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On Being Available

Submitted by ewok_bbq on Sun, 02/17/2013 - 20:55

One of the things I am thinking about and working on is the concept of being more available.

Over dinner, in Tokyo at the regional Scrum Gathering Cope,Julia, Kotaro and I had a great conversation. The premise was on the old saying, "you are either cheap or available." Basically, the concept is that if you or your services are cheap, then you are never available. If however, you are available, then indeed you are expensive and valuable.

Emmanuel Lévinas[1] (French pronunciation: ​[emanɥɛl levinas];[2] 12 January 1906 – 25 December 1995) was a French philosopher and Talmudic commentator of Lithuanian Jewish origin.

When I brought up to Cope that we need to be available he said that when he was with customers he was more than available. Probably going back to some Emmanuel Lévinas theory of "the responsibility to the Other" Copewants to become one with his customers, to eliminate the a priori instinct to separate the 'us vs. them' and to take on the being of his customers. He can only do that when he assumes their organizational identity. And once assumed he is totally emerged into being more than available. I am sure his customers have benefited greatly from that. More so then a conf. call from 5,000 miles away trying to spit advise into an unknown situation.


All to often over the past few years I haven't prioritized my own work life around being available to those that matter most. Looking back on it, I have, unfortunately, lived an interruption driven work life. While running Danube, I was usually being interrupted by the crisis of the day or I was under the daily financial stresses. It didn't feel great. Today - I probably take too many phone calls and am in too many conversations that don't matter that much. In addition, it's easy to fool myself into thinking that I am adding value to meetings and conversation threads where my opinions are neither valued or innovative. For an alternative, maybe I should try what Jurgen Apello does (could any one else get away with this?)


The side effect of being less available is that I can't do what I want or need to do (e.g. being in a state of flow) or that I push off meaningful, yet less urgent conversations or thoughts, to tomorrow knowing that very well tomorrow may never come.


This year I think I am going to make a promise to myself to do less, but be more available to the customers, employees and friends that matter most. I will give more of myself to less things in an effort.


Is this just wishful thinking? What do you think? I would love to hear from you.



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