Agile2017 Culture Events Growth Leadership

Agile2017 Recap – Day 6

It’s here – the final morning of the conference. After packing and checking out of the hotel, I headed down to breakfast and sat with some new found friends.

The first session was an Open Jam, which had 17 topics for participants to select from.

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I chose the session on “Non-management Centric Rewards.” Jason from Lithespeed gave us insight into the bonus and compensation practices at Lithespeed and what they’ve learned from trying various methods, such as peer input for bonuses and exploring transparency in salary information. I enjoyed getting to know the other folks in the group, and we plan to continue the conversation over email on ideas on non-financial rewards.

After a break (we ended up just continuing to talk), it was time for Denise Jacobs to take the stage on “Banishing Your Inner Critic.” I had the opportunity to meet Denise in the Imposter Syndrome workshop, and she is very genuine and in tune with someone who is battling their inner critic.

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Over the course of her 75-minute keynote, I was furiously taking notes, and there’s way too much information for me to try to capture here. Please, please, please watch the video when it’s posted.

When you do, you’ll hear about the following:

  • Where does the inner critic come from?
  • How it’s the fears we have about ourselves voicing their opinions based on the negative things that we’ve heard, and they are emphasized by the larger societal context that we live in.
  • How negativity bias coming into play, and how we can wire ourselves for happiness. Our brains are Teflon for Positive and Velcro for the Negative.
  • There is also the survival mechanism when we have a fear to associate the negative feeling with the place of fear as a protection instinct.
  • Our brains store those memories in implicit memory, which means our reactions become automatic.
  • Our inner critic is our subconscious; the voice that’s telling us that we’re not good enough.
  • The key point is that our inner critic is SHUTTING OUR CREATIVITY DOWN!
  • Creativity is power.
  • Think about the flow state and the words that we associate – they are all powerful words, “awesome, timeless, flying, effortless, confident, focused.”
  • Flow will shut down the inner critic, and inner critic episodes give power away.

Denise then shared a host of mental power tools that we can use, including 1) Attention and Focus, 2) Mindfulness, 3) Self Compassion and 4) Neuroplasticity.

I don’t think I realized the importance of self-compassion until Denise explained it the way that she did – it was beyond “talk to yourself like you would a friend.” She gave tactical ideas, like re-framing your thoughts based on reality (like a scientist would). For example, instead of “I am a loser,” say, “Am I a loser?” and look for evidence to the contrary. Words have power.

We also self-impose an imposition mentality that enables us to play the victim and takes our power.

Regarding rumination, she suggested squeezing a stress ball in your non-dominant hand because the difference in muscles will help stop rumination (I’ve already ordered a stress ball on Amazon because this is a major problem for me). Also, when your ideas are blocked, do something with your hands.

Denise reinforced owning our expertise and for us to stop hiding in plain sight. For us to find our unique greatness and capitalize on it. Sometimes, our unique greatness is so ingrained with who we are, we don’t notice it. Confirmation bias is neutral – look for the positive. Keep a kudos file.

Be your coach of awesomeness – talk yourself through it and use the third person. Using your own name will have a greater effect than saying “you” or “I.”

Learn from envy and transform it. Envy can show us an opportunity model that helps you figure out what you want.

There’s also a technique to use the gesture. Whenever you need to let go of a thought, just “swipe left.” Literally, with your arm, make the gesture. It’ll clear the idea from your brain.

Build mastery, have a deliberate practice and constantly take in new information (and take breaks when you need to). Try explaining new information to a small child or a teddy bear.

Be and share your brilliance, don’t hold back your information. She gave the example of eye color – it’s not something that one thinks about very often (second nature), but to others, it’s part of what makes you, you. You will learn more by sharing. Express that brilliance as a contributor, collaborator and as a strong leader (this will also help build psychology safety within a team).

And don’t forget this is continuous improvement.

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The slides from Denise’s talk can be found at (still amazed she secured that domain), and I look forward to reading her book.

Tricia, Phil and Brian closed the conference, and that’s a wrap on Agile2017!



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