Paul Napper/Anthony Rao “The Power of Agency”
Paul Napper and Anthony Rao’s The Power of Agency: The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decision, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms is a lengthy but succinctly written guidebook of a kind designed to help individuals reclaim a sense of control over their lives. It lays out its argument by acknowledging fundamental truths for many people today. Our technological world has increased connectivity in many respects, but its faster tempo has exacted a price from our daily lives. We grope for time and energy to tend our personal gardens – relationships with self, our families, and friends have suffered in the pursuit of maintaining our vocational positions and social standing. Many of us feel adrift and passengers in vehicles we cannot control. This book and its authors seek to provide us with potential remedies for this malaise without ever promising a magical solution.
The volume, instead, makes no bones that hard work and the capacity for self-reflection are indispensable components of regaining a feeling of control over our own lives. Napper and Rao offer up seven readily understandable principles for achieving this without ever lecturing or talking down to their reader; indeed, one of the core values of their approach, in my opinion, is their empathy with the struggles such people face. Despite their education and academic grounding, Napper and Rao don’t lose readers utilizing dense language and high flown concepts. They present their template for self-improvement in such a way that perceptive readers will often read through the text with a growing sense of awareness – you may often find yourself thinking “hey, that makes sense” or “why didn’t I think of it like that?” They have a deft skill for illuminating possible solutions our lives keep just out of sight.
Checklists and exercises scattered throughout the book help make this possible. These are self-explanatory “tests” readers can administer to themselves without much preparation or formality so they can determine where they are in their journey and areas they need to address. Many self-help books make use of these sorts of tools, but they are often too clever by a half. Not so here. The same clarity defining the text extends to these features as well. The conclusion of the book includes a Methodology section detailing how the authors built the book – it reinforces the conclusions of the text by illustrating the way Napper and Rao arrived at their theories through working with clients and patients alike. The experiences shared throughout the text from a variety of source like educational professionals, mental health providers, and everyday men and women are essential voices as well that bolster the book’s credibility.
The Power of Agency: The 7 Principles to Conquer Obstacles, Make Effective Decision, and Create a Life on Your Own Terms makes the seeming incomprehensibility of our lives clearer in concise and provable ways. These trained and experienced medical professionals have gleaned reams of insight into the biases shaping our lives, insights into what gives birth to the wide gamut of emotions we experience, and have built a solutions-based approach to dealing with these things that any reader can begin practicing without delay. It is a powerful and rich work.