. Like when I asked on Twitter about how other people find energy.

Mostly I need someone to care enough to listen. I am in the lucky position to have a bunch of good friends who help me. Who encourages without judging and who cares for me.

One of my friends sends me pictures 2-3 times a week; pictures of his two cats sleeping to encourage me to rest 🙂

Another place where mental health popped up was in conversations with friends. At the moment I have a few friends, who are in a fragile mental state and who have been wise enough to reach out.

So, I also help people. Since I suffer from depressions, struggle with self-worth and imposter syndrome, not to mention had two burnouts myself, I know a lot about what not to do, and what to do to prevent it. Or at least I know what works for me, and some tips & tricks besides that. Some need me to listen, some need encouragement, and some need advice.

Not only because they are stressed, but also because they may have had a shitty day at work, a lot of things on their mind, lack of confidence, etc.

We all need emotional support once in a while <3

A specific tool I use is something I call “Getting permission from someone else.”

As mentioned earlier we often know how to take care of other and not ourselves. And part of that for me is to allow myself to do the thing that would help me right now. Often that means saying no to someone or something, and I have problems doing that as I begin to feel I am being a bad person.

For example, when I am really stressed, I do see the signals, but I am not yet able to stop. And luckily, I have a friend, I can call and say “please give me permission to cancel x.” Like in late 2014, where I had to cancel a talk at a conference. It was almost two months before, so the conference had plenty of time to find a new speaker, and still, it felt like I was letting the conference down.  So, I got his permission to cancel.

I don’t really need his permission, as I am a grown woman – but it helps, and that is what matters.

At the moment, I am one of my friend’s “permission slip.” We talked about her taking breaks and taking care of herself. Saying no to meetings, and pulling a bit back at work. She knows it is necessary and yet it feels hard. 

I so know that feeling; it feels like you are not doing enough, almost like you are cheating.

So, when she feels bad, I am her safety line. She calls me and gets permission to care for herself.

Most of us know we need to take care of ourselves; when we fly, the staff say, “remember to secure your own oxygen mask before aiding others.” Yet we find it hard to do.

We need to take care of ourselves, and sometimes asking for help is the best way of doing that.

When was the last time, you asked for help to take care of yourself?

You are worth it.


This is a guest post by Gitte Klitgaard. Gitte is an agile coach, hugger, friend, and much more. She lives and loves agile. She took the oath of non-allegiance. Why fight over methods when we can use that energy to help people? Gitte wants to change the world by helping people make the right product, doing it right and very important: have fun doing it. She has a great interest in how people function, how the brain works, what motivates us, how we can feel better about ourselves, how to be perfect in all our imperfections. She is a geek and passionate about a lot. 🙂 You can learn more about Gitte on nativewired.com

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Agile, Agile Coaching, food for thought
You may have seen this: A company decided to become agile and introduced an agile framework e.g. Scrum. The management hopes for higher product quality, a better TTM (Time To Market), an improved risk management, finally a project that is on time and budget and more. Although they implemented Scrum by the book, after about half a year, they realize, that none of the promises came true. The Scrum Master is searching desperately for another, a better tool he can try next, but none of them has the desired effect. Step by step the team is falling back into their old habits and in the end they say: Scrum does not work. And they are right! Only by putting a new shiny saddle on your dead horse, you won’t get it running again. To understand what happened one has to know, how Scrum was created. 
Success is never because of the process but always about the people – Marc Löffler
keep reading
1

food for thought, life
Do you know these moments, were you’re between two tasks and don’t have the energy to start with the next one? I know these moments a lot. It’s same when you’re working on a task and you’re stuck. This is the time when a lot of people search for distraction. At least that’s what I did in the past. You open your web browser and start surfing the web, reading your Twitter timeline, checking for mails on your 11 different email accounts or check who is online on Skype. Nowadays it’s easy to get distracted. There are hundreds of ways to waste your costly life time. The main problem is, when you get used to this behavior, your productivity decreases over time. In the end your not able to concentrate on a single task and even get distracted by simple things DURING a task (like e.g. an incoming email or DM on Twitter). You don’t have the energy to start any task (maybe smaller ones). Don’t tolerate this behavior, stop it! Now! Did you hear me? Stop it! The next time you’re having a break between two tasks, lean back and do….. nothing. Yes, exactly. Just do nothing. Don’t try to fill these breaks with some distracting activities. Try to withstand the impulse to open the browser or anything else to fill this gap. Just sit there (or stand) and wait. After a while the magic will happen: New ideas will come up into your mind. Your mind needs these breaks to get back into creativity mode. This isn’t wasted time, instead it’s one of the most valuable things you can do with it. In my experience the best ideas are created during these mind breaks. Try it out and tell me your observations and experiences in the comments. I’m already looking forward to read them.
1

