AgiLiZen – The Manifesto

AgiliZen2013  |  What is AgiliZen?  

In the 21st century, perpetual beta is the new normal. The overabundance of options in every area of our lives has created an epidemic of overwhelm, indecision and utter exhaustion. Conventional time management planning and prioritizing strategies are harder than ever to implement and simply are not agile enough to serve us in managing the complexity of our lives today. For people with a natural aptitude for getting things done “as needed” , traditional planning and scheduling strategies often feel cumbersome, time consuming, stressful, and make it even harder to get things done.


Isn’t it time to let go of  the idea that some day you will become the highly self-controlled person you think you “should” be in order to have the satisfying and meaningful life you dream of?

If a meaningful life is more important to you than a “predictable and consistent” life, AgiliZen offers a radical new approach to leading yourself to success, getting things done and getting results that accepts you just as you are and works with your strengths.

If you are ready to understand yourself in a whole new way,  Agilizen™ will introduce you to the ideas, skills, habits and attitudes that empower you to agilize your way to optimal functioning.

Agilizing is a complex concept that until now, the English language has not had a simple word for. No wonder we’ve struggled to find our way in the world!

Why do we need a word like agilizing?

  1. Conventional time management mantras and tools are fundamentally biased against independent thinkers, creatives, people who are gifted with exceptional intellectual, musical, technical, expressive, or empathic abilities and anyone who was born with a natural tendency to prefer maximizing quality over doing things fast.  We love to do our best and “get it right” – even it takes more time to do so. Conventional productivity strategies are especially biased against ADDers, Autistic spectrum, highly sensitive, and anyone who doesn’t think primarily in linear or chronological ways.  People who are born to make things better are naturally going to frequently challenge the way things are. People who see the potential in things tend to question things and thus do not have aptitude for rule following.  Cultivating self-control muscles while also respecting our natural agility is something we must work at in ways average people can take for granted.
  2. Conventional productivity strategies don’t address our need to heal from the years of trying to use tools that didn’t work.  The longer you have been wearing shoes that don’t fit your feet, the more likely you will have suffered injuries that must heal as you are learning to walk in shoes that actually fit you. Agilizen provides a foundation for healing your relationship with yourself (and with others) based on radical self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-respect.  
  3. Up till now, we haven’t had a single word to describe us that doesn’t make us sound “less than” other people.  We who are neurodiverse are usually labeled using words that are biased and pejorative. We are considered to have deficits or disorders.  Or we are defined by how we are different from others rather than by the strengths and aptitudes we have in common with each other and the value we add to society.   Once we learn how we were designed to operate and why our traits are valuable, we can then turn our attention from trying to fix ourselves to learning how to make the most of the high speed, sensitive, digital-like, hard to control, jet engine brains we were born with. For us, agilizing our way to success plays to our strengths and is much more effective than conventional prioritizing and controlling strategies.

Other people may be able to just “prioritize and do” but we aren’t designed to run our lives robotically following a To Do list or schedule.  

We are born to innovate, challenge, improve, improvise, juggle and strategize our way through life as we constantly learn and grow. Our goals, schedules and to do lists must be highly agile and serve to guide us in making improvisational decisions – not to control us and NOT to make us feel like we are never doing enough.  Agilizen teaches you how to design agile expectations and goals, and inspire yourself to accomplish them.

To make the most of who we are, we need a word like “agilizing” that recognizes the strengths inherent in our natural aversion to scheduling, planning and controlling our time.  We need to cultivate our natural aptitude for mental, emotional and spiritual agility and turn it into a strategic advantage instead of a liability.

Learning to harness our natural love of novelty and change into agility enables us to:

  • cultivate self-confidence from the inside out and
  • reduce our tendencies to over-explain,
  • let go of apologizing for our differences
  • minimize our tendencies to over-help others and over-seek approval from others to feel good about ourselves.

