I want to “change”

“I want to change” is one of the most common endeavours for people.  For most people, the journey of self-improvement starts with the notion “things are changing fast, I need to adapt to survive and thrive” to “I need to change to improve”.

You might have come across many people who resist change, they prefer the status quo. They are in the comfort zone, there might be some underlying fear, that even they may not be aware of it. Unless they see a benefit of change, they may not even try.

Next are people who don’t want to change because they have given up after many unsuccessful attempts to change. Showing them the benefits of change will not work these people. They might benefit from a method or a technique.

This blog is for those people who have given up the hope of changing, to give them some alternate method to try out. This method is simple and others also might find value in this.

People who think “change is not possible”, mostly they have given up “trying to change”. They belong to the family of Parmenides School. The Parmenides, a great Greek Philosopher (515-450 BC) and founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy (universal unity of being) taught that change is not impossible.

If you think “change is possible” then you belong to the family of Heraclitus. Heraclitus, another great Greek Philosopher (535-475 BC) taught that there is an ever-present change in the universe. You also think that change is possible. 

For many years I was trying to ‘fix’ myself (after being motivated by the Self-Help books ) and failed miserably. I kept shuttling between Heraclitus and Parmenides schools.  

Earlier as soon as I realise that I need to change, I used to jump into action immediately. Suppose If I have to take care of my health. 

 I used to say “Ok, from tomorrow, I will go for running”, buy some expensive shoes with the justification “Yes, I’m buying for a good cause, it is not a waste of money”. Go for two days then order a Fitbit to track my progress. 

Take a break till the Fitbit is delivered but by the time it was delivered there was no motivation. Then I used to get some new insight that used to become my new area to “Change”. After a few failed attempts, I used to get upset and declare “change is not possible”.  This continued for many years. 

I used to think I’m becoming a zen master -like “accept what is and what is not” but in reality, I used to be frustrated.

Now my new approach to change is like this. 

First is the belief that “change is possible”. 

The proof is you can observe things changing around you. Look around and start watching. You are also changing but you are not noticing. Change is happening some desired and some undesired change. Next step is to bring the desired change. 

This can be broadly put into the following phases. 

Awareness 

The first phase is being aware that you want to create change in some aspect of your life. Usually, this comes in the form of a thought, an idea or feedback. Avoid the temptation to get into action. If it is critical, then the only step you should take is to write it down as clearly as possible. Nothing more. 

Acknowledge

The next phase is to acknowledge the change, it is an act of admitting the existence of that thought or that need. Suppose you realise that “I should lose weight”. You just acknowledge that I have a view or there a need for me to lose weight. 

Accept 

This is a significant phase, you should spend time and analyse before accepting it. You exercise your choice in accepting that thought. You might realise that the need for change has come out of some reaction, in that case, you can choose not to accept it. You need to be mindful of your arrogance/ego coming in your way to look at things objectively. It is better to accept the changes that arise out of your will than those coming from external sources. 

Act 

This is nothing but getting into action. It ultimately depends on the results you want to have in your life. Results come from taking actions. 

This is summarised beautifully by my favourite leader/guru Werner Erhard. 

“In life you wind up with one of two things – the results or the reason why you don’t have the results. Results don’t have to be explained. They just are.”

Award 

This is the one more important part, as you are taking actions, it is vital to have some award mechanisms to keep you going. Be generous, small rewards, but they do the trick. 

Yes. You deserve the reward for your efforts. 

Use these steps and evaluate and most likely that you have created the desired result and successfully implemented that change. 

Conclusion

Once you take actions consistently, the “change” becomes part of you. Then you are ready to take the game to the next level. 

I have found that jumping into actions is not sufficient, giving time for self has helped me tremendously. 

Consider you are already doing your best, don’t try to better your best.  

The Goal Question Context

This time of the year when the maximum number of people give up on their new year resolutions. I know many of my friends have made a resolution that they will not make any resolution. I’m glad that some of them are at least keeping that resolution. I have gone through my cycle of failures, denial and many years of “no resolution” and I have finally cracked the code of the new year resolutions. The answer is in using the framework called the Goal Question Context (GQC).

I find the framework useful to set, revise and reset goals annually and track them on a weekly basis. Some years like 2020 are special where you can make goals for the next 20, 10 or 5 years.

