Throwback Thursday: The Agile Lifestyle: React, Recognize and Realign

Throwback Thursday: The Agile Lifestyle: React, Recognize and Realign


Kathie Erwin, Ed.D., LMHC, NCC, NCGC


Originally posted 4/22/14

In business management, the agile organization is prized for the ability to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing economy. It seems that some of the characteristics of the agile organization can be applied to help our clients develop an “agile lifestyle” as well. Let’s adapt this complex business concept into three key skills: react, recognize and realign.


A common source of anxiety, depression and relationship problems involves the way in which people react to change. Within our human nature is that unpredictable, sometimes irrational response to change. It’s the reason that stress has a dual identity—eustress (good stress) and stress (harmful stress). The employee who gets a long awaited promotion may feel as much stress starting the coveted new position as the former employee who was terminated from that job. The difference lies in how we handle to change.

The way a person reacts to change is the first step toward moving forward or heading for a crash. Counselors trained in Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) quickly see this as fitting into the ABCDE process. Jesus developed this “model” long before Albert Ellis existed. In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus identified the A (Activating Event) as the common practice in which Roman soldiers had the power to force Jewish citizens to carry their packs for one mile.

Understandably, the B (Irrational Belief) that followed this conscription was hatred toward all Romans. This led to the C (Consequences) of Jewish resistance and further oppression by Roman soldiers as the cycle of anger continued. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave the D (Dispute) for the irrational beliefs by asking his followers to go two miles instead of one mile that was required.

The E (Effect) was to change one’s attitude so that anger did not lead to reacting in ways that ultimately were harmful. In this simple story, Jesus wanted his followers to understand that carrying hatred is a heavier burden than a backpack.

Whether counselors use this vivid example from scripture for Christian clients or approach it from the secular Ellis perspective, dealing with reactions is foundational to developing the agile lifestyle. For many clients (and counselors too!) this is a process, not an event. Transforming the initial negative reactions to change into open minded, correctable reactions takes constant self-monitoring. Consider the organization that only reviews the income and expenses sheets annually rather than monthly. The elapsed time allows mistakes to be repeated and counterproductive coping to become the norm. The agile lifestyle only works if there is regular, fearless examination to “test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).


The agile organization recognizes what is happening in the marketplace and looks for ways to deliver quality product or service in a sustainable manner. Let’s bring that down to the individual counseling level. The individual needs to constantly monitor self in the environment to maximize his/her talents and abilities in a sustainable manner.

The primary individual environment is often the family and home life. Whether it’s a household of one or a dozen, who are the people of significance at the first level in the home and then at the second level of friends, work, community and church? Do these first and second level people affirm or oppose the individual’s mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing?

Maximizing God given talents and abilities is not sustainable when surrounded by negativity. Living the agile lifestyle requires substantial input from people who support, encourage and mentor. This does not mean agreement. Just as Nathan corrected King David in a caring way, we need “Nathans.” When that is not present among friends and family, the counselor or pastor may be the one who helps the client challenge irrational behavior or actions that lead to non-sustainable life patterns.


When an organization goes off course from its values or gets out of sync with the marketplace, smart leadership calls for realignment. The individual who has progressed through identifying harmful reaction patterns and recognized ways to support positive attributes and goals is in position to realign and claim this agile lifestyle.

Realignment is similar to cleaning out the closet; find what fits, discard what no longer fits and streamline what remains. To realign is similar to Hebrews 12:13: “Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled but rather healed.” That’s a perfect description of personal realignment to level out the problem areas so that we are not hampered by reactions; instead we recognize and proactively deal with the approaching problems to avoid being disabled emotionally or spiritually.

Adapting the agile organizational approach to an “agile lifestyle” can be an effective way to communicate with clients from corporate background. While the inspiration for this idea relates to the agile organization, it actually goes back to Jesus’ words in John 10:10: “I have come that they may have life, and have to more abundantly.” The agile lifestyle is another way to move toward the abundant life.


Kathie Erwin, Ed.D., LMHC, NCC is a National Certified Gerontological Counselor and Assistant Professor at Regent University. You can contact her at