The Boy Who Could Dream

Life is short make it worthwhile

Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, there lived a young man with a head full of dreams.

Every night he would fall asleep and tour castles in the air and see the world on one long magic carpet ride.

Every morning he would wake up, but instead of feeling refreshed, he felt sad. Sad that his dreams stayed only in his head while the carpet in his living room grew dustier by the day.

Then just before the young man’s wheeze developed into a dust allergy, he came across a rusty looking lamp at his local charity shop.

Intrigued by what the lamp would look like after a clean, he gave it a good rub.

And that’s the moment when everything changed.

The young man discovered the genie’s promise of three wishes was no more than a myth, one that the genie had herself made up to stop greedy people from wanting more without taking the time to figure out what they really needed.

And it was a long time before the young man made his first wish for he didn’t want to wish his life away.

And so it was and always will be that everything we dream of begins with a wish.

Living Agile in 2014

Christmas Message 2014

As Christmas Day draws near and 2015 beckons, it’s time to reflect on the past year before figuring out my answers to “what next?”.

Looking back, 2014 has been full of play, fun and laughter – much more than I’ve ever experienced, both at work and at home.

That’s not to say that it’s all been a lovely walk in the park. Being in the business of organisational change means there are plenty of draughts and floods, plagues and nightmares, and much more besides.

The thing that stands out most in 2014 for me is the importance of mindset. Set your heart and mind to something and magic happens.

Highlights at Work

  • Returning to work after a year of intense learning as a first time mother and discovering the Agile seeds I sowed a year ago still growing in my workplace!
  • Hearing pennies drop and seeing lightbulbs light up at an internal work conference “UBSTechConf” I helped co-chair – thanks to Ian Bond for co-chairing, the internal and external speakers for their inspiring talks and Skillsmatter for all their help and event-organising expertise!
  • Challenging people to define their own purpose at work in order to realise the goals of their organisation in an interactive talk I co-delivered at “UBSTechConf” – thanks to Tom Miller for his continued support and collaboration in growing Agile at work!
  • Achieving a life-work balance by defining goals and setting clear priorities that kept me going and growing!
  • Making many more friends who’ve helped make Enterprise Gardening more fun and rewarding than ever!

Highlights at Play

  • Getting a session on the topical subject of “Resilience” selected for BCS SPA 2015 and being invited back for an encore at Mini SPA – a recognition that “soft” topics are vital for success in IT
  • Playing with 130 participants at Agile Cambridge by giving my first ever keynote on my favourite topic: “The Power of Play” – thanks to Mark Dalgarno for the invitation!
  • Awaking Snow White at Agile Tour London by playing “Mirror, Mirror on the Wall… Why Me?”, one of my favourite Agile Fairytales!
  • Receiving feedback from readers of “The Dream Team Nightmare“, the first ever Agile novel written in the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure genre!

Making Magic Happen for You

What about you? What are your highlights in 2014? And what are your wishes for 2015?

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas! And thank you for reading!

Edge of Tomorrow Today

Love Your Life

Tom Cruise has been a continuous source of inspiration in my personal Agile journey in so many ways.

In Jerry Maguire, he emphasised the importance of “Show me the money!”, a quote I use whenever I talk about prioritisation by business value.

Then there are the diverse and dangerous missions he gets assigned to, to which he always responds with a purposeful smile and a gleam in his eye.

And now his latest film has proved to be the ultimate inspiration to people like us, agents of change for greater good.

The parallels between the hero’s conundrum in Edge of Tomorrow (aka Live Die Repeat) bears more than a canny resemblance to what many of us experience at work. Day after day after day. It’s no wonder then things eventually get us down.

That’s when I remember what Peter Drucker says, grand daddy of organisational culture. “Organisations form and deform people,” he said.

It seemed like such a bleak observation when I first heard it all those years ago, that I found myself boldly reply, “It takes two to tango. People allow themselves to be formed and deformed.”

I know that according to systems thinking a bad system beats good people every time, but what if those good people worked together to improve the system? To change the game for a better tomorrow?

I know how hard things can be when everything seems intent on catching you out or making you stumble.

In my experience, the trick is to keep playing when the going gets tough and make friends. Because you never know when you’ll need them. And a lifelong journey of change is best enjoyed in good company and laughter.

What if each of us could “re-set” and change the future by learning from each moment that passes?

Live. Love. Repeat.

The Edible Birthday

Birthday Cake

I’m a September baby and this year, I treated my friends at work to the most scrumptious cake I’ve ever seen. What better way to remind us of transformative journeys along the Yellow Brick Road than with the Rainbow Cake by Hummingbird Cafe.

Folks ummed and ahhed at the sight of the multi-coloured layers of this beautiful cake only to be further and pleasantly surprised by the bubble gum flavoured icing as they savoured their slice.

“If I still wrote software, this would be the kind of software I’d create,” I mused, drunken on sugary goodness.

