Jack admits his misguided cynicism for meetings and reveals why sandbags can be inspirational.

Gareth recently announced that every day at YellowDog HQ we would be doing a Daily Stand up Meeting covering everything we’re working on outside of software development. Being a little unsure what a Stand Up Meeting was, I was cynical about a meeting that we will have to attend every day.

Boy was I wrong!

A Daily Stand up meeting has 5 features and benefits:

  • You all stand up – you’re more alert and more engaged.
  • It’s fast – the benefits of this are self- explanatory.
  • You summarise what you did yesterday – recapping keeps you accountable to your work, is a practical reminder of your schedule, and is motivational because you dwell on your recent achievements.
  • You summarise your plan for the day ahead – this encourages focus, discipline, and better prioritisation.
  • You admit the barriers expected in your day – vocalising potential difficulties instantly makes them less difficult. It also gives your team the opportunity to offer advice or assistance

The Daily Stand Up, whether you’re a software developer or not, is a meeting that adds value, reduces stress, instigates teamwork, and is concise. Bring it into your day and see what you think.

Can you have a Daily Stand Up on your own or at home?

Yes. If you’re disciplined enough to talk and listen to yourself without worrying you’re going a bit crazy.

Here’s the exact moment I gave myself my first ever stand up meeting…

In late 2013, I should have been happy but I wasn’t. There was a feeling I should have been doing more, earning more, living more; I couldn’t ever shake that feeling off.

In the Autumn of that year I split up with my then girlfriend, quit my job, and a few weeks later found myself in the unlikely and frightening position of being officially homeless whilst I saw out leave from my job. I was lucky enough to have family who could take me in back in South Wales but at twenty six years old, living with them filled me with a sense of failure. I took the decision, unwisely, to squat in a house in Cardiff.

After a few cold months in the squat, I was warmed by the news that a good friend and his girlfriend were visiting Cardiff. They offered to pay for three tickets on the Ferris Wheel and I took them up on the offer. My friend and his partner sat together; I was seated in the carriage behind.

‘You riding alone mate?’ said the ride operator.

‘Yeh’ I muttered despondently

He picked up a sandbag and dumped it on the seat next to me.

‘You need this so the carriage is balanced pal’ he grunted.

Winter wonderland rides are not the reserve for the elite, but it seems they are reserved for couples.

At my poorest and loneliest, I was relying on a hessian sack filled with builder’s sand to act as my protector from gravity.

That’s no way to ride on a ferris wheel. Something had to change: if I was ever riding with a sandbag again, I wanted, at the very least, to pay for that experience out of my own pocket.

The next morning, I woke and walked to a frosty Bute Park and gave myself a good talking to. I had my first ever Daily Stand Up meeting but didn’t know that was what it was called.

I walked along the River Taff kicking pebbles into the bank.

What did I do yesterday?

‘Cleaned the house, played guitar, sat with a sandbag’

What am I going to do today? ‘

‘Get a job’

What is stopping me?

I don’t know what job I want because I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life.

Figuring out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life was the very thing that was stopping me getting on with the rest of my life. I told myself to focus only on the day ahead – no matter what it was, I was going to get a job

The next day, I got a job in a well-known chain of pubs as a temp; not ideal but it gave me financial independence again. Just a few weeks later I started an exciting job with an innovative company that were going places. Achieving just a few simple tasks each day lifted me out of my rut and set me out on a happier path.

To avoid stress and anxiety, people always say: ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’ but they’re wrong. If you identify and sweat the small stuff every day, especially with the people you have around you, the big stuff will take care of itself.

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