To have these new year resolutions and goals is a personal choice. If you have a goal then you will at least try some actions towards achieving it. The chance of achieving your goal is higher if you have one.

What is the Goal Question Context (GQC) ?

The Goal Question Context (GQC) is inspired by Victor Basili’s work on Software Metrics called GQM (Goal Question Metric).

The GQC consists of three parts.

Goal – It is the desired state. This should be unambiguous, verifiable or measurable.

Question – Mechanism to clarify the goal and refine it and derive the context

Context – Your personal context within which you want to accomplish this goal.

Broadly we can say Goal is the end toward which effort is directed: aim. One clear distinction of a goal is at any point in time you can assess whether you have achieved your goal or not. If you have not yet achieved your goal you should be able to determine are your efforts are towards achieving the goal or not.

Characteristics of a Good Goal

  • Goal should be measurable and timeboxed.
    Example 1: I should lose 5kgs in 3 months.

If this is the goal, you should make a note of your current weight (78kgs), start and end dates (01-Jan-2020 to 31-Jan-2020).

Then the goal can be written as: By 31st March 2020, I will bring my weight under 73 kgs

  • The goal should be personal.
    Unfortunately many goals most people chase are derived out of comparing with others or trying to maintain a certain level of acceptance in the society. If the goal comes out of your intrinsic desire and not due to some external source then the commitment towards the goal will be very high.

“Dont let fears of what others might think of you stand in your way” –
Ray Dalio – “Principles”

  • The goal should be important.

Though it sounds obvious, many times you have goals that are more like fashion accessories than something you need to achieve. Do not confuse your goals with your desires. In fact, desires are things that you want that will come in your way of accomplishing your goals. In life, though anyone can almost achieve anything in life, you should remember that you can not achieve everything in life. It is important that you choose wisely.

The questions and context
These two help in refining and aligning to your goals.

Let’s explore the above example

  • Goal: By 31st March 2020, I will bring my weight under 73 kgs
    Then the question to ask is

Why do you want to bring your weight under 73kgs?

I have realised that I’m feeling a bit lethargic these days, I’m also thinking of participating in a marathon, that was always my dream. I was inspired by my friend Martin, who completed a half marathon last year. I can also do it if I prepare myself.

How are you planning to achieve this goal?

I’m planning to use a two-pronged strategy. Watch out on my food intake: control my sugar intake, the quantity of food, snacking etc. and a bit of exercise. I will also start running at least twice a week.

What will or might come in your way? And what are you going to do about it?

First one is my laziness. I’m going beyond this. I really enjoy going out and in the fresh air. My travel and work schedules are big constraints. I can use them as an opportunity. Use the hotel Gym facilities, use public transport and walking.

Also, focus on eating healthy. I will also take support from Martin as my accountability buddy.

Based on these questions and answers a context can be created.

The context for my goal is to feel energetic and be a person full of energy. My mantra is “Just Do It !”

End note

The biggest benefit of doing this activity is that you slowly start knowing and understanding about yourself, your body and your mind. You will start noticing the effect of environment, space and people on you and also how you are impacts others around you.

One important final note about Goals, actions and consequence is that the goals can be achieved only through actions. When you take action you will have a first-order consequence, second-order consequence and so on.

If you decide to go for a morning jog. The first-order consequences are, getting up from the bed and sacrificing the sleep time, initial days you might also experience body/muscle pain and lack sleep.

Second-order consequence – you will feel better, health improves, you look fit. It might take a couple of days.

Another example, you might decide to take it easy and focus on enjoying life now!

First-order consequence: You experience happiness and joy, you are having a good time now. Second-order consequence: In a few years you might end up spending all your savings, may or may not have the motivation to work hard and earn.

Normally most first-order consequences which give you instant pleasure, happiness will have a negative consequence in the long run. Those which are difficult, not interesting will give long-lasting happiness later (for example learning a musical instrument).

For many years I also explored by not having goals but just enjoying the journey (the process towards achieving the goal rather than the goal itself), I did not bother about the results. The only drawback of that approach was, your full potential is not understood and most importantly there is no learning. With the Goal Question Context approach, it ensures that you enjoy the journey and also achieve the goals. Through this approach, the chances of achieving the goals are enhanced. In the worst case this framework will provide data points to analyse (through questions and context) and learn. Sometimes the learning from these experiments is as important or more important than the original goal itself.

