NEW BOOK: The Upside of Your Dark Side: Why Being Your Whole Self – Not Just Your “Good” Self – Drives Success and Fulfillment

Can’t wait to read this book which is being released tomorrow!  I’m so grateful that Todd B. Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener wrote this book to help us remember the inherent value in NOT being happy all the time.

What we usually think of as “negative” emotions are actually powerful tools that we can harness to experience greater overall success, fulfillment and well-being.  Agile is about embracing all of the tools in our toolbox and that means we need to accept the dark side of good things….and strive to see the GOOD side of DARK things too.

The English language is notoriously dualistic – nearly every word we use has a good or bad connotation to it. It’s so hard to be unbiased or even to find “neutral” words to describe things like our own emotions.

Did you know that the english language has like 25 or 30 words for “negative” emotions and only like 8 or 10 for “positive”?

We call Anger, Fear, and Pain “negative” emotions but in reality, they are what make it possible for us to have long lives. Insects don’t have anger, fear or pain because they only live a few days or weeks – so they don’t need them in order to survive and flourish.

Cool factoid, huh?



I’m thrilled to include this book as I’m writing my book on Cultivating Agile Self-Leadership for people who don’t respond well to self-“control” : )  It also fits beautifully with the 8 Keystone Habits of Personal Agility.

What is Agile Self-Leadership?

Self-Leadership is a term that to my knowledge was first coined by Charles Manz  in a article published in 1986. Manz defined self-leadership as:

  “leading oneself toward performance of

naturally motivating tasks as well as

managing oneself to do work that must be done

but is not naturally motivating” [1]



Agile Self-LeadershipMost of the articles and books I have read on the topic describe self-leadership in terms of taking personal responsibility and being a role model for others. As I see it, self-leadership is a whole other way to think about how we get things done, and how we grow (vs. improve) ourselves.

The umbrella of Agile Self-Leadership provides a more unbiased and flexible framework for unconventional and neurodiverse people to Continue reading

What are the 8 Dances of Life?

I developed the 8 Dances of Life model to help people take stock of their challenges, strengths and resources, set agile goals that fulfill multiple needs and values, and inspire them to lead themselves to follow through and get results. The model makes it easier to clearly see the complex interconnections and decide where to start making small, specific changes that will have the greatest impact in the short term while also moving you closer to reaching long-term goals like better health, less stress and greater productivity.

Life is a constant dance of deciding how to use our limited resources to take care of what we already have while also pursuing our goals.

Our home, things, work, relationships, time, money and information (information includes paper, digital information, email, memorabilia, etc.) are all resources we can use, but they are also resource drains — i.e., they require time and energy to take care of them.

No wonder it’s so easy to feel confused and overwhelmed by the 8 Dances of Life – we acquire resources to making our live more satisfying  but then it often feels like they are taking over our lives and making daily life harder rather than making it better.

Sometimes it feels like the more success and abundance we have, the less time and energy we have to actually enjoy them.  The additional maintenance and work that comes along with a better job, having a child, or moving into a bigger house, for example, may leave us feeling so stressed and over-committed that life can begin to feel more like a gilded cage than an adventure.

The more we have, the more easily we feel overwhelmed, exhausted and out of control. You may find yourself yearning for a simpler life but not ready to let go of what you have.

Deep down you may believe that with a little more self-control, you could make yourself do what it takes to maintain all your resources and we dream that would be they key to achieving our potential.

We tell ourselves that if only we had more self-control, we wouldn’t procrastinate, or get so distracted and unfocused.  If we could just get ourselves to do what it takes to organize, plan and finish all the chores and projects on our To Do lists, we would feel better about everything in our lives.  If only we could  control ourselves better we wouldn’t “waste” time being unproductive, all our email would be answered and we would actually read all those books we buy.

When self-control fails to work for you, chances are excellent that  self-leadership and the ability to agilize are what the situation requires.

Self-control has been so over-valued and over-emphasized in our society, we seem to have forgotten that control is not always needed.  In many cases, control is not even an option. For example, self-control is NOT always the best way to get yourself to do things like change habits and make the changes you want in your life.   In fact, for some people, trying to use self-control to change habits like disorganization, being late, or overeating actually does more harm than good.

AgiliZen is about cultivating your inner leader When you rebel against yourself, as evidenced by chronic overwhelm, frustration, procrastination and exhaustion, it’s time for your inner dictator to surrender and let your inner leader take over.

Your inner leader’s job is inspire and encourage rather than control you.  When you treat yourself the way you would want a respected leader to treat you — by asking questions, listening, establishing meaningful and realistic goals, facilitating, supporting and encouraging — a whole new world of possibilities for turning your life around opens up.

What are the Benefits of Agile Self-Leadership?

Cultivating agile self-leadership enhances self-confidence, goal achievement, emotional resiliency, decision-making, self-respect, self-acceptance and self-compassion.  growth-change-pain

The practice of self-leadership over time reduces stress, procrastination, anxiety, worrying, depression, as well as chronic overwhelm and dissatisfaction.

The more you trust your ability to agilize, the more confident you become that you can rise to the occasion and deal with whatever challenges come your way.  You become able to:

If you are highly creative, intelligent, or ultra-sensitive or empathic, or have a high level of emotional, cognitive, or sensory intensity, your brain is literally wired differently from the average brain.  Chances are your daily life is far more challenging and painful than it is for others.  Living in a world that is NOT designed to fit you hurts.  

