Mindful Agility

Why Bother? Purpose Drives Creative People to Minimize Distraction, Recruit Buddies, and Build Success

February 07, 2023 Daniel Greening Season 1 Episode 18
Why Bother? Purpose Drives Creative People to Minimize Distraction, Recruit Buddies, and Build Success
Mindful Agility
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Mindful Agility
Why Bother? Purpose Drives Creative People to Minimize Distraction, Recruit Buddies, and Build Success
Feb 07, 2023 Season 1 Episode 18
Daniel Greening

Our clumsiness in life creates most of our suffering. We haven't practiced the skills we need to be happy. We don’t see what’s going on around us. We don’t see the causes early enough to prevent a train-wreck in work or life. And when we don’t know how to distinguish truth from delusion, well that leads to a world of hurt.

But if we don't have a purpose, should we or anyone else care that we mess up?

Mindfulness skills help us reduce the dumb stuff we do to ourselves. When we get more comfortable and skillful just living in our existing situation, then we can contemplate why we are here and how to actively live. Knowing where we're going, means agile skills can get us there, finding creative solutions to the tough stuff.

So, here's one way to think of our journey to higher purpose and fulfillment:

  1. Mindfulness skills
  2. Purpose
  3. Agile skills

A couple of months ago, Dan Greening was interviewed for another podcast, called 10,000 Heroes, by his pal Ankur Shah Delight. If you’ve wondered what the hell those Mindful Agility people were trying to do, Ankur asked the right questions. Here’s that 10,000 Heroes episode, in its entirety. If you like the idea of exploring purpose, 10,000 Heroes is a nice thing to check out. 



  • Daniel Greening, host, agile consultant, software executive
  • Mirela Petalli, co-host, meditation guide, and neurocritical nursing instructor
  • Dan Dickson, business coach, executive and management consultant


Show Notes Transcript

Our clumsiness in life creates most of our suffering. We haven't practiced the skills we need to be happy. We don’t see what’s going on around us. We don’t see the causes early enough to prevent a train-wreck in work or life. And when we don’t know how to distinguish truth from delusion, well that leads to a world of hurt.

But if we don't have a purpose, should we or anyone else care that we mess up?

Mindfulness skills help us reduce the dumb stuff we do to ourselves. When we get more comfortable and skillful just living in our existing situation, then we can contemplate why we are here and how to actively live. Knowing where we're going, means agile skills can get us there, finding creative solutions to the tough stuff.

So, here's one way to think of our journey to higher purpose and fulfillment:

  1. Mindfulness skills
  2. Purpose
  3. Agile skills

A couple of months ago, Dan Greening was interviewed for another podcast, called 10,000 Heroes, by his pal Ankur Shah Delight. If you’ve wondered what the hell those Mindful Agility people were trying to do, Ankur asked the right questions. Here’s that 10,000 Heroes episode, in its entirety. If you like the idea of exploring purpose, 10,000 Heroes is a nice thing to check out. 



  • Daniel Greening, host, agile consultant, software executive
  • Mirela Petalli, co-host, meditation guide, and neurocritical nursing instructor
  • Dan Dickson, business coach, executive and management consultant


Cold Open

[00:00:00] Daniel Greening: So I was riding the ferry from Sausalito, California to San Francisco every day to deal with the shutting down of my company while bleeding somewhat from my neck. I'm sure I was, uh, a sight to behold by my fellow passengers on the ferry, but then I would go to work and then was I worrying about my cancer diagnosis or any of these other things? No. I was thinking about what a failure I was because this company had failed and, and then I was moping around at work and I was going, like, what did I do wrong with this company?



[00:00:42] Daniel Greening: Welcome to the Mindful Agility podcast. I'm Dan Greening.

[00:00:46] It turns out a lot of suffering comes from our own lack of skills. We don't see what's going on around us. We don't see the causes early enough to prevent a train wreck in work or life. And then when something bad happens, we blame ourselves, even though there's a whole lot of factors that went into that outcome. And we have regrets that we hold on to for a long time. Think of all the time we wasted just regretting.

[00:01:18] We first need mindfulness skills to get rid of the dumb stuff we do to ourselves. But even Buddhist monks admit they're suffering from outside forces. Agile skills can help us find creative solutions to suffering caused by outside forces. The Mindful skills, clear out the self caused suffering so we can better use our agile skills. 

[00:01:43] A couple of months ago, I was interviewed for another podcast called 10,000 heroes, by my pal Ankur Shah Delight. If you like the idea of exploring purpose, 10,000 heroes is a nice podcast to check out. We have links in our show notes. 

[00:02:01] Ankur asked a lot of interesting and key questions you might be asking yourself. Here's that episode in its entirety. 


[00:02:10] Ankur Delight: This is 10,000 heroes, and I am Ankur Shah Delight. 10,000 Heroes is here to provide inspiration, intimacy, and maybe even a little bit of guidance for you as to what it means to live a truly purposeful life and how we can each get there in our own beautiful individual snowflake, flower petal way. So welcome back to the show.

[00:02:30] Our guest today is Dan Greening, a host of the Mindful Agility podcast, and an experienced hand at both agile methodologies, which is a computer thing and mindfulness training, which is not. So I go deep with Dan on how he's found his way to the nexus of these two contradictory or perhaps complimentary approaches.

[00:02:50] Let's jump in.

[00:02:58] Daniel Greening: My background is I am a computer scientist and an entrepreneur with a few startups in my background. I had a big startup failure in, uh, 2007. And by big I just mean it cost me a lot of money of my personal money despite being funded by the National Science Foundation and other, you know, credential throwing organizations.

The Second Arrow

[00:03:25] Daniel Greening: And, uh, that failure was super disappointing to me. It was one of those, if you know Buddhism, it was one of those second arrow issues that I had a couple of previously successful startups, so who can complain? And then there I was, you know, with this big failure and I'm stabbing myself with this second arrow talk thinking about what a loser I am and that sort of thing. 

[00:03:51] Ankur Delight: Oh, okay. So I, I don't know that reference, but I think that's worthwhile enough to go into, if you don't mind. 

[00:03:57] Daniel Greening: Yeah, yeah. Let's talk about that. So the sort of traditional Buddhist story is that a monk asked the Buddha what causes suffering, and he tells the story about a person walking in the woods who gets struck by a poison arrow.

[00:04:17] And there are people around him, they bring a doctor, and the person struck by the arrow is angry. And that person says, I need to know who was it that shot this arrow? And I want to know what is in this arrow? And they go, well, it's a poison arrow. You, we should take that out. And he goes, well, first I wanna know who it is and I wanna know what kind of poison it is, and I wanna get them, you know, like, I wanna know who they are.

[00:04:46] And the Buddha goes, okay, so there's the harm of the first arrow, but the second arrow was caused by the person himself that he was rejecting help, that he was creating his own suffering by delaying the withdrawing of the arrow. 

[00:05:10] So when we talk about second arrows, you know the, primary goal of Buddhism is to reduce suffering. And that's it. But it turns out that because we are so interdependent with others, reducing our own suffering means that we have to think about reducing other people's suffering. and basically that's where Buddhism came from. Just this, I gotta solve this problem of reducing suffering. And then the realization that we're so interconnected that we have to address other people's suffering too, and that a lot of our suffering is not caused by the direct, you know, pain caused by our interaction with the world around us, but by our own attitudes about what is happening to us.

