Checking In on You

I love supporting people and showing teams ways to be better, be happier, build great products and be exceptional. I’m not alone, there are others who have spent years watching great teams and have shared their learnings. In this post, I’m standing on the shoulders of those thought leaders that have come before me: Jim and Michele McCarthy. They ask:

What if you could take the practices of … exceptional teams – the best of the best, teams that consistently delivered great products, spread the most happiness, and were the most effective at creating new opportunities – what if you could take what they know about Shared Vision and other things, and teach it to others? And what if these best practices were available for free, for anyone to use and improve on?

I don’t know Jim and Michele, but they have a way to meet the goals listed above. Their body of work is called: Core Protocols. The only ask of the McCarthys is that their work is cited.

Core Protocols

Copyright © 2010 Jim and Michele McCarthy

(The Core is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version. For exact terms see The Core is considered as source code under that agreement. You are free to use and distribute this work or any derivations you care to make, provided you also distribute this source document in its entirety, including this paragraph.)

The Core Protocols are made up of both commitments and protocols; use the links to the right to view them.

The Core Protocols are also be available in other formats:

The Core Protocols are set of useful protocols coaches should use to help teams reach greatness by working together with a more human-centered approach.

One of the Core Protocols is the Check In. This intentional facilitation technique establishes engagement with the meeting or event, and can be useful in building team psychological safety in the longer-term, if the Core Protocol is followed consistently.

One of the techniques I like to use is asking each person to say, “Today, I am…” and fill in the blank with only one word. As each person shares their sentence, the only response allowed is “Welcome.” This means that everyone’s current state is acknowledged, without judgment or shame or any well intentioned problem solving from team mates. Over time this practice can help a team establish psychological safety with one another, which will form a foundation for high-performance. I used this technique in a session I facilitated recently, and it really helped to set the tone for our time together — the group seemed connected to what I went on to share in the moments that followed.

In looking through the Core Protocols, it’s clear that many of these have potential to be applied to ourselves. Check In is one of them. It’s an application of Agile Best Self Principles 5 and 6 — mindfully and intentionally creating a supportive environment for self.

So ask yourself the same question.

Today, I am…

And then fill in the blank. Are you listening to the word you selected? Were you being authentic with yourself? Was it compassionate toward yourself? This is a moment for yourself — no comparing yourself to others, and avoid projecting what you might like to be. Just you. Right here. Right now. Applying Principles 5 and 6 here is key.

Agile Best Self Principle #5: Create a best self environment of motivation, trust, and support for yourself and others.

Agile Best Self Principle #6: The most effective way to be your best self is to be mindful and intentional.

In my own experience, I don’t stop and do this exercise often enough. By making this a more regular habit, it could help bring more intention to my day, and create a foundation of support for myself. Might this be an inoculation to help me deal with the Inner Critic, who will inevitably make an appearance at some point? Always great to beat the Trickster to the punch, isn’t it?

What does science say about this? In one research paper comparing the benefits of self-compassion to self-esteem, data points show that self-compassion provides greater emotional resilience and stability than self-esteem, but involves less self-evaluation, ego-defensiveness, and self-enhancement than self-esteem. In today’s volatile and uncertain world, greater emotional resilience and stability are more important than ever.

Other research, as noted in this article in Psychology Today (Feb 2018), shows the positive consequences of self-compassion on numerous aspects of our well-being: including a greater life satisfaction; higher emotional intelligence; more interconnectedness with others; wisdom; curiosity; happiness; and optimism. Self-compassion is also associated with less self-criticism, depressionanxietyfear of failure, and perfectionism (Neff, 2009).

Some good stuff, right? So, here goes me for today.

Today, I am intentional.


Now I am ready to go be a light.

Copyright © 2018 – 2023 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by Brian Hackerson

My personal philosophy is to be a light.

One thought on “Checking In on You

Leave a Reply