Three things I wished I new about mental health before I started working as a Scrum Master/Agile Coach
Recently, I've been thinking more about mental health and taking care of myself. It reminded me about three things, among many, that made a difference in self-care in the role of a Scrum Master/Agile Coach.
1️⃣ Holding unpopular opinions and speaking up comes with a cost. 😨
To speak up, one needs to be in a good mental space to navigate through conflict, own and other's emotions, and potentially sustained tension.
Nurturing this space is crucial and comes in different flavours. I tried:
Having a space to vent - official (therapy, coaching) or unofficial with people in the same role, e.g. a daily on the end of the day to share and vent emotions.
Securing your finances and career prospects (see point 3) that will make you feel safe if made redundant, e.g. have enough to live through 6 months without a job.
Knowing your values and remaining congruent with them, e.g. what are your non-negotiables and what mission bigger than yourself are you fighting for.
Taking plenty of time to regenerate and respect your nervous system, e.g. you might be able to take in fewer stimuli than others, need more time to think through things or process emotions longer. Respect that instead of fighting it.
People react differently to the amount of information and tension - see what helps you gain distance to things.
2️⃣ Soft skills are the new hard skills. 🫀
People who neglect soft skills finish last as they are:
- having a hard time voicing their opinions in a non-threatening way,
- unable to build bridges through conflict,
- work with various people and roles,
- help their team grow.
I invested in:
Transactional Analysis (especially Karpman drama triangle), Virginia's Satir Change Model, NVC, reading body-language to name a few.
Listening more than talking, understanding what is behind the behaviour and words of the person in front of me.
Using coaching/therapy to not project things onto people or teams and feel confident in conflict situations.
Supervision both as a professional coach and Scrum Master/Agile Coach - this was frequently an eye opener for patterns and behaviours I didn't notice.
3️⃣ When you know you need a break or to change your job, it's already too late. ⏳
If you end up in a situation where you are overly tired, you need more time to rest than you think. Changing job takes 3-9 months leaving you stuck and burning out.
I learned I need to:
Go on holidays alone once a year for a long weekend or a whole week to self-check, slow down and see what's important to me.
Figure out how to rest during the work (not only after)👇🏼
Regularly interview/pitch during the year even if I don't think about changing my job to see:
- what skills companies look for,
- how does the demand on the market look like,
- what are the going rates for perm and contract,
- how do recruiters position me.
This is what helped me. What are things you wished to know and have led to leveling up your approach or skills?