[00:06:04] So that second arrow term is often used by Buddhists to talk about self directed harm. 

[00:06:12] Ankur Delight: So, so in your experience, the, the startup failure was the first arrow. But how that affected your, your ego and kind of your, your self concept was the, was the second arrow. 

[00:06:24] Daniel Greening: Exactly. Exactly. So I was moping around. I mean, there were other things going on in my life. I had a cancer diagnosis and. I almost went bankrupt and, 

[00:06:35] Ankur Delight: okay, so there's some other minor extenuating circumstances.

[00:06:38] Daniel Greening: minor, minor issue. 

[00:06:40] Ankur Delight: She just had this cancer diagnosis, you know, some other, 

[00:06:43] Daniel Greening: yeah, so, so I had surgery and radiation and, and I, I still had this company and I was in the process of shutting it down, but it was head and neck cancers, so the radiation was on my neck and it was causing bleeding.

[00:06:58] So I was riding the ferry from Sausalito, California to San Francisco every day to deal with the shutting down of my company while bleeding somewhat from my neck. I'm sure I was, uh, a sight to behold by my fellow passengers on the ferry, but then I would go to work and then was I worrying about my cancer diagnosis or any of these other things? No. I was thinking about what a failure I was because this company had failed and then I was moping around at work and I was going, like, what did I do wrong with this company? 

Agile Techniques

[00:07:39] Daniel Greening: One of my employees handed me a book on an agile management technique called Scrum. Just handed me this book and said, you have to read this book. And I went, okay. You know, like, what else am I doing besides shutting this company down? I'll do that. And so I read that book and then I went, "Holy crap, why didn't I read this 10 years ago? "You know, like when it was written or when people were putting this stuff together.

[00:08:07] And then another friend handed me a book on a different agile technique called Lean Startup. And I read that book and I went, "Holy crap, this is great too." So then I was sort of engaged in agile topics and I took my team and we all joined a company called Citrix. When we joined that company, I turned out to be the biggest agile advocate. They weren't using Agile there. And our team was the experimental test bed for that. It turned out to work really well. 

[00:08:46] Ankur Delight: So just for a little bit of background, agile is a suite of methodologies, usually applied to running software companies, but I imagine it could be broader than that. 

[00:08:56] Daniel Greening: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

[00:08:57] So agile techniques, I think, have these characteristics. Someone, says, I want to build a thing, and it's this giant thing. And then Agile asks, what can you deliver in a couple of weeks or maybe a month max that would address some of the problems or even the tiniest bit of problem that your long-term projects hopes to solve.

[00:09:26] The giant project gets done by repeatedly doing these little short experiments one after another. But you don't define what the later experiments are until you do the first ones. So you do the first experiment, you learn something, and then you decide what experiment you're going to run next, always aiming towards the giant project you're hoping to build. 

[00:09:50] What that does is it helps eliminate delusions. Like we all, when we start a company, we have this dream that everybody's gonna like our technical solution to their, interesting problem, and then we discover no one cares. That's a very common experience among 

[00:10:09] Ankur Delight: Oh yeah. I mean, just cuz you build something beautiful doesn't mean there actually was a problem that other people have. 

[00:10:15] Daniel Greening: Right.

[00:10:15] Ankur Delight: I've run into that a lot as an engineer. 

[00:10:18] Daniel Greening: Oh, you're an engineer too, so you know this. Yeah. And so, so, right.

[00:10:22] So there are different techniques for different pieces of this puzzle. 


[00:10:27] Daniel Greening: So one of the pieces of the puzzle is that when you have a team of creative people working together, they come to that team with their own set of knowledge, their own biases, their own skill sets, and their own capability to learn.

[00:10:46] And so, Every time you assemble a team, it's a little bit different and the team doesn't know all the things it needs to know to build what you want to do. And so the experiments around building things, that's called Scrum, that is an agile technique, but it's around building things rapidly or efficiently.

[00:11:10] And the way I like to think of it is, it is an engine, an experimental engine of low cost production. 

Lean Startup

[00:11:18] Daniel Greening: There's the other side, which is "Are we building something valuable the customers want, that they'll pay for?" And on that side of the world, we have a technique called Lean Startup. So here, people create a hypothesis, "someone will want this particular product." and then that's only a hypothesis until we get some data to prove whether it's real or not.

[00:11:46] So one way to do that, of course, is to build it, build the whole thing, and then put it in front of the market and say, see, we built this beautiful thing. We know you'll love it. Right? So that doesn't always end well.

[00:12:00] Ankur Delight: But, but you do get to spend a lot of money and use a lot of time in, in that approach. 

[00:12:04] Daniel Greening: And venture capitalists love you at least until the very end. So in that world, um, the interesting thing about Lean Startup is you hang around with enough of these lean startup people, and you realize how many experiments you can run without spending hardly any money. Bill Gross is one of the famous people in this space. Idea lab was his incubator. Down in Los Angeles. He started cars direct in that incubator. 

[00:12:35] Cars Direct was a place where you could buy automobiles online, one of the first places that you could do that. 

[00:12:42] Ankur Delight: So without all the in person haggling and going to the 

[00:12:45] Daniel Greening: Exactly right.

[00:12:47] Right. But his hypothesis is that people didn't like high touch, go to the store, buy the car. Idea that a lot of people just think of that as a big waste of time. They just want a particular car and they want it now, and they don't wanna spend too much time haggling.

[00:13:04] So Bill Gross asks his engineer to build the simplest possible thing. That could get an order from a customer and send the order to Bill Gross in an email. And the engineer that was building this said, "oh, okay. So he started creating a database with all the features available, looking at how they could download the data from the manufacturer, or if it had to be manually input and did all the things that you might imagine. And then Bill Gross comes back and says, Hey, how's it going? 

[00:13:39] And he says, "well, you know, like I've got all of this stuff I have to do."

[00:13:44] Bill Gross goes like, "no, no, no. Let's strip that down. Let's make it so that all the people have to do is enter their name and address, their phone number, their credit card information. And type the model that they want with all the features they want into some free form field. We take a deposit. And then we let them go. 

[00:14:08] Isn't that hilarious? 

[00:14:09] Ankur Delight: This is really like the definition of minimum viable product. Right? 

[00:14:12] Daniel Greening: Exactly. That's, yes. He may have been one of the people who coined that term, but anyway, he, he said, let's just do that. 

[00:14:20] And the guy goes, well, what about the credit card? We have to do all this stuff with the banks and stuff. 

[00:14:25] He goes like, oh, no, no, don't worry about that. Just have a text field where you hit the submit button and it sends you an email with the credit card information. And he goes like, how do we process the credit card goes, I don't know yet.

[00:14:37] Ankur Delight: I don't even know if that card exists yet. Right. This is just, this is just getting interest. 

[00:14:41] Daniel Greening: Text. Iit's a text field. Right. So. So they finally get this thing done. They're in LA. The guy goes, you know, is this done? And the engineer says, uh, yeah, according to your definition of done, they, they put it online.

