DevRetro2022: My personal growth over 2022

Getting to know NLP

When writing this post, I noticed that a lot happened to me in 2022. My previous growth lead to basic travels with TravelBase that lead to new experiences that again lead to growth. That growth leads to my adventure in consultancy. I challenged myself to tryout my ski skills and could count on Snowcollege for feedback. The title of this blog post is “personal growth 2022” and not “my backstory”, so I will focus mainly on the growth that leads to growth in my career.

Personal challenges

I decided in 2021 I wanted to do some trips I dreamed of for a very long time. Because of fear, self-pity and uncertainties, I didn't make them.

  • In March this year, I went with a group (of strangers) to Lapland.

  • In May, I went skiing with Snowcollege.

  • In June, I organized a camping trip in Spitsbergen, I went completely solo and had assistance from a veteran guide.

All of these trips were challenging in some kind of form. They were up north, camping, going basic for sleeping environments and food, doing stuff alone, meeting new people… I tried to see if I have it in me to start becoming a ski instructor (spoiler alert, without extra work on my posture, I do not).

Career challenges

The situation that I was in, felt like software development was a dead end:

  • Similar problems and not intriguing interesting problems to solve

  • Always behind the desk, working on an island. Different views on the same problems and people believe they have the solution, so communication problems…

  • Still talking about testing and SOLID principles. I was not advancing to more challenges like e.g. architectural difficulties

  • And other things as well that don't come to mind at the moment

It seemed like a never-ending story. There were goals to get, but it seemed, what I was doing, the goal wasn't worth fetching. In the beginning, it seemed feasable... Working with people is quite different than working with problems, technologies, software... I was doing a lot of coaching and bringing other people together… But at some point, you just need to face the reality that it stops. You can lead a horse to the water, but if the horse won't drink it... However, somebody whispered to me that the role of Scrum Master was a good description of what I was doing at the time. Maybe becoming Scrum Master could learn me new insights. Someone has told me that I did not understand the general idea behind Scrum. My authority and pride were hurt. I did not like that at all. If you need to coach people, you need a certain authority as well.


I had taken interest in Scrum and contacted Steven Deneir. I was introduced to him by Jürgen De Smet, who I know from the software craftsmanship community Socrates. Socrates is a community with a lot of people that are eager to learn and share their experiences: technical, functional, inspirational, psychological… Furthermore, I was enthusiastic after the Scrum course and used that renewed energy. I came back to the office, quite proud to be an official Scrum Master and tryout out new insights. But even after that adventure, it felt like… is this it? It did not feel rewarding at all.


Besides the NLP techniques Kristien de Wolf used to coach me, she put me in contact with a CEO of a software company in my hometown. The idea was that this way, I could rediscover software development. Although that was a good conversation, a lot of my idea of how businesses do software development seemed valid. I still felt like I had already done this kind of thing. It was getting clear to me that I kept fishing in the same sea... Something needs to change. But what?


My journey for job coaching had been completed near the end of 2021, but I still had a feeling of "what now". I had more job interviews with companies. I discovered a few companies that seemed to be promising, but I always found a reason.

Then a company kept sticking around… I remembered another golden rule: try to be around people that can lift you further in the direction that you want to go… The first couple of conversations with Xpirit were promising as well and I will explain the story of how I joined Xpirit in another post. What is important for this story is: no matter where you work, there are always similar problems you encounter. That strengthens my belief again that I should try something different. Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of getting a different result.


After reading the book Getting Naked, provided by Xpirit, I just felt like that book was written about how I try approaching situations. It felt very familiar and inspired me to this day on how I and Xpirit should do business. That way of working requires a mindset that you will always find an assignment. The assignments should be a perfect fit. You do not need to stretch your assignment out for the sake of having work. Be proud of what you do and what you are. Be an authority.

Part of the change is that I need to leave the idea behind that I am and want to be in my safe cocoon… I will go more on the road, I will need to put myself out there and yes I will be vulnerable because of that. However, I do that already… The difference is now, I do it mindfully and not because of some insecurity that is in play. The assignment is more important than working in just a nice place. I do realize I am only human and, of course, I want to work in a pleasant environment. However, for me, it is about a new state of mind. That is difficult in the beginning. It feels like mourning… a part of your life that you leave behind. I do think that this is only possible if I am in a good place, with support from the home front…

Personal Coach

The above insights were happening over time, after learning some NLP theories. I was learning with Kristien a lot of things from NLP.


When learning more about the above, Kristien noticed that I hit a blockade. It was clear I needed to work with a therapist that could help me lift that. But what is the difference between a coach and a therapist? You work on yourself with a therapist in a session. With a coach, you get the guidance, read- and do assignments to make progress. A coach pushes you out of your comfort zone, while a therapist helps you discover and embrace it, to be able to grow again. Of course, this is based on my experience and not any books...

With heart2heart I worked on the following, but not limited to:


At this point, I am mindful of my comfort and fear zone. I do need to guard my energy level and accept that I can't and shouldn't want to do everything. When there is a need for it, I will go back to my comfort zone… It is important to keep challenging myself, so I am quite happy in the learning and growth zone. For me, that is the link with HSS. What sucks is that you need to pass through the zone of fear. I hope it gets easier each time, and being mindful of it should help me.

Another significant thing I learned is that failure is just part of life. Even though I know that by heart. I learn a lot by trial and error. But still, I don't like to fail. The world does not rest on my shoulder. I do like to help and support others. Always respect my responsibilities and energy levels. Accept that other people need to step up and if they are not… listen to them, and if possible inspire them. If that does not work: I need to accept it and not feel bad about it, or walk away and not feel bad about it.

I can't stress enough what learning means in this context. It does not mean I have mastered it. Some of the things I have mastered, others I still struggle with for a while. Things you have learned, you need to put them into practice to master them. A lot of people however don't know that you can't unlearn something. So I do need to expect fallbacks when things are getting tough. The important part to do is when you fall then brush yourself off, pick yourself up, assess the situation and act accordingly. Be mindful.


Started this post, it was difficult to write and to remember by heart what I learned. I am happy however that I still remember everything within its context. However, it will be refreshing to read up on it again, so I am more aware again of the lessons that are maybe moved to the background.

The idea is that I will create a blog post each week this year. About what I learned that week or something I want to share. Technical or Inspirational. 51 left to go.

Let's make another retro at the end of the year 2023, to see what the journey in 2023 brought.

Thanks to Jonas for reviewing this blog post.

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