Sometimes, we (together with our Agile team) can find ourselves at a place where we look around and sense we have fallen out of alignment with the people around us, commitments, duties and goals. It’s time for change. We can feel it…
I’m Full. What Should I Do?
We feel like we’re simply full. We’re filled up with our own beliefs, ideas, experiences, fears, hopes, agendas and so on. We feel we have no room to see things for who they are and given circumstances for what they are. If we could, though, we would see both team members and circumstances clearly and, having truly seen react clearly for them.
What is worst is that we are proud of our beliefs. We are not aware that believing something is not an accomplishment. Most of us grew up thinking that beliefs and ideas are something to be proud of, but in fact they are really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider.
Let’s be honest, beliefs are easy. I think the stronger our beliefs are, the less open we are to growth and improvement. As long as we think our beliefs and past ideas (which represent the old) add something to who we are, we resist questioning ourselves (and welcome the new). Wherever there is a belief, there is a closed door, so never be afraid to lose your beliefs.
How to prepare for change, for improvement when we are full of beliefs, worries, racing thoughts? Well, start with ourselves! First of all, our minds must be still so that we can see with clarity, what happens with our projects, with our teams, with our life.
And that’s not an easy job, (believe me!) because we have a habit of compulsive thinking. This habit is so pervasive that we lose sight of the fact that we are nearly always thinking. Unfortunately we don’t realise that most of what we interact with is not the world itself, but our beliefs about it, our expectations of it, our ideas of it and our personal interests in it. We have a very difficult time observing something without confusing it with the thoughts we have about it, and so the bulk of what we experience in life is imaginary things. Weird, isn’t it? The best treatment I’ve found to stand in these storm winds without being blown over? Cultivating mindfulness.
What Does Mindfulness Mean?
Simply be in the present moment. Cultivate presence. Let’s have an example…
As you read this post, do you truly take in the words, letting them come into your mind, letting them change who you are and what you think? If so, you are probably fully present in this moment. Your full attention and intention remains on the post, these words, this moment.
If, while you read these words, your mind goes to a shawarma or worries about a misunderstanding that happened in the morning, then you are not fully present. Presence means being here and now. Not in the future, mentally adding items to the grocery list, and not in the past, worrying about a misunderstanding.
That means our life’s only challenge is dealing with the single moment we are having right now. So we have to fight our noisy minds that move away from the present and escape into the past or future constantly. It happens all day long quite normally.
And when I say “noisy minds” I mean anxiety about what we will do next, judgment about somebody being too directive, aggravation about a team member not truly participating, and so many other thoughts. Loud and distracting, they lead us away from what we need to do right now.
We must stop to constantly trying to solve our entire lives — battling problems that weren’t actually happening. Nobody can deal with the past or future, because, both only exist as thoughts, in the present. But we can kill ourselves trying…
Why Should We Care About Mindfulness?
I think mindfulness signals our maturity as Agilists and points us to our next step toward improvement. Being mindful means we’ll be able to notice what is really happening with us and our team. And from that clear place, we can start collaborate and move forward in a constructive and positive way.
Being mindful we’ll work and collaborate with our team members from a place of certainty, we’ll speak with clarity, and our words will impact. Our interventions will make a difference, far more than yet another person throwing in another idea.
Mindfulness and Practicing Single-tasking
Most of us are accustomed to have lots of irons in the fire. We tend to believe that multitasking is something that we should practice. But we might not be as good at it as we thought.
If we were all truly in this moment together, as a team, not multitasking, not with our minds in the future or the past, but right here, right now, giving our attention to one another and our intention to the work at hand, what do you think might happen?
Well, you’ll be able to experience that being present and completely absorbed in a task might actually make the outcome better. By doing this, we’ll be calmer and we’ll be able to start to enjoy our work. More than that, nothing could stop a team like that from creating astounding products that make a difference for the world and for each of them.
What About You?
What do you think about mindfulness? Is it a step toward improvement? Look forward to hearing your insights in the comments below.