The Joy Of Air

I'm working on a couple posts though want to really dial them in before I put them up. In the meantime, I just found this short film narrated by Jackson Goldstone, who at 8 is already expressing a level of riding bikes far beyond his years.

And I will say this: there is a distinct pull at the lip of a jump, a yearning to fly skyward. It is something I've only begun to heed myself, though I can report back that taking to the air is sublime; a sensation beyond words. This film attempts to give voice to it.

Agile is that lip. And it calls us to fly, to strip out all the bullshit and crap that impedes us and our organizations, to discard the stories we've woven and retold about how things are and what is true. It is shedding comforts, and a sense of safety, and committing to a new way of being that relentlessly pursues delivery of value and respect for people.

And it serves us to be mindful of the landing as we progress; "what comes up must come down."

As an agilist, what calls you to fly?

What Is Possible?


Brandon Semenuk sends a line with zero margin for error

Roughly every other year for the last decade or so, Red Bull has been producing Rampage: the premiere big mountain freeride contest. Unlike most races, where everyone competes on the same track against time, each Rampage rider chooses his (still a mens-only event) own line between a set start and finish and is judged on a variety of criteria; speed is not one of them.

The venue, or arena, as it's come to be known, is a tangle of canyons, ridges, drops, gaps, and jumps in a corner of the desert near Virgin, Utah. In the mix of wooden jumps, rider-built features, and natural drops, the riders redefine what is possible on a bicycle.

What does all this have to do with agile? For me, it comes down to this: these are professional riders. The best in the world. This is what they do: push the limits of possibility. I am a professional agilist, certainly no where near the best in the world, though I still look at these riders and ask: am I doing this? Am I inspiring my teams to this? To push the boundaries of what we believe is possible?

We are professionals. And, I believe there is a whole lot to be learned by watching and being inspired, awe-struck even, by others so committed that they put their lives on the line to express their passion. Now *that* is going big.

The following video is a recap of the event produced by the gravity riding enthusiast site pinkbike.com. I hope you enjoy, and even more, I would love to hear how your work is progressing the boundary of possibility for yourself and those you work with.

The Beginner's Paradox

Some time ago I watched a video short featuring NPR's Ira Glass talking about how beginning something is difficult. Not that the task is necessarily hard (though it might be), more the idea that when we start something, we are motivated for some reason, and that by definition of being a beginner, we will fall short of what we're motivated to do. Typically we have some idea of what competence looks like; in the world of creativity this can be considered taste. In the world of gravity sports it looks more like accomplishment.

Regardless, there is a disconnect between when we begin something and our ability to deliver this thing with any degree of grace, and what we know is possible, or for a true visionary, what we can only imagine and have been told is impossible. We won't write amazing code, we won't ask excellent questions, won't lead a team session that blows minds. Not right away.

I can vividly remember the first time I laced up my first pair of snowboarding boots, tightened the bindings on the used board I'd just bought, and realizing "holy shit this is going to take a long time," promptly fell on my ass.

It was intimidating; I knew there was no way to learn this sport without falling. A lot. So I asked for help from buddies, and practiced the same basic forms over and over again, one little step at a time. And slowly, I fell less and rode more. And as I improved I stopped asking other people for help as much and started paying a lot closer attention to the board and how it moved through the snow. Noticed the parts that took a lot of effort or caused me to be unstable. And the sublime sensation of flying down the mountain on the board's thin steel rail became its own reward, and its own pursuit.

Starting agile is hard, too. So is progressing. And we must be willing to fall without fearing failure, must be willing to ask for help without fearing stigma of incompetence. We must pay attention to the results and be willing to closely examine those areas where our effort is not fully leveraged. We must answer powerful questions about improving these. And we begin to cross the inflection point where our work becomes a joy. And the only path there is persistent sustained effort.

What are you or the teams you work with beginning?