Which Offering is Best?

They all are! And they can be done online or in person.

There is no particular “order” for these sessions. Where you start is where you are. Here is a list:

  • Agile Best Self: Overview. Hands-on workshop covering Agile Best Self Values and Principles
  • Agile Best Self: North Star. Heads-down workshop that helps you define YOUR North Star
  • Agile Best Self: Half Day. Overview + North Star
  • Agile Best Self: Co-Active Coaching. 1:1 Co-Active Coaching that helps you uncover your own awesome by applying Agile Best Self concepts.

See below for more information on each.

Agile Best Self: Overview is a 90 minute hands-on, discussion-based workshop that give participants practice applying our Agile Best Self values and principles.

  • 400+ people have attended this workshop at Agile conferences; private Fortune 100 Companies; boutique Agile Consultancies and Master’s level university courses.
  • Global Scrum Gathering: Austin – Open Space
  • Twin Cities Agile Days 2019
  • Agile Camp San Francisco 2019

Agile Best Self: North Star is a 90 minute, mostly heads-down, intentionally introspective workshop that lets participants focus on creating their personalized North Star. This North Star works in conjunction with the Agile Best Self principles to unlock awesome. We

  • 55+ people have attended this workshop.
  • Women In Agile: San Francisco
  • Selected for Agile2020

Agile Best Self: Half Day is a combination of the Overview and North Star with next steps on how to use the lessons learned in your daily life.

Agile Best Self: Co-Active 1:1 Coaching is personalized, one-on-one coaching around the application of Agile Best Self concepts.

COMING SOON! Agile Best Self: Horizon is a 90 minute, mostly heads-down, intentionally introspective that helps participants build on the outcome of the North Star workshop by applying their North Star to find a personal direction that is in service to the world in an authentic way.

COMING SOON! Agile Best Self, The Podcast will be a regular show where Michaele and Brian host authentic conversations with people who are intentionally pursuing their best selves. There will be names from the Agile community you may recognize, as well as people who have insights from outside the Agile community to help us become our best selves.

Agile Best Self: Origin Story of our body of work

We started with the Agile Manifesto, and threw it into this recipe:

  • Start with 40+ years combined experience in IT
  • Mix in the Agile Manifesto’s 4 Values and 12 Principles
  • Season with a heavy dose of frustration, change agent fatigue
  • Throw into a high-heat situation that makes everything crispy with burnout

Agile Best Self: Overview Origin Story

The outcome of this work was the Agile Best Self Overview. This workshop sets the stage for awesomeness. In over two years, I have yet to meet an author, concept or framework that won’t add some interesting spice or flavor to this framework.

In my active quest for self-care habits and tips, I have been exposed to multiple sessions, experts, books and concepts that, honestly, taste a little flat. These sessions include great raw habits and exotic (read: unfamiliar) ideas, but seem like a list of ingredients. There is no overarching framework to tie it all together. No overarching framework to give me advice on how to change the recipe to suit my odd dietary habits. I’m no great cook or baker, so I’m stretching a bit here, but even most pre-packaged recipes have high altitude adjustments printed on the side of the box.

Some of these self-care instructions go so far as to have a prescriptive list of to-dos. A common one is ‘”take a walk outside every morning.” And, I can tell you first hand, incorporating this habit frequently makes the difference between starting my day of right and starting my day off wobbly. But the session winds up focusing on the steps and activities, not on the overall outcome. The session becomes yet another impossible list of “things” I have to shove into my already busy day. There is no WHY in the list.

The Agile Best Self framework elevates a self-care task to list to the level of intent and focusing on outcomes and overall impact. A framework gives each user a pattern to follow in a non-prescriptive way. Our framework allows us to curiously ask “What is that road not taken? Should I investigate with compassion?” Where I live it can easily reach -40 degrees in the winter. No way am I going for a walk then! The Agile Best Self framework allows me to intentionally substitute some other activity that generates the same outcome and impact as going for a walk. Yoga? Maybe. Treadmill? Maybe. Spin bike? Maybe.

Agile Best Self: North Star Origin Story

After speaking to over 400 people during in-person workshops and conferences, Brian and I started to notice blank stares and puzzled looks when put our first Agile Best Self principle into the mix:

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

We could see the nods, “Yes, great idea!!! Be our best self!!” We started asking the question: “How many of you have a word or a phrase to describe you at your best self?” This is where the sheepish confusion and awkward glances towards others started. Ahhhhh…

In a room full of 75 people, only one or two hands tentatively raised.

Twenty plus people joined an Open Space at Agile Day Twin Cities in 2019. Open Spaces are common at Agile conferences. Individuals suggest topics, and attendees are free to join any discussion on any posted topic. It is free flowing, opt in set up that lets attendees vote with their feet. Our topic was: “How do you define your personal North Star?”

Brian and I had already spent at least a year honing and crafting our own North Stars. When submissions opened for Agile2020 – the largest global Agile conference in the world, we put in a submission for the Agile Best Self Overview. A short time before submissions closed, I downloaded an idea for Agile Best Self: North Star. I say “downloaded” because all of the ideas were already simmering in my brain. My North Star is to be a “Connector & Catalyst”. I’m constantly connecting ideas from different domains in new and sometimes tasty ways. For me, it is cognitively uncomfortable to keep some of these concepts in my head. I had just completed a multi-day training on how to be a more effective trainer using TBR principles and am always focusing on how I can spark insights on how to help others be their best selves.

Brian and I had already talked frequently about a “buffet” of ideas that could help people discover their own personal North Stars. His North Star is “To Be A Light”, so anytime he can help light a path, he is living into his true purpose.

The outcome: A workshop that defines a key ingredient in our Agile Best Self framework – Agile Best Self: North Star. Having a North Star is kind of like a binder in a recipe, it helps hold everything together.

Agile Best Self: Co-Active 1:1 Coaching

Since co-creating the Agile Best Self body of work, Brian and I have had a lot of unprecedented curveballs thrown our way. I won’t speak for others’ experiences, but I’m pretty sure most of us have not gone through a global pandemic that sparked a world wide recession and uncharacteristically high levels of mental health issues. Many of my friends are still navigating the unfamiliar territory of joblessness or working from home with stressed out family members. On a personal level, the George Floyd murder impacted me personally on multiple deep levels beyond the systemic racism and injustice level. I used to live blocks from where he was arrested, I watched buildings in my old neighborhood burn and riots happen on streets where I spent most of my college years. Of a lesser impact, but still some pretty heavy straws on a camel’s back: I was in a 20 year relationship that ended January of 2020. As the parent of teenager, the entire first year of high school is becoming one big science experiment, literally. I am dealing with how I can keep my job as an adjunct professor and create a high quality learning environment via Zoom.

Brian has his own list of things. Read his story about Father’s Day 2020 here.

Coaching people through “ups” is easy. Coaching through “downs” can be heartbreaking. Having a North Star and shortcut language taken from our Agile Best Self principles helps me and Brian ask simple, powerful questions. We frequently fall back on: “How can you be your Best Self in this situation?” Or “Are you being more or doing more?” Or “Are you really focusing on simplicity – doing what energizes your best self?”

Copyright © 2020 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by MichaeleBestSelf

Connector, Catalyst.

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