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How Agile led me on a Spiritual Journey

I vividly remember the day my boss approached me with the request that I attend “Scrum Master” certification training. “Scrum-What?”

Scrum Master” he said with a tone that indicated he too had no idea and was just hoping I didn’t press the issue. “The company has decided to head in this new direction and from the description of the role, I’ll think you’re the best fit”

I’ll admit, it made me think of pond scum so I wasn’t sure if I should feel insulted or complimented.

Scrum Master does not equal pond scum

Reluctantly, I went.

My main resistance came from the fact that I was dealing with major Impostor Syndrome as it was. Here I was, barely out of college, in a corporate environment, making nearly 6 figures a year… in a technology role.

My degree was Business Administration and I was thankful to have that.

You see, I was a high school dropout, although no one at work knew that at the time. I had been of “those” teenagers. Know it all, complain about it all, and rebel against it all.

A few months out in the “real world” and calculating up the expenses of being out on my own led to an “Oh Shit” moment.

I took the GED, took the SAT and visited a local community college, head held in shame. I was enrolled in 3 classes for a quarter, made my 4.0 and applied to a four-year college.

The next six years were a whirlwind of a full-time job in hospital pharmacy, part-time jobs in retail pharmacies, full-time classes and little to no sleep. Married and divorced and married again. My life was chaotic, but I was grinding my way back to the top.

I was determined to land that corporate job and I did, as a Quality Assurance Analyst on pharmacy software. Hell, why not, right? I knew everything there was to know about the business of pharmacy and I had a leader mentality that my boss recognized shortly after I applied for MBA classes.

Fast forward to sitting in Scrum Master training in 2009. I don’t remember much about the class other than feeling overwhelmed that I wasn’t technical enough to make it in this arena.

That was, until the instructor quickly mumbled something about being a “servant leader.”

“Servant-what? I thought we were going to be certified as pond scum, but now we’re Leaders? Tell me more!”

I won’t dive too deeply here, just suffice it to say, the explanation made my heart soar. This was the first ray of hope for me to be an the Uplifter I was born to be, in our anti-social environment. Serving others, interactions, collaboration… the words just kept reeling me in.

I was determined to be the best damn Scrum Master this company had never seen, given that this was all brand new to them anyway.

Fast forward again.

It wasn’t until my second daughter arrived in 2016 that I truly reflected over the 7 years before. Scrambling at 2 AM to finish a paper for my doctoral degree I was pursing by that time, bouncing her in the chest carrier, considering using an I.V. to streamline the coffee straight into my veins.. I had reached a breaking point.

I realized that I spent the better part of two decades chasing my worthiness. With two degrees behind me and in pursuit of a third I was still looking for the next thing to prove my value. Scrum Master to Enterprise Agile Coach was another pursuit on what seemed to be the logical track.

However, I realized that I woke each morning with a pit in my stomach. I spent the better part of my morning attempting to plan out my day of grinding and managing. I would imagine every conceivable scenario that I may or may not encounter and plan out how I should respond. I never wanted to be caught off guard.

I missed most of what was happening around me as I thought of all that I needed to accomplish that day. I missed joyful mornings with my children, peaceful drives to work, sunrises, present moments… all of it while I was lost in my thoughts of how to be The Best.

I was on a mission to prove that I was intelligent, determined, and valuable to the people in my life. I had to make sure that I met their expectations. No one could see me sweat. I muscled through every stressful moment.

I was left feeling empty and drained. Frustrated and defeated. And on the off chance that I did feel good, I was planning for the other shoe to drop. It couldn’t possibly be this good for too long, and I needed to be prepared.

Looking from the outside in, I seemed successful. People often told me how lucky I was or how I seemed to "have it all". My favorite… "You’re like Super Woman". They would tell me that I could do it all and not seem stressed, but the truth was, I was grinding and crumbling inside.

I had worked my way up the ranks in corporate. I did move into that Agile Coaching role I wanted. I became certified as a Life Coach, an Executive Coach, an Enterprise Agile Coach, SAFe Practitioner, Emotional Intelligence Assessor and on and on. I made great money and by all societal standards, I seemed to have it made.

But I still felt empty. Like there was more for me, more to LIFE, but I just didn't know what it was exactly. or any other way of operating.

Thank goodness I had heard that to be a good coach, you need a coach.

Working with my personal coach, I found the link between what Agile taught me and what I was learning through the coaching process.

I learned to imagine all things are possible in my reality.

I learned to prioritize what I would LOVE to have over what would be nice.

I learned the technique of planning for the next logic step, rather than striving for a perfectly planned 5 year goal.

I learned the art of reflection; examining what went well and what could be improved from the week before. I learned to acknowledge the “wins” and embrace the “failures.”

When I joined my coach and a group of like-minded women, I learned that a team is far better than anything I could do alone.

I worked with my “team” to craft a clear vision of my dream life. We took incremental steps toward what we prioritized. We reflected each week and we sought continuous improvement.

What Agile taught me is truly immeasurable, although this comes as no surprise given the divide among practitioners regarding Agile metrics. 😉 I kid, I kid.

But in all seriousness, I believe Agile was the catalyst to my spiritual awakening; to my true empowerment, my intuitive guidance, and a life I love.

There is an incredible overlap between what the Agile Manifesto and Scrum taught us and what spiritual teachers have been teaching us all along.

I would leave you with one piece of advice, especially if you are an Agile practitioner, if you feel that subtle (or BIG) nudge to get back to your authentic self, feel more joy in your life, pursue dreams you left on the back burner, or just feel less overwhelmed and stressed, LISTEN to that calling of you Soul. Let your spiritual journey lead you to a life you Love. You are so worth it!



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