We need a word like “agilizing” that is easy to remember and that reminds us that after we say yes, it’s time to agilize:  to figure out a customized way to follow-through that fits with who we are and is easy to adapt as our needs change. 

The French have a word for this concept, it’s called “mise-en-place.” In Spanish (my second language) the verb “agilizar” encompasses this concept and roughly translates as “to streamline and to expedite.”

We need a simple verb like this too!

My intention is to get the word “agilizing” into at least one English dictionary – the sooner, the better.  In case you are wondering, I’m not claiming any rights to the word “agilizing.”     AgiLiZen™  is my trademarked name for the framework I’ve created to teach people how to agilize.  But the word agilizing is freely available to start using today.

The more people use it, the faster we’ll get it into the dictionary. Who knows, maybe we can even change our culture as significantly as the word “prioritizing” did.

Prioritizing was first used as a verb in the 1970’s.  It caught on fast and then got out of hand.  We prioritized too much.  We made too many things “important” and too many things “urgent.”

We inadvertently set ourselves up for chronic overwhelm.  It’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way.  It’s time to release the habit of thinking about doing MORE or LESSwe need to cultivate the habit of  ENOUGH.  That is one of the core concepts of AgiLiZen

Myself and my clients are people who have often found it difficult and ultimately useless to label priorities as either A, B and C. Who cares? If it’s worth doing, it’s got to get done.

In the world of agile thinking, a priority is simply a clear YES. Once you have a clear yes, it’s time to agilize just enough to feel confident it will get done – AND – just enough that it will be easy to modify the goals, standards, and strategies and / or make any course corrections that may be needed as conditions change.

To me, it’s a waste of time to agonize over what’s the difference between a B and a C priority when I could be spending that time actually crossing things off my list or even better – relaxing in the confidence of KNOWING that whatever I’m not doing can wait – the world won’t end.

Priorities constantly shift through out the day anyway, so what is the point of agonizing over what is more important than something else? Some people don’t need to think much about agilizing because they take getting from YES to DONE for granted. They are those people who can “just do it.”  We admire them, and wish we could “just do it” – but we just CAN’T.  We tend to be complex creatures who need more input than “just do it” to get it done.

We don’t just take orders and start marching.   We need to agilize our way.

This slide from one of the AgiliZen classes illustrates a few of the differences between conventional and agile thinking.  Agile is not intended to REPLACE conventional ways, it’s about providing an alternative that is just as valid and effective.  It’s about understanding both ways and being able to use the approach that is most effective for the situation at had.  AgiliZen is not about “fighting” or “overcoming” conventional thinking, it’s about enriching your toolkit.

Decoding and articulating this framework has taken me over 30 years of life and work experience dealing with performance challenges and helping people overcome them. There are lots of reasons why it’s been so hard to articulate a process that is so adaptable to the individual, but figuring out how to articulate a concept that isn’t even in our language was particularly challenging.  

Sadly, our language is biased against people like us who don’t function optimally in “self-control” mode.

 We weren’t taught that what we lack in self-control,
we make up for in our potential to learn “self-leadership”.

Instead, we are called unruly, challenging, or ADHD. We try so hard to learn to “control” ourselves and often fail. What a waste of energy.  Imagine what we could do if that time were spent cultivating our strengths instead!  

I’m here to tell you, more “control” is NOT what we need.  
We need to heal the grief of what we could have been if only we had understood earlier that we needed acceptance of our differences along with our own language, tools and thinking habits to facilitate productive daily living.  What we need most is to cultivate compassion and patience with ourselves as we rediscover our worthiness and teach ourselves new ways of seeing, being and doing.

We need to learn to filter our priorities, design agile, need driven goals, improvise, adapt and agilize.  AgiLiZen meets all of these needs without having to go to 20 specialists who don’t get our unique sensibilities.

We already have what it takes to be GREAT at agilizing things! People may call us hard to control, sensitive, distractible, impulsive, reactive, but guess what? The qualities and talents that underlie those traits are EXACTLY what you need to become agile!