[00:14:58] I don't think they did any advertising. You know, it was just sitting there and they put it online on a Friday, the CEO comes back in on, on Monday and said, how'd it go over the weekend? Well, we got four car orders. And he goes, Well shut that sucker down , because we have to, we have to honor these orders somehow.

[00:15:25] But what happened was we proved that people would use this tool, right? So it's worth spending more money to do the database potentially, or do whatever is necessary beyond that. And then they spent, I think, six or nine months they hired people. They then, they spent six or nine months putting the real minimal viable product and, and put it in front of people.

[00:15:50] And then it became a big deal and it sold. I want to say for. 700, $800 million or something. So I would say that's a good example of a minimum viable product that original product with the text fields and stuff cost $80,000. You wanna find the simplest, dumbest, possible thing that you can do to test your market theory.

What is the Purpose Here?

[00:16:20] Ankur Delight: Okay, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna take this back to your life. So you had, you had this failure, you had this first arrow, you have the second arrow. You got, you got this book recommendation. You read it, you learn two different ways of approaching the world. One has to do with how you run your, your team, kind of the back end side.

[00:16:38] And one has to do with how you relate to the market and and then how, so how did that colonize your mind? How did that change your life? How did that bring you to where you are today? 

[00:16:48] Daniel Greening: So I became an agile coach. I became a person that taught these skills to companies. And what I found was these 

[00:16:58] Ankur Delight: the, but hold on. Why? I mean, I'm assuming you've learned a lot of things in your life, a lot of different paradigms. You learned Buddhism at some point. You know all if you have many domains of specialized knowledge that have changed your life in one way or another. Why did you, what potential did you see in this that that made you be like, oh, I need to drop everything and follow kind of in this path?

[00:17:19] Daniel Greening: Well, I'm one of these bumbling adventurers that sort of discover something cool and then I just spend all my time with it as long as someone is paying my rent . So that's kind of where that came from, in part, but the other part of it was just realizing, so I, I have a feeling of responsibility towards people wasting their lives.

[00:17:47] I want people to, all of us, to contribute more to the health and wellbeing of everyone. And I think a lot of us wander around in this fog of, you know, what should I do next? Well, someone is telling me what to do, so I should do that because I'm kind of confused. 

[00:18:07] And, but when I looked at these techniques, I said, "oh, this is really great. These are kind of engines for us. One is an engine of how to efficiently use our time on the planet to build things. And the other is an engine to help us discover what things really matter to other people. And so the combination of those two, from a capitalist perspective, is profit because you have revenue, which is what matters to people, what are they willing to pay for? And then you have cost, which is, the denominator of that fraction. And that that cost is something you wanna minimize for a particular thing. So those two things, lean startup and Scrum work together to create a profit engine. 

[00:18:58] And that profit engine can help you if you're a capitalist, but they can also help you if you're just trying to make the best use of your time on the planet to help more people live better.

[00:19:13] Ankur Delight: Okay. 

[00:19:13] So again, this, this is fabulous and I wanna just keep going to like these deeper levels here. So you discovered this profit engine, you could have just used it to generate a lot of profit, but instead you spent a lot of time teaching other people about how they could change their lives through it because you have a deeper concern.

Why Teach Others to Be Productive?

[00:19:31] Ankur Delight: Like you, you said it's really important to you that other people don't waste their lives. Where did that come from? 

[00:19:39] Daniel Greening: Hmm. That is a good question. I, I don't know. You know, like when I was an undergraduate, I, I told my parents that I, I really wanted to go to the University of Michigan because that's where the hippies were.

[00:19:52] And when I did go, I joined a cooperative housing organization. The first moment I got there. And I guess I was kind of a mini Marxist at the time because Marxism promises to help more people live better lives and all that stuff. And so to me that was an experimental framework to test whether that theory was really true.

[00:20:14] So I got some benefit out of the cooperative housing experience. I met a lot of people. I figured out how to get along with more people. I figured out, you know, what the limitations of that sort of perspective were. I think I ended up kind of hybrid capitalist Marxist, which sounds even almost impossible. But there it is. 

[00:20:38] I do think that we have to motivate people through reward systems in order to produce better stuff. And sometimes that even means rewarding people for managing other people in a way that creates better stuff. And so, That becomes more compatible with capitalism and, but I also saw people abusing the cooperative system by basically slagging off and doing nothing while other people were doing a lot of work.

[00:21:08] So that's sort of where that started. But you know, like, how do I go way wind even back further? Why did I wanna hang out with hippies? I'm not sure. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:21:19] Ankur Delight: So that's, that's a great kind of historical answer. But even in the, in the present moment, I'm wondering like, what is beneath that feeling of not wanting people to waste their lives for you, like right now, like why is that of such import to you?

Enlightened Self-Interest

[00:21:35] Daniel Greening: Well, I mean, we all get stressed out by the news and that impacts us negatively. You know, it's our, kind of our second arrow. We read about Donald Trump doing something lately, which is, it's ridiculous that it's what, 2022 and we're still reading about Donald Trump. But you're, you're, you get stressed out one way or the other, whatever belief system you have.

[00:22:00] And why is that It, it's because there's a lot of people around who are trying to optimize for themselves as if "themselves" was a concept worth talking about. Right. So the problem is you look at rich people and there are a lot of unhappy rich people. Right? And why is that? That's because they've been optimizing for their self as if there's some boundary between their theirself and others and that boundary isn't really there. You know, the other people and their happiness impinges on ours, you know, like, or helps ours. And so, you know, I don't know it all, 

[00:22:44] Ankur Delight: yeah, it's like an awareness of interconnectedness. You have a sense, and maybe some of it's empirical and some of it's theoretical that other people's unhappiness or other people's happiness really contributes, you know, in this kind of neural network way.

[00:22:57] It like feeds into your happiness or unhappiness. And so it's, it's important to you, even as a happiness maximizing individual, if you wanted to be so narrow, it would still be important to you to like work, work with everybody else.

[00:23:10] Daniel Greening: Yeah, it's like enlightened self-interest. You know, there's one thing about selfish self-interest in the sense that we can't see beyond, a couple of feet around us, but in fact, you and I are influenced dramatically by the interactions we have. You are gonna be a different person because this conversation and I will be too. So who gets the credit for whatever we do after this moment? Right? Is it Ankur or is it Dan, or is it the two of us or the friends around us or Donald Trump? 

[00:23:46] Ankur Delight: Or the engineers who built Zoom? 

[00:23:48] Daniel Greening: Yeah. Zoom. Oh, let's not forget them.

[00:23:51] You had your gratitude meditation this morning and thought about the people who made Zoom and how important they were to you. Awesome. 

Tech Methodology to Life Philosophy?

[00:23:58] Ankur Delight: Yeah. So let's, let's get back to the, the agile bit, because what I sense you're doing, and this, I could be wrong here, but it seems like you took this business methodology, or specifically like almost like a tech methodology and you're broadening it out and applying it to just how anyone can live their life. Is that right? 

