The Problem with Keeping Score

Photo by Daniel Weber

Photo by Daniel Weber

When I was in high school, one of my friends and I were selected to compete in a writing competition.  It was an honor just to be invited to participate, and my friend took it very seriously.  Something about the situation provoked my competitive side, and I wanted to beat him in the competition.  I didn't even know what that meant, but I wanted it.  Badly.

I talked to another friend who was also a writer--what could I do to prepare?  He gave me the best advice:

Write from the heart.

If I wrote from the heart, then I was unstoppable.  It didn't matter if I won or lost because I would have been true to myself.  If I didn't write from the heart, I would have lost more than a competition.

We never really found out how we did--neither one of us won the first place.  But I gained a way to tame my competitive urges: listen to my heart.  It has helped me avoid burnout in situations where others have not been so lucky, enabled me to participate in numerous activities when time management posed a challenge, and pushed me to constantly do more.

For a couple of reasons, I track my activities.  And I still struggle from time to time and have nagging thoughts--the ones where I calculate my score.  And compare it to others.  And want to declare a competition that I. Will. Win.  Whether it's true or not, feeling like I do more than others doesn't encourage me to keep doing what I do.  In fact, it makes me wonder if I'm being a doormat by doing so much for "nothing" in return.  Talk about ugly thoughts!  

As long as I give freely, I receive freely.  If I keep score--especially if I talk about my score--then I've lost.  What do you think?

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.

Your Best Work

Photo by Kim

Photo by Kim

When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher asked me to participate in a writing competition.  I didn't realize it at that moment, but it was a highly selective writing competition--only 8 students out of my class of 1700 were asked to participate!  One of my friends was also asked to participate, and for whatever reason, we felt the need to outdo the other.  I asked another friend for advice, and his words were simple: write from the heart.  Similarly, Seth Godin recently posted about competition as a crutch to bring out the best in a person.  He argues that it is better to be in competition with yourself instead.  I prefer to work from the heart.

Growing up, I never believed the wisdom "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life"--it seemed like a fairytale.  And as much as I love my job, there are days when it feels like work.  I've been reminded by a fellow consultant that we wouldn't have work if each gig was easy.  Whether it feels like work or not, I try to work from the heart by focusing on the people around me, focusing on change, and improving as much as I can.  I was pleased to see that Work Happy Now listed that the 3 things that made people happy at work are:

  1. Passion
  2. Focus
  3. Strengths

Working from the heart not only makes me happy, but it is also my goal to try and make others happier in their work.  Rather than competing for promotions or job security, more people should focus on being genuine in their efforts--I've found that good things tend to follow good work.

Allison Pollard

I help people discover their agile instincts and develop their coaching abilities. As an agile coach with Improving in Dallas, I enjoy mentoring others to become great Scrum Masters, coaching managers to grow teams that deliver amazing results, and fostering communities that provide sustainability for agile transformations. In my experience, applying agile methods improves delivery, strengthens relationships, and builds trust between business and IT. A big believer in the power of community-based learning, I grew the DFW Scrum user group significantly over the five years I served as an organizer. I am also a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a foodie, and proud glasses wearer.