Certifiably Certified

By: Darren Hoevel

I’m up to something like 5,000 contacts on LinkedIn (I’m a people person, damnit!).  It’s safe to say, I don’t have close professional relationships with all of them… yet.  Still, I was a little surprised when I shared some thoughts in a post a few months ago that someone responded by saying, “With all those letters after his name, he seems to think a lot about himself.”

Sure, there’s always going to be “haters” that sling insults instead of having honest conversations, and I could have chalked it up to that and went on with the rest of my life.  But that comment got me thinking. What do all the certification initialisms after my name really mean? Do I, in fact, think I’m hot $%!?

I quickly concluded that, no, I’m not hot  $%@! (Big slices of humble pie are served up often in my life.)  There are a ton of super intelligent, talented, funny people out there. I think I’m a wrangler, a wrestler, a doer, and a challenger to the status quo.  I’m not always the smartest guy in the room, but often times I’m the first to show vulnerability and passion to make things better. If I have a superpower, it would probably be my ability to see the big picture and how things fit together, and then show a willingness to create (human) connection where it is missing. Now back to those certifications. If those certifications don’t up my ranking on a “hot $%! meter,” then what do they do?      

A certification gives you perspective. 

Telescope See Photography Perspective Summer

A certification is a set of tools or a framework that someone (or a group of “someones”) has created based on the knowledge they’ve amassed and processes they’ve experimented with that have worked for them (maybe).  It’s their perspective on how things should be done.  

All the initialisms after my name just means I’ve invested time and money in seeing, hearing, and learning many different perspectives.  In the agile world you can scale your practices based on Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Large Enterprise Scaled Scrum, or Scrum of Scrums or (insert your certification here).  Approaches are like opinions, everyone has one. 

When I first started on my coaching journey, as I learned something new, I became an evangelist of that particular method, mostly because the new things I was learning were illuminating a new approach.  Knowledge is exciting. But now that I’ve been down the ol’ road awhile, I now have a portfolio of models, approaches, and perspectives to consider. Through experience, I know there are no “silver bullets,” and the coaching world is often times driven by the all-so-common response of, “It depends.” (Usually because it really does!)

My perspective has evolvedEach framework or methodology or certification is not the holy grail for how something should be done.  Now I’m a believer in “do what works for you, what produces value.” The art is not in how perfectly you can follow a framework.*  What matters is that you’re progressing and learning and experimenting every single day.  What matters is that you learn the approaches and practices and use them to your advantage.  Then, learn more new methods and new tools and new perspectives, broadening your perspectives and honing your skills.  (*I’m adding a big asterisk here because there is something to be said about having a solid grasp of the methodologies and practices before abandoning the parts that don’t work for you or that are just hard.  Shu Ha Ri. But that’s another post.)

One last thing to all the critics and haters out there:  “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I am not interested in your feedback.”  -Brene Brown.  However, I do welcome you to the arena floor, shoulder to shoulder, and let’s battle these challenges together.  Because of you, I took pause to take stock of my story, an ego check of sorts.   Those initialisms do not define me, but maybe, just maybe, they give you a little insight into my learning linage (also another post for another time) into gaining as many thoughts, insights, and perspectives as possible so that I can continue to shape and improve my own story, perspectives, and approaches in order to be the best damn Coach I can possibly be for my clients– and the best damn human I can be for the rest of you.

By the way, I’m teaching Dare to Lead based on Brene Brown’s perspectives of Leadership in February, April and June.  Sign up here: https://pliantsolutions.com/events/dare-to-lead/ .   

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