The term “Personal Agility” pops-up every now and then. If you look to the “modern human” as a part of their mobile device, actually this isn’t to weird of thinking… we could consider ourselves a software product of our smartphones, smartwatches, laptops, et cetera in a way… Kidding – or at least that is a whole other discussion. But even without joking around, when you come to think about it, agility in general might be a good thing to strive for in everyday life.

Agility is the “ability to move quickly and easily” or the “ability to think and understand quickly” according to the dictionary. The Agile Manifesto made some declarations regarding the meaning of Agility in software environments in order to be “able to release quickly and easily and understand customer needs and value quickly”

In a few lines we will take a closer look to the Agile manifesto and see if we can think of principles that could give our personal development the “ability to respond to change quickly and easy and to think and understand our personal needs quickly”.

But first I want to point out that personal development is very complex, sometimes even chaotic (you can read “why” in this article). If you consider it like that; complex work, it’s only logical that agile principles will benefit your personal development, incorporating agility and empiricism in your personal strategy.

The (Personal) Agile Manifesto

The original manifesto reads:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Let’s look at this from a more personal point of perspective.

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

While you may upload your phone with calendars, getting-things-done checklists or even mindfulness-apps (including reminders), paper your house with notes, Scrum-boards and canvases, in the end it comes down to you and the world. Interact with people. Share your stories, both the successful ones and the failures. Talk about your hopes and dreams and discover that others may have similar ones. Or even turn out to be enablers to give you a kickstart. Hence; you might even consider some “offline-time” now and then to avoid processes and tools and become a bit more mindful along the way!

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Go. Do. It is always good to have a plan, bring in some focus and dedication. But stop the forever planning. Go read a book about a new topic you may want to discover. Not so appealing as you thought it would be? Well, at least now you know and can move on. Want to go out of your comfort zone? Stop thinking about when or how the best moment would be. Start small but at least start! Sing for the mirror, a family birthday or for a casual passer-by… you don’t have to start with a filled 02-Arena to become a singer!

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Yes, you might have to invest some dollars here and there. By knowing what you want and why you want it, you will make the most valuable investments. But you might “lose” some investments as well. But sometimes you do have to experiment. Stop quantifying the output you want from you investments. Qualify it. This also applies to negotiation with you employer about your training budget. You’re willing to invest it in the most valuable way possible. But for that you might experiment every now and then as well. Stop quantifying what your employer wants you to get out of your training. Start qualifying why it will be valuable to you.

Responding to change over following a plan

You made a (rough) plan. Started some cycles to improve your skills and are well ahead to become the new Steve Jobs. But seriously, you really have it going on and this time you will reach your goals. Period. But life is what happens to you while making other plans. The world turns upside down. Your boss goes away with your idea. Illness strikes your family. You’re suddenly becoming a parent (which is cool and all, but still might be unexpected). The love of your life comes around and he or she happens to live on the other side of the world. Don’t panic. Your personal agility gives you the ability to quickly and easily think, understand and act (move) on it. Not because the plan was so wrong, but because you see and know what is needed for you. Always take into account things might change. Small or big, external or even within yourself, change will happen. And that is ok.

So while the Agile manifesto is written for software development. And the principles of it sound way easier than the real implications and mindset-shift are. The manifesto is quite easily applicable on Personal Development. Personal Agility might have lost its charm – most articles and information on the topic are over one year old – I think it is time for a small revival of the concept. Personal Agility will make your Personal Development journey more sustainable, more lovable and more actionable.

Want to invest in your own Personal Agility? Join our two-day Personal Development Training which will bring the Agile principles for Personal Development to life. You will be coached in small groups by hands-on and well-informed trainers. Your first chance is 18-19th of July 2018 in Delft. Be there!


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