One of the ways we support people is to help them see just how capable they are—even when the chips are down. You see, none of us lives a charmed a life. That is the stuff of fairy tales. Real life means having to frequently navigate obstacles: some related to our inner messages and beliefs, some related to health, some related to work, some related to family, and some related to world issues.

Personal agility is required to respond effectively in the face of life’s obstacles. To recognize that things go wrong, yet not allow those things to define how you behave.

At Carpenter Smith Consulting, we define personal agility as:

the ability to respond quickly and nimbly
to the disappointment or obstacle you face
by pausing to stay emotionally present
(to yourself and others)
and then taking action on your own behalf
or on behalf of those you care about.

As executive coaches, we support people to show up at their best in their work and in their lives by showing up as leaders.

When life does disappoint you or toss an obstacle your way, it’s important to pause (in order to gain your footing), and then step back and take stock of what is going on. Your job as a leader is to sort the factual data out from the emotional swirl (especially your own). Once you have more of the facts, you can then explore your emotional experience and that of the people involved. Remember, your goal is to determine the best action to take that will lead you to an outcome aligned with your goals, using the best of what you know and choosing a path forward that is informed by but not driven by emotion. Feelings are very important pieces of the puzzle, but they aren’t the only piece or even the most important piece, so you need to be able to sort them out accordingly.

One of the things that we all share—no matter our role, income, or life circumstances—is that efforts go wrong, life is hard, and the world is not fair. It’s seductive to believe that there are people who are immune to life’s challenges, but we can assure you there are not and your ability to sort out the complete information from the emotions surrounding the situation is the hallmark of a great adult and a great leader—whether on the public stage or in the privacy of your home.

This week we’d like you to identify something that you are finding challenging in your life. It can be with your health, in your family, at your work, or in your community—something that requires your personal agility.

Then we’d like you to pause and ask yourself:

  • “What am I feeling in this situation and what do I start to believe because of those feelings?”
  • “What is most important to me in this experience—what would I like to see happen?”
  • “What can I do that is in alignment with that goal?”
  • “How can I take action on my own or another’s behalf? Action that is responsive, that sees the big picture and moves me forward vs. reactive, that is emotional and based on old patterns and triggers?”


You can more fully develop your personal agility. And, if you are like the rest of us, it will be a life-long practice. When we are faced with things that block us from our dreams, goals, and efforts, we all get reactive, but by pausing and coming back to your center you will develop the ability to respond on your own behalf and on the behalf of others.