I started writing this post a couple of months ago, when the world was crazy, but much less crazy than it is right now with the Ukrainian invasion. When the macro level is this out of control, when people are forced into situations they didn’t ask for, it drives home the point of what extreme lack of agency looks like. War is a time when individuals lose their sense of agency—over their own lives, and also over the direction of the world.
Agency is the ability of your effort to first affect the condition of your life, and then the condition of the world.
Without agency, you don’t believe that your effort means anything. Agency is tied to your sense of purpose — you can’t fulfill your purpose without agency. At a basic level, you must be able to
- perceive a choice
- make a choice
- act on the choice
- believe that the choice has the possibility to give you the result that you want to see.
This is so fundamental to human potential and achievement that “agency” is a driving characteristic I look for in investments.
In 2020, Nikhil wrote a post on trends for 2021, and he asked people in tech what their thoughts were. My answer was simple: individual agency. I wrote: “The next big thing in 2021 is agency – where people can construct their lives, regardless of location, and find a way to build the career and lifestyle they want.”
Over the last few years, I’ve realized that agency is the unifying idea that underpins Spero’s thesis.
It’s about investing in the things that enable agency. The 3 different components of “things that make life worth living” are all related to people’s agency—their ability to choose what happens in their lives and the world.
- Wellbeing: the agency to live your life with the physically and mentally capability that you choose. To be able to access your data, choose your path to wellbeing, as you define it.
- Sustainability: the agency for people to have a positive impact on the planet, while also choosing abundance. The ability to make informed choices that reflect their values while thriving and enabling the planet to thrive.
- Learning, work, and play: the agency to choose your path, learn what you want to, work on problems that energize you, build the life you want to have, and enjoy yourself with the people that matter.
Agency makes life worth living.