Q: If you were detained in a third-world prison who would you call to get you out?
A: That’s the most high-agency person you know.
“Agency” refers to someone’s capacity to exert power.
When someone is low-agency, life happens to them; they’re always the victim, and they have very little control over their circumstances.
When someone is high-agency, they control their own destiny; the answer “no” doesn’t stop them, it just causes them to try differently or to try again.
What’s unique about this concept is the disconnect between power and authority. If you’re detained in a prison, you likely don’t have a judge or a president’s phone number (people with authority to pardon a sentence), the person you’d call is likely someone who doesn’t take “No” for an answer.
It’s not that they have authority, it’s that they have power. Power to knock until the door opens, or call until the phone is answered, or to keep asking until the answer is “yes”.
You can grow your “agency” by learning to ask better questions.
Shift from “Would it work?” to “How would I make it work?”
Actionable Question: What is one challenge I’m facing that wouldn’t be a problem if I had greater agency?