[00:24:15] Daniel Greening: That's right. It, it's, I actually am doing two things at once. So the first thing is exactly that, that I've long thought that as individuals, we have an opportunity to just make our lives to suffer less. Okay. So Buddhism focuses on that and it helps. There is something that I've thought about, 

[00:24:40] I came to Buddhism during that cancer diagnosis, right? I'd long been interested in it from the periphery, but then faced with a potential death, you know, like my own death, and looking around me, I noticed that a lot of people were upset that I might keel over at any moment. And there were a lot of crying and all sorts of crazy. And, and then I became kind of a psychologist for my friends because I don't know that I was okay with it, but I go into fix it mode when stuff like that happens.

[00:25:20] Ankur Delight: Yeah. You put on your, like, engineering solution brain and you're not 

[00:25:23] Daniel Greening: Yes, exactly. 

[00:25:24] Ankur Delight: You're not tuned into the emotional experience of it as much. 

[00:25:26] Daniel Greening: Right, right. So I was digging around on Google Scholar for all of the articles, head and neck cancer and who was a specialist. And I was using my diplomatic skills to convince, you know, surgeons that were well known that they should give me advice via email and that I wouldn't sue them if it, , all went wrong. And they did, which was really sweet. 

[00:25:51] at the same time, my friends are losing it a little bit and I'm, you know, just being as reassuring as I can be and letting them know that everything's gonna be OK. But not knowing that it was gonna be okay, and then sort of Buddhism kind of floated in and had messages about that, that seemed to resonate with me.

What is Reincarnation? Is that Real?

[00:26:14] Daniel Greening: And so I started adopting those strategies. First of all I should say, I am what's called a secular Buddhist. So that means a Buddhist that doesn't believe in the mystical elements of many Buddhist, religious sects. So I don't believe in reincarnation as is normally thought. I don't believe I'm going to die and going to be reincarnated as somebody else. I guess you could say I'm a philosophical materialist. That term means someone who basically believes in physics, and that's about it. 

[00:26:52] I do believe though that, I do survive this body. But how does that happen? It's exactly what we just talked about, our interactions. What survives me is what I do while I'm alive and the things that I do will ripple through other people and they can either make for a better future or a worse future. But, you know, will I, in that selfish point of view, survive any of that?

[00:27:24] Not really, but I have a huge amount of influence over what comes after.

[00:27:30] Ankur Delight: I wanna go into a little more detail on that because I think it's worthwhile. So when you, when you say the things that I do, that almost sounds a little too narrow for what I think you mean. So it's, it's not just the, the actions, but it's like all of them, all of the ripples and consequences of all the ways you interact with the world.

[00:27:47] So it's like the words you say that are remembered by someone in addition to like the things you build or the things you're seen doing, or the memories that are made of you. It's all the ways you've affected other consciousness and also freestanding objects in the world that then could in the future interact with other consciousness.

[00:28:08] Daniel Greening: That's right. That both of those things are true and, and in a sense we model when we act. How we treat other people,are models for people and how they interact with others going forward. So if you're watching the Kardashians all day with their reactivity and like whiny, you know, whatever it is worried about bling and all that stuff, you are getting the Kardashian viewpoint, you are, seeing the Kardashians as a model for your world, and you're gonna start acting a little bit more like the Kardashians, right? 

[00:28:48] Ankur Delight: It's just, it's just amazing how, how true that modeling is. I have this five year old daughter and a and a couple of weeks ago after dinner, she like, I dunno, she rang a bell or something and she's like, all right, now everyone, we're gonna sit in a circle in the living room and one at a time, we're all gonna go into the center, we're gonna share about our days.

[00:29:08] And it was, it was just the kind of like facilitation exercise that my wife and I would just do typically a part as part of our work. And, and she had just somehow observed or picked up on that and she was like, I'm gonna facilitate this little sharing for everyone at this dinner party. . She's five or she, maybe she was four at that point.

[00:29:26] Daniel Greening: Oh my God, your guests must have been charmed beyond belief. 

[00:29:31] Ankur Delight: Yeah, it was. It was hilarious. But it was just like, oh yeah, this is the modeling that we don't even know we're doing. But clearly we're, we're doing a lot of facilitated interactions.

[00:29:39] Daniel Greening: Right. So there you are. You're demonstrating things in front of your kids. You don't even realize they're paying very close attention to you. And yet what you're doing today will affect everything in the future for them. 

[00:29:51] Anyway i just think this philosophy is very stabilizing very helpful for me. And i don't need any kind of mysticism to really help me understand its value.

[00:30:02] Ankur Delight: Yeah. So you, you found a way to get the helpful bits outta religion without the unhelpful bits. Yeah, that's kinda how I would put it. 

[00:30:09] Daniel Greening: There you go. 

Purpose of this Organizationx

[00:30:10] Ankur Delight: But let me, let me ask a question before we get to the agile, back to the agile mindset stuff, just because you identify as a, a materialist, I'm just curious, you know, I, I really like to use this word purpose a lot.

[00:30:22] I'm just curious how you think of purpose in general and how you think of the evolution of your understanding of your own purpose? 

[00:30:31] Daniel Greening: I'll start with the way I think about purpose. So it's gonna relate to agile right away, actually. So, as an agile coach, you know, I'm here to teach people how to use this experimental framework to do more work in less time, and also to build things that are more appealing to other people.

[00:30:50] When you deal with large corporations. So I was the head agile coach for Skype for Citrix. You're dealing with a thousand people or so, and you find out that the alignment of people within these organizations is very important to whether they can achieve the bigger goal. A lot of times we approach our jobs looking at our job description, and then we think, oh, if we just do our little job description, we will be able to, I don't know, make a salary.

[00:31:28] You know, like it's so limited what we're talking about. Like, I'm gonna make a salary and, and I'm gonna support my family. 

[00:31:35] That's great, but no one ever tells us why are we doing this? Right, like, are we building Skype so that people can communicate better with each other and create a harmonious world? Are we keeping people secure so they can have more conversations that lead to higher levels of democracy or freedom, or what is it we're doing? 

[00:32:01] When I would talk to individuals within an organization, one of the first things I would ask them is, what is the purpose of your organization? Why are you contributing to this organization versus being in a different organization?

[00:32:18] And that was very confusing for many people. They hadn't really thought about it, you know, and, and then as you talk through it with people, you discover that some of the things that were impeding their personal goals in the organization were the fact that they couldn't communicate with people around them using the language of the shared purpose. Right? 

[00:32:46] So one example is I worked with a project manager in the LA County Department of Health. She's a friend of mine and I said, I'm doing agile coaching for my friends for free, just to figure out, "Does it work for individuals and in their situation outside software?"

[00:33:06] And she said, "oh, okay. So I have an issue. I've got this grant and I think this grant, I think I'm not gonna be able to achieve the criteria on the grant. And it's bumming me out." I go like, "okay, look, let's spend time on that." She was having conflicts with other people. She wasn't able to get stuff done that she needed to get done for the grant. So I said, "so what's the goal of the LA County Department of Health?"

Purpose as a Shared Structure for Communication

[00:33:36] Daniel Greening: And she said, I don't know it offhand. I'm going. Okay. We don't know what the mission statement is for the LA County Department of Health. In my experience, most mission statements are very open-ended because people don't want to limit their scope. So even if we did know it, it might not be specific enough to motivate action. 

