Agility. Agility is the ability to move quickly and easily, or the ability to think and understand quickly. Agility has become a buzz word when it comes to leadership and it’s one of the most sort after traits considering the speed of change in today’s world. Being able to look at what’s in front of you, overview it, gain perspective, awareness and clarity, and make a decision about which way to address it without getting bogged down.
Another trait that we’re taught is paramount is never to give up – don’t quit. We’re taught that it takes strength of character to stick at something; to keep plugging away when others have fallen by the wayside. Make no mistake, it does take character, and the results of consistent effort are evident all around us from the marriages that have survived decades of challenge, to the business partnerships and brands that have forged their way where others have dared not.
So how do you know? How do you know whether to keep plugging away and not give up, or whether to make a change, alter your approach, and move on? This is a simple, yet fairly large question that we can apply to absolutely anything from the way we do something (our systems and processes), to our relationships, to our path in life.
A friend sent me a video this past week that addressed just this in fairly simple terms, and it reminded me how often we get stuck somewhere and become fixated on whatever we’re plugging away at. Also, that when someone reminds us to reassess, we remember that it’s not rocket science to do so. Sometimes it’s just uncomfortable.
Here are a couple of worthy questions when you find yourself dealing with something repetitive, or when you’re wondering whether you’ve become fixated on something that’s not working for you:
1. Are you improving and gaining from every lesson and failure as you move forward? Are you on an upward trajectory, no matter how slow, or are you just repeating the same exhausting trial and error process over and over again with no progression?
2. How does your Rate of Investment (ROI) tally with your Rate of Return (ROR)? Even if you are getting better at something slowly, is the input of resources (time, money, effort) justified by the result? This was a big one for me…
3. Are you doing something for ego-driven reasons? Are you doing something for yourself or to prove something to someone else? Funnily enough, no matter what you input, even if you reach your goal, ego-driven outcomes aren’t generally that satisfying. They tend to leave you wanting when you get there.
Another friend (I’m blessed with great people!) gave me the book “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday. What an incredibly direct and powerful book it is. He surmises that to whatever we aspire, whatever success we may have, and whatever failure and challenge we may encounter, ego is the enemy.
Ego certainly impacts our ability to assess when to move forward and when to keep plugging away. Agility, our ability to think and understand quickly, is only a component of leadership if you’re able to hook that understanding up to decision making. Often, we stay stagnant or treading the same path over and over because our ego won’t allow us to accept the idea of putting something down, changing tack or letting go. We’ve been taught at a fundamental level that to do so is failure, and our ego will do anything to convince us otherwise.
What hasn’t been highlighted to us is that it’s a skill to be able to assess and move forward. That it takes just as much courage, if not more, to decide to let go of what’s not working for us and move forward. It’s hard. Sometimes it’s even painful. Sometimes it requires or prompts considerable change in our lives and change is always an unknown and therefore scary. But we only get one shot at this thing called life, and we’re all gifted with purpose to fulfil and share. We can’t move towards productive and joyful fulfilment of purpose if what we’re doing isn’t working for us.
This week, as always, look up. Shake yourself. Take a look at what’s not working for you. Where are you inputting more than you have justifiable results for? What do you need to change? Where have you been tracking the same cycles with little or no improvement? These cycles could be short, or they could be over years. Where is what you’re doing not serving you or others. Are there better ways to employ your energy and resources? Are there things you need to judiciously let go of and move forward from? What thinking and action can you put in place to make this happen? Where do you need to be agile instead of stuck? Where is it time for clean eyes and redirected energy?
by Christen Killick
March 2nd, 2020