Archives for the ‘Agile Baby’ Category

Happy Father’s Day

Unconditional Acceptance

Strange But Not Surprising

Just as there’s no definitive job description for “Mother”, “Mum” or “Ma” (or whatever you call your mother or mother figure), there isn’t one for “Father”, “Dad” or “Da” either.

Love No Matter What

To me, “Father” means gentle, kind, patient, loving, responsible, lead-by-example, team player, always learning and makes things better. After watching an inspiring Ted talk by Andrew Solomon, I have added to my list “accepting”.

According to Andrew Solomon, a father or parent not only loves their child unconditionally, they unconditionally accept who their child is. They accept who their child has chosen to be. They accept who their child has become.

The Transformative Power of Love

Now that I’m a parent, I realise acceptance is a big ask of a parent, perhaps even more than unconditional love, because it demands we forego judging our children.

So how do we stop judging our children when we spend so much time and effort judging what’s good and bad for them when they’re little (and may be even long after they need us to make decisions on their behalf)?

The answer lies in what defines a father. By being gentler, kinder and more patient with ourselves, we don’t just become better parents, it’s a chance to change who we are and become a better person.

The Philosophical Parent

“A man never steps in the same river twice because neither the river nor the man are the same” – Gopnik with Heraclitus

From Pregnancy to Parenting

If being pregnant is like being Frodo in Lord of the Rings, then being a parent is like being Neo in The Matrix. My #1 Lesson Learned as a new parent is that my next move changes the map. Not only does this force me to constantly confront the edges of my comfort zone, it’s taught me a thing or two about a baby’s mind.

A Beautiful Mind

According to Alison Gopnik, “When we change the way we think, we also change the way thinking feels to us. When what we know changes, our experience changes, too.” It follows then that a sign of learning is that we change our minds based on the information we obtain. A mind that remains unchanging doesn’t just belong to a stubborn personality, it’s proof of a mind that has ossified. And we all know that when something stops growing it’s dying.

“Let’s play Pretend!”

If each human being is a “creation of the human imagination”, as viewed by Gopnik, then the world’s our oyster. In order to change the world around us, we need to begin with an open mind and who better to learn from than babies and children?

How much of the Unexpected do you encounter on an hourly or daily basis to keep you on your toes? Begin by watching Alison Gopnik’s talk on “What Babies Think” on

News of a New Arrival

Happy 2013 one and all!

My baby daughter was born just before Christmas. Many thanks for all your words of encouragement and wisdom on parenting to date! They’re much appreciated.

Keep the tips and advice coming as I find them super invaluable! Always learning. Always improving.

Mum’s the Word

Eight months ago, I applied for a new job as “Mum-To-Be”. My first release will be around Christmas Day, plus or minus two weeks. I’m hoping for a calm and smooth release instead of the “big bang” kind we see all too often on software projects. If the release goes well, I will be promoted to “full-time Mum” (part-timers need not apply).

“It’s a 24/7 job for life regardless of whether or not you have a day job. Are you sure you’re ready for this level of commitment and this kind of responsibility?” asked the Quiet Voice in my head to which my Heart and Mind both replied, “We’ll do our best.”

The Magical Role of Mum

Given the importance of the role of Mum (and of course the equally important role of Dad), you’d think there would be a definitive parent job description, complete with responsibilities, skills, qualifications and attributes clearly laid out and readily available to everyone.

Only it turns out that parenting is one of the most controversial topics you’ll ever stumble upon, be it in the playground or by the water cooler at work. And no such definitive parent job description exists.

A Case of the Vital Vacancy

That’s when I decide to apply my hard-learned principle of “Use what I know”. I know I want to do a good job and since motivation is key to a job well done, I look to Dan Pink’s theory on motivation (aka drive) for inspiration. According to Dan, developing and maintaining motivation requires three vital ingredients. Dan gives a compelling talk on on the theory.

  1. Autonomy – Be self-directing
  2. Mastery – Improve continuously
  3. Purpose – Serve something beyond our own needs

After all, life’s a marathon not a sprint. Sustaining good performance is equally as important as attaining a level of good performance in the first place.

Words from the Wise

But there’s no need to take a wannabee’s word for the real deal when it comes to parenting. Here’s what my parenting friends tell me:

“You’re going to learn at the fastest rate since you yourself was a child. Fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride!”

“Hope you enjoy every second! It is an amazing adventure. It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.”

“We’ll miss you a lot – looking forward to hearing how Agile works with kids!”