[00:33:55] So I said, Let me suggest that the LA County Department of Health's purpose is to raise the level of health for the most vulnerable people in LA county. And she said. That sounds good. and then I said, okay, so great. So let's just memorize that phrase because you're going to use it when you talk to other people in the department. 

[00:34:17] You're going to be more articulate with your colleagues who haven't thought about the mission. 

[00:34:24] And then so now you can approach people and say, "well, remember our mission is to raise the level of health for the most vulnerable people in LA County. My role in that is to do this grant. And this grant does X, Y, and Z and this is how it helps those most vulnerable people. I need your assistance in that. I need you to help me with this grant because look at how much better things will be when you contribute in that role." And things started to open up, you know, she was able to use that as a diplomatic. 

[00:35:01] Ankur Delight: So you're like kind of kicking it up Maslow's hierarchy of needs. 

[00:35:05] Daniel Greening: Exactly. 

[00:35:06] Ankur Delight: Like, let's, let's appeal to something deeper here to get, to get more buy-in 

[00:35:10] Daniel Greening: So no one ever said it, and maybe they never thought about it explicitly, but they are all there roughly for that reason. And having that as a shorthand, having the purpose be your shared communication mechanism means that so many things are possible. 

[00:35:31] One of the things that we've talked about is I have a podcast called the Mindful Agility Podcast, and the purpose of that is to combine these concepts of agile with these concepts of mindfulness.

[00:35:46] So one example is a friend who wanted to become a vegan, and she has a family, she has a couple of kids. One of the kids is allergic to legumes, which is almost a non-starter, but she just plowed into it head long and started eating vegan. The rest of the family was not having that, and she did say, you know, like my son who's allergic to legumes, I'm just gonna cook cheese and meat and stuff like that for him.

[00:36:19] But she started having all sorts of stresses and for her, there was a second arrow, which was, she was separating herself from the rest of the family, and she was creating this artificial barrier, and she wouldn't be thinking, she'd be working in the kitchen and, she would eat a piece of cheese and then she would feel guilty about eating cheese. Right. 

[00:36:43] And, and her husband was upset and one thing led to another, and then she said, okay, I quit. Right. Like, so it was a hundred percent vegan or 0% vegan. Right. Like those were the choices. And then she did that for a while and then she decided to approach it with a sense of purpose. So why was she a vegan?

[00:37:07] So she said she had values that related to wanting to be kind to other beings. I think health was not the factor, but being kind and being harmonious with other beings was the most important part. And then she had a conversation with her husband, who, she's a nurse and her husband is a nurse too.

[00:37:29] And he said, well, I believe in that stuff too. But I think eating meat is sort of what our type of animal does, and I think of it as harmonious with this notion of being kind to beings. We're all part of a big system. And she goes like, "Okay, I can understand that purpose. So I have a belief that we shouldn't eat meat, but I can see how you can fit your belief into this greater purpose as well."

[00:38:08] And so that sort of softened her hard stance about veganism and made it possible for her to relate more to her husband in these situations. And then she also decided that she was going to give herself a break if she had a piece of cheese or if her son was having ice cream and she said, "wow, that ice cream sure looks good." it was gonna be okay if she took a spoon and went like, "I'm gonna have a taste of that ice cream. So she became what she calls a 95% vegan." But here's what happened: so now that she was kind of a softer vegan, she's in this family, she's cooking tempeh and tofu and all the good stuff that vegans love and it's there.

[00:38:59] And the rest of her family is starting to eat some of it and they're going like, "Hey, this is all right." You know? And she still has to be concerned with her son with legumes, but now they have oftentimes a hundred percent vegan meals and the other people don't call themselves vegan. 

[00:39:17] Even though she says she's 95% vegan. In a way because she embraced the purpose, she's become 150% vegan in a sense, right? Like she has spread this idea beyond herself, because she had this sort of better understanding of interdependence. She was compassionate towards people around her. There were so many more opportunities that opened up because she was kind to herself and to people around her and incorporated them into her decision making and her direction.

[00:40:00] Ankur Delight: Yeah, and it seems to me, and I love the outcome of that story, it, it seems to me that there's also an important role of non-judgment here. Like if she was coming at it with this kind of combative, we should all do X. And then later through this higher purpose work, she learns that she and her husband have the same ideals. We just have different ways of like understanding it, going about it. Then she doesn't have to judge herself, she doesn't have to judge her husband, and that whole layer can dissolve and allow for just for the whole thing to be more fun. 

[00:40:32] Daniel Greening: Yeah. Yeah, it sure sounds fun. She, I asked her recently if she was still a hundred percent happy and she did say she was, she really is having a good time. So I, I like that. 

Coaching for Performance

[00:40:45] Daniel Greening: So then you go to these corporations, the same issues apply here. 

[00:40:52] These techniques, these experimental techniques are actually quite challenging. It's hard for people to sustain an experimental mindset with everything they do all day long. Right? That's not common sense in a way. I mean it should be common sense. It helps a lot with our progress and so forth.

[00:41:13] But intellectually it's draining to deal with that and that's why we end up having agile coaches because it's so hard to sustain that high performance perspective all the time. 

[00:41:27] Ankur Delight: Yeah, and is that actually reminds me cause I don't have background in this coaching philosophy, is there a whole network in like School of Agile coaches or are you like the Agile coach?

[00:41:39] Daniel Greening: The only one? Wouldn't that be awesome? There are lots of 'em. So there's an organization called the Scrum Alliance, which focuses on that cost saving side of the world. And, and I am a member of that organization. There's also a few other organizations, but that's the big one. They're like 400,000 scrum masters certified by the scrum Alliance. 

[00:42:06] Ankur Delight: Scrum Masters is the lower level. 

[00:42:08] Daniel Greening: There's a advanced scrum master and then there's a certified team coach where you learn a little bit more about how to have inter team coordination and other stuff like that.

[00:42:21] And then there's a certified enterprise coach, and that is the credential that I have. I think there might be 120 of those worldwide. 

[00:42:33] Ankur Delight: Okay. And then where in, in your imagination of the, the impact you want to have and the way in which you want our society to transform as a result of the transformation of these individuals?

[00:42:45] Where, what is this gonna look like in five years? Like, what does success look like here? 

[00:42:51] Okay. And then where in, in your imagination of the, the impact you want to have and the way in which you want our society to transform as a result of the transformation of these individuals?

[00:43:03] Where, what is this gonna look like in five years? Like, what does success look like here? 

Mindfulness Passivity

[00:43:09] Daniel Greening: All right, , so then we talk about how agile and mindfulness mash up. And why, why they're needed, why they need each other. 

[00:43:17] One of the issues with mindfulness is there's a certain amount of passivity around it. Its purpose originally was to reduce suffering. So once you are able to attain that personal reduction in suffering, by recognizing that you do have to be compassionate to people around you. So it is improving things around you, but it's sort of improving things immediately around you. And, uh, the bigger picture may be harder to conceptualize as an individual. So from a mindfulness perspective, we kind of worry about ourselves and our immediate surroundings first. 

