Get on The Ski Jump

Let’s start by looking at a video. I first saw this in May 2017, where I first was exposed to Dr. Michael Gervais. He was doing a talk at an event I was attending in Seattle. I didn’t expect to get totally disrupted that day. This video sparked some serious thought about what mindset was all about, and I needed to think about things differently.

Agile Best Self Principle #1: Our highest priority is to be our best self and enable others to be their best selves.

You see, I had developed a paradigm of my world where my ability to truly change and grow that suggested that I was pretty much who I was from genetics, and I can maybe build a little upon it. In short, stay in your lane, bro. In his talk, Michael convinced me through science that I was capable of a whole lot more. I now believed that neuroplasticity is a real thing, and I wanted in. And furthermore, the evidence pointed to starting a mindfulness practice as the best place to begin building new connections in the brain. Michael’s key thought was that you can train your body, you can train your craft, but you can also train your mind, and that’s where most people forget to focus.

Why did this hit me square between the eyes? Below is a picture of my dad. He’s suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. He’s a reminder every time I see him that a growing mind is so important, and spending energy training my mind will reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s for me. It is as powerful of a motivation as I have.

My Dad and I, 2010

I had played around with some mindfulness apps previously, but I didn’t really understand what the big deal was about it. I did not understand what the real goal was. I had even played around with a Muse, which is a headband that has seven sensors and measures brain wave activity, connected to an app. The user was supposed to “calm the waves” by trying to calm the activity. A colleague of mine and I turned this into a game, we called it “competitive meditation.” Looking back, it’s laughable that we missed the point so badly.

After Michael’s talk, I met one of the coaches, an elite volleyball player named Courtney Thompson, who is now a high performance mindset coach working with Michael. She asked me what I thought. I answered with, “I am disrupted, and this has gotten me thinking.” That night, I downloaded the Headspace App, and started. I learned the point was not to calm the mind, but to recognize the distractions and find ways to let them go. After some fits and starts that habit has now stuck, and I can say with great confidence it is what is behind what led to the creation of the 12 Agile Best Self Principles — the desire was there to become the next best version of myself so that I could help others.

Now back to the ski jump. I have come to learn that intentionally working outside of your comfort zone is where growth happens. My hope is that the 12 Agile Best Self Principles can inspire all of you to get out on that ski jump every once in a while. Success every time is far from certain, but with the right mindset you can go for it and enjoy the growth that happens next. It’s consistent with Dr. Brene Brown’s definition of vulnerability.

I am grateful for all of you who are taking this journey with me. Looking forward to learning and growing together as we use what we know about Agile to apply to developing our best selves.

Copyright © 2018 – 2023 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by Brian Hackerson

My personal philosophy is to be a light.

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