How Science Enabled My Best Self Journey

We have all heard the old saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Is that really true? According to a study by the University of Michigan School of Nursing, there was no statistically meaningful difference in visits to the doctor for daily apple eaters in the analysis.

When we think about building our Best Self, science is pretty important. Creating your Best Self requires hard work and commitment. Doing things that scientifically will not lead to the desired outcome — our Best Self — should be avoided. Focusing a bit of energy to understand the science behind the activities you choose helps increase the probability of success. When we crafted the Agile Best Self Principles, it was important to me to have scientific validity as a part of the work. It is the pursuit of technical excellence behind Agile Best Self, just like the ninth Agile principle suggests.

Agile Best Self Principle #9: Continuous attention to scientific research enhances best self.

My first connection of scientific research to building a better version of me came in May of 2017. I was attending an industry consortium in Redmond, Washington at a large software company. One of the great things that happens in this particular event is that the organizers reserve some time for some talk or activity that is not of a technical nature. Over the many visits previously, attendees were treated to some great outside speakers providing some inspiration and wisdom. This particular trip was no different. When Dr. Michael Gervais was introduced to the group, I had no idea what was about to happen.

Train Your Mind Like You Train The Body

Dr Gervais talked about the idea that we can train our body, we can train our craft, but we can also train our mind. This idea is based in the concept of neuroplasticity, one of the key concepts of a growth mindset. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to change continuously throughout one’s life. At that time, I had not thought a lot about this concept as I believed that our capabilities were defined mostly through genetics, and that our ability to truly grow was mostly limited. But how do you grow your mind? Dr. Gervais asserted that it begins with mindfulness training. He then listed no less than a half dozen references to scientific research about how “brain training” leads to all kinds of increases in learning and performance. I remember feeling disrupted internally, like my whole concept of how the brain worked was invalidated, and that was a good thing. That evening I started my mindfulness training using an iPhone app called Headspace. I selected this application based on the recommendation of one of Dr. Gervais coaching staff, two-time Olympian Nicole Davis. She indicated that not every meditation app is based in good science. However, Headspace is committed to studying the science of meditation.

Professor Nonaka and Dr. Sutherland, Tokyo, Japan – November 2019

For me, this is the starting point toward the creation of Agile Best Self and my own Best Self journey. I realized that that I was full of possibility for my life, and science was on my side as a result of being at that talk on that particular day. My mindfulness practice that started that day remains the foundation of everything, and has helped me truly change in ways beyond my imagination. In 2017, I would not have believed that in two years time I would have led my first Agile transformation, co-created the 12 Agile Best Self Principles with Michaele Gardner, worked with Dr. Jeff Sutherland to become a Licensed Scrum Trainer and been asked to speak at many Agile events- including a trip to Tokyo, Japan as well as delivering the Agile Best Self Workshop at Agile Day Twin Cities a few weeks ago. In Japan, I got to meet and speak in the same event as Dr. Sutherland and Professor Ikujiro Nonaka, the grandfather of Scrum. The mindfulness skill I learned enabled me to see possibility rather than try to find a way to just “stay in my lane”, and say “Hell Yes” to becoming my Best Self.

There are several additional examples of where attention to science enhances our Best Self journey.

What are the outcomes you are looking to create for yourself? What things are you doing to get to those outcomes? Is there good science to support these activities to raise the odds that you will get there? We would love to hear your stories!

Copyright © 2020 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by Brian Hackerson

My personal philosophy is to be a light.

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