Finding "The Self" in Scrum Mastery as a Coach

Posted By - Rohit Gautam


What is “The Self”?

When we talk about the self, what do we mean? How is it important to be aware of ‘the self’ as a coach when we are working as a Scrum Master? There are a few open questions here which I would like to talk about.

As a disclaimer, this is just my understanding currently which I wanted to share.

In my understanding of the self, one of the traits I can think of is the state where you are aware of your interferences. As a coach and Scrum Master, it is vital that you are aware of your interferences so that you can fully focus your attention or more precisely “kind attention” to the team and individuals.

The American painter Robert Henri once said:

“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”

If we paraphrase it in Scrum Mastery terms, it would read like

“The object is to not do Scrum Mastery, it is to be in that wonderful state which makes Scrum Mastery inevitable.”

Thinking more like a coach and focusing on behaviours can distinguish a great Scrum Master from a good Scrum Master.

I think of a wonderful state which is clear of “me”. If as a coach, one is clear of “me, then a coach can be fully present with the team/individual without any judgements or biases. This is not an easy state to reach. It takes a lot of time for the mind to be free of “me” so that it can understand “the self”.

How is This Useful for Scrum Masters?

As Geoff Watts wrote in his article on Coaching an Agile Team :

“Coaching is about helping other people find their solution based on getting a better understanding of their situation. It’s not about trying to work out how to wheedle your solution into other people’s minds so they say what you want them to say.”

Scrum Masters are not simply looking for ways to increase velocity or looking to impose their way of work on their teams or their colleagues. Their aim is to create autonomy and agency.

How Can We Understand The Self More?

I have learned that one of the best ways for me to understand ‘the self” more is through mindfulness meditation. Observation of the self has been key to my understanding and getting better as an individual and a coach. For me, it is more about being than about doing.

In the still mind, in the depths of meditation, the Self reveals itself. – Bhagavad Gita

A coach who is more close to “the self” can provide selfless service to the team and be more creative in the art of coaching. I believe that when I am more aware of the self then I find myself in a wonderful state which makes coaching inevitable.

This then cascades down to the coachee(s) as I take it as success when, as coach, I am able to support  my coachee(s) find their own “self”. As Krishnamurti said in this book The First and Last Freedom:

To acknowledge, to be aware of what one is, is already the beginning of wisdom”.

Once we know “the self”, we don’t translate what is being said; we do not resist; we just listen and observe.

Share this article

Blog Categories