Agency is one’s independent capability or ability to act on one’s will
I’ve completed over 5,000 searches in my career and have coached hundreds of professionals from CEO’s, Business Owners and Veterans. The single most distinctive characteristic I have found between the candidates and coaching clients I’ve been privileged to work with is the Ability, the Choice to have Agency in their own life.
Those who exercise Agency in their own life are the empowered, the confident, the communicators and the achievers.
When we don’t take Agency with our own lives – It’s a cycle of feasting and fasting absent of contentment and peace of mind.
The individuals I’ve worked with who make choices for the moment, to feel comfort from a reluctance to let go of a present or past familiarity, who make choices for the happiness of others – These are the individuals who may find success and happiness today but rarely tomorrow. Their upward mobility is a cycle of fits and starts. It’s a self-sabotaging cycle typically leaving the individual and his/her influencers in a cycle of discord and conflict.
The individuals who take Agency in their lives tend to have careers and personal lives on a gradual and manageable upward track. Rather than the peaks and valleys – Each step, each day is a methodical, well planned step towards to the next level of professional, financial, personal and emotional growth.
5 Steps to Creating Agency in Your Life
1. Acknowledge with brutal honesty exactly where you are today. And however good or bad it is, You are 100% responsible for all of it. Every thought and action you’ve had and didn’t have is exactly the result of your current reality. Don’t like it? Than take Agency in your life to change it.
2. 18 months from today– Where are you? Engage in the pen-to-paper exercise and focus on Yourself, Finances, Fitness and Family. What are your goals, dreams and hopes for each of those categories? Embark on a vision of your next 18 months with the confidence that your influencers will fully support your choices. If everything that you desire and are capable of achieving was possible: What would 18 months from today look like? And if you have influencers who can’t or won’t support your choices; Then set better boundaries or find new influencers.
3. Make choices based on 1 person’s happiness – Yours. At Hunter Ambrose we have a core belief- Only by putting yourself first can you serve others. This doesn’t negate the self-sacrifice we make for our children, our partners or our clients. Repeatedly making choices and compromises for the happiness of others leads to self-sabotaging behavior to compensate for the personal unhappiness of living for others. If we live for our own happiness first, it will propel those around us to rise to the occasion of taking Agency in their own lives. To quote one of Ayn Rand’s most famous statements “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
4. Intentional Responses. Practicing the Four Agreements may come effortlessly to many. Thus, we have positive Intentional Responses. However, in stressful situations, when we feel compromised, jeopardized or threatened we tend to act as the worst versions of ourselves. Our Intentional Responses are typically at their lowest emotional value when we feel our backs against the wall. I’ve seen this happen in boardrooms, negotiations and in personal situations. The more prominent the infraction, the greater the reaction and the less control we typically have over our Intentional Responses – Our behavior becomes a reaction to avoid pain or regain power in the situation. Practicing Intentional Responses that do no harm is a life long practice. Acknowledging our Intentional Responses that did harm or disrespected others is acting with Agency and taking ownership of our behavior. It’s humbling, it’s hard and it’s always necessary.
5. Raise Your Standards. Who is your future self? I’m always attuned to attributes of others that I admire and try to incorporate those standards into my own behavior to be a better version of myself. My influencers for most of 2018 have been a refreshing and inspiring change. From the Midwestern Client who is a man of few and meaningful words and whose “Principles” we have coined at the firm to keep us in check: to say less and listen more. To have Agency, true Agency in your life, we must find the better version of ourselves. From how we earn, to how we spend time with our families, to how we treat strangers we’ll never meet again- Raising our standards on a daily basis is taking the ultimate Agency because it forces the hand of self-reflection.