An Agile Coach’s Guide to Managing Pride, Ego and Personal Growth
As a ScrumMaster and Agile Coach, one of my favorite tools to use is Mural. Mural is a digital whiteboard designed for engaging collaborations. It’s a creative outlet for me; it’s like scrapbooking for a job. I like to think that I’m pretty good at using the application. If I’m being honest, I think I’m really good at using Mural. I usually get compliments on my creativity, layouts, and functionality of my Mural boards. I pride myself on being knowledgeable and helpful in Mural, which is a part of my Personal Brand.
Recently I was in a Thursday ScrumMaster Community of Practice (CoP) where we were discussing Mural and I shared some of my examples. An Agile Coach said, “Tracy – if you want to help me dress this one up, I’d be happy to see what you can do!”. I felt honored and excited, especially since I had only been consulting at the company for less than 2 months. I had the drive and desire to do my best work and build a positive reputation for myself as an informed, helpful, and creative resource.
That night I reworked his Mural. I created a Lego Theme that focused on Building Foundations Together. I created colored Lego Brick Backgrounds for different topics. I was really excited about what I had made. I shared right away in the morning, expecting to get positive feedback. The instant gratification! However, the Agile Coach was out of the office that Friday.
On Monday, I received his response. “You were using Areas and Shapes inconsistently.”. “Wait, what?!?!”. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, and a meeting was scheduled. I didn’t even know what he was talking about with “Areas”. My ego definitely took a hit.
I prepared myself for a meeting with the Agile Coach. I felt like I was a student in detention. I felt like I was in trouble. I expected him to be upset with me because, after all, I ruined the functionality of his Mural.
Instead of a meeting, it was a working session. I learned about functionality I never knew existed. He showed me where, when, and how to use Mural Areas. He was not upset at all in the working session; he knew I had the best intentions.
We learned that even though we’re both passionate and knowledgeable about Agile, it was also easy to see how quickly we fell back on old patterns. We needed to align first with what we were trying to accomplish. We also brainstormed from different personas which created a variety of solutions. Those perspectives made the Mural and instructions more valuable and understandable.
I was humbled by this experience.
I can be, and still am, proud of the work I did.
If I wouldn’t have changed my defensiveness to a Growth Mindset, I wouldn’t have gotten the gift of learning something new.
If I would have gone into the meeting with negativity, I wouldn’t have seen the Coaching Demo that happened right in front of my eyes.
In my reflection, I realized I needed to put my ego aside to grow.
I did that by:
- Change to a Growth Mindset. Embrace challenges and learn from feedback.
- Think of every opportunity as a coachable moment. Imagine what your day would look like if you went into every situation thinking, “What am I going to learn here?”. How would the atmosphere and culture change?
- Give grace. Give grace that everyone was trying to do the best they could at the time – Including yourself.
- Have Gratitude. Gratitude greatly reduces negativity and anxiety. It shifts a focus from thinking of yourself to others. When we have gratitude, what we appreciate grows.
- Pay it forward. Paying it forward is the greatest compliment you can give your mentor. Don’t just share the information that you received but pass on the learning environment. Create a space of psychological safety, patience, and understanding.
In conclusion, I still pride myself on being knowledgeable and helpful in Mural. I’m practicing a Growth Mindset and trying to embrace every situation as a coachable moment. Be grateful for being mentored, and in return, become a mentor. But what I really learned in the experience and reflection was:
You can have pride in your career, but to continue your growth journey you need to practice removing the ego.
Another great part of this story is that the mentor/mentee relationship didn’t end at that working session. We continue to collaborate, asking for opinions, and sharing knowledge. We continue to learn together. Now that’s what I call Building Foundations Together.