Changing Lives

I was getting my usual taxi to work this morning and I got a driver I didn’t know. We exchanged pleasantries and then he asked me what I do for a living. I normally way up my answers, if I say Agile coach I then have to spend the next 10 minutes explaining what that is and if I say project manager for ease, that is really a lie. Today when he asked me I said ‘I help people change their lives’.

I did not say this for reasons of arrogance, I said this with a sense of pride.

There were two things that happened to me yesterday that has left me a little emotional. I am not usually one to show much emotion, but there are times when I struggle to keep it contained.

Event 1

I have been working with my client for about a year now. I call this ‘Going in deep’. Rightly or wrongly as a coach when I am in deep I form strong emotional bonds with people I coach. This is part me being their mentor, coach and then eventual their friend and peer.

I work closely with these people challenging the way they think about the work they do and how they do it. Most importantly I challenge the beliefs they have about themselves.

My overarching belief about everyone I meet is that they are a bundle of potential that just needs to be released. I will not make assumptions about them and I asked the same about me.

Most of my time my work is about building confidence in them and giving them the knowledge, tools to do their work and support.

I love to champion the wildcard and the underdog, I look for that spark in people that I know I can work with. I can teach you everything you need to know, but you have to want it and work hard for it.

Richard and Doug at my current client are my wildcard and underdog. Richard is the wildcard because he came to me as a developer with partial ScrumMaster experience and Doug as the underdog because he was very vulnerable when I met him.

I am so proud of both of them. I have seen Richard grow so much and there is so much potential there. We certainly have a coach of the future here.

But my story is about Doug, that unsure person who I first met a year go, who did not really know where he was heading or even if he was on the right path. The Doug I know today is knowledgeable, confident and completes his role with ease. Yes he makes mistakes, but so do I!

I have been watching Doug grow now for over a year and I knew it was a matter of time before he is ready to fly the nest and find his new challenge. Sometimes people need to change something to develop confidence further and to extend knowledge in a different environment.

Doug has found a new nest to fly to and I am so proud of him and the journey he has made. It makes me so happy when I see this happen, but it also makes me sad at the same time because I am seeing him go. This is why coaches should not get as attached as me, but it is part of who I am and part of how I teach, coach and mentor.

I know Doug and I will remain friends and I will always be here for him. He doesn’t know this yet, but I am going to ask three things of him.

1) Always be confident in yourself and your abilities

2) Never form beliefs about people

3) One day you will meet someone whose life you can influence. Don’t walk away from that.

My life was influenced by Margaret Morgan, my Agile yoda. Without her I would have not been an Agile Coach and I would probably still be working at Aviva.

Event 2

It was the Kanban Coaching Exchange in London last night and was facilitated by my good friend Dan Brown. I had seen this talk before and so I had one ear open, while quietly working in the background. His talk was about coaching and the comparison to what we do as Agile coaches and what they teach him as a rugby coach. I have to say that 20 minutes in I had to close my laptop and listen because in what he was saying was true nuggets of inspiration mixed with him being humble about his journey and his belief about himself as a coach. He laid himself bare and vulnerable to the audience as he talked about his experiences coaching. So why did this hit an emotional chord with me? Because I had forgotten how much influence coaches have on peoples lives. How our beliefs, behaviours and moods can influence people for the positive or for the worse. To quote a film ‘With great power comes great responsibility’

Both of these events made me take another look at my life and be thankful for what I have. It also makes me think about my behaviours and the influence I have on others.

The best bit about my job is not Agile, it is watching people flourish.

Have a think about how you influence others around you?

PS: Not forgetting my other fledglings: Ben Cooke, Gareth Waterhouse, Chris Houlden and Duncan Smith.