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maximum vs optimum vibrations


In our modern lives/jobs, we often tend to (we're requested to?) aim for reaching a maximum in every situation. Though we're eventually wide of the mark in term of reaching any optimum.

There's a saying in French: "Le Mieux est l'ennemi du Bien". Read: Better is the enemy of good.

The bad news:

IMHO, ignoring this is a major cause of project fails (~70% - depending on the consulted source of information) and imbalance in teams.

The good news:

"Agile" is (not the only) one possible game saver in that matter, as it allows to better adapt goals and minds to the nowadays changing or hardly predictable conditions.

Though, (team) agility is creating new challenges since it relies on open-mindedness, good communication and positivity (*).

Teamwork should be positively emotional !

However, emotion jars with maximum...

The computer can't tell you the emotional story. It can give you the exact mathematical design, but what's missing is the eyebrows.
F. Zappa


(*) MAYDAY! I'm stuck in a paradox: I'm complaining about people whinging about everything :-D



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I am drawn to react to this 

2 observations which I find relevant:

1. People are anxious and afraid about the (their) future ONLY when they do not do their best (maximum) for making their expected/dream future come true. Even if such a person fails to achieve the desired result, knowing/feeling they did their best at any given time provides a sense of peace and calm.


2. everyone has in all areas of life and at different times a certain OPTIMUM. It cannot be externally quantified - everyone can recognize that they are doing their optimum in life by feeling engaged, focused and calm.

We can function below our optimum (below our current 100%) or above the optimum for some time. But it will leave a mark on our psychological and physical well being - at the very least, we will loose the sense of calmness and ability to enjoy engagement. 


So how do we find our optimum and how does this relate to the Agile methodology or to anything in life?


I try to do it just by noticing how I feel over the course of a day/week/month/year. Just noticing trends. Lack of calmness and anxiety hint that there are things I don't do. Very often there are things I do not want to see - there is fear preventing me from seeing my truth.

So in the long run it all boils down to recognizing fears and deciding not to be stopped by them while doing what I think and feel is the right thing to do for me at that moment of time.

Fears are the ONLY problem - individually, in teams and in the society. 

Beliefs and expectations are only different expressions of a fear - they are our ways to combat uncertainty and lack of true knowledge (experience of results).

Like Loïs Bégué likes this

I like your 2nd point ;-) "feeling engaged, focused and calm" is a good mark to recognize an optimum in someone's life. And fears is sometime truly poisoning our lives.

Though fear is not the "...ONLY problem...", sometime not even a problem at all but a necessity instead. One of the Basic Instinct is "fear" (of disappearing) which leads to reproduction and ensure the survival of breeds.

I'd like to somehow argue on

...below our optimum (below our current 100%)...

100% is our (usual) maximum. Optimum can be everything below, though hardly up to 100% : consider for example the Pareto Optimum principle.

Everything above 100% can be considered "heroic" or "hyper human" (e.g. life saving reaction beyond normal skills in extreme/dangerous situations).

Interestingly, teams are sometime able to reach more than an "100% average": this is resulting from a sort of economies of scale in team spirit, albeit the team may partially be subject to great fears.

See the Proof-of-Concept by the "300 Spartans" :-D

What was their secret? Their fears were "under control" !

Best practice:
as a PM, you'd help your team members to control their fears.

I agree about helping the team by helping them manage their fears.

In this respect I would say that it is required to become aware of the fear and finding a strategy of how not be stopped or influenced by it. (accessing truth in perception and action)

Clarification on the "below 100%" idea - short term it is ok and often beneficial to be in comfort zone. Long term it leads to burnout.

- Knowing I can bring value, but not being able or willing to do so. Not willing to change job/team to pursue my passion or calling and confirming to myself that I am capable and valuable.


Regarding necessity of fear - this is a deeper philosophical topic. Let's just say that you are correct from the materialist-reductionist view, which is still the dominant paradigm.

However I subscribe to a different view of our biology/nature where theoretically one can exist without any fears. Being able to overcome even biological/instinctive fear reaction to such innate fears like sudden sound/light (just theoretically - not saying this would be something I would try or recommend). 

You don't have to be afraid to avoid the woods during bear mating season. 

Overcoming/letting go of fears should not be done for the sake of combating our instincts or to prove something. It is and should be done to elevate ones ability to connect with others in constructive ways and to do fearless decisions which in the long run improve any aspect of one's life/team/society/world.

So that is why remain to see fear as the only ultimate problem to solve.

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
Lao Tzu
Pramodh M
Community Leader
Community Leader
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Jan 20, 2022


Thanks @Loïs Bégué 

I have my empathy towards everyone in the workplace, is that something I should be concerned about?

Empathy is good! It helps a lot in understanding and supporting others.
Though empathy should never lead to self-abandonment/sacrifice... it should allow to better combine efforts and interests and create/maintain a win-win situation ;-)

Vero Rivas
Rising Star
Rising Star
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Jan 21, 2022

Hi @Loïs Bégué 

  Life is a constant uncertainty, you never know what is going to happen in the next moment, you have to enjoy every moment as if it were the last

   People who live in continuous complaints have no place in my life, they wear me out emotionally, if you don't like something change it, do something to change the situation, complaining is the most comfortable way to continue in your personal ordeal

   Today I think that some people feel comfortable in their miserable lives, agility is true that it is not the only thing, but if I like something about it, it is that it helps you adapt to continuous changes, that people do not want to appreciate that happen every moment in life

   The sun is never in the same position, every minute has basically changed due to translation and rotation, if the universe changes as you intend it will not happen in your own life

   Open mind is necessary


Darryl Lee
Atlassian Team
Atlassian Team members are employees working across the company in a wide variety of roles.
Mar 29, 2022

I reckon myself as a perfectionist or at least I tried to be perfect on the subjects that I am working on.

This drains out my energy most of the time, and sometimes, I was called "robot" while working.

Such a big lesson for me to grow.

Thanks for sharing this. :) 

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