Graciousness: The Fine Art of Being Kind to Yourself

Exhaustion. Numbness. Emptiness. As coaches, as scrum masters, our work is about serving others, oftentimes at the expense of ourselves. This talk is about learning to act graciously, to act kindly, to do unto ourselves as we do for our teams. We will discuss the urgency of slowing down, of leaving room to contemplate our inner world, and of "bringing calm into the motion and commotion of the world." I discuss the urgency of slowing down, the neurobiology of graciousness and compassion, and how to use practices within the contemplative-practice tree. I will also cover how to use these practices to show when self-care is falling to the wayside and how to build a foundation of compassionate graciousness. Research for this session draws upon primary sources such as Pico Iyer, Dr. Rachel Remen, Mirabai Bush, and Dr. James Doty, philosophers and contemplative thinkers such as Thomas Merton and Henry David Thoreau, and poets such as Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver. The Dalai Lama says that the one thing without which we cannot live is kindness, and I posit that we must also show that kindness, that graciousness, to ourselves.

This talk targets Agile practitioners of all skill levels, but particularly Agile coaches and scrum masters. So many of us help others to move forward, to self-organize, but service can be exhausting. This talk is for you, to help you find practices to show that kindness, that graciousness, to yourself.

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Outline/Structure of the Talk

Welcome/Housekeeping (2 minutes)

  • Learning Objectives/Outcomes (see below)

Graciousness (10 minutes)

  • What is and where can we find it?
  • Slowing Down and the Joy of Quiet
  • Witnessing and Honoring Our Inner Lives

Neurobiology of graciousness and compassion (10 minutes)

  • Heart/Brain Connection
  • Graciousness and Compassion on the Brain

Graciousness to One's Self (10 minutes)

  • Identifying behaviors that thwart self-compassion
  • Using the Contemplative Practice Tree

Contemplative Practices (8 minutes, activity)

  • Activity: Walking in the Boon Companion Stance
  • Activity: Modified mantras

Q&A/Close (5 minutes)

Learning Outcome

  • Grasp the urgency of slowing down, of witnessing and honoring our inner life. We spend our days serving other people, other teams, so we need to understand why it is important to serve ourselves.
  • Understand the high-level neurobiology of compassion, of graciousness.
  • Identify behaviors that thwart self-compassion and contemplative practices that will help us to steady and to ground ourselves.
  • Learn physical practices to practice graciousness to one's self (stance, modified mantras)

Target Audience

Intermediate-level Agile practitioners, scrum masters, and Agile coaches

Prerequisites for Attendees

This is a new presentation, one created just this year. It is the sideways output and a bit of a passion project of some podcasts, some deep-dive reading, and an afternoon tea that I hosted in early December. This talk addresses the urgency of slowing down, of leaving room to contemplate the inner world, and of "bringing calm into the motion and commotion of the world." It is really an interactive discussion, and as a speaker, I engage with the audience, often calling people and responses forth to deepen those discussions.

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