Agile Anxiety

[00:44:02] Daniel Greening: On the Agile side, now we're in this hardcore world where people are experimenting with themselves and they're running these, you know, metric driven ideas about "how's our work going? Are we producing more with less? And are we experimenting with our market by, you know, putting up these crazy websites to test whether people will buy our cars and stuff." So, so that, that world doesn't talk about compassion. 

[00:44:36] It's, uh, very interesting for me because I realized at some point that I was one of the few Agile coaches that would talk about how important compassion was for teams to interact well with each other and get more done and be happier. Sustainability is something that we talk about in agile practice, but you get more sustainability if people are nicer to each other, right? If they care about the health and wellbeing of their teammates, their customers, other people around them.

Mindlessness Makes Agile Transformations Fragile

[00:45:12] Daniel Greening: And one of the things that we see in agile practice is that it's hard to sustain. And what can happen is the misstep of an executive, such as making a decision to reorganize a company without thinking about the impact to this high performance methodology that people are using internally. When they just casually reorganize, thinking that'll all be fine because "big companies do this all the time," you know, it has created huge disasters. 

[00:45:51] So Yahoo for example, was reorganized in a series of, they had an agile coaching group, I wanna say, in 2005 or something. They were delivering frequently, things were getting great, and then they went in and reorganized the whole thing. Fired all the agile coaches because "we were agile. So everybody knew what that was and we don't need coaches anymore." And then their release cycle got to, I think nine months. You know, they would release a new version every nine months rather than every month as they were doing before. And then they said, "oh, what's wrong? I guess our Agile transformation wasn't good enough because we hired the wrong coaches before. Let's hire a different set of coaches and we'll do it again."

[00:46:38] And they did it again and things got better. And then they said, "oh, I guess our transformation is done, so we're just gonna get rid of those coaches."

[00:46:46] And it's like, it just keeps going like that. So, I guess part of the conclusion there is I think people have to be conscious of this interaction process. So coaches are useful and you probably want somebody around to help you do that all the time. Whether you switch them in and or out is fine, but just throwing them out completely is probably not a good idea.

[00:47:12] And then the second thing is that being mindful of things, being aware of what is happening, being conscious of the interdependence of people around us and how all these teams interact with each other, that's something that is often missing in certainly in executives. You can see how that would have a negative effect, if you're not aware of how the different pieces of your organization interact with each other, even from the most intimate level, then you could have problems. 

[00:47:52] But we also, I think, see that when the individuals on the ground are aware of their interactions with other people and how the choices that they make affect so many people around them. When they're aware of that, the organization runs much better. Right? So, so now I'm experimenting with this idea of, "what kind of practices would help us achieve greater mindfulness, greater observational clarity about interactions between different people and organizations, and also encourage us to experiment to deliver really valuable things that help lots of people?"

[00:48:42] So those two things I. I think they're compatible but I definitely feel like in this one, that's the frontier that I'm operating in right now, because I don't see a lot of people combining these two concepts. 

[00:48:56] Ankur Delight: Yeah, okay. And it, and it's, there's an interesting complementary there for me in that the agile stuff seems very external, material, how we are in the world, and the mindfulness side is more how we relate to ourselves and other people. It's, it's more of the internal, I I would say, you know, internal specific to one person, but then also intrapersonal, you know, related to another person. And so of course you would wanna have both of those to be holistically happy and successful.

[00:49:26] But then the last thing you said, and I, I'm really hoping you're gonna gimme a, a great, a great answer here for our listeners. You were like, you're like, oh, I'm experimenting with some practices of how to combine these. And so can you tell us some of the practices that through your. Your work and your experience and your life, you've, you've learned about and you can share them with us, and our lives will be forever changed for the better?

[00:49:51] Daniel Greening: Even though I'm in the middle of this giant experiment? Can I, can I do that?

[00:49:55] Ankur Delight: Preliminary results? 

[00:49:56] Daniel Greening: Yeah. Yeah. 

The Agile Canon

[00:49:58] Daniel Greening: One of the things that I was very interested in, that not that many colleagues are interested in, is if we take Scrum, which is all about work and we expand it or, or think of Scrum as an agile technique and then expand it to think about "what are some other Agile techniques?" So lean startup is an obvious one because they can both be used together in the same types of companies. But then I looked at what were the characteristics that unify these two, right? So the experimentation element is a unifying idea. Metrics, of course, are also unifying for all of these things, and this shared sense of purpose, this driving purpose can lead to better results on both sides of that, right? 

[00:50:51] I called those the Agile Canon, the set of fundamental axiomatic elements, I guess, of agile. So I've started folding in some ideas that I think are important in organizations and people who want to be agile, but do it in a mindful way.

Explore Interdependence

[00:51:13] Daniel Greening: The first one is exploring interdependence in terms of how individuals interact with each other, how teams interact with each other, and how we are essentially responsible for almost everything around us.

[00:51:29] But exploring interdependence is a way of creating greater objectivity about how we can get more done. And it relates to that discussion about the LA County Department of Health, right? So when we explore our interdependence, we realize we're all in it together for something, I guess it must be some shared purpose and you can actually derive what is the shared purpose? Without actually anyone telling you, you can infer that 

[00:52:01] Ankur Delight: just empirically as looking at the intersections of each person's purpose.

[00:52:05] Daniel Greening: Yeah, I think so. You can look at an organization and you can see, "Am I here to enrich shareholders or the ceo, or am I actually producing something that is helping other people also, or you know, whatever it is. So that exploring interdependence is kind of a first principle. 

Strengthening our ability to make good decisions

[00:52:26] Daniel Greening: And then a second principle that arises from that is strengthening our ability to make decisions. So that relates to reduction of reactivity. The rough definition for reactivity is when we have an emotion, we take action directly from the emotion without thinking. We don't give ourselves some space where we can actually think about. What do we want to do? Because we're mad. Or what do we want to do? Because we're humiliated or. What do we want to do because of whatever emotion we might have, even elation. 

[00:53:07] If we can reduce that reactivity safely, you know, reactivity had a value for us because there were lions and tigers and bears, you know, and we had to wander around in the world and our amygdala, which is our center of reactivity, would say, "Oh my god, bear. Fear and run." So that was useful. 

[00:53:30] But now, when we're having interactions with each other and we have employment and we're probably gonna get a job if we get fired or whatever it is, then that crazy fear and that immediate reactivity is second arrow, right? It's, we're gonna stab ourselves if if we let our emotions run our lives.

[00:53:53] So strengthening decision making, in part, is helping us with reducing reactivity and, focus meditation in particular, is very good with that. The simplest possible meditation is we sit there and we think about our breath, and then our minds wander, and we kind of push our thinking back towards our breath. What's happening there is we're actually strengthening the neurons in our frontal cortex and we're weakening the kind of distraction fear mode of the amygdala response. We see that in NMRs and MRIs that we do with meditators, that , the frontal cortex has, greater strength after that. 

[00:54:42] The outcome of all this neural conditioning seems to be that when you have an emotion, instead of reacting immediately, your frontal cortex goes into gear and actually holds back the amygdala's influence. And that lets you think about what you're going to do. What you're going to say. Instead of doing something right away, that would damage a lot of stuff. You might actually make a better decision. 

