Intention speaks softly.
Unless we listen, really stop and listen, it will be lost in the noise. Shouted down by our impulsive, learned responses.
It is the voice of a wise friend.
Calling you to be the person you hoped you could be.
The person you can be.
Calling you to a bigger story.
Intention stands in the gap between the stimulus and our response, asking the important questions.
Is this what you really want?
Will this thing you are about to do really meet your needs?
Does this action reflect your values?
Intention is present in every area of our lives. It speaks to every choice, every word, every promise.
Even when we’ve lost touch with our true intention, it waits. Ready to guide us again if we will quiet our minds and listen to our hearts.
When we resist our true intention it creates tension. Something inside knows we are moving away from the thing we want most. We are leaving the path we know will lead us closer to home. We may experience this tension in our body, in the emotions of regret, shame or guilt, and in the form of difficult consequences.
When we listen to our true intention we may not get the immediate result our fear, anger or frustration demanded. We are taking a longer term view and considering the impact on our character and the more important goals we have set for our lives. This can be very hard to do because it often means acknowledging the emotion or pain that is in our face and yet choosing to take a different path in spite of the strong pull of our instincts.
Intention is present in organizations and in leadership. It speaks to our priorities, our decisions, and our actions.
Imagine if we thought about the true intentions for the organization in the same way we do our personal lives. Is it possible that we feel most connected in our work when the organization’s intentions align closely with our own true intentions? Mission statements and core values should be more than window dressing. They should represent the true intentions of the organization and be the guide for the thousands of interactions and decisions that take place every day.
Is this what we really want?
Will this option really help us meet our long-term goals?
Does this action reflect our mission and values?
Imagine if we approached leadership as the practice of regularly acting from our true intentions and encouraging others to do the same.
So how do we discover our true intentions?
For most of us they follow our deepest human needs.
As we know from our own experience, there are many healthy and unhealthy ways we can try to satisfy these needs.
Discovering our true intention is the act of reaching beyond the immediate reaction or emotion to consider how we can respond in a way that moves us closer to really meeting the deeper need that is being called upon. We are seeking to act in alignment with the principles that will guide us towards success, towards the person we want to be in our own eyes and for the people we care about.
Side note – most of the products or services our organizations create are linked to and/or marketed towards meeting these needs. Isn’t that just a bit ironic given that many organizations fail to act on those same needs when looking inward?
Many of the problems we experience as leaders and in organizations occur when these needs are not acknowledged or when we create an environment that encourages these needs to be met in ways that provide only a short-term substitute.
We all know the stories. It’s fairly common to see this acted out in our own workplace or in the news.
So now the question.
Are you connecting to your true intentions?
How about your organization?
It takes awareness.
It takes practice.
It takes patience.
It takes courage.
It takes you on an inner journey that will change the course of your outer journey.