Breaking the right rules?

This blog was inspired by one question:

How do I coach myself?

As an agile coach that has coached numerous individuals and organizations over the years, it’s easy for me to coach others. However, the question of coaching myself for improvement has been very challenging for me to answer over the years. Mostly because there are so many answers and obstacles I can point to. As I coach and mentor other coaches, I feel the need to begin providing some answers. I’ll start by answering the question with a deeper question.

What does it mean to “break the right rules”?

This question came to me as I was thinking about simplifying the way I live. What I found is the many rules I keep in my head. I decided it may be time to break some of those rules to simplify how I operate. Finding the right rules to break is simple. We all have rules we operate by and at some point those rules will be violated. Those violations trigger some upset in ourselves, our teams, or organizations, and our typical reaction is to blame someone, justify the situation, feel shamed by a perceived inadequacy, or just resign yourself to an obligation around the upset. None of these are useful states and you end up returning back to one of these states again and again. Another way to handle the upset is to consider it as an indication to reflect on the rule instead of react based on the rule. (Christopher Avery would describe this as the Responsibility Process Model, which I’ll say more about in future posts.)

This blog is an example of breaking the right rules for me. Some rules I’ve carried for a while are “I’m not a good writer” and “you have nothing unique to share”. However, as I’m given the opportunity and privilege to coach individuals, teams, organizations and other coaches, I keep getting asked about what I have learned about coaching. It’s caused some upset for me as I’ve found others sharing similar lessons or I had a better way, but these rules prevented me from sharing my approach (I blocked myself). It has prompted me to revisit these rules and abandon them. So I will commit to posting at least twice a month to share other ideas and observations on how you can break the right rules. I may share other observations as well to serve agile coaches and leaders.

I’ll also share a challenge: What “rules” do you feel are being violated on a frequent basis for you? For the teams you coach? For the organizations you coach? Is that rule still valid for what you are trying to achieve?

For some further inspiration, I suggest reviewing:

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