In the age of social distancing, flattening the curve, stay-at-home orders and endless video meetings, there is a silver lining. We are being forced to think, behave and act differently at home and in the virtual workplace. We are learning that being successful requires us to adapt our skill sets to this reality, and it usually involves learning new things. Not an earth-shattering insight, for sure, but putting this under the Agile Best Self lens for a moment, we can find a few nuggets to help us on our journey.
Today I am focusing on the most impactful ones for me, because I quickly realized our new reality interacts with EVERY one of the 12 Agile Best Self Principles.
Agile Best Self Principle #1: Our highest priority is to be our best self and enable others to be their best selves.
Let’s start with the cornerstone principle — in our new reality, this one still guides us. Learning how to adapt to the challenges we now face is a skill. Because it is a skill, it can be learned, and taught. By building this skill right now, we not only create the next best version of ourselves, but we are showing these new skills and talents to others. My good friend Jason Kappel (see his post on Agile Best Self) calls it “raising the tide”, which coincidentally is his North Star statement. Building the new skill requires focus and commitment, a willingness to fall short at times, but the tenacity to keep going. This is the path to mastery.
This week I was faced with one of these situations. My boss wanted to move forward with a significant planning meeting, and asked me to figure out how to do this with the tools we had available to me at work. I must admit my first reaction was that it would not work. Luckily, I realized this was the inner critic at work, and I intentionally changed the inner narrative to “OK, I can figure this out.” Then I did the work. After it was over last night, I reflected on what I had achieved. I successfully configuring the video conferencing capability, creating the activities for the attendees and executing my facilitation of the session. I now know how to do this, and others will be looking to me for guidance on how to do this in their meetings while we are in work-from-home mode. I simply just had to get out of my own way by applying Principle 1. Now I have a new and valuable skill in my arsenal.
Agile Best Self Principle #3: Build daily self-care habits.
Before this pandemic changed our lives, I had just completed a major modification to my self-care regime in the areas of diet and exercise. I lost 42 pounds since the beginning of 2020 using the Noom app on my iPhone and was feeling great! The major reason for this success was a strong connection to my North Star — be a light. The question I ask myself often is, “How do the choices I make today help me to be a light today and in the future?” In the new reality, this question does not change, but the execution definitely does. Since I can’t go to the gym right now I have to create a new plan to make intentional choices to exercise, and continue the improved dietary habits I started in the first three months. Something innovative came out of this necessity — I decided to replace my commute time with exercise, on both ends of the day! The positive ripple effect of this was that I now can get a little extra sleep each day, which helps me stay strong to help my body’s ability to fight the virus, should that need arise. Applying Principle 3 and connecting to my North Star within a changing environment turned out to be a net positive for me!
Agile Best Self Principle #8: Prioritize “being more” over “doing more” for sustainability.
For those that have heard me deliver a workshop, you know this is my favorite of the principles. Today, I think about this one differently with sharper focus on sustainability. Let’s face the reality, at the time of this post, no one really knows what is going to happen next. Normal is gone, for better or worse. With a quick hat tip to Principle 2, I choose to approach this challenge with curiosity, over fear and anxiety.
So, in my Agile Best Self journey, more focus on sustainability is pragmatic by preparing myself to be in position to respond to an ever-changing reality. The thought process for me goes something like this — connect to my North Star, and ask myself questions about what could I do today that either helps me be my North Star better than yesterday. Or another version might be a longer view — what could I learn about today that enables me to be my North Star in months or years?
What have I done about it? First, I realized I needed to be able to deliver content, coaching and workshops online. The need was related to what I wrote about in my work situation, but the real crux of the matter was much, much larger. There was much to learn there, and it took some focused effort to make it happen. I even invested time and resources in an Online Learning Course that gave me a new set of tools. And, most importantly, I stepped into the arena and tried to exercise these new skills. After stumbling through it, I am now confident I could deliver meaningful content in an engaging manner online. Needs more practice for sure, but I feel I became at least competent. Back to Principle 8 for a second — what was accomplished here is that now I can be me and contribute in more situations than I could before. Sustainable and authentic — being more. I have to admit, I love this principle even more now.
I could go on and tell a story about applying each of the 12 Agile Best Self Principles in the current reality. Adaptability is the word I keep coming back to as I think about it. The principles give us a great tool to help us all think through our own best self journey through a lens of uncertainty, but with a spirit of optimism and curiosity. And when we do this, new awesome will follow.
Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson