June 14th gave me something I thought I’d never have

Lightning Talk at GOTOamsterdam 2016

Picture by Rick Beerendonk

Every “how to succeed in business” manual out there tells you to find your passion and pursue it with unrelenting focus. That advice goes against every fiber of my being. I am what Barbara Sher calls a scanner. And, unless you are a scanner, you probably can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to be given that advice.

It’s like being a kid in a candy store that wants – nay, needs, in fact, can’t live without trying and savoring every single sort of candy there is to be had, only to be told that you have to pick one and stick with that until the end of time.

It’s painful to even contemplate such a restriction.

The more (and more insistent) coaches and courses said I should focus, the more I rebelled. And procrastinated. Procrastinated because I just couldn’t choose. I don’t have a passion. I have many passions. I am interested in anything and everything. If I have any specialization, it’s in curiosity. In mastering something then moving on to the next. There are still so many subjects to explore.

Sometimes I wonder how I managed to stay in software development as long as I have. It certainly helps that the field is broad, the activities varied and the trade itself is still evolving. There are so many aspects to software development. Methods, processes and techniques, programming paradigms, user interface and experience design, the struggle between developers and the business for which they work, testing.

Over the last couple of years, my interest has gradually been shifting. From what it takes to develop good software in a craftsmanship’s sense, to what it takes to develop software in terms of individuals, teams and the businesses for which they develop that software.

No i in team? I think you're mistaken

Adapted from add-design.co.uk

Teams, teamwork and the I in team. (Yes, there is one.)

How you put a team together, how to make and keep it effective, how to insulate it from the pressures of day-to-day business while keeping everyone focused on producing business value. How to measure effectiveness. Should you compare teams? What kind of metrics? Which are helpful, which more detrimental than helpful? How to keep metrics from being gamed and how to keep them from becoming goals in and of themselves.

Questions galore. On some I have very strong opinions. Others not so much. Yet.

That’s probably why the 14th of June this year had such a big effect on me.

It was the day of my first appearance as a speaker at a conference. A Lightning Talk, so a short one, but still a true appearance as a public speaker. Loved delivering that talk. Loved the preparation that went into it. Loved the audience’s response. But most of all, loved and was very honored to meet several agile coaches. People like Gitte, Dan and Mollie. People with agile mindsets. People not just doing agile, but living and breathing the spirit of agile and helping others find it.

It felt like coming home.

Everything clicked and all the bits and pieces I have been gathering over the years, fell into place.

I love to perform. Not just as a speaker. My experience at GOTOamsterdam2016 just reinforced what I already knew since I picked up Taiko drumming and participated in quite a number of performances. It was confirmed again on my first public appearance as a story teller – just five days later.

If you haven’t experienced it, I can’t begin to explain what it feels like to touch people’s hearts. Or their minds.

Touching people’s hearts and minds. That’s what makes teaching and coaching such a wonderful experience for me. Seeing a light bulb switch on, feeling someone grow. And improving and learning myself while doing that. All the time. To get a little better every day and to help others do the same.

That is what I want to do. This is what I am meant to do.

For the first time in my life, I can truly say that I’ve found my passion. And my focus. Something I thought I’d never have.

And you know what’s so beautiful? Apart from the fact that my newest hobby – story telling – apparently is a very useful skill to have as a coach?

The whole breadth of the software development arena is now once more new terrain, to be explored not as a developer but in the role of a team lead/coach or as a coach of one or more teams.

Perfect! After all, you know, I live to learn! (No, not a typo).

Posted in Personal

3 comments on “June 14th gave me something I thought I’d never have
  1. Marjan,

    I am so happy for you. It’s awesome when you realize what you want to be when you grow up. Woot Woot! Now, go turn on those light bulbs!

    Cheers,
    Michael Riley
    United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant (Retired)

  2. Kamryn says:

    You really found a way to make this whole prseocs easier.

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