Breathe Deep

Trubridge Ascending

I was thinking about my favorite videos the other day and remembered Hectometer, the short film documenting William Trubridge's record-setting 101 meter freedive. That's 101 meters straight down into a blue hole in the Bahamas.

No air tanks, no fins, just a thin wetsuit, pair of goggles, nose plug, and whatever breath and sanity he brought with him.

Turns out this sort of thing requires a bit of a special mental space, I would suggest altered state is not an exaggeration, in order to simply survive the ordeal. And lots of practice, and lots of support. Going that deep is dangerous; there is absolutely no margin for error and the sport takes the lives of its athletes with some regularity.

To be honest, I cannot come up with a metaphor or connection from the film and its subject back to agile, other than to be deeply moved by William's commitment, courage, and to see yet another example of a human being pushing against the limits of what we have agreed is possible.

If a man can take a single breath, dive 303 feet into the ocean, and return to the surface with nothing but his own strength of body and mind, most of the challenges I face in my world seem pretty simple.

Here is Matty Brown's Hectometer featuring William Trubridge.

And Now, For Something Completely Different...

Fans of Monty Python's Flying Circus will recognize this post's title as the segway from one outlandish sketch to another. This post isn't about gravity at all, though to simply share a short video that Lyssa Adkins put together of a conversation we had about the Competency Framework for Agile Coaching.

If you've not been to the About Me page, I've implemented (at least for non-mobile devices) an interactive version of it there.

I post it here for a couple reasons: to give visibility into an amazing tool that greatly informs my thinking and approach to agile, to help spread awareness of the framework, and well, because it's my blog and I can :) Also, I was pretty nervous at the beginning of the video and thus a bit smiley; it's not every day I get to make a video with a personal hero and someone I respect as much as Lyssa!!!

Reading Water

Mavericks by jurvetson on Flickr

Surfing really isn't that hard. Truly. Beginner boards are stable and easy to paddle. Wetsuits make even the coldest summer waters comfortable. However, learning to catch a wave, now that's tricky. Moving water is shaped and directed as it interacts with features we cannot directly see. The shapes of waves at surf breaks are created through a complex interaction of tides, winds, swell period and direction, shifting sand, and reefs. It requires endless hours of water time to be able to read waves; when the surf gets big it becomes a necessity to stay safe.

Rivers are similar; they have their own language that takes time and experience to read, though moving water is still moving water. After many years of surfing, my knowledge of ocean waves translated directly into the rapids, currents, and eddies of river white water.

Like water, as humans our personality and behavior patterns are created by features we cannot directly see; a complex interaction of culture, personal history, belief, and social context. Though I believe that by getting to know these features in myself and how they shape my presence in the world, I can map that understanding onto others.

I've been told I'm extremely perceptive, though I'm not so sure; it's all there to be read. I need only sense the underlying structures just as I can discern what the bottom of a surf break or rapid looks like by the shapes of the water. Like water, the hidden structures give shape and motion; with people it might be the tone of someone's voice, the words they choose, or just as often what is not said and how they sit. And with the right communication tools, and the right approach, working with teams and individuals becomes not unlike surfing, or whitewater; riding the emergent results of what is hidden though ultimately true. For me it all shares the same essence: a dance, a dance to invisible music. Can you hear it?