But that does NOT mean you are defective.  To me it means you have a need to be understood, accepted, and respected.  We all need our strengths to be recognized, appreciated, and cultivated.  Agile self-leaders learn how to accept and encourage themselves and how to identify, cultivate and use their strengths to minimize the impact of whatever our “weak” areas may be.

Today, we all need mental and emotional agility: the ability to

  • appreciate cognitive differences, 
  • listen and communicate in ways that respect differences, and to 
  • resolve the inevitable conflicts without resorting to verbal or physical violence.

Mental and emotional agility is what enables us to:

  • break through stuckness, 
  • see ourselves in new ways, and 
  • use our current challenges as springboards to personal growth and fulfillment.  

If self-control has not worked for you so far, chances are excellent that you will benefit significantly from learning the art and science of Agile Self-Leadership.


Learn More about Agile Self-Leadership

 Who needs Agile Self-Leadership and Personal Agility?

What is the AgiliZen approach to Cultivating Agile Self-Leadership?

What are the Benefits of Agile Self-Leadership?

What is the AgiliZen approach to Cultivating Agile Self-Leadership?

AgiliZen is about letting go of agonizing over the things you want to change, but can’t.

Agile Self-Leadership is about mastering the skills, habits and mindset that enable you to lead yourself to change what you can.

It’s about starting where you are today, and using the brain you have to design creative, out-of-the-box, custom solutions to the challenges that keep you from feeling capable, confident and in charge of your life.

The 10 Mantras of AgiliZen

 Agile Life Design™ and AgiliZen™ provide a unique set of tools for natural agilizers (people who weren’t born to be “followers” of other people’s systems nor to be controlled by themselves or others) to practice agile self-leadership and continuously cultivate personal agility as they grow, evolve make life better for themselves.

The 10 Mantras and Practices of AgiliZen provide a framework and curriculum for leading yourself to design your life, career, relationships and environments to fit you now — and — evolve easy in the future as you grow and your needs inevitably change. We call this “Designing for Change”

 AgiliZen teaches the Agile mindset and Self-Leadership skills required to practice self-growth and self-advocacy.  The classes cover self-leadership skills such as Continue reading

Who needs Agile Self-Leadership and Personal Agility?

Everyone can benefit from cultivating Agile Self-Leadership and Personal Agility and agilizing skills, but if you answer yes to any of the following, the impact on your life will be profound.  Do you often feel:

  • Y62688_595521220476110_1077768199_nou are on a roller coaster between too much and not enough?
  • You can’t have, be, or do enough no matter how hard you try?
  • Deeply misunderstood by the people around you?
  • Exhausted from the stress of trying to keep up with the demands of life, work, home and relationships?
  • Your high potential and capabilities are overshadowed by your challenges with making decisions, letting go of things, and / or getting things done?
  • Stuck in painful patterns of overworking, fits of frustration, impatience, anxiety, depression, addictive behavior, compulsive apologizing and explaining, or “OCD” (overwhelm, clutter and disorganization)?
  • You could be doing so much more with your life  if only you could:
    • manage your time better?
    • have better people skills?
    • be more patient?
    • go to bed or get up earlier?
    • eat better? exercise more?
    • pick one thing and focus on it till it’s done?

Continue reading

Falling in love with saying NO


In the age of ridiculously abundant information, it’s so easy to develop infomania and feel like you can’t stop researching and learning more about a topic. 

Nurturing and protecting your ability to create is more important and more difficult than ever.  

Falling in love with the power of no helped me learn to focus.  Instead of feeling like I’m giving up, I’ve taught myself to connect my power to say no to a feeling of freedom , liberation and power. I think of saying NO as actually enabling me to say YES.  

My power to say no to something “interesting” is what makes it possible for me to say YES and devote time and energy to what I’m truly passionate about.



“Stop. I’m not going to take any more input until I’ve made something with what I got.”

- Merlin Mann



12 Strategies for Designing Healthy Sleep Habits

Chronic sleep deprivation has devastating consequences in our lives. Here are just a few of the consequences of chronic lack of sleep:

  • Poor school and job performance
  • Difficulty taking information in and processing it accurately, listening or reading
  • Makes learning new tasks and concepts much harder
  • Greatly increased chance of making mistakes and even endangering lives for by driving while sleep deprived
  • Diminishes capacity to make decisions
  • Negative attitudes and pessimism
  • Impaired immune function
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Increases: Continue reading

Top 3 Reasons Agile Self-Leadership beats Self-Control as a Peak Performance Strategy

If you are like most people today, daily living is full of unpredictable events requiring you to constantly rethink, replan, and reprioritize.

One of the most commonly recommended strategies for getting things done today is to cultivate more “self-control.” The idea is that if you had more self-control you could get more done — and operate at “peak performance” level more often — because after all “normal” successful people have a lot of self-control, right?    That’s the common working assumption in our culture.  Rarely do you hear anyone talking about self-leadership or leading yourself to get things done.

But when you really think about it…what is self-control? Every one has their own definition, and many usually say something like “we don’t really mean “control.”  Are we just too lazy to find a more accurate way to describe how we get ourselves to do things?  I propose that Agile Self-Leadership is a much more precise, meaningful and inspiring way to think about how we cultivate and optimize our own performance.

I love the way NYU Professor and author of the excellent book Ungifted: Intelligence RedefinedScott Barry Kaufman  defines self-control.

Continue reading