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7 Principles of High Agency

How to Live Intentionally and Craft Your Life

By Matty Reed
August 20, 2023

A sculptor, gazes intently at a raw, unshaped block of stone. To the untrained eye, it’s just a slab, devoid of form or purpose. Yet, the sculptor, with vision and determination, chisels away, crafting a masterpiece from the mundane.

In the theater of life, many of us merely see the stone—obstacles, challenges, and distractions, accepting them as unchangeable constants.

But a person with High Agency? They’re the sculptor. 

They see potential where others see problems. They don’t wait for the world to define their path; they shape it, chiseling away at their goals, crafting a life with intention and purpose. It's not about what life hands to them, but what they create out of it.

Be Authentic

High Agency is about recognizing that, despite life's uncertainties and challenges, we have the power to shape our destiny. High agency individuals live intentionally and stay authentic to their true selves.

Naval Ravikant, a beacon in the realm of modern wisdom, once said, “Escape competition through authenticity. You’re not going to be the best by competing with others. You’re going to be the best by being authentic. Being yourself. No one can compete with that.” This statement encapsulates the spirit of High Agency. Don't chase superficial success or follow the crowd. Instead, focus on your unique strengths and passions, creating a fulfilling and purpose-driven life.

Invest Time Intentionally

The philosophy of high agency reminds us that to truly exert our agency, we need to look beyond the immediate and plan intentionally for the future. It encourages us to focus not just on who we are today, but who we can become tomorrow. In doing so, we’re not merely surviving the daily grind but carving a distinct path forward.

From billionaires to the baker down the lane, everyone gets same 24 hours. Yet, some people invest their 24 hours more effectively than others. High agency individuals see their time as a resource to be invested and their lives as something that can be shaped and changed over time.

Principles of High Agency

1. Be Proactive vs. Reactive
People with high agency don't just react; they act. They don’t spend their day firefighting or being swept up in the river of "urgent" tasks. They prioritize and ensure they are investing their time wisely and focus on the important to preempt the urgent.

2. Say "No" More Often
High agency individuals have the confidence to say no to the non-essential. Not out of arrogance, but from a place of clarity about what truly matters. Time is a limited resource, and every "yes" is a "no" to something else.

3. Rise Above the Noise
In today's digital age, distractions are aplenty. People with high agency create high-pass filters to cut out all the noise and unwanted distractions.  It's not about shunning technology and hiding from the digital world; it’s about leveraging technology as a tool to amplify your ability to enact change.

4. Reflect
Spend time understanding your goals, values, and priorities. It's hard to have agency if you don’t know where you came from or where you're headed.

5. Cultivate Discipline
High agency doesn't mean operating on whims. It's about being disciplined enough to make choices that align with your goals.

6. Seek Knowledge
Read, learn, and grow. The more informed you are, the better your decisions and the stronger your agency. Retain a childlike curiosity about the world and aspire to understand it better.

7. Start Small
It’s okay if you don’t overturn your life in a day. Begin with one decision, one task. As Lao Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Craft Your Life

Many of us become adrift in life, influenced more by external forces than our own intent. Yet, the principles of High Agency reminds us that we each have the tools and the power to craft our life, to shape it meticulously and passionately, much like an artisan working on their magnum opus.

High Agency isn’t merely a concept; it's an ethos—a profound dedication to grasp our destiny, to mold our days, dreams, and deeds with intentionality. As we journey onward, let's not merely float along like a leaf on a river. Let's be sculptors of our fate, chiseling our story with purpose and passion.

Michelangelo once said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Time is the marble, your mind is the chisel; be the angel you carve for your future self.

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