food for thought, life
Dogma
Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization. It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers. Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities. The term derives from Greek δόγμα “that which seems to one, opinion or belief”and that from δοκέω (dokeo), “to think, to suppose, to imagine”. Dogma came to signify laws or ordinances adjudged and imposed upon others by the First Century. The plural is either dogmas or dogmata , from Greek δόγματα. (Source: Wikipedia)
Dogmatism is a wide spread bad habit in our industry.  You can find it nearly everywhere. There are the vi dogmatists against the Emacs dogmatists. The C dogmatists against the C++ dogmatists. The Java dogmatists against the C# or C++ dogmatists and also the agile dogmatists against the rest. IMHO dogmatism sucks. It does not only suck once it always sucks. Dogmatism blocks progress and impedes yourself to look beyond your own nose. It does not help to bang your head against a wall a thousand time, just because this is part of your dogmatic believe. It’s not always true that your Scrum implementation failed because you did it wrong. There are a lot of cases, where a plain Scrum implementation won’t work in your environment, in your context. In such cases, it doesn’t make sense to increase the number of prayers to your Scrum god. It won’t help you. The only thing that helps now, is to stop being dogmatic and look beyond your own nose. There are a lot of interesting practises also from other “religions”. Even the evil god of “waterfalls” had some good ideas. But dogmatism also blocks your self development. There a people who are dogmatic about there belief that they can’t sing, dance, write, coach, code, learn an instrument, you name it. In some rare cases this may be true, but in most cases this is bullshit. The human being is an awesome creature that can do the impossible. One first step could be, to leave your dogma behind you. Let’s try it out and leave a comment about your experiences.
2

food for thought, life

The first time I read about the Core Protocols was about one year ago. Yves Hanoulle and a bunch of other people wrote an awesome article, describing the Core Protocol using a conversation between Yves and a fictional character. Simply said, the Core Protocols consist of a set of commitments and communication protocols, that can help to create high performance teams.

6

food for thought

Have you ever been invited to a wedding without food? Have you ever been to a birthday party without a cake? What about a barbecue without the meat? Watching a football match without chips and beer? Even at a funeral they serve some food. Usually when people meet, there is also something to eat (and to drink). People love to socialize around some (great) food.

So why don’t you serve some food, when you have a meeting in your company? I attended an awful big number of boring (and even some interesting) meetings without food. But what I did observe is, that food is one of the secret ingredients for a successful meeting.

Think about your last sprint planning meeting. In the worst case, (for a 4 week sprint) the whole sprint planning lasts for 8(!) hours. But even a 4 hours sprint planning is quite long. It doesn’t matter if you plan such a meeting in the morning or in the afternoon; towards the last 1 or 2 hours, everybody gets hungry. And if you are hungry you start thinking, where to get food. And if you think about food, it is very hard to focus on the latest user story. But if of you’re a smart ScrumMaster, you’re prepared. You ordered a big chunk of pizza that will arrive just in time. That way nobody has to think about food, because everybody knows that the ScrumMaster took care for it. But bringing food also has other advantages, even in smaller meetings:

  • The atmosphere is more relaxed and comfy
  • Better results
  • People will love to attend your meetings
  • Less late comers
  • No collywobbles 😉

If you still don’t believe me, ask e.g. @vinylbaustein. He loves to bring food to his meetings. Try it, you won’t regret it. I promise…

4

food for thought, life

When was the last time you tried to see a situation with the eyes of a different person? Humans tend to think that everybody has the same view of the world as themselves and that everybody has the same perception. Of course, we all know this isn’t true. Everybody has a different perception, and that’s why it is so important to try to see the situation with the eyes of your counterpart.

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