I would like to tell you a tale. A tale based on a true story of personal development, epiphany and the discovery of a raison d’être. It all started in 2017…
In April of 2017, something important was happening to me. My team and I were in a difficult situation. The morale wasn’t very high, we were in the middle of a death march. Extreme overtime had become a routine, the level of job satisfaction was really taking a hit. The 4 first months at this workplace were the best of my career, and suddenly I was going to work reluctantly.
At that moment, I figured my influence as a Scrum Master was limited to my team and its immediate environment. I had a hard time improving the global culture in which my team lived. To the point where, as turbulent as I can be, I was bombarding myself with questions such as “I am a good Scrum Master? Is it what I really want to do? Should I be doing something else, and if so, what?”
At about the same time, I was developing an interest in Simon Sinek’s work. His conference and book “Start With Why” were fascinating me. Without going into too much details, it is the theory according to which people will follow you not because of what you do, but because of why you do it.
Given the situation I was in, I started to wonder “Why” rather than “What”. At that time, I had no idea how powerful the answer to this question would be, but I had the feeling that I had to find the answer at all cost.
The Common Denominator
Why do I get up in the morning? Why do I go to work every day? It took me months of introspection to get to the bottom of it.
I started collecting data. From time to time, I would come back home from work and say “Well, that was an AWESOME day, today!”. I tried to find a pattern, the common denominator. What makes a day awesome, for me?
After a few weeks, the puzzle was starting to give me some kind of answer. A good day was when I had the opportunity to help someone improve their work environment or work conditions. When I helped someone take charge of their own future. Not only someone in my team, but anyone within my organization, or within my external network.
The Why, On Every Level
I was on the right track, but I still wanted to figure where my “Why” standed globally. For what noble cause do I want to help people improve their work environment? On what sort of scale can I make a difference?
I decided to apply my reasoning to many levels :
- Globally, I want to change the world. Like everyone.
- I want to put an end to this “debate” about whether or not it is worth investing in employees’ happiness and organizational culture.
- Locally, I wish to contribute in making Montreal the city where the most people are happy at work.
- And in my immediate environment, I want to bring more humanity at work. A necessity that I find is becoming increasingly rare.
It Can Change a Career
After such a revelation, questions like “What do I want to do?” and “Am I doing what I should be doing?” became irrelevant. Now that I knew my Why, I would try to spend as much time as I could applying it.
I took the risk of investing a percentage of my work time helping my teammates take charge of their work environment, individually or as a team. I also spent time doing the same thing with people outside my team, and outside my organization. My team went off on a very positive tangent, gradually improving their level of autonomy. Individually, my colleagues started owning their own destiny.
I realized that 100% of the human-centric value generated was made possible by this small percentage of my time during which I helped my peers grow.
At this moment, I stopped being a Scrum Master, and simply started being “someone who helps others grow”. My title had lost all its importance, because the totality of my raison d’être now resided in my Why.
I completely rewrote my LinkedIn profile, removing all the technical buzzwords as well as the elements that made it look overly professional, asepticized and cold. Rather than tell about where I am from, I started to tell about why I do what I do. In a human way that’s imbued with everything I’m passionate about.
Some time later, I get a call. This person tells me “I’d like to talk about what you believe in. We believe the same thing, and we need someone like you”. I’m offered the opportunity to invest 100% of my time helping people grow. Where do I sign? I now am a Software Development Manager at Marine Press. My title could have been anything, what’s important is that my role is to apply the reason I get up in the morning, every moment of the day.
Let me conclude with this quote from Gandhi, which easily summarizes what I learned in this journey.
Owner of Primos Populi. As a manager, I prefer to use a “people first, the rest will follow” kind of approach. My favorite topics are organizational culture, safe work environments, and lowering the center of gravity of the decision making process. I cultivate people’s awesomeness.