Archives for the Month of May, 2012

My 30 Day Challenge: Sneak Preview in Production


As Cinderella said to the Prince, “Better late than never.” The fact is, I actually published my 30 Day Challenge deliverable 22 hours ahead of schedule! I’ve released a sneak preview of the top secret project I’ve been working on.

Get your first glimpse of it here on Leanpub. Amuse-bouche, amuse-toi!

The official launch of the full adventure will be on 6 June 2012. Happy glimpsing until then.

Special Thanks

This book would not exist if it hadn’t been for the huge support from everyone who has encouraged me to keep writing and gave me the gift of feedback as well as advice when I needed it most.

Special thanks to the following daring Agile Adventurers:

Dan Talpău, Monika Koscian, Staffan Nöteberg, Steve Hollings, Antti Kirjavainen, Thorsten Kalnin, Alissa Fingleton, Chris Bird, Benjamin Tung, Maya Tung, Adrian Tung, Dyan Corutiu, Maria Bortes, Tamas Jano, Ioana Jano, Chris Hogben, Simon Parkinson, Sandro Mancuso, Pete Thomas, Mazda Hewitt, Vera Peeters, Jenni Jepsen, Yves Hanoulle, Steve Holyer, Clarke Ching, Phil Trelford, Graham Lee, Markku Åhman, Kevlin Henney, Eoin Woods, Simon Brown, Nat Pryce, Jens Hoffmann, Chantal Ellam, Sara Lewis, Sharmila Sabaratnam and Steven Smith.


The Greatest Love of All

“A world without love is a deadly place” – Helen Fisher

Player’s Log – Day 15 of my 30 Day Challenge

It should come as no surprise when you live in a place like the UK and the weather lady candidly forecasts a second month of wind and rain. To be fair, the weather isn’t always dreary in the UK, but the seasonal weather seems to redefine itself year on year.

Nonetheless, as I make my way to work this morning, I’m acutely aware that the weather outside pretty much reflects how I’m feeling inside. They warned me this would happen but that hasn’t made it easier. Foretelling what has to come offers no consolation when you find yourself caught in the eye of the storm.

I’m referring to what the organisers of the 30 Day Challenge call the “midway slump”. It’s the precise moment when the euphoria of living your dream (Day 15 and counting…) collides with the tarmac of reality. The moment when hope gives way under a crescendo of self-doubt and criticism.

As part of the 30 Day Challenge, I’ve taken to sharing my project with others, telling certain people about the crazy challenge I’ve set myself as well as ask for help. I figured I might as well use the opportunity to develop my stoicism.

What would you say?

There are usually 3 kinds of responses.

The first is one of support and encouragement. “Sure! I’ll review your book. It would be an honour to.” This is mostly followed by detailed feedback and input.

The second is one of silence from thin lips followed by a slight nod of the head which I take as a cue to change topics.

The third is one of destructive criticism and even outright condemnation. “I wouldn’t waste my time doing that if I were you,” such people would tell me knowingly.

Believe in “WE”

So what is my takeaway from these responses?

That you have to share your dreams with others to find people who share your dreams. And when you find each other, support one another.

That it’s up to each and everyone one of us to discover what matters to us even when we’re surrounded by people who don’t care.

That if we’re in the business of nurturing people, why do so many of us choose to destroy dreams instead of help them flourish?

What words or acts of nurture will you choose to use today?

On Becoming a Manager

Free Will or Predestination?

One of the most memorable quotes I’ve ever come across in terms of organisations is one from Peter Drucker who observed that “Organisations form and deform people.” This quote terrified me at first because I realised immediately that that could become my fate (or it was already too late). This thought, in turn, reminded me of the lengthy university literature debates we had on “free will vs predestination” (based on my term in 18th century French literature).

Eventually, my mind came back with a reply in response to Drucker’s remark and it’s been one of my guiding principles as a coach ever since. Just as it takes two to tango, the flip side of Drucker’s coin is this: “People allow themselves to be formed and deformed.”

With great power comes great responsibility

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of being passionate about what you do. This is especially important when it comes to managing people. It’s crucial that you care about people enough to create Win-Win situations because that’s your job as a manager.

Being a manager is about nurture not punishment. It’s about bringing the best out of people. It’s about learning to care for others as much as for yourself. You only have listen to the language a manager uses to identify which school of management they graduated from.

It’s also equally important to be sufficiently self-aware to know when you care too much. The danger of feeling too much could compromise your judgment and effectiveness.

The Power of Being Human

In the words of Uncle Ben of Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”. All too often, we become so focused on personal gain that we forget our true purpose. Although we like to think ourselves brave and daring, we are secretly afraid of looking in the mirror our people hold up in front of us every time we interact with them.

The days of employing rudimentary techniques such as “carrot-and-stick” to create “successful” organisations are disappearing. How would you like to be treated like a donkey? When was the last time you read up on the latest people management techniques and applied them? How often do you ask your direct reports for open feedback? What improvement actions do you take and track to close the feedback loop? What do you do to become better today than you were yesterday every day?

Dare to Dream

“We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” – Marianne Williamson

Player’s Log – Day 4 of my 30 Day Challenge

I promised to tell you a bit about my 30-day play project. It’s to publish a business novel with a twist based on my experiences as an Agile consultant-coach. On 31 May, I will launch the result of my endeavour. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I’ve had fun in creating it.

Daunting Dreams

I’ll be glad to finally set it free having cogitated over it since last December. The fact is, I first came up with the idea a few years ago, but lacked the courage and oomph to get it started, let alone get it finished. And whenever I managed to make a start (and there have been so many I’ve lost count), I quickly put it away, afraid that it would be a waste of my time and of other people’s.

Live Your Dreams

That was then, this is now. As part of the 30 Day Challenge, I’ve pledged to work on my play project for at least 20 minutes a day, 6 days a week, with a day of rest on the 7th. I’m applying much of what I’ve learned as a coach, from being gentle with myself to working incrementally and iteratively and it’s working.

With a Personal Purpose, Your Life will Flourish

Based on my experience so far, living your dream is one of the best tests of your personal agility. It requires you to apply much of what you know and believe in to get you going and keep you moving forward. There are many benefits. The most profound one is that it reinvigorates your personal sense of purpose.

Reflecting on my progress so far, I discover that my renewed sense of purpose has helped bring to life many more of my dreams, both at work and at home.

How can you breathe life into your dream today? What’s the smallest baby step you can take to bring you closer?