The 3-Factor Agile Mind

Deeper into Personal Agility

As I am continuing to learn about Personal Agility, a system of thought that I find particularly interesting, a few core concepts have emerged that seem to have resounding impact. One of those core concepts is the practice of maintaining an uncluttered mind, which is important and nuanced enough that it deserves a call-out here. I mentioned the notion of de-cluttering the mind in my introductory post on Personal Agility several weeks ago, but since then, I’ve been able to isolate three factors that comprise what I will refer to as an Agile Mind, and they are:

  • Knowing what’s important
  • Focusing on what’s important
  • Freedom from unhelpful attachments

Knowing What’s Important

This is perhaps a logical starting point, but it’s something that can be deceptively challenging. That’s why I have tried, especially in the early posts in this blog, to establish a baseline in change management practice to apply to personal development. Generally, it seems that change management is much more results-oriented, whereas personal development teachings tend to be more emotionally appealing without much substance beyond that. So, there’s work to do here and I hope to contribute to filling this gap.

Check out these relevant posts to get started: Growing the Roots of Change, Developing a Baseline, Developing a Vision.

Focusing on What’s Important

The ability to just focus on a particular task can be really difficult in today’s world. We have plenty of high-impulse dings and buzzes from our phones and other technology that there’s always the opportunity for us to become distracted. And that’s just talking about focusing on anything, not specifically focusing on what’s actually important!

I introduced this idea in Step Back. Set Intention. Step Up. Once you know what’s important, you need to be able to focus on it. This focus is needed to effectively strategize and to create real, actionable goals to get you making progress toward your vision. The ability to focus will be the engine that continually pushes you along.

Freedom from Unhelpful Attachments

This is what I consider to be the most critical element of an agile mind; it’s what makes a person’s mental processing or mindset specifically “Agile” rather than just “efficient” or “productive”. I like to relate this concept to a micromanaging boss, something many of us have experienced. Aside from the highly researched fact that micromanagement is bad for employee engagement, there’s also the idea that a manager isn’t performing as effectively as a manager when they are overly invested in what their employees are doing and how they are doing it.  In other words, there’s only so many hours in a day and because time is a limited resource, there is a most efficient way to use time toward a particular goal.

Okay, got it, but why do some bosses micromanage? Now we’re getting into the realm of uncovering unhelpful attachments. For some managers, they may crave power and influence, for others they may miss the technical work they used to perform or experience loneliness and they just want to be part of the team. The particular motivation for micromanaging isn’t important; I’m simply pointing out there are in many cases emotional attachments that lead us to less-than-optimal performance. In the same way, we sometimes get in our own way when pursuing personal change. Personal Agility demands that we confront our unhelpful attachments and learn to just let them go.  In this sense, an agile mind is one that is free from the drag of unproductive or counterproductive emotional attachments so a practitioner can quickly and easily go from task to task, focused on the important stuff, and really get more done.

So it’s really quite easy to sum up: Know what’s important. Focus on it. Break free from unhelpful attachments. While this process will have inherent challenges, it will provide the foundation necessary for an agile mind and will enable the further development of agile processes that can also be used for personal development.

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