“You’re going to have more fun than you can possibly imagine!”

“Forget about 2-week sprints. Prepare for 2-hour sprints day… and night!”

“Hope the release goes according to plan!”

What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Generosity of Parents

Amidst the hustle bustle of city life, one of the most surprising things about parenting is how willing people are in sharing their experiences. The good, the bad and the ugly.

“When’s the baby due?” they’d ask.

“Christmas,” I’d reply. “I’d appreciate any tips or recommended reading,” I’d add.

And while not everything might make sense to me right now, I’ve learned to squirrel away their advice because there are some lessons I don’t need to learn by making costly mistakes.

Advice Worth its Weight in Gold

Here’s some of the recurring advice I hear:

  • “You’ll know what to do when the time comes”
  • “Trust your instinct”
  • “Get as much sleep as you can now and enjoy it!”
  • “If you’re calm, the baby will follow your cue”
  • “Everyone will tell you their way’s the right way. Listen and do what’s right for you”
  • “Spending time with my children is a conscious decision and the best one I’ve made”

Their collective wealth of experience inspires me with several thoughts:

  • Be kind and gentle to yourself
  • All you can do is your best and keep improving
  • Sustainable pace

It seems that parenting and Agile have a great deal in common. It certainly seems like a good test of one’s personal agility. How do you put your agility to the test?

Up Close and Uncomfortable

Challenging the Caring Profession

In the run-up to my Christmas baby, I’ve had more close encounters with those who work in the “caring profession” than I’ve had since I first arrived in the world over all those years ago.

And all the time I now spend in waiting rooms has given me lots of time to think.

Caring vs Competence

What makes me uncomfortable is the large number of people I’ve met who are not only not passionate about their job but are incompetent at what they do.

In my experience, the caring profession is no exception in a world where we are encouraged to demand more than the value we actually add.

What People Want

The usual demand goes something like this: “I want more recognition, more money, more influence, more power…” And so the wish list continues.

And I find myself asking in return: “How much value are you providing for your current wage? How do you provide a positive Return-On-Investment to your organisation?”

If you cannot answer these questions to your satisfaction and that of your organisation’s, how would you feel if your organisation asked for some of their money back? After all, it seems only fair.

If you’re not helping to make things better, it’s more likely than not that you’re making things worse.

What’s a “caring profession” anyway?

I’ve come to define a caring profession as one that:
a) Involves people AND/OR
b) Impacts people

Why? Because caring is key to creating a positive customer experience. Caring also inspires us to improve at our craft in order to serve others better. All this results in more value for everyone to enjoy.

Based on my definition, most of us work in the caring profession.

What if you were to blame a little less and care a little more? How could you change the world around you?

Mind the Bump

A Personal Transformation

I recently became a walking social experiment. One that puts the human kindness of London commuters to the test. What’s more, it’s part of embarking on a “life-changing” journey. The kind that when you tell people about it, those in the know nod sagely and say, “It’s going to be nothing like you’ve ever imagined and nothing can prepare you for it. It will change your life forever.”

At this point, their brows usually furrow and their faces darken, but for a moment. Then they smile and say, “But it’s all worth it.” I can’t help but wonder if they’re offering me reassurance or consolation of what is to come.

The Kindess of Strangers

Commuting in London can seem like an Olympic event at the best of times and when you’re carrying a large bump with you, it’s inevitable that you start to see a different side of your fellow commuters.

The first thing I began to notice is how many people are preoccupied with their own thoughts as the carriage judders towards their usual station. These people clearly have a lot on their mind. These people don’t notice me at all.

Then there are those who leap up with an electric shock to offer me their seat. After thanking them, as I sit down I wonder what makes them offer me a seat when none of the other passengers do.

Just last week, after slipping into an empty seat on a semi-crowded train, I noticed a fellow mum-to-be. I waved and offered her my seat but she waved back to indicate that under no circumstances would she take my seat. Eventually, someone else gave up their seat for her after our brief mime exchange.

Slow Down to Make Sense of Being

To be honest, I used to be one of those people with too much on their mind to really see other people for who they are. Ever since acquiring my bump, I’ve had to slow down and it’s made more aware of others as well as myself. For instance, if you look carefully, you’ll find that London is packed full of pregnant women, going about their business like everybody else.

I’ve also come to appreciate the great gift that is the offer of a seat on the crowded tube by a fellow traveller. The fact is, there’s always someone who needs that seat more than us.

What small gesture of kindness can you make this Monday morning on your way to work?