Your Obituary

Beyond being at least half-decent at relating to a few key humans, what do you want it to say on your obituary?

Are there episodes to your life / career?

Are there grand acts of service / contributions to a field?

Are there noble crafts you dedicated yourself to each day?

Is this an exercise that helps you figure out what to do now & next?

What is your legacy?

So yeah. I think about this. A lot.

Minimum Viable Performance

Today is significant to me.

12 years ago, today, I started working full-time. I tested medical devices, mostly manually, working my way up a ladder to get “Senior” in my title. Towards the end, I dabbled in Agility as a part-time Scrum Master for my team.

6 years ago, today, I changed careers. I was a full-time Scrum Master for a couple of distributed teams, working my way through much learning and self-discovery to get “Agile Coach” as my title. Lately, I’ve dabbled in performance as a podcaster.

Today, I want to mark a new career episode.

Continue reading Minimum Viable Performance

Guardrails for Glee

I blog twice a week. To me, that’s impressive. Yes, I’m impressed with myself, and every once in a while, I pat myself on the back, which is akin to the SelfFive. (They’re not all quality.) (That’s besides the point.)

In reality, I blog in spurts, creating content in batches, scheduling their release on a schedule. So, technically, I publish twice a week. (Big whoop.) (Still proud.)

You may ask yourself, though, how one drums up enough content to blog about. (I wasn’t asking that.) (Dude. Chill.)

  • Sometimes, I share what I’m learning as I learn it, whether it’s from painstakingly analyzing a larger work, like a book, or from gradually building up a larger idea, like what feels like more of an original contribution.
  • Sometimes, I’m inspired by the YouTube videos I listen to as I do dishes, realizing they may loosely relate to something I’ve already blogged about.

This post is from the former. I’ll start with five lines. (Wow, you’re not even going to hide it.) (Yep. I’m embracing the process, sharing that process along the way, all meta-like, and I’ll save smooth blog post introductions for another time.)

  • from MVP post: Will this be an audio platform for the music I want to make that I keep kicking myself for not doing? How convenient. Will this be fun? You betcha.
  • from MVP post: To get to that vision, though, you need to take a step, which means embracing the phrase, β€œThis is enough for now.β€œ
  • from Side Hustling post: get to regularly releasing, focusing in the short-term on improving quality of style and quality of content
  • from Side Hustling post: I believe if I “do a variety of fun & interesting things, with my skills & passions, every day,” then I won’t hate myself as I work towards other revenue streams
  • glee definition: great delight

I feel like I’ve lowered the barrier to outputting blog posts (…after 9 years… geez) (after… 9 years… wow), and I’d like to do the same for the podcast. And I’ve got a couple of things in my favour.

  • passion: I feel a sense of glee when I think about the serious & silly musical possibilities from this audio platform.
  • skill: I look forward to the challenge of learning a platform (GarageBand for iOS) because editing & producing from anywhere feels bad-ass.

The vision is so grand that it’s intimidating, and that’s what’s impeding me. Thus, this blog post is mostly to remind myself to take a step, and much like the blog in its early days, take a small step, embracing the phrase, “This is enough for now.”

So with these next few episodes, I’m folding in a new styling, like voice alteration for the evil-Merrill antagonistic voice you occasionally see here, in italics, and in parentheses (Who, me?), or somehow conveying content where I added an unnecessary but lightly comical alternative a strikethrough, or doing justice to lengthier sections that describe an alternate scene. These are all aspects of my playful style, my steez, which I’ve grown comfortable with for this blog medium, and I’ve grown curiosity for in how I can get them to translate to a podcast. Yes, I’m sure I’ll find other stylings that are podcast-specific, but I’m starting somewhere, in the spirit of embracing the phrase, “This is enough for now.”

(So what are these guardrails?)

To better enjoy this podcasting journey of passion (glee!) and skill (challenge!), I’ve got to take a small step in styling, through a small step in content, embracing the phrase, “This is enough for now.”

(Kinda overkill with that phrase, wouldn’t ya say?)

(Dude. Chill. That is enough.)

(…For now? πŸ˜‰)

(For now. 😎)

This is All So Strange, so Give Yourself a Sprint Zero

Have you seriously paused since being told to work from home (because of the Coronavirus) (to enact Social Distancing) (to #FlattenTheCurve)?

Have you seriously paused since your kids’ school closed and now they’re home with you for more of the week, with fewer to no day care options?

Have you seriously paused since your state governor issued a stay-at-home order?

Have you paused at all?

My 4.5-year-old daughter calls this, “an unusual time,” likely because that’s how we’ve craftily termed it at home, and I’ve found that my habits & projects & routine & …’life stance’ are either out of whack, or …not internally aligned. Has your daily & weekly schedule been thrown for a loop?

When school then business then social closures occurred, I folded each event in, like being told the train would be delayed: it’s annoying, now super-annoying, now super-duper-annoying, but I’ll simply adjust my daily & weekly goals & expectations, that’s all, ain’t no thang. Who am I kidding? This is a thang. Have your goals & expectations been more than simply adjusted?

In Scrum terms:

  • Kaizen is not enough – this time is too unusual for small experiments in continuous improvement
  • Cancelling a Sprint is not enough – this time is too unusual for stopping, and then regrouping, and then doing Sprint Planning
  • Sprint Zero feels better – this time is too unusual for anything other than an effort in re-teaming & re-chartering

I recommend seriously pausing. I mean, I’m still doing work-related stuff, and I’m still supporting the school for which I’m on the board, and I’m still the husband & Papa of my family, and for everything else, there’s MasterCard I’m seriously pausing, if for nothing other than to grieve the normalcy that was lost, to take a breath and look around with eyes wider open, and to decide how I want to conduct myself given I have access to good health, friendly faces under a roof, a roof, a fridge of food, healthy food, funds to float us a few months, solid internet access for FaceTiming with my daughter’s friends, water, and toilet paper.

This time is not normal.

This is not a tweak, or a series of tweaks, from a month ago.

This time is seriously different. (I mean, we don’t have WWII-style posters saying how it’s our Patriotic Duty to stay at home) (yet)

Seriously pause.

Seriously pause, be introspective, and figure out how the fuck you want to conduct yourself for these next few months.

And then in a week, pause again, ’cause that shit sure didn’t stick.

POST-SCRIPT

And ain’t this the Agile thing to do?

  • Do stuff.
  • Get feedback.
  • Now ready yourself to do stuff again, incorporating that feedback.

So pausing, while disruptive, is Agile, just at a larger time-scale than Scrum tends to talk about it.

Oh, and know how to wash your hands.

Agile Mentoring

Wanna make a difference? Maybe some money? Look into this under-tapped market: Agile Mentoring. Google it. Hard. Do you see people providing this?

There is pain. You can step in.

I’ve thought about it. Hard. (Twice.) And then put it down. Even harder. (Just as twice.) I even got a domain name, started a Slack group, and recruited some introductory members, deepening relationships while embarking on a program.

Here is my pitch:

Continue reading Agile Mentoring