So all ready to set new goals? What are some goals in life that you want to achieve?

“It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.”
Paolo Coelho, The Alchemist.

If you need any support with setting your long term goals do not hesitate to contact me.

Inspiration / Credits 

Principles – Ray Dalio

GQM  – Vistor Basili

 

Don’t hire a coach if you need a consultant.

Don’t hire a coach if you need a consultant.

Smith: “Well, you have a good experience of coaching and working with big brands. Will you be interested in coming on board and coaching our team ?”

Anna: “Sure, can you please share some more detail about the role ?”

Smith: “ I’m creating a community of practice for Business Excellence, formed by a team of coaches, You will be training and coaching the people on the floor on best practices, processes and tools. Especially, I want you bring your expertise and solve the efficiency issues raised by the senior leadership. By the way,do you have experience of coaching senior leadership ?”

Anna: “Yes, Thanks for giving the background about the role but I think you need a good consultant not a coach”

…..

These days many companies are busy hiring coaches for various requirements though there is a real requirements for coaches,  many companies are not clear about the role. There is a need to build awareness about coaching and it’s benefits.  

“ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.”

The focus of Professional coaching is on

  • setting goals
  • creating outcomes and
  • managing personal change

The skills required for coaching have significant overlap with skills required for other personal or organisational support professions like mentoring, therapy and consulting.  

Mentoring

A mentor is an expert who provides wisdom and guidance based on his or her own experience. Mentoring may include advising, counselling and coaching. The coaching process does not include advising or counselling, and focuses instead on individuals or groups setting and reaching their own objectives.

Models like People Capability Maturity Model have given frameworks to implement organisational level mentoring programs.   

Therapy

Therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships. The focus is often on resolving difficulties arising from the past that hamper an individual’s emotional functioning in the present, improving overall psychological functioning, and dealing with the present in more emotionally healthy ways.

In contrast to coaching, therapy focuses on the past whereas coaching is focused towards future, based on self initiated change process.    

Consulting

Individuals or organisations retain consultants for their expertise. While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions.

Peter Block mentions in his book Flawless consulting the definition of consultant as

“a consultant is person in a position to have some influence over an individual, a group, or an organisation, but who has no direct power to make changes or implement programs.”

The credit for starting consulting as a profession goes to Marvin Bower, founder of  McKinsey & Company, who is considered as father of Management Consulting. He insisted on impeccable professional standards in substance, ethics, and style; that gave the credibility and an identity to the profession of consulting.

Organisations like International Coach Federation (ICF) are doing their best to make the profession of coaching to maintain it’s credibility and value in the industry through developing and enforcing code of ethics and Standards of Ethical Conduct for the community of professional coaches.

In the HBR research report on coaching, “What Can Coaches Do for You?” by Diane Coutu and Carol Kauffman,

The management guru Ram Charan says

“ The industry badly needs a leader who can define the profession, the way Marvin Bower did for management consulting.”


 

Principles

IMG_20180421_074813.jpg

Principle is a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behaviour or for a chain of reasoning. The Cambridge dictionary defines this as a  basic idea or rule that explains or controls how something happens or works. Principles are more basic than policy and objectives and are meant to govern both.

Principles help organisations and individuals in navigating in the “right” direction. They are different than values. Values are subjective whereas principles are objective. They help you to navigate towards your “ true north”.

“Rather than thinking, ‘I’m right.’ I started to ask myself, ‘How do I know I’m right?’”.

Ray Dalio says “ Principles are ways of successfully dealing with reality to get what you want out of life.”  “Rather than thinking, ‘I’m right.’ I started to ask myself, ‘How do I know I’m right?’”. Ray Dalio is no ordinary man, founder of Bridgewaters one of the most successful and largest hedge fund management company.  

He has published the principles of life and work in his book “Principles”, here is the list my favorites from his book.

