I want to introduce you to your new magic word: ‘Agency’.
Agency is ‘the ability to take responsibility for your own life.’ It’s your ability to take action.
For anyone wanting to make a big change in their life, Agency is set to become an important word in your dictionary.
Here’s a small example of Agency. The local council installed new street lights. They were dazzlingly bright. So I emailed the council’s ‘street lights department’ and complained. I pointed out they shone into people’s rooms, hindered sleep, and discouraged wildlife especially bats. The council has now said they will put shades on them to reduce the glare. It was a small act on my part, and a small win. Maybe when the council puts up new lights elsewhere it will take into wildlife into account? But the point is, it takes someone with Agency for this to happen.
Agency is about changing the bad things in your life. You don’t let other people get away with bad behaviour. Need to tell your mother an honest truth? Go do it. It’s also about making good things happen. You want a better job? Make it happen.
Agency means taking decisions, rather than letting other people make them for you.
It’s about having ‘get up and go’.
On each of the columns in the table below, circle the word that most applies to you.
You’ll see this table again at the end of the book. When you’ve finished this book, I will ask you to do the exercise again. By then you will have attained greater agency.
|Lack Agency||Have Agency|
|Someone else will fix the problem||I will fix the problem|
|They won’t let me||I can do that|
|They’re in charge||I’m in charge|
|I don’t know what to do||I’ll find out what to do|
|I’m not a strong person||I’m strong enough|
|I’ll have a think about that.||Here’s my solution|
|I’m overwhelmed||I’ll offload some of my overwhelm|
|I’ve too many things on my plate||I’ll fix the most important thing.|
|Stay quiet||Push back|
|Daydream||Make it happen|
Are you tied down?
Tom Ziglar, son of the motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, talks about people being tethered to the ground like a balloon.
He imagines each of the ropes as a bad habit or a limiting belief. Some of the ropes are things people have told you, and you’ve internalised them. They’ve said you’re ‘not the kind of person’ who makes a change, or who sets out on their own path. And you believe them.
As Ziglar says, you can (if you choose) bravely look over the edge of the balloon, cut each rope, and as you do so say ‘I don’t need this belief. I don’t have to accept it. I’m going to cut myself free’. And when you cut each rope, you’ll bob higher.
You’ll need a sharp knife, because those ropes are strong. Don’t underestimate the effort it will take. Sharpen that knife. Make those cuts. Be strong.
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