Introverted Agile Coach

The Introverted Agile Coach

I have a confession to make.  I’m an introvert, and I feel this is at odds with my responsibilities as an agile coach.

Or at least I used to feel that way.  Over time, I’ve found more like me.  In fact, I’ve learned that it’s not as uncommon as I had thought.  Many educators, speakers, and other agile coaches are also introverts.  For me, this is how I often see this trait manifest:

  • First, I say only as many words are necessary to express myself and no more.
  • Then, I listen closely to what others think, and I scrutinize non-verbal cues.
  • Next, I mull over how this conversation fits the puzzle as I understand it.
  • Finally, I act to help others.

I realize that the above could sound like the day in the life of any of us, introvert or not.  My point is that I believe silence and observation comes more naturally to the introvert.  After all, it’s where we find comfort.  In the words of Stephen Hawking:

Quiet people have the loudest minds.

It’s not always easy speaking in front of groups.  Talking and working with others can be exhausting for the introvert, and we recharge by spending time alone with our thoughts.  The butterflies still come, and we fear being judged harshly.  Many of us have tempered this fear by withholding judgement of others and forming close bonds with our team members.  We do so because we’d rather people get to know us through one on one interactions instead of in group settings.

Finally, I write because I enjoy the luxury of the backspace button.  It gives me the opportunity to carefully survey and ultimately communicate my thoughts.  I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with all of you, and this blog allows me to do so from a place of safety.  But speaking at agile meetups or conferences?  I’m not there yet, but I will be.  Why?  The philosopher Bertrand Russell said it best:

To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.

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8 thoughts on “The Introverted Agile Coach”

  1. Thanks Tanner. I work hard to this day because I believe in what I do and love to help and mentor folks and folks look at me puzzled when I say I never thought I would be doing this type of work, which I guess is a complement. After hundreds maybe thousands (not doing the math) of ceremonies I still feel exhausted after each and have to recharge.

    1. Good facilitation is like a duck in water. Above the surface, it looks calm and relaxing. Look below though, and you’ll see legs furiously pumping. It’s exhausting.

  2. I loved this post. Also, I sat in on your “Agile Metrics” session at the AgileIndy conference a couple weeks ago. It was a great session. Fear conquered sir. Well done!

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