Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.

As a child the world seems likes a magical wonderland. Being a princess, professional hockey player, or world famous journalist all seem like realistic possibilities. But, year by year the dreams start to slip further and further away, impeded by our own fears, received societal beliefs, and a mountain of hard work. Money becomes king and passion takes a back seat.

During high school I found ways to balance the two, working as many hours as the local movie theatre would give me to make the king happy while starting to dabble in a local non-profit to keep my brain stimulated and excited.

College was a full blown obligation experience. I couldn’t find value in the classes I was told I had to take while simultaneously watching my bank account drain. For the first year and a half I justified it all with visions of working in New York City as a reporter for the New York Times. That worked until a journalism professor gave everyone a “reality check” on the extreme difficulties of breaking into the field. It felt like someone had burst my final bubble. I was completely deflated and couldn’t find enough reason to keep paying all that money for something that seemed so far out of reach.

After changing my major to Human Resources and switching to community college I often shamed myself about giving up on journalism. I would wonder why I was too lazy to put in the effort. Looking back now it is clear why I chose to alter my path. It wasn’t what I was meant for. The first time I wrote that sentence I must admit I struggled not hearing it as justification but what I mean is, though I had/have passion for writing, I wasn’t committed to it.

I have written a lot about the moment where I found my thing, the thing I was made for. When I fell into Agile there was no question in my mind that this was it. Commitment came easy and passion grew more and more every day. Only mere months later I found my other thing, personal responsibility. With this new found passion once again commitment came easy. When things got hard, even when I thought I was at my breaking point, the idea of giving up never even crossed my mind.

I was “raised” in agile from the very beginning with a very tight connection to personal responsibility and The Leadership Gift. It was because of this that I never even wondered why they go so well together. It wasn’t until recently that I had a breakthrough about why they fit so well together.

WARNING: This may cause you to say “duh”.

Agile is a mindset shift.

We reprogram our thought process from a traditional, silo, linear approach to a collaborative, iterative and incremental approach.

Personal responsibility is a mindset shift.  

We reprogram our thought process from one below the line and in The Control Cycle to one that is highly self-aware leading to freedom, power, and choice.

I’m not sure how to describe the immense power and momentum this clarity gave me. It was as if I had these two things in their own respective files in my head. Managing the separate files took energy away from each one. The instant I saw them married, truly together, so much made sense.

Agile transformations I understand. They come with challenges, as does anything dealing with change. If there are tools and techniques that can be used to help lessen the pain of an agile transformation, those same concepts could be used to help transform with personal responsibility.

For example (I have a feeling more examples will be coming in later blogs) a common technique I use to help my teams is, at retrospective we identify one continuous improvement idea and I ask them, “Can we all agree to committing to working on this for the next two weeks. If we don’t like the results we will retro again and adapt.”

The idea here is that committing to a change for two weeks gives them an end in sight. It is less scary to agree to than saying we are going to make this change for the remainder of the project. The best part is that if the team doesn’t like the results they get from the change we only lost two weeks doing it and gives us the ability to inspect and adapt until we find the change that works best for the team.

What would happen if I applied this same concept to my personal practice of responsibility?

If you have read my blogs before then you are probably as aware as I am that I consistently struggle with shame. So what if I posed the same challenge to myself instead of two weeks starting with a day. “Can I commit for today that I will not go to shame, but catch it first.” My internal dialog instantly says of course I can do that! It is just a day after all.

At the end of the first day I introspected on how I felt. Wow, a full day with not a second of beating myself up. As I got into bed that night instead of searching for something to worry about until sleep took over I took a few deep breathes and just enjoyed the feeling of setting myself free.

I began to bet myself that I could commit to a week catching shame first.

At the end of each of the milestones I set for myself I take the time to really stop and be present with how I feel after committing. If it is something that I find valuable I continue to set time boxes and commit again until it becomes second nature. If it is something that doesn’t offer value I inspect and adapt to find something that does.

What agile techniques can you use to help continue your practice of personal responsibility?

Jessica Soroky, CSM

IMG_3285Jessica is a Certified Scrum Master with over three years of practice in agile delivery and seven years of team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.


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Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.


Whose Generation?

There has been a break in reality between the baby boomers and Generation X management and the new influx of Generation Y workers about how to be successful in the workplace.

I have become fascinated by generational research, the studies showing how different the world was for each generation and the effects those differences had on character traits. There is a negative perception of the Millennials that I have had to fight since I entered the working world.

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Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.

In the not so distant past, despite all my effort, I could not wrap my mind around this one concept. I was aware that the only thing between myself, peace, power, and choice was this concept but instead I was overwhelmed. I was left feeling lost and frustrated by three one syllable words.

Let it go.  Continue reading

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Please welcome Frank Sonnenberg, author of “Follow Your Conscience”, to the blog.

People with courage possess ten shared characteristics. They should remain as guideposts in your journey through life: Continue reading

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Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.

A booming voice calls out, “Judy, you’re the next contestant on the Price is Right!”

The crowd goes crazy as the camera guys all search for Judy to pop up out of her chair. As she makes her way down the stairs she can barely contain her excitement, jumping up and down and screaming as if someone just gave her a billion dollars – tax free!

On the set of The Price is Right this is normal behavior,  audience members are actually encouraged to do so before the show begins. What if this was the norm at work? What if Continue reading

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Jessica Soroky continues her series Leadership is a Choice.

In the course of 24 hours I play close to a dozen different roles, and that’s just counting the roles I am aware of.

When the alarm goes off, a split second before consciousness takes over I have no role, I am just a sleepy human. Once the world starts to take shape Continue reading

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This week Jessica Soroky begins her new series “Leadership is a Choice” with “Start Now”.

Today marks the day that I have chosen to re-commit to documenting and sharing my personal leadership journey through a new blog series called, “Leadership is a Choice”.

That may have just been an introduction sentence to someone reading this but to me it is Continue reading

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This week Mike Edwards joins us from his blog with another post about vulnerability.

Think about those areas of your life where you are a leader. I believe we’re all leaders. As a leader the one thing you can count on is to face change on a daily basis. With change comes uncertainty which if you read my last couple posts you know means being vulnerable. As a leader Continue reading

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This week Mike Edwards joins us from his blog with a post about vulnerability.

In my last post Being vulnerable about vulnerability, I shared a lot about how learning to be present with my vulnerability has impacted me. Since then I have been reflecting on what may have led me to struggling so much with being vulnerable, and more importantly what is possible when leaders can allow themselves to be vulnerable.

To start I would propose we are all leaders in some areas of our lives. A leader is Continue reading

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