Don’t Go Through It. Grow Through It.

We’ve all encountered it. We’re present at some Team activity, and we’re there, but we’re not there. We’ve shown up, but that’s about it. Chances are, our mindset this minute has nothing to do with today. Like anything mentally or emotionally disruptive in the realm of human experience, our mindset is due to the lingering “after-effects” of something past.

For whatever reason, things cling. Impressions depress. Statements stagnate. It’s bad enough to carry around some of that baggage as we’re trying to get our work done. It’s yet another matter when we allow it to disconnect us from the other brains in the room, when we engage in activities that require our own neurons to connect with those of others around us. Or worse yet, allow those things to become virtual vampires, feeding off the energy of everyone else in the room.

You know what I’m talking about. Using the three questions during Standup as a tacit status endorsement or defensive screen. Putting on a smiley face if someone asks, “How did this Sprint go?” All the while that little voice is saying, “Something smells!”

You may even know what or where that smell is coming from (it could even be yourself). We might harbor real concerns or apprehensions about how things are, how we’re interacting with one another.

Rather than use one of the core values of courage in our vulnerability, we…”go through it, [not] grow through it.”1 The statement “courage in vulnerability” may be a strange thing to wrap your head around, but some of history’s greatest lessons flow out of its application. Ever hear of Gandhi? Martin Luther King, Jr? Their circumstances were large in scale, that is certain. Though keep in mind, big problems very often have small (even tiny) beginnings.
[contextly_sidebar id=”CawwYGdyqTTVRvM38h1HH53gMO30AIn8″]So, in every activity we engage in with our fellow team members, if we’re “just showin’ up,” or even if our lips are moving but we’re being less than engaged in the experience and just “going through the motions,” we’re not just shortchanging the rest of the team, we’re hindering our own growth. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”2 That struggle within Agile teams often comes with coming to terms with courage in vulnerability.

We can’t just go through the activities, answer the questions, move the stickies or cards along, or update some form in Jira or Rally. Oh we can try, for a while. Yet what did I say before about small beginnings? Putting it plainly, what does “courage in vulnerability” really mean?

It means we must rise to the challenge to GROW THROUGH the activities we engage in with others. Having courage within our individual vulnerabilities to still be fully present, fully prepared, fully engaged and to support each other in our weaknesses or shortcomings. To have the hard conversations, take on tough subjects, listen to and utter difficult admissions, support and challenge each other to bring out the talents we all possess. To grow through it, together.

“Problems do not go away. They must be worked through, or else they remain, forever a barrier to growth or development of the spirit.”

The author of The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck once said, “Problems do not go away. They must be worked through, or else they remain, forever a barrier to growth or development of the spirit.”3 I’m betting it doesn’t just apply to an individual’s spirit, but a Team’s spirit, as well.

So, the next time you come together for a Standup, Review, Retro or any Team activity, are you going to go through it, or will you grow through it? Have courage in your own vulnerabilities and “grow through it.”

Joel Osteen