Pressing My Reset Button

This week I am attending Agile2016 in Atlanta. For the last 5 years I have been attending an Agile focused conference and each one has provided me with the opportunity to hit the reset button. For a week I am able to step away from the grind of the day to day activities. Step away from the meetings. Step away from the emails. Step away from the box that over time slowly closes in around me.

On day 1 of the conference I was still in the grind. The sessions were good but didn’t really speak to me. I was honestly worried that I would just coast through the conference.

Today I feel like I had the reset button pressed. I started the day with a session by Doc Norton regarding technical debt. As much value as the content of the session provided the bigger value for me was a portion of the session that discussed the history of the technical debt metaphor, who came up with it and their original intentions. During this part of the session I realized that in the last 9–10 months I’ve stopped learning. From a professional perspective I stopped reading blogs. I stopped reading books. I stopped watching videos. The day to day grind had taken control… and I was fed up with it controlling me.

Once I go back to the office next week I am sure that the grind will still be there patiently waiting for me. Waiting for me to come back to join the fold. In order to fight this I am going to focus on two things.

The first one is to make time to learn something new… reading an article… watching a video… doesn’t matter. I’m also going to aim for a goal of one book per month focused on my profession. Software engineering practices… scaling product development… systems thinking… theory of constraints… it doesn’t really matter.

The second thing I need to do is disconnect my learning from my ability to influence change at work on a day to day, week to week, month to month basis. This will be the harder of the two changes. I often find myself learning something new that could help improve a challenge we are facing. Sometimes I am successful in influencing a change. Other times I am not successful in influencing and end up watching us continue to struggle. I cannot solve all the problems though. To think that I can is foolish. But to allow myself to stop learning because of the “failures” is even more foolish.

And with that I’m thankful that my reset button is being pressed. Now I think it is time to go create a list of books to start reading.

p.s. I normally don’t publicly write things but in this case I wanted to write it down so it was real for me and out there for anyone to stumble upon.