Learning the skills and mantras of AgiLiZen™ will empower you to achieve even BETTER and far more satisfying results than conventional “controlist” strategies such as scheduling and “following the plan.”

The need to adapt to change easily and quickly
has never been more valuable than it is today.


Many people who have ADHD, or are highly gifted, creative, etc. achieve a lot, get things done and have amazing careers all shaped by their willingness and ability to adapt to themselves and to the world around them.   Robin Williams, Richard Branson, and Michael Phelps are just a few.

 How did they do it?  In most cases, they will tell you they were fortunate to have had parents who cultivated them as kids rather than punished them. Others like me have taught themselves these lessons the hard way.  We had to learn how to self-advocate and do things our own way on our own. Many successful neurodiverse people like Temple Grandin, James Durbin, Dr. Ed Hallowell and others had access to parents, teachers and jobs that taught them how to “lead” and cultivate themselves when controlling didn’t work. If you have found your way to this webpage, chances are you didn’t have access to that kind of early validation, acceptance, training and cultivation.

It’s like you had this amazing plane your whole life, but no one around you was able to see that your brain was like a plane in a world full of cars and show you how to fly it.  Too many of us grew up thinking we were damaged or defective cars that were missing something everyone else had.  Meanwhile we had these tremendous aptitudes that they don’t!  Yet, no one gets diagnosed with “Creativity or Technical Ability Deficit Disorder” do they?  The assumption is that it is  “normal and acceptable” to not have a constant flow of ideas or to not be able to learn new technology easily.   Well, for us, it’s normal to not rely on self-control to get ourselves to do things.

People with natural self-control are like cars – they don’t need flying lessons.  But we do.  For years people have tried to tell me the concepts I teach are too complex and custom to ever be able to communicate in a book.  Indeed, writing a book about this has been a daunting goal because books are linear and best for simple how to step by step instructions – not for helping people tailor and design their own personal strategies.

But I have relentlessly kept at it and AgiLiZen™ is the result.

It doesn’t matter now how long it took to discover it, I’m just grateful to have found that ONE WORD I’ve been seeking for over 20 years.  I was looking for “IT”  when I started my first business in 1993.  I called it “Bridges to Performance”.  My quest for the one word is now over.   We now have the word “agilize” and I promise you there is nothing as unstoppable as an unruly woman with a mission.  I will write this book somehow, some way.  It may require supplementing with other media and with live teaching and coaching, but the core principles and tools will be documented.  This mission is my life’s purpose.  It’s taken 50 years to name it…but with clarity and focus the right name provides i feel like it’s ready to be born.  I can’t wait to see how this turns out!

I intend to share AgiLiZen™ with as many people as I can.  The thousands of emails I’ve received over the years from people crying because they found comfort and understanding in my articles, classes and coaching like they had never before experienced means that there is a huge tribe of us out there who need this message.

You are already ENOUGH. You are WORTHY.  You CAN make life work.
Just not the way you think you are “supposed to”.
You need to do it YOUR WAY.  : )


4 thoughts on “AgiLiZen – The Manifesto

  1. Pingback: The Truth about Chronic Disorganization: What Causes It and How to Heal the Trauma of Lifelong Overwhelm and Frustration | Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed

  2. Pingback: The 8 Habits of Agility – Foundations for Agile Life Design and Productivity | Ariane Benefit, M.S.Ed

  3. I can’t sufficiently explain to you what I am experiencing right now, having found your website tonight after another of a million arguments with my husband about my disorganized manner of getting through the day. Yet another night of feeling like an utter failure and like there is something beyond wrong with me. I have been reading your articles for an hour and every paragraph is like you interviewed me. I feel understood and not alone! I actually feel, after 43 years, that there might be hope for me yet. I just want you to know that this was like a lifeline tossed out into a churning sea when I desperately needed it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  4. I am so proud of you, Ariane. This is all beautiful. How wonderful you are reaching so many people and truly helping so many. Love the new name and logo. xo Robin

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