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The Downside of Everyday Agility

Have you ever felt "agility fatigue"?

Nothing is prized more today than the willingness to pivot at the drop of the hat. Companies now screen new hire's Adaptive Quotient (AQ), and procure agility coaches for teams.

But it's important to note that even positive changes require a lot of energy. To be agile you need to rapidly take in a situation, make decisions with limited information, grieve losses of the old, shift roles, and learn skills to survive in the new. You need to be in constant vigilance for the next threat, and in constant openness to experience new. It is easy to burn out just from being resilient.

My background in Family Therapy has taught me that all systems strive for stability. I wonder if this remains true.

Stable systems nurture growth. For instance, the ideal home is where there is minimal conflict, where children have predictable structures, and where parents don't need to worry if they will lose their job the next day. Stability creates rootedness, security, and respect for individual differences in desure for change or pace of development. An while flexibility is very critical in family systems, flexibility is typically a temporary response to a crisis or a brief shakedown to remove rigid mindsets.

Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-agility. We need to these days. We have no choice to sometimes. And it does bring its blessings.

But maybe some things are worth remembering in this VUCA/BANI world we live in.

a. Practice Conscious Agility. Adapt not merely for the sake of adapting, but because a change is CHOSEN, having discerned what is really desired and within the best interest of all.

b. Take Strategic Retreats. Agile systems can eventually feel like the wheel hamsters can't get off from. Adaptation need to toggle well with rest, reflection, zooming out, and going back to the core of why we do the things we do.

c. Stay Human. Systemic changes can have collateral damage. Let us not create a survival-of-the-fittest world where those who can't adapt gets left behind. We are better than this. Be on the lookout always for who are those disenfranchised by a transition, and provide empathetic support.

d. Find your Anchor. What is constant for you while all things are going tipsy-turvy? Your values? Your Faith? Sense of Mission? Think of yourself as a planet exerting a gravitational pull on moving satelites. Satellites move and can get derailed sometimes, but ensure something inside you will keep them from straying out of orbit.

e. Sometimes It's Okay to Go Against the Tide. While it's true that one can develop character and achieve milestones through constant change, remember there is also growth inside the comfort zone. There is peace of mind to be had within the familiar. Stuck is different from Grounded. Downshifting is not failure. Stability can mean more energy to specialize, to individualize, and enjoy other things life can offer.

Written by Kay Vardeleon, RPsy

Kay is a founding partner of CPPS, and its Director of Workplace Programs.

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