Master Your Challenges

Anthony Rao
3 min readJun 11, 2019

The quality of one’s life often comes down to two distinct challenges:

1. Maintaining control over life demands, and …

2. Following through on goals that matter

Master these challenges and you increase self-confidence, reduce anxiety, and experience the happiness that comes from being in greater control of your destiny. Getting there requires self-awareness and making choices that create a more meaningful life.

With this chart you can quickly master your challenges.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

What challenges are you facing today? What has you stuck? Maybe you want to initiate a career change and leave your current company, but you fear the risk involved. Or maybe you are struggling with carving out time for yourself among the demands of a busy family life. Your problem or challenge might involve a relationship with a partner, family member, boss, or co-worker that you have to deal with each day that drags you down. Maybe you’re grappling with one of life’s bigger questions, such as Am I on the right path? Why do I feel so unfulfilled?

No matter what your problem or challenge, this Agency grid is designed to help you assess where you currently are and point you in a better direction — the direction of needed change to increase your Agency.

Step 2: Plot Yourself

With your vexing problem or challenge in mind, where do you find yourself? Which quadrant would you place yourself in?

The upper-right quadrant is the most desirable place to be. It’s where you have a strong sense of personal Agency — where your judgment is sound and you’re not afraid to act on it. Under these circumstances, acting on your decision will most likely yield a positive outcome. As you practice this it will build your reservoir of confidence.

Right now, take a moment to reflect. If you are not in the upper right, ask: Which direction do I need to go? What would it take to get myself closer to the upper right quadrant?

Step 3: Change Direction

For some people, the challenge is to move up (along the Y-axis) which means focusing on improving the quality of their judgment. Others have to move toward the right (along the X-axis) in order to stop worrying (or procrastinating) and take decisive action. Some people, depending on the problem or challenge they face, need to do a bit of both.

For most of us, moving upward on this grid takes more work than moving from left to right. Why? Improving the quality of your judgment involves new ways of framing a problem, seeing yourself, and questioning your viewpoints. You may at times find yourself in the lower right quadrant. This is when you act impulsively and don’t think through things carefully enough. Over-confidence can place us into this quadrant. Confidence is a great thing, but it should be based on real efforts that lead to real outcomes.

Step 4: Use the Principles of Agency

The seven principles provided in The Power of Agency are strategies and practices specifically designed to move you toward the desired Agency quadrant. In our field research we’ve found that practicing these principles promotes a healthy level of personal Agency and allows you to regroup when you are feeling adrift. As you practice it, Agency becomes easier to maintain. Our clients describe feeling happier and more creative. They’re also more calm and in greater control.

If this motivated you and gets you thinking about taking charge, facing challenges, and moving yourself forward in your life — please visit There, you will find a free survey to test yourself and get you started on the first Agency principle that we call Control Stimuli.



Anthony Rao

Psychologist, Speaker, and Author of The Power of Agency; The Way of Boys