Published 06.08.2021

Written by Darcy Luoma

Darcy Luoma is one of America’s most highly credentialed coaches. She’s worked in 48 industries, with more than 500 organizations, and has impacted tens of thousands of leaders and employees.

The Practice of Agility: When was the last time you played dodgeball?

Remember dodgeball? Does just the word make you cringe and think of your lack of agility? It does for me!

Playing dodgeball in elementary school stressed me out so much. You know the balls are coming, but you never quite know when, or where, or from whom, or at what intensity! I’d scan the entire room at all times, but I’d still be caught off guard and pelted by that ball.

At least in elementary school, we knew we were playing dodgeball and that the game would eventually end. As adults, we can’t always be hypervigilant. Whether it’s an angry client or a surprise from a colleague, our days can have moments when it feels like a red, rubber ball is hitting us. 

We’re just going about our day and then wham!

That’s when you have to exercise control and make a choice. Will you pick up that ball and pelt it back at the other person? Will you try to hide and protect yourself from other balls that may come your way? Or will you catch the ball and call a ceasefire?

Take Control of the Game and Play with Agility

The Thoughtfully Fit practice of Agility allows us to stay light on our feet, especially in moments when the unexpected happens. Agility is key when you’re caught off guard and need to respond effectively.

Your immediate reaction to an angry client might be to get defensive and act in a way that leads to more people problems being hurled at you. Ouch. You may downplay your immediate reaction by thinking, There was no other way to handle it or That’s just the way these things go, but the truth is we have more control than that.

When we engage our core and play the game with Agility, we can override our default reactions when the unforeseen happens. The key is to take the time to Pause. Think. and create awareness before we Act.

If you’re caught off guard and need time to Think, try saying the following to buy you a moment:

  • “I need a second to process this.”
  • “Let’s go and find a place to talk about this.”
  • “Let me get a drink of water/go to the bathroom/fill my coffee and then we can chat.”

While it can be challenging to find the time to Pause and Think, it can make all the difference. Don’t diminish your control. Practice Agility and take that extra second to create awareness of all the choices you have, so you can take meaningful Action, lead with intention, and dodge your people problems (and maybe even a few injuries) along the way.

One-minute Core Workout

  • Pause: If someone says or does something that triggers you, insert a Pause into the moment—instead of reacting immediately.
  • Think:  Ask yourself thoughtful questions like, “What do I control in this situation?” or “How do I want to show up in this moment?” or “What would a successful outcome look like for everyone involved?”
  • Act: Respond to the situation with clarity, confidence, and a calm head.

While we may not have to worry (too much) about being struck unexpectedly by a dodgeball at the office, it can sometimes feel like life is playing ruthlessly against us. Whether the next challenge life hurls at you is big or small, practice tackling it with Agility.

And if you do find yourself in the middle of a heated game, don’t forget to dodge, duck, dip, dive, and dodge (again). You got this!


One Rule Improv by Mary DeMichele can help leaders and teams practice being quick on their feet in the workplace using tools and training that are simple, enjoyable, and great for team bonding. (Think Whose Line is it Anyway meets corporate America!)