How Are You Growing?

We get caught up in our daily routines. I certainly do. Every so often, I have to ask myself, “Where have I stretched, where have I tried to grow?”

One of the reasons I like to go to conferences is that I get a chance to try out ideas on people. What will they think? Am I helping them understand? When I help other people, I always help me, too. I learn from their growth.

I’ve already explained that learning new things increases your neuroplasticity. I like challenging myself to see what I can do that’s new and different. Not quite every day, but close to that.

One way I like to learn is by teaching, consulting or coaching other people. I’m teaching a workshop this week, and some of the participants are a little stuck. It’s a workshop on how to use agile and lean. These folks are stuck in their thinking about “how you do software projects.” They often talk about big non-functional requirements or planning the infrastructure first. In agile and lean, the smaller the requirement, the better. We don’t plan too much of the infrastructure first (I don’t plan much at all), but do the simplest thing possible and then refactor if we have to come back to this area of the code.

In agile and lean, we don’t do bad work. We don’t do unnecessary work. Because we can’t tell in advance what is unnecessary, we do the simplest thing possible.

That requires a change in mindset. That requires growth in a way that these folks have not tried until now.

I am using the words “until now” many times in this workshop. “Until now, you haven’t tried small features. Do you think you can today?” “Until now, you haven’t tried evolving the architecture from the features. Do you think you can today?” “Until now, you haven’t tried relative estimation. What happened today when you tried?”

I’m not expecting perfection. I’m expecting that they will try. (These people are.)

That’s what happens when you grow. You change your mindset to the growth mindset. You experiment. You challenge your assumptions and see where that leads you. It’s sometimes fun, sometimes challenging, and often, hard work.

That’s how I know I grow. I try something, look at the results and decide what to do next. I work hard. I get tired from the challenges. I keep going, because for me, learning and growing are key to my happiness and success. They may not be for you.

Each of us has to grow and change at some point in our lives. Something external might happen that prompts a change. Or, you might just wake up one day and say, “I want to do something different!” That’s an internal prompt.

When you think about growing or changing, think about how you learn. Up until now, you couldn’t do something. After you learn and grow, you can. You might still be in the practice and integration phase. You might not master something new immediately, but you are growing.

That my dear adaptable problem solvers is the question this week: How are you growing?

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