[00:55:11] So that's the second principle, strengthening decision-making. 

Minimizing Debt

[00:55:16] Daniel Greening: And then the third principle that I think is still in this mindfulness camp is minimizing debt. And I don't mean just financial debt, I mean clutter that is around us or, you know, boat anchors of, you're a, an engineer, so you know this, we have a thing called technical debt, which is we wrote a bunch of code and we were super sloppy about it and it has bugs in it, and we don't wanna go back and we're dragging this thing, but we have to fix it every now and then. And it just continues to slow us down all the time. 

[00:55:54] And so there is this notion that if there are things that are unnecessary, That if we can get rid of them, we create freedom. And Buddhism actually has a lot to do with that too. That notion that when we carry around ancient emotions or regrets from past interactions that are potentially irreparable, you know, like, " mom treated me bad, but now mom is no longer living and I still feel bad." You know, like there's a lot of that going on, right? That's kind of a big drag on our ability to contribute to the rest of the world. If we can minimize that debt, that's really great. 

[00:56:38] And so one of the things that I do and many people do, you may do it too, is minimizing. So that whole minimalist ethic where we have just the stuff we need and we don't have more than we need.

[00:56:55] I love that. You know, and it helps me, it gives me freedom to choose, even potentially radical choices about where to go next. 

Self-Compassion and Responsibility

[00:57:04] Daniel Greening: And then the last thing that I think of in this sort of mindfulness contribution to Agile is taking responsibility. And it's really more of an attitude about never denying I have choices about what I can do and if something happens around me, I could have done something. 

[00:57:26] That's like the big challenge is to get people to say, " Okay, yeah, you know, Donald Trump got elected. Can I be responsible for that?" In a sense, we can. We can say, "well, I didn't drop everything and devote my life to helping people not vote this dude in. And so I am partially responsible."

[00:57:48] If you are in that state of mind, you can actually say, "I'm okay with that. You know, as much as I wish Donald Trump wasn't there, I wanted to make sure that my family was happy and healthy and I was gonna focus on that. That was my first concern." But I'm not gonna be one of those people that says, "Don't blame me, I voted for Hillary." Right. I, I just think that that is the lamest possible excuse. Right. 

[00:58:16] Ankur Delight: Yeah. No, I, I love, I love that emphasis on personal responsibility. And it's true. Cuz then, cuz then we can't have that, I don't know what, I'm sure there's some kind of German word for this, where you just like hate yourself because of this choice you made where it's like, it, it is, we had priorities and everyone was acting according to their priorities and sure you didn't like the outcome, but you made, at some level, a choice of like, okay, I'm not gonna quit my job and campaign for Bernie or whatever for six months and this is what happened. Right? Right. 

[00:58:45] Daniel Greening: We're gonna make decisions about what's right for our situation and we may choose wrongly, because of what we knew at the time or our particular biases at the time.

[00:58:59] But we also have self-compassion where we say, "you know what? I made a wrong choice there. If I am faced with that situation again, I'm gonna do something different, or I made a wrong choice there. I'm gonna change the structure of my life so that, that sort of thing doesn't happen again. 

[00:59:18] So if you're around highly reactive people, or if you're around like, let's say drugs, you know, like you decide to, you decide to get addicted to heroin, you know, like , well, okay, the people around you are part of that decision making process.

[00:59:37] You might decide, I'm not going to be addicted to heroin anymore, but it's not that easy. And part of the issue is I got to change who my friends are. We're so interdependent. That the people around us are part of our current state. 

[00:59:56] Ankur Delight: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think it's also, I mean, for me at least, I wanna highlight that. I don't think it's necessarily. So simple to just decide to quit an extremely addictive, it's not, I think there's, there's maybe some other steps in there.

[01:00:10] Daniel Greening: Yeah, I'm, I'm glossing over the steps.

[01:00:14] Ankur Delight: I just wanted public public service announcement in there. Okay. Fabulous. Thank, thank you for that recap. Oh yeah, go ahead. 

[01:00:21] Daniel Greening: reactiv I'm saying is that when we start with those four Mindful preparatory principles, we are building kind of an infrastructure of strength from which to make agile decisions. Without that Mindful infrastructure, we're either going to make less wise decisions or we may damage some long-term future, that would be possible otherwise. 

[01:00:45] But, we're experimenting with this. This is our working model for what are the four principles you have to have in order to have a Mindful agile practice. But things may change. 

[01:00:56] Ankur Delight: Yeah. Beautiful. Thanks for integrating that and capturing, you know, highlighting some of those techniques that people can do on a daily basis or on a moment to moment basis. 

[01:01:06] There's a couple other questions that I like to ask. This podcast is called 10,000 Heroes. It's about social transformation through individual transformation. And my, my version of that is everyone stepping into their own heroism, living their purpose, aligning themselves with how they can best contribute to the all.

[01:01:27] So given that definition, I'd love to hear someone who you consider a hero. 

[01:01:34] Daniel Greening: Wow. Someone I consider hero. There's so many of them. I think there might be more than 10,000, but I'm not really sure. 

[01:01:41] Ankur Delight: Yeah. Well, maybe, maybe just one and one way in which you'd like to be a little bit more like that person or something you would take from their example.

[01:01:49] Daniel Greening: I've gotta be a little bit more nuanced in that and say that I have heroes and all of them have flaws. One of my heroes is Jeff Sutherland, who is the person that developed Scrum. He became a friend over time, and that is because I am a crazy extrovert. I said, " Why didn't I know this before? Scrum! This is amazing." And then I did everything I could to learn about it. 

[01:02:16] I ended up at a Scrum conference about six months later, and there I am on a bus and Jeff Sutherland is on the same bus. And I said, "Oh my God, this is crazy. I have to sit next to this guy cuz he developed this technique." So I sit next to him and I have conversations with him and, you know, I did everything I could to hang out with him. So I said, can I volunteer to help you with your courses, wherever they are in the United States? And he said, "Sure. And I'm going here." 

[01:02:51] And I talked to my boss, I had a boss then after my startup failure. And I said, it's gonna be really helpful if I hang out with Jeff Sutherland and teach his course. So I think you should pay my salary and also pay my flights and get me to hang out with him, which I did. And ultimately we wrote a couple of papers together. I'm so grateful for Jeff Sutherland being on the planet, because I learned these techniques from watching and helping him teach.

[01:03:24] So that's one of 'em. And then, How many others do we need? I suppose they're all like this, right? They're all people who inspire us to do more. 

[01:03:36] I, There are even little heroes, right? There's a guy named John Miller. So John Miller is a scrum guy and he went into high schools and he taught high school classes how to use Scrum to learn better. So that was just a little contribution. I think he did it for a few years. He is a really smart guy and he just inspires me knowing that he did that and now he's doing mostly corporate stuff. But he did go into UC Berkeley, and he taught some teams at UC Berkeley how to use Scrum for educational purposes. So just knowing him, it just makes me feel great. 

[01:04:30] Ankur Delight: Yeah. Fantastic. Okay. And then what is one way in which you, at the current moment, could become more heroic? In terms of your own personal journey and your definition of heroism? Yeah, I, I don't know. It's like maybe it's a challenge that you've gotta solve or it's a way you could be more in alignment with what you have your best.