  1. Trust in Truth
  2. Realize that you have nothing to fear from the truth
  3. Be extremely open
  4. Have integrity and demand it from others
  5. Be radically transparent
  6. Don’t tolerate dishonesty
  7. Create a culture in which it is OK to make mistakes but unacceptable not to identify, Analyse and learn from them
  8. Don’t worry about looking good – worry about achieving your goals.
  9. When you experience pain, remember to reflect.
  10. Teach and reinforce the merits of mistake based learning.
  11. Be assertive and open-minded at the same time.
  12. Remember that almost everything good comes from having great people operating in a great culture.
  13. Recognize that people are built differently.
  14. Hire Right, because the penalties of hiring wrong are huge.
  15. Understand the difference between managing, micromanaging, and not managing,
  16. Put things in perspective
  17. Go back before going forward.
  18. Recognize the Power of Knowing How to deal with Not Knowing.
  19. Remember that the Root cause is the reason, not the action.
  20. Understand and connect the dots.
  21. Don’t try to please everyone.

Out of the above #1 and #12 are my favorites. What principles resonate with you?

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Here are the selected References.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/

http://www.businessdictionary.com/

https://www.bridgewater.com/

https://www.principles.com/

Raghavendra (Raghav) Mithare is a consultant and coach at ProcessWhril Management Consulting, based in London.  (rmithare@processwhirl.com)

 

 

Being Agile – Ontological perspective

Kari L. Granger (US Air Force Academy) shares her experience ..” I was in Iraq as the officer in charge of a unit, but for the first time under enemy fire, I realised that the knowledge I gained from studying leadership during six years of being educated as a military officer with a masters degree in Leadership, did not leave me being the leader I needed to be under fire. For example, knowing that in a frightening situation a leader should be courageous was very different from being courageous in that situation.

Reference (https://vimeo.com/65658787)

“Being Agile” is one of the top topic of discussion in many Agile forums and aspiration for many organisations. Various  aspects of being agile that are discussed in many Agile conferences, meetups and blogs. There are many opinions, views and perspectives about – “doing” Agile vs “being” Agile.  In this article an Ontological perspective about being Agile is shared.

Ontology is a branch of philosophy(in particular meta-physics) focusing on study and nature of ‘being’, this term is also widely used in social science, computer science /artificial intelligence, information science and in many other fields.

The term is derived from Greek words, “Onto” for existence and “logia” for study, science. The Latin derivative ontologia means science of being.

In general ontology focuses on the nature being. For example, let’s consider an apple. The existence of apple can be experienced by sight, touch, smell and taste.  In an apple juice, though the form is changed the existence can be experienced in the form of smell and taste. The “essence” or the being of an apple can be experienced.

In the case of living beings the concept of “being” is different, especially for human beings. Human beings  have wide range of beings in which they express themselves. Normally they are expressed as emotions like “being happy”, “being sad”, “being angry”, “being enthusiastic” and so on.  The being is not just the emotional state but it is much more than that. It is a combination of mental state (attitude and state of mind), emotional state (feelings and emotions), bodily state (body sensation), thoughts and thought process (logic and memory) in a given moment of time or in a given situation.  This also includes mind-set (frame of reference) and world view (model of reality).

In fact, one can’t write/read about “being” then it becomes “knowing”.

From an Ontological perspective, being agile explores the “being” as the ways of being for people and teams. For an effective transition to being Agile all aspects are important.

Unlike psychological models which are based on mind-set and worldview, ontological models are based on phenomenology (a methodical discipline deals with being and action as these are actually lived.  sometime referred as experiential learning). To access ones being tools/practices like mindfulness, reflection, and presence can be of great help.

Another way to distinguish being is to split any activity into doing, having and being domains.

ontology-01

Suppose if you are preparing for an examination, first you take lot of actions (like you do all your preparation), it is in the domain of doing. As a result of your actions (preparation) you will get some results. It is either pass or fail in that examination or a certification. This is called “having” or results of your action (doing). Depending on the results there will be a change in our experience, you either become happy (if passed) or sad (if failed). You are “being happy” or “being sad” based on the results (having)  and action (doing).  This is our default paradigm.

The alternate paradigm considers the innate ability of human beings to alter their state of being. ontology-2

In alternate paradigm, you start with being happy, then take actions like studying and preparing for the exam. Finally as a result of your actions you get some results and choose appropriate ways of being to express it.

