There’s a popular African proverb that says:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
If I’d heard that phrase 30 years ago, I’d have wanted to be the person moving quickly on his own.
It’s not that a younger me was selfish, but I was ambitious. While I understood the value of teamwork, I would probably have taken that proverb as advocating a dependency on others to get to where I wanted to go.
And that would have seemed risky.
Surely no one would have wanted me to succeed more than I did, so why would I rely on others when I was confident I could take care of myself?
Today I know that’s not what the proverb is saying. It doesn’t mean that we all have to move together at the same pace like a pack of animals.
I don’t even think it means you have to sacrifice speed when working or learning from others.
I think it means that when you’re receptive to ideas besides just your own, opportunities can appear that may otherwise have remained locked away.
Throughout my life I’ve encountered many people who have accelerated my personal and professional journeys through the wisdom they’ve shared.
Sometimes it happens unexpectedly through casual conversation. Rob was a supervisor at my first programming job, and one night during dinner after work he showed me the power of Unix command line programs—specifically, how to chain small programs together to do bigger things. On that project, what Rob showed me let me very quickly code a library of small tools that I could reuse rather than developing everything from scratch.
That one piece of advice dramatically increased my productivity, which got me my first promotion to a software team leader.
Sometimes it’s more about considering a new philosophy rather than learning a practical skill. I still remember my coworker’s comment about getting things right the first time. I used to be fast but sloppy, and he made me reconsider my work when he told me:
“Mike, no one will remember how fast you did it, just how well you did it.”
Ironically, going slower made me faster—I was no longer having work rejected by QA two or three times. All of a sudden I was both faster and producing higher quality work by getting it right the first time.
Without interactions like these, I wouldn’t enjoy what I do today.
I would have made different—perhaps less informed—decisions.
I would have wasted time struggling with a problem instead of doing things a better way.
I wouldn’t have spotted opportunities disguised as closed doors.
As Issac Newton said:
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Each of these interactions (and there have been thousands in my lifetime) was like a pit-stop at a race track: a quick burst to refuel and add a spark and energy to my own ideas and plan.
And that’s why a couple of years ago I established the Agile Mentors Community.
I wanted it to be a watering hole of great agile ideas and I’m constantly amazed by just how valuable this community has become to its members and to me.
I’ve discovered some excellent books I wouldn’t otherwise have read, including The Right Kind of Crazy, Making Work Visible, and Five Languages of Workplace Appreciation.
I’ve been inspired by what teams are doing to adapt to the changes of 2020. I’m clued in to how they’re embracing new technology and sharing hacks to get the best from teams that are suddenly remote.
Last year really brought into focus how valuable the community has been to many members.
And that’s why I want to make the Agile Mentors Community more accessible to more people.
Starting today I’m significantly slashing the cost of an annual membership when you register before Thursday, 25th February, 9pm Pacific.
Whether you want to dip in and out, reach out when you’re stuck, or engage regularly, I think you will love the Agile Mentors Community.
You can read more about what’s waiting inside here
If you’re not yet a member, you’re missing out on some great discussions, resources, and events. And we’re missing your contribution as well.
I really hope you’ll consider joining us.
Did you miss our LIVE Q&A?
All Agile Mentors Q&A sessions are recorded and made available. Watch the video from this session below or sign up for an additional Scrum and agile Q&A taking place on Tuesday, February 23rd by clicking here.