The word agency has different meanings in different contexts. In this context, agency refers to the ability to influence, act or intervene.
People who lack a sense of agency perceive themselves as having little or no control over their circumstances. As a result, they can develop feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, which can undermine their wellbeing.
On the other hand, people who demonstrate agency feel empowered to influence their circumstances. This builds self-efficacy and promotes self-determination, creating even greater agency.
There are four critical elements to demonstrating agency; mindset, capability, tools and purpose.
Mindset refers to the beliefs and expectations a person holds in relation to their growth and development. People with a fixed mindset see their abilities as set and unalterable. People with a growth mindset believe they can grow and develop through committing to practising process over time – “the more I practice, the better I get”.
Capability refers to the skills and abilities required for a person to influence their circumstances. Once the required skills and abilities are identified, strategies can be developed, and processes practised, to build capability and agency.
Tools are utilised by a person to demonstrate agency in pursuit of a desired outcome. For example, a tradesperson may have a toolkit from which to select the most appropriate tool to complete a job. The use of tools is context specific and may include (but are not limited to) the use of planning tools, management tools, digital tools, marketing tools, design tools, etc. Expertise and dexterity may be required to optimise the use of a tool to demonstrate agency.
Finally, a clear and compelling sense of purpose can ensure that agency is demonstrated with commitment and integrity over time. Purpose aligns passion with intent.
Purpose can be established through goal setting.
- What is your goal?
- What is its purpose?
- What benefits would you notice in achieving your goal?
- What is required for you to achieve your goal?
Adopting a growth mindset, building capability and using tools to deliver upon purpose creates agency. Agency builds self-efficacy and promotes self-determination.
Take control and influence your circumstances through building capability to demonstrate agency.
Think big and start small.
So, what is your goal?