This alternate paradigm is used by many leaders and champions in their way of being.  It is like Roger Fedrer starts “being a champion” even before he enters the court , and plays the match to  the best of his abilities (doing) and (most probably) wins the grand slam (result).

This is not something you can use it like a formula but the alternate paradigm is definitely a possibility.

Once you are aware about the difference between “being” , “doing” and “knowing” you can start exploring the experience “Being Agile” and perform (do) agile practices and get extraordinary results (having) for you and your stakeholders.

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End note : Best way to experience the ontological perspective it to attend/participate in an event. I conducted a session in Agile Leadership meetup.  The slides are shared below

I would like to hear your views and feedback, write to me at rmithare@processwhirl.com or call me at +44 782 164 5866

 

 

Ontological constraints in coaching ‘Agile Teams’

Slide2



I’m speaking at the upcoming Global Scrum Gathering in Bengaluru (27-29 Jun, 2016). In this article I will give some background about my 90 min workshop. The ‘ontological constraints’ is the topic close to my heart and I’m excited to share these concepts with all of you. These concepts are easy to understand but difficult to explain. I think these concepts have evolved along with the evolution of human beings. I find them very relevant in the context of Agile Software development which emphasis “interaction” among people.

Whenever there is an “interaction” among people these ontological constraints play a vital role in the overall outcome and experience of that transaction.

Let’s look at, what is Ontology?  Ontology is a branch of philosophy focusing on study and nature of ‘being’, now this term is also widely used in social science, computer science and in many other fields.

The term is derived from Greek words, “Onto” for existence and “logia” for study, science.

In general ontology focuses on the nature being for everything for example take an apple. The existence of apple can be seen, felt and can be tasted. In the context of managing Agile teams, I will be focusing on “way of being for people.”

To understand ‘the way of being’, pause for a moment.

Observe your mental state (attitude and state of mind), emotional state (feelings and emotions), bodily state (body sensation), thoughts and thought process (logic and memory). So your way of being is “what is going on with you internally in a given moment or in a given situation”

Slide1

Once you experience the way of being, you can now look at the ontological constraints.

To look at the ontological constraints you need do a small exercise.

Write down or make mental note of the following question.

What kinds of people or kinds of situations you find uncomfortable to deal with?

Consider that there are some invisible ontological constraints are at play here.

Share your thoughts here or write to me at  rmithare@processwhirl.com / mithare@gmail.com

Tweet at @mithareraghav  with #agilecoaching #SGBLR


I’m speaking at Global Scrum Gathering Bengaluru, 27-29 June 2016.  #SGBLR

Scrumalliance.org/sgblr

Happiness ! :-)

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Happiness is something that all of us seek. There are various definitions of happiness but deep inside all of us know the moments when we feel truly happy within.

Personally for me “happiness” comes as #1 priority and it ranks even before health and wealth.  Recently I read a quote that I completely resonate with

“Happiness is success, success is happiness “

Dimensions of happiness

We engage in many activities in order to be happy. Below are the activities we engage in to be happy.

Happiness = function of ( P, E, M)

Now let’s look at each of these components.

#1 P stands for Pleasure

There are many activities that give us instant gratification and give happiness, we can call them as pleasure and happiness.  For example

  1. Watching football
  2. Listening to music
  3. Eating our favourite dish

There are many actions we do to be happy. These include habits like smoking, internet surfing etc. Such actions that involve “instant gratification” give happiness.  But the problems is, at the end of the activity we feel like “I want more”. However when we repeat the activity, we notice that the level of happiness comes down drastically and at one point it even stops giving any happiness.

Another issue with activities that gives us instant gratification is they are addictive and at some point the activities become mechanical.

#2 E Stands for Engagement

When you are completely involved in these kind of activities, they also give happiness. The level of happiness is more than the activities involving pleasure.

For example

  1. Playing football than watching football
  2. Playing a musical instrument than listening to music
  3. Preparing a dish for family and friends than eating your favourite dish

In these activities you are completely involved, and there is some sense of accomplishment. You are in a state of “Flow” – It is a state of total absorption in an activity where the individual is so focused that nothing else seems to matter.

Compared to “pleasure” the activities involving “engagement” are longer in duration.

