From "Connected (with Abe + Isaac) — Volume 11"

Trust fall

How do you feel about the fact that everyone has agency? What’s your relationship to the idea that everyone you relate to has a choice about how they relate to you?

I think about this most in the context of business, feeling out Lightward’s way in the world. And in that extended exploration, I’ve found this test important:

As you interact with others, are you encouraging agency, or discouraging agency? Are you making it easier for people to decide for themselves, or are you working to force their choice to suit your preference?

This creates an easy litmus test. The next time you encounter some advertising, ask yourself how it’s designed to work. Some commercials evoke fear, and promise you safety. Some commercials show you happiness, and offer it to you on sale. (The language of “deserving” is popular – and deserves to be interrogated thoughtfully.)

Broadly, I think that the movements that discourage agency are tantamount to operating in scarcity. If I don’t trust that there’s enough out there for you and for me, then it makes sense: to guarantee that I’ll be okay, I need to guarantee that you’ll make choices that benefit me. I have to remove your agency, force your choice, to ensure that I’ll be cared for.

But that is not the only option!

Movements that encourage agency are what the future is made of.

If I encourage your agency, it’s because I want to know what you’ve got inside you, and I know, for sure, that coaxing it out of you is going to be good for the world. It’s because I trust, absolutely, that all of us stepping into our personal choice will result in more and more good.

I suggested a litmus test earlier, and here’s where the full definition of that term applies: to pass this litmus test, you’ve got to be encouraging agency.

This is a massively important part of what I’m doing with Lightward. Our pay-what-feels-good pricing is based on this idea, that encouraging your agency is good for us all. Our every interaction with customers is based on this idea: though we do excellent work, we don’t give a shit if you choose our products or not. We only care that you are equipped and encouraged to decide exactly what you want to decide.

Does this pay off? Obviously! There’s freedom in this, and people like freedom. People will keep coming back to places where they feel free, which means this stance of ours is a major contributor to our success. But to call this a success strategy would be missing the forest for the trees: life wants to be free, to act in freedom, and I think that whatever forces encourage agency naturally rise to the top, because raising those up serves the entire system of life, which is about ever-increasing choice. Not more choices, but more choice. More choosing. More pristine determination (to borrow an idea I heard this week). And I’m pretty sure that anything that works in favor of that gets an automatic leg up in the system of life, because it is acting in favor of the whole system.

Now, anytime I see someone offering a strategy for getting a leg up, I’m very, very careful about how I relate to it. And that applies here. But here, I think this is perfectly okay, and good, because this boost I’m describing is not accessible to anyone who’s working to drag the system down. I’m proposing that a business (but it needn’t be a business) is going to benefit from the nature of life itself if it encourages the freedom and choice and ability and power and taste and preference and determination and agency of all of its customers. If I’m right, then a business whose top priority is growth can’t afford to try and force a sale, because in removing agency to achieve a transaction, they’ve just sabotaged their standing in the overall system.

If I’m right, then life is irrevocably oriented towards more and greater choice, more and greater choosing. And it doesn’t matter if you participate or not – it’s happening.

If I’m wrong, I do not care. :D For myself, engaging in this way is infinitely more interesting. To do work in this way is to be in a constant trust fall, because my every choice is predicated on the belief that encouraging your choice is something I’ll be able to do again tomorrow.

A trust fall is exhilarating. You cannot know exactly what the outcome will be, but in a trust fall you have chosen to trust the choice of another. It’s one of my favorite things! I’m learning to do it in more and more parts of my life, and it just keeps getting better.

In the spirit of all of this, I’m not telling you to work this way. This only works if you find it for yourself. So, if you will, watch those around you – people, companies, whatever – and ask yourself if they’re working to encourage your agency, or discourage it. (Or straight up remove it, because that happens too.) Develop your own relationship with this. And, if you will, let me know what you find. :)



Move toward joy. If you’re not feeling joy right now, don’t try to jump straight there – big jumps are hard to land, and if you don’t land it, you might feel worse. So, just take tiny steps toward relief. Anything that feels a little better is worth your time. :) You’re good, you’re good, and you can do it. 😘

Originally sent out via email

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