At Coosto, a company I worked for as an Agile Coach some time ago, my lovely colleagues used to call me ‘Agile Bas’. I thought that was an awesome nickname. Hell, I even created a Twitter account with that handle. 🙂
Then one day I got a bit unlucky. I remember I was moving to a different house at that time and I had been carrying around boxes all weekend. Dirty boxes.
As it turned out, I had cut myself on one of the boxes, leaving me with an infected finger. I assumed it would go away, but it didn’t.. A week or two later it turned out I had gotten myself a serious blood infection and I had to be hospitalized for a 4-day antibiotics treatment.
Can you imagine that? A blood infection from a paper-cut?!
A week later when I got back to work, my ‘friendly colleagues’ (I do still love you guys) came up with a new nick-name: ‘Fragile Bas!’ GRRrr!!
I guess someone saw the word on a box (!!!) somewhere and realized the lovely word-joke. Thanks guys. So from that day I had to be painfully reminded of my own fragility by having been taken down by a freakin’ paper-cut.
It DID make me realize something important. And this is why I still love the concept of ‘being Agile’ so much.
I was a die-hard perfectionist back then. I wanted stuff to be done the right way or not at all. You know that expression: ‘If you’re gonna do it, do it right’? Well, I guess they must have told me that a lot when I was growing up. Thanks dad! 😉
The funny thing is, apparently you can be a perfectionist and an Agile Coach at the same time.
Of course there’s nothing wrong with being a perfectionist (a little bit :)) since we all love quality and most people are praised for their keen eye or skills when they deliver ‘flawless’ work. However, the paper-cut incident made me realize that I could probably implement the Agile practices in my own habits a bit more.
For the people that don’t know what ‘being Agile’ is about; let me just briefly explain what I see as the essence of it. Being Agile to me, lies in doing things (developing) in a cyclical manner. So not planning and working from beginning till end before evaluating the end result, but rather in short cycles with focus on delivering value first and continuous evaluation and adjustment in each cycle.
As it turns out, living more Agile by doing things cyclically, really helps you create and realize things WAY easier!
Just think about it. If you are a perfectionist, you’ll recognize these things immediately:
- Not doing this little thing that inspired you… but postponing it
- Waiting for the right time… because you need more practice first
- Putting a lot of attention into something, only to find it being unfinished after a long time. Sometimes we even run into these things later on and think “hey I was really onto something there!! To bad I didn’t finish that!”
- And a lot of other things that never even got out of your head and into your hands..!
Being more Agile yourself, means: allowing yourself to do 1 little thing that inspires you first, before thinking about the next thing. Perhaps it’s that thing that you like best about it.
It means allowing that first concept or action to be IMPERFECT. And doing it anyway.
That’s what counts. You created, said, cooked or whatever-ed something and allowed it to come to life. Not just keeping it in your head, as an unused blueprint.
Perfection comes from practice. From trying things out. Without any pressure for it to be ‘right’ from the first try.
Here’s what I want to leave you with.
Just replace this expression: ‘If you’re gonna do it, do it right’
..with this one:
‘Practice makes perfect!’
Just try it in your own life for a while.
See if it adds a nice balance to the perfectionist in you.