(please refer excellent work done by Mihaly Csikszentmihalay – FLOW)

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The optimal engagement comes when your ability and the challenge is optimal. When the challenge is bigger than your ability to do the activity then you experience some stress/fear whereas when your ability is more than the challenge then you experience boredom.

The problem with “Engagements” is it involves lot of time and requires initial investment. To enjoy playing guitar or violin you should invest your time in learning the instrument, then practice playing the instrument.  You need to have certain level of skill to experience the “FLOW”.

So far we covered pleasure (p) , and engagement (e).   The next aspect of happiness is activities involving meaning.

#3 M stands for meaning

Meaning involves engaging in activities with a purpose – a purpose bigger than self and caring about others. When you are involved in these kind of activities your level of happiness is not only higher but is also long lasting.

Prof. Selgman  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Seligman) authority on positive psychology reportedly conducted this experiment with his students.  One day instead of his regular class he took them to a movie and when they came back he asked them to rate on a scale of 1-5, the level of happiness they felt.  All students rated whatever they felt.

Next week again instead of his regular class he took them to a near by community school where kids from underprivileged background were studying. They spent the afternoon playing with these kids.  Again when they returned to college he asked them to rate on a scale of 1-5, the level of happiness they felt. He collected the data.

After six months towards the end of the semester, he handed over two forms, one was titled “Movie” and the other was “Visit to community school” and he asked the students to rate the current level of happiness with respect to these two events. Many of the students had forgotten that they had gone for a movie but everyone remembered the visit to the school.  The ratings after six months for  “Visit to community school” were much higher than the that for a “Movie”

The activities involving meaning will not only give higher level of happiness but it is also long lasting.

Slide2

I can share from my own personal experience.  We run a trust called Kruti( www.mykruti.com ) and couple of years back we did a photography workshop for kids from lower income group families .I still have beautiful memories about it.

Even after so many years, when I see the Kruti videos, I feel very joyful remembering the time spent with kids and their unconditional love, editing the videos, selecting the music and compiling the movie etc.

We can see that when we engage in activities that give us meaning and engagement automatically our level of happiness goes up.

Let’s be happy !

 

Three pitfalls

2.LinkedIN Image Tempale

As I was undergoing my training to become a coach, I had the privilege of working with a wonderful coach.

One day when I was sharing with him that I was feeling a little low, he shared something that made a difference to me .

What he revealed to me was this –

Consider whenever you are in a bad mood or feeling low, you are most likely to be trapped in one of the below three pitfalls.

The three pitfalls,

#1. Comparing

#2. Complaining

#3. Competing 

The first pit fall is you are “comparing” with others, or your current situation with past situations or with some expectations. 

Majority of the times you keep comparing yourself with others – in schools it was the other guy/gal who got the better grades and today it may be a friend who is in a better position in terms of role, income or recognition. Look and see if you are trapped in some kind of comparison.

The second pitfall is “complaining”. You may be upset because of some unfulfilled expectations. It can be from people, systems and processes around you, society, current state of affairs, traffic, pollution, environment, global warming, etc. etc..

When you are in a complaining mode you are in trapped in the second pitfall.

And the last pitfall is you are trying to compete with others and you want to be ahead at times. When you are not ahead you feel a sense of losing. If it is healthy competition it is fine, but this is about the competition that drains your energy.

As a human being these are our natural pitfalls. But being aware of these help us to come back to our normal self.

As such these are not bad things but you need to be aware when the above feelings are not leaving you empowered.

Comparing is good when you are planning your next goal for development. It is good to look around, compare and then set your goal, and create a plan to accomplish it. But there is no point comparing every day.

Complaining is required to bring any unresolved issue to the attention of relevant authorities.  For instance, if the street lights are not working or if you have lost your baggage it is good and sometimes necessary to complain to the relevant authorities.

Competition is good as long it is healthy and you are growing.  A competition with your own self can be very beneficial.  

Hence while comparing, Complaining and Competition can be healthy, it is important to be aware about your own self and ensure that you don’t fall into the pitfalls of these emotions.

 Hope it helps you as well.

Raghavendra (Raghav) Mithare is a professional coach and a scrum master, based out of London. Feel free to share your opinions, comments and feedback. You can reach him at mithare@gmail.com or +44 78216 45866