Getting to Yes, And

The Power of Agency


Paul Napper and Anthony Rao

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You write from the POV of a child psychologist and a business psychologist and a main problem you see for both kids and adults is a loss of agency due in no small part to our new digital landscape.

“Yeah. And it is the problem. You think back 30 years or 60 years, you realize how differently we used to live as human beings. And this is a great new experiment that is being conducted each and every day for us. And people are struggling with how to best adapt. It affects adolescents and it also affects adults. So we're all in this together and it is a struggle. It's a struggle to adapt to a completely new environment of social media, and it's not just fighting for attention. There's actually even more nuanced stuff going on in terms of dopamine hits that are really affecting the ability of all people to have agency.”

I really connected to this idea of ‘agency’ when I was thinking about how most beginning improvisational classes are about regaining focus and intentional being.

“Human Agency is really about this capacity to reflect and to be grounded. Where do I find myself? What are my options? What am I trying to do in my life? And the parallels to improvisational action are huge. I love the improvisational training example you cited Kelly about establishing focus as a first step in the classroom. We’re trying to get people centered and grounded because what we discovered in doing the research on this book is that for people to have full access to their agency or their power, they need to have certain things being balanced.And when things are really out of balance, we don't have access full access to our agency.”

I  think most people will get the psychological aspect of agency, but you also focus on the physical part of agency.

"This is far more important than we ever realized,  say 50 years ago. Our bodies really are the source of emotion, largely, and our emotions obviously affect our thinking. So when our bodies are not in good balance or not in good working order, our level of personal agency is really affected. Our ability to advocate for ourselves and our ability to make good decisions can be compromised. So we write a lot in this book about the importance of keeping your body in better balance. So it's not simply through exercise -  although movement and exercise are critical - but it's also ensuring that you're eating properly;  it's ensuring that you're getting enough rest; that you're hitting the pause button frequently enough for downtimes. Because the sad reality is that a lot of people’s bodies are not in good working order. They're not in balance and that affects everything else. And they need to have an awareness of the signals that are coming from their body, which we tend to ignore it.”

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