4.8 The Power of Intention
EGL Newsletter Volume 4.8
Intention is defined as “an anticipated outcome that guides your planned actions”. That breaks down into two distinct parts. First, understanding your “anticipated outcome” and second, “guiding your planned actions”. Many people don’t realize how much this plays out on a daily basis. For instance, how often have you seen a person (maybe yourself) walk into a situation expecting a negative outcome. I’ve seen this many times with people who enter a staff meeting just knowing that it will be terrible (anticipated outcome) and consequently sitting idly and wait for it to go south (guides planned action). However, if you were to say to them that their intention was to have a bad meeting, they would probably disagree with you.
What that person would probably say is that they just knew it would happen that way. They might even say that they really wanted to have a good meeting, but felt it was beyond their control. At this level, what they are expressing is more like a wish. Where we get to be a leader is when we add the power of our own dynamic presence, what we see as the highest possible anticipated outcome, then use ourselves in the moment to create that outcome. This is when we transform a wish into an clear intention.
It is really a question of consciousness and choice. As a leader, it is a requirement that we get very clear about the anticipated outcomes that we are carrying around. Intention ties in very closely with our conscious and unconscious belief systems. As such, we can be carrying a negative limiting belief at a subconscious level that operates as a default guide. Not a good thing for being a dynamic and powerful leader. For the purpose of leadership practice, we are really talking about getting clear on what we see as anticipated outcomes, and using them to guide our actions in a way that helps us accomplish positive things.
Let’s use one example of conversations. At a very discreet level, we can think of each conversation we have as an opportunity to connect with our deepest beliefs, and frame them into an intention. When you sit down to talk to someone, think about what it is that you want to accomplish through this time. Think about what is important to you, and to the other person. After that, be clear about why you are having this conversation. Express that as an intention, as in “it is my intention to connect at an emotional level” or in is my intention to get clear on our weekly priorities”. You can do this silently, or more powerfully, to the participants. From there, let that intention guide your actions.
Now be careful, as there is a potential downside to this. If you only focus on what you want to accomplish, you probably won’t get it. Communicating is building a system of rapport between people, and that requires healthy amounts of paying attention to the other person’s wants and needs. If we turn our intention into and agenda, we run the risk of shutting other people out.
At any rate, make it a practice to begin getting clear about your intention for the things you do on a daily basis. Think about your intention in writing an email. Think about your intention in reading and email. Think about your intention when you greet a receptionist, or the server in a restaurant. Think about your intention when you say hello to significant people in your life. Whatever it is, the greater degree we can bring up our “anticipated outcomes” and make them consciously our own, the more effective, dynamic, and powerful we will be in the world.