When I started my first Agile software development consultancy I had both love and fear pressing on both sides of my psyche. This gnawing, anxiety-inducing, stomach-churning feeling seems almost paradoxical. How could these two emotions evoke the same dread when they seem so distant from each other on an emotional scale?
What was necessary for both these emotions to evoke at the exact same time?
You may have heard from the AFA Newsletter that one of my companies has shrunk during the COVID19 era of 2020. AgileforAll went from fourteen Agile consultants and trainers plus operations and marketing to three.
However, during this exact same time, my startup Emrit grew from four people to over 30 globally.
Because of love and fear.
The Agile for All Story – A Future Forward
In 2005 I built my first ‘real’ startup beyond just contract developer work for Fortune 50 companies. While being a software engineer living the Office Space life of cube farms and ties, I had found something. Something life-changing. It came from a small developer online user group post. It wasn’t merely just ‘something.’ It was Agile.
Agile is a codified set of principles and a philosophy of how to build software better, increase speed to market, and satisfy customers all along the way.
Many of us have heard of it by now, but in 2005, I was hooked. I immediately began using it in my consulting, workshops, and training (and personal life too – story for another time…)! Over a short few years, I was spending more time coaching on Agile (and Scrum) than development work, and I began traveling the world to speak at conferences. Mostly about how much I loved the impact that Agile has made in my life and the life of my clients.
Even more, Agile allowed me to earn a good enough income to do what I love in the service of others while also financing my startup as it blazed into the unknown!
I cannot communicate to you the depth of gratitude I have for the people who came together to make the Agile Manifesto. It fundamentally changed my entire worldview and life for the better.
Agile was immediately applied to my coaching and consulting practice. The experience I gained from practical Scrum working effectively in small teams and scaled projects provided me evidence and knowledge on how to scale my own company. From software development framework (Scrum)and running my business as an Agile organization (principles and values), to leveraging agile financial modeling (practices) and creating an agile culture (people), my small startup of 19 people was humming like a well-oiled machine. It was amazing to watch.
Nine years of hard, consistent, and quality work to get acquired.
Perseverance and resilience are what is required for any type of success. It is also the characteristics that I invest in as an angel investor and venture capitalist.
By the year 2014, I am now an experienced operator and I understand the game of business building having just had my 9-year grind rewarded with acquisition.
I now also had 9 years of Agile and Scrum experience under my belt. It was time to build again.
Agile for All Grows Wings
In 2014 I joined AgileforAll, a Colorado-based Agile consulting and training company led by Bob Hartman, Richard Lawrence, and Angie Ham. I was employee #4. My goal was to use my superpowers to help the business scale. And grow, we did. Bigly.
Because of love and fear.
Agile, coupled with my ethic of hard work, revealed to me two powerful secrets of any company’s success: love and fear.
Now into my 5th major startup, I’ve led the success of my startups by love and fear.
Love = 100% Engaged in Your Work
Love is the idea that you fundamentally, at your core, love what you do.
How do you know this love?
It’s the knowledge and feeling of working 100% within your wheelhouse. You’re working 100% within your gifts, skills, and talents. Where (almost) every moment at work is using you to your utmost. You’re fully engaged and fulfilled. You’re fully leveraged and enjoying the hustle. You’re fully committed and enjoying the ride.
Fear = Personal Accountability and Responsibility
Fear is the idea that you fundamentally, at your core, take full responsibility for the success or failure of your endeavor, project, startup, or lifestyle.
How do you know this fear?
It’s the knowledge and feeling of knowing the 99% chance that your company will fail (most do). You’re working day-in and day-out on the grind, using everything you’ve got to move the ball forward daily. Inch by inch. Where emotions run high (because you care so much), and your hustle is disciplined. You’re fully engaged and yes, it’s always your fault. You’re fully leveraged and bursting at the seams at capacity. You’re fully committed and you’re scared-as-hell.
A Winning Combination
When you have both of these emotions at the same time it is exactly the place you want to be. It is the place where you can fully experiment and work with authenticity. It is a place where you can take command of your life or roll the dice with fate. It’s where you’re the captain of the ship. It’s your turn to go, build, and do the impossible.
You are fully in love with what you’re doing and adventuring on and complete fear of the unknown but knowing that is the path when you take full responsibility for your life and your work. It’s on you 100%. You’ll be the reason it succeeds or fails.
Time to show them what you’re made of.
Agile for All Shrinks – Because of Love and Fear
The reason Agile for All has shrunk to three people is because all of the rest of our world-class people are rolling their own. And we couldn’t be any more proud or supportive!
When I heard, one-by-one tell us they were starting their own company, joining forces with another, or going into solo practice, I was ecstatic! As a multi-company founder and VC of hustlers, I absolutely loved hearing the news. It made my heart swell.
You see, they are taking a new direction in life. Into the gray. What wonderful experiences and businesses they will build!
Do you know why I know they will ALL succeed?
Because they are in love, and are willing to embrace the fear of the unknown, to fully live.
As for the 3 of us left? We’re going to be fine. Why?
Because of love and fear.
This year may be the year that you go hard into your passion-project. If you have love and fear, then you have just enough to begin.
All the best,