[01:04:50] Daniel Greening: Yeah, no, that's a, that's a great question. I'm aiming towards interacting more with the mindfulness community. And in doing that it's sort of inviting guests to the podcast who are guided meditation teachers or people who study mindfulness academically, other stuff like that, but helping them touch the world of work.

[01:05:18] I'll give you an example of someone who has done that. So Marc Benioff, I don't know if you know that name. He is the CEO of salesforce.com. He is a mindfulness practitioner. When Thich Nhat Hanh was ill. He's a famous Buddhist monk who largely was in France. He had a life threatening illness, I wanna say seven or eight years ago. He was a friend of Marc Benioff and Marc on learning of his illness, called up Thich Nhat Hanh and said, "Dude, UCSF is one of the best hospitals in the world for what you have. Why don't you come stay with me in San Francisco and get treated at the UCSF medical center?"

[01:06:11] And Thich Nhat Hanh said, "Okay, can I bring my entourage with me?" And he said, "how many are we talking about here?" "40 monks." He said, "I can, I can make that work." The dude has lots of money .Anyway, brings these monks in. I don't know if they're staying in Marc Benioff's house, but they're certainly staying nearby.

[01:06:35] And, the monks are doing their practice every day. And the monks come to Marc and say, " Hey Marc we think that you can have an influence on people's lives in what you're doing." And he said, "Okay, what are your thoughts?" They said, "We want you to put a meditation floor in all your buildings. The top floor should be a meditation center for your employees."

[01:07:06] He said, "Hmm." He thought about it for a minute and he said, "I can't do that with the top floor, but what I can do is I can put a meditation room on every floor." And they said, "that sounds good to us." they worked out this deal, and I believe salesforce.com now has a meditation room on every floor of the building.

[01:07:30] It does turn out that salesforce.com was one of the earliest adopters of Scrum, and so, I think of Marc like a hero. You asked about a hero. At first, I talked about a close personal hero, and now there's this more abstract hero for me, who is Marc Benioff. Like, it's amazing that he is thinking that far, where he's thinking about the overall wellbeing of his company and he does think about how the workplace is such a major element of our lives, that making it a source of mindfulness could be transformative.

[01:08:16] So now then I go to the meditation guides idea. You ask me what I would like to do. I think at the moment I am trying to reach out to more folks in the meditation community to help them understand what agile practice is and try to figure out ways to use mindfulness to infuse these ideas, to magnify the effects of people who use their guidance, to use not just mindfulness to reduce suffering, but also to magnify it by using these experimental techniques for making transformative change in society itself.

[01:09:03] Ankur Delight: Yeah, yeah. Beautiful. That's the perfect integration of the kind of interior work of the mindfulness and the exterior efficiency work of, of the agile techniques. Right. 

[01:09:14] Daniel Greening: Yeah, hopefully it works.

[01:09:16] Ankur Delight: Hopefully for all of us. Right. , 

[01:09:18] Daniel Greening: I don't know what you were expecting. Was this, uh, was this fun? 

[01:09:22] Ankur Delight: Yeah, let me, let me just say thank you. Thank you so much for being on the show, Dan. 

[01:09:26] Daniel Greening: Hey, I am so grateful to be here and to meet you and learn more about you. Maybe we can have you on the Mindful Agility podcast someday.


[01:09:39] Daniel Greening: Ankur Shah Delight and I covered a lot of ground here. 

[01:09:42] We talked about the concept of the second arrow, the notion that we suffer from a no solution first arrow. Illness, humiliation, divorce, loss of a job or friendship, or pretty much loss of anything or anyone. We can't do anything, once the first arrow hits us. 

[01:10:03] But the second arrow often lasts longer and is deadly, just like the guy who left the poison arrow embedded when he didn't have to. We punish ourselves and keep punishing ourselves with the second arrow, but we don't actually have to. We need mindfulness skills, like self compassion, especially, to stop the suffering. 

[01:10:27] We summarized agile techniques for rapid experimentation. One type of agile searches for ways to produce more for less. Scrum as an example of production agile. Another type of agile searches for what is most valuable. Lean startup is an example of value agile. We can use this both techniques at home or work to build a valuable career, relationship, or house for less money and work. 

[01:10:59] Your purpose and your organization's purpose is really handy to know. Some people think you decide your purpose first, then start acting on it. But maybe most of us have to look at the stuff we've done, the stuff that gives us the most satisfaction and happiness, and then just create a summary purpose for that. Figuring out your purpose is handy, even if it's after the fact, because you can use it to recruit friends in your efforts and you can align your own actions better. This applies to companies and families too. 

[01:11:36] Mindful and agile skills reinforce each other. If you have mindfulness skills, but wanting to help people more actively, agile skills will help you. If you have agile skills, which probably means you're highly creative, and you want to sustain it longer term, mindfulness skills will help you. 

[01:11:57] Debt drags us down, whether we're talking credit card debt, clutter in your home, or ancient software. Just before this episode was produced, in the last 10 days of December, 2022, Southwest Airlines canceled about 15,000 flights unnecessarily, due to something called technical debt. They hadn't invested in cleaning up their software in decades, apparently. And weather problems triggered a massive software failure. So getting rid of debt is a technique for becoming more agile. And giving you more freedom. 

[01:12:38] I talked about heroes. And honestly, most of my friends inspire me in some way. I mentioned Jeff Sutherland, John Miller, and Marc Benioff as heroes. Who are your heroes?



[01:12:53] Daniel Greening: Normally, I think our guests, but here I want to thank our guests host. Ankur Shah Delight. If you're interested in coaching around your purpose, he has a company called Momentum Labs. You can also check out his podcast, 10,000 heroes. 

[01:13:10] Our volunteer beta reviewers listen to early versions of our episodes. For this episode, we thank Tom Looy. Ron Lucier Divya, maize and Amelia Hambrecht. They identified jargon our listeners wouldn't understand, unnecessary stuff to take out, in coherent arguments to clarify, and a whole bunch of audio issues. We love our beta reviewers. 

[01:13:36] We fixed a lot of those problems, but not everything. Because we're agile getting something useful out fast, takes precedence over, getting something perfect out someday. 

[01:13:48] Check out our show notes for references and other helpful stuff. We also write about Mindful Agility at mindfulagility.com/posts. While you're there, sign up for our newsletter. It keeps you up to date about our new posts and episodes. 


[01:14:07] Daniel Greening: We like to give folks something to try at home. 

[01:14:10] Take some time to think about a big project you're working on this year and ask yourself "What is my driving purpose?" There's no right answer here, but once you've answered it, you can think about what you're doing and more easily make decisions about trade-offs. 

[01:14:26] If your purpose starts feeling forced or not quite right, maybe that driving purpose isn't right for you. A lot of times we give ourselves a purpose our parents admire, or someone in our community wants. But if you expect to put your heart and soul into it, It should be right for you. You can always change it. 

[01:14:47] If you want to let us know how it went, we'd love to hear it. Our email is info@mindfulagility.com. 

[01:14:55] I'm Dan Greening. See you next time.