“Don’t you think that would smack of over-engineering?” remarked a fellow cake-connoisseur.

Of course, what I really meant to say is that I marvel at the thought of creating something so thoughtful and thought-provoking as the Rainbow cake. A work of exquisite (and, optionally, edible) beauty that would brighten the world and remind us of what passion, creativity and craftsmanship can produce.

All this serves as a timely reminder that we need to live our dreams to make them come true.

Here’s to enjoying the rainbows on your journey of a lifetime. Happy Birthday one and all!

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches

Food for Thought

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is the new addition to my mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

BONUS: You can download the entire series published in the PragProg Magazine:

For more ideas on personal and team development, take a look at “The Dream Team Nightmare – Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques“. Happy Coaching!

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 14 – Harness Your Empathy

Habit 14 – Harness Your Empathy

Some say it’s impossible for a man who’s warm to understand a man who’s cold. Empathy is the first step towards understanding. It’s a key skill that all of us can develop. Empathy begins with an open mind.

Exercise: Lunch with “The Other”

Choose a colleague who often has opposing viewpoints to yours. Invite them to lunch. Explain you’d like to better understand their thinking and that you’d appreciate if they’d be open to yours. You promise to both keep an open mind and listen deeply. Bon appétit!

For more information, see: Ted talk by Elizabeth Lesser on Take ‘the Other’ for Lunch.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 13 – Motivate with Flow

Habit 13 – Motivate with Flow

One of the greatest sources of satisfaction is achieving flow in what you do. Instead of motivating people through reward and/or recognition, create an environment where people have the chance to practice and get good at what they do. The satisfaction derived from flow will be greater than anything extrinsic has to offer.

Exercise: Free Flow

Identify a goal and a timebox (eg 15 minutes). Then do an activity in that timebox that enables you to get closer to your goal. Notice how you felt as you focused on the task at hand. What did you achieve? How can you flow again? How can you flow on demand?

For more information, see: Ted talk by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi on Flow, the secret to happiness.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

Bounce: How to harness your resilience in a changing world

The Challenges We Face

Are you feeling stressed? Do you feel uncertain about the future? Everyday we find ourselves facing different challenges, accomplishing various tasks and constantly adapting.

As mankind has evolved, we’ve become more conscious and informed of who we are and how our minds work. Resilience, previously considered a personality trait, is now a vital modern-life skill which can be developed to help us better deal with everyday challenges as well as great adversity.

My friend Lauren L’ecaros and I have created a brand new 75-minute session to help us all better understand how resilient we are and figure out how to become more resilient in order to overcome our next big challenge.

Check out this presentation complete with speaker notes on Slideshare released under the Creative Commons Share-Alike-By-Attribution licence. Have fun with your colleagues, friends and family:

Bounce: How to harness your resilience in a changing world from Portia Tung

Going for Hope

During our search to increase our resilience, we noticed 4 key factors common in helping us tackle our challenges.

We call it the HOPE model.

Help – We can benefit from asking for help as much as giving it
Openness – Being present and daring to be vulnerable with the things we share with others
Perseverance – Never give up. If at first you don’t succeed, try something different
Ease – Strive to perform at your best

Why not give Hope a go?

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 12 – Dare to Be Different

Habit 12 – Dare to Be Different

Nothing stays the same but one thing’s for certain. Things change. Choose to challenge and change the status quo for better. Be the beacon that encourages people to stand up and stand out. When you’re bold and brave, you can transform the grey into a rainbow.

Exercise: Be a Super Hero

If you were a super hero, who would you be and why? Or perhaps, if you had a superpower what would it be and why? Take turns answering either or both of these questions over lunch with your friends at work. How can you leverage all your superpowers to transform the way you work for the better?

For more information, see: Watch a film or read a comic about a super hero (eg Kick-Ass). Ideally, do this with friends. It’s more fun and so much more empowering! Repeat the exercise and see what new ideas you can come up with. The more “out there” the idea, the better!

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches: Habit 11 – A Good Teacher is a Good Student

Habit 11 – A Good Teacher is a Good Student

An effective coach is an effective teacher. An effective teacher listens. They recognise the needs of the student. They help a student think through a problem by asking open and genuine questions which challenge their assumptions and beliefs.

An effective coach understands the importance of continuous learning, both learning something new or expanding existing knowledge as well as practicing the skill of learning.

Exercise: Get and Give

Ask someone for help or advice. Reflect on the conversation afterwards. Identify what worked well during the conversation then apply one of the techniques the next time someone comes to you for help or advice. Last, but not least, reflect on how effectively you’ve applied what you’ve learned.

For more information, see: The Yellow Brick Road – Insights Through Peer Coaching an Agile Fairytale for learning the 4 key coaching skills of Questioning, Observing, Listening and Feedback.

About This Blog Entry

The Next 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is part of a mini series inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“. You can find the first 7 habits here.