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You Have Agency

From time to time, I hear words or concepts you don't hear often suddenly pop up from seemingly unrelated sources.

One of those words recently: agency.

If you look up the word agency in a standard dictionary, you're likely to see it defined in legal terms. Wikipedia actually has a better definition of it as it applies to people, calling it "the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices." 

(Yes, I know, you aren't supposed to use Wikipedia as a source. But I can do that. I have agency.)

The first time I heard this word recently, it popped up on a podcast by Michael Hyatt, who is a former book publisher and current leadership guru who was talking about accountability. If you aren't achieving your goals, what can YOU do better? To paraphrase him: don't blame your circumstances; realize that you have agency.

The second time it came up was 3 days ago in a New York Times editorial by Daphne Merkin regarding the #MeToo movement. She was talking about how some people say one thing publicly about the movement, but have misgivings in private. She worried aloud that the movement creates a culture of victimization, and asked, "What happened to women's agency?"

This is not the time, nor am I (as a straight white male) the person, to get into critiques of the #MeToo movement. 

But I do believe that now is a good time to remind people that they do, in fact, have agency. I think this is an important topic, because I firmly believe that one of the things that sets high-achievers apart from others is their realization of their own agency. 

I know many people who aren't happy in their jobs. You have agency. Take charge of your future and go out and find yourself something better. 

I know many people who aren't happy with their current relationships. You have agency. Find a way to repair them, or find a way to move on from them, and live your life happily. 

I know many people who aren't happy with today's politics or the current administration. We have agency. We can vote, we can stand for what's right, but more importantly, we can choose to help those we say we want to help regardless of whether laws reflect such. 

Bottom line: we all have agency. Let's not forget that as we push ahead towards our goals for making 2018 a better year.

Jason Griffin a political junkie who is often wrong but insists on writing about politics anyway. Follow further into the depths of political addiction by following on Facebook or Twitter. The monkey on your back thanks you.

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