Leadership, the value of a mistake #agile

This week, like most weeks, I made some mistakes… I’d like to pretend that they didn’t happen, defend, or gloss over them. But, I know better. Better to retrospect and find a way to address, avoid or automate in the future!
One of my favorite books on retrospectives is “Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great” by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen, when I’m prepping to facilitate a retro I like flipping through the pages of the Hardcopy book.  It’s a retro thing to do, in more ways than one 🙂

I also recently heard David Marquet (author of It’s Your Ship, great book) speak and started listening the the Audible version of his book for the second time. He references learning from mistakes, too. See one of his posts here.
Back to my personal retrospective, I keep a paper notebook at home, and from the front page of the notebook I write the date and a sequence of things that I am grateful for. Some items are small, some are large. Gratitude acknowledges. Gratitude celebrates. Gratitude energizes. Don’t miss this step!

Next, I flip the notebook over and rotate 180 degrees, like an old-fashioned double-book with two covers. And I proceed to write down everything that concerns me.  Be it a mistake I made, or a challenge that is beyond my control. I summarize all the many problems, leaving room for a few lines of solutioning under each one.

Next, I reflect on each! Thinking about options for going forward. Imagining a better future. And after a day or two and sometimes longer, I am able to fill in a solution or improvement under each concern.

And, if it’s a day with extra challenges, I read back through the many problems now resolved and the many things I’m grateful for. All great reminders of my good and beautiful life! #grateful

Why this works
The brain keeps working on problems in the background til some closure is reached. Imagine thousands of background tasks running on your laptop, and each day more new “processes” are spawned. No re-boot possible. What a slow computer! You need a way to “end process tree” on some tasks. So there is free capacity to a address new challenges that will crop up throughout each day.

From a practical perspective, you already “paid” for whatever the issue cost in terms of time, energy, and angst to date. And in return you received some learning. Take the learning and put it to good use!

From a spiritual perspective, each positive and concern listed becomes a prayer, and, with faith, persistent prayers are eventually answered, one way or another. There could well be upside! It’s highly likely! Or, at a minimum, you will be able to help someone else facing a similar path. Get up. Pay it forward.

From an agile perspective, by holding a personal (or team) retrospective we capture the learning, make resolutions, and clear space for new priorities.

Your turn, what will you learn today?


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