To Be or Not to Be?

That is the question, as Shakespeare so eloquently wrote. 

For me, I’m choosing “To Be.”  My personal mantra for 2010 is to “Be Intentional.”  What value can I gain by creating and abiding by this mantra?  It comes down to some basic leadership principles.

Intentionality is Different than Strategy

Strategy is critical.  I’m not taking anything away from the importance of having both a clear vision and a strategy to achieve your vision.  That said, what’s important every day after these goals are in place is to have intentionality.

Take New Year’s resolutions as an example. Recent research shows that while 52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals.  It’s common for people to set a goal and have a plan to achieve it.  What happens after a period of time, though, is they lose their intent.  Passion and motivation wane, and so intent goes by the wayside along with them.

We need to find ways to maintain our intentions.  We need to keep our goals top-of-mind, so that what we say and do are intentionally driving toward those goals.  For me, that means keeping goals visible as reminders, daily check-ins with myself analyzing how I spend my time each day, and communicating goals to people who I can trust to help hold me accountable.

The Power of WHY

I recently read a post by fellow leadership blogger, Michael McKinney entitled “The One Question You Should Ask Now.”  Yes, you guessed it – the question is “why?” and the truths in this article resonate loudly.

Michael writes about Simon Sinek’s book, Start With Why.  He references one quote, in particular that caught my attention:

“Achievement comes,” says Sinek, “when you pursue and attain WHAT you want. Success comes when you are clear in pursuit of WHY you want it.”

As I relate that back to my mantra, “Be Intentional,” I can understand the great power of “why.”  By understanding what I value – the reason for my why – I will always have a compelling reason (a purpose!) to achieve those goals.  In essence, the “why” is the motivation to remain intentional, and it must be tied back to something I value.  It’s much easier for me (and most people) to remain intentional when we care.  So, my goals for 2010 all tie back to my value system and my purpose.

The Benefits of Being Intentional

By proclaiming this mantra, I’ve heightened my awareness ten-fold.  I am much more cognizant of where and how I spend my time.  “It must be intentional,” I continue to remind myself.  I cannot simply ride the wave of each day and be pulled in directions that don’t serve a greater purpose.

Because of this awareness, I’ve quickly realized that productivity and efficiencies are gained!  No more wasting time on activities that don’t intentionally march me closer to my goals.  I’m more purposeful than ever!!  Because I maintain that intentionality, I’m also more focused on goals and how to achieve them. . That’s forced both ends of the spectrum – more creative thinking, as well as more tactical task completion (hey, we’ve all got to get stuff done too!)

I’ve also found that because I’m motivated about being intentional, I’m also motivated to measure my progress.  I want to see (and celebrate!) the forward momentum!  It’s analogous to a diet – being intentional about weight loss.  What’s the thing that motivates dieters the most?  Seeing a smaller number on the scale and feeling better in their clothes.  It’s by measuring and seeing positive change that we continue on the path toward greater success.

Questions to Ponder

What can you do as a leader to be more intentional?  Is there something that can you can focus on improving?  How can you apply this same concept to your team?  Have you provided a compelling reason why they would want to have intention?

Erin Schreyer is the President of Sagestone Partners, a leadership and talent management coaching firm in Cincinnati, OH.  She is passionate about helping people and companies reach their greatest potential.  For additional information, visit http://www.sagestone-partners.com.

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12 thoughts on “To Be or Not to Be?

  1. Well said Erin. Being intentional, especially in a world where hundreds if not thousands of people are vying for our attention, is a critical behavior and habit to have to be successful, with successful being defined most simply as achievement of one’s goals, whatever they are. Being intentional takes a great deal of discipline, more so for those who are really energized by the idea, task or even crisis of the moment. Being intentional, I think, requires people to say over and over each day, “is this the best use of my time at this moment.”

    I hope this will encourage many people to be intentional – it is an effective way to make an impact!

    Bill

  2. Erin, you have once again shed light on something that we can all gain benefit from. You have very elegantly reminded us that without focus and purposeful actions that things do not get done.

    Having strategies and plans without commitment is like driving a car without a steering wheel. You can accelerate, decelerate, and stop, but you can’t really control where you are going. With out focus, without purposeful and intentional commitment to succeed, we may expend a lot of energy and never accomplish our intended goals.

    Nicely done, Gordon

  3. Erin – your observation about the importance of tying/linking actions to one’s original intention, which in turn, is linked to purpose…is so SPOT-ON! A big WOOHOO to you!

    • Chris – thanks for leaving a comment. We’ve all heard that quote before, and most agree too. I think intentions in that context, though, are related to someone intending to take action, but ultimately failing to take action. The intention that I’m hoping to inspire here is the action-oriented kind that produces results. Hope that makes sense.

  4. Erin,

    Another great post! As always, I thoroughly enjoy reading your thought processes and the way you clearly articulate key lessons for leadership and life-balance.

    As I read through your connection between ‘intention’ and the ‘Power of Why’ I was reminded of a lesson that someone shared with me a few years ago. It provided some context for why we periodically make promises to ourselves that evenually fall short. It was a slant on the age old distinction between ‘doing’ and ‘being’.

    At that time my legacy commitments to losing weight and get in shape were something I was committing to ‘Do’. Invariably my resolve would wear thin and I would start the process over again and again and again. A triathlete friend of mine, however, hadn’t missed a day of exercise in years. In my mind he was insane. So I asked him, “How can you possibly do this?”. His reply… “It’s not what I do, IT’S JUST WHO I AM”.

    His answer shocked me back into reality. It reminded me that WE are ultimately ‘RESPONSIBLE’ for deciding ‘Who’ we are (roles, beliefs, etc). Those unwavering decisions we make ultimately create the intention that drives our action irrespective of how we feel. We just do it…and when we Do it the great feelings are sure to follow.

    Keep up the great work. Blessings!

    Mark

  5. You’re very right in that introspection can cause you to produce better results. I always find I have better results when I’m aware of my intentions. There are therapies that work that way also, it works like a mantra that helps you remember and aware more often so your concentration is at its best. Thanks for your post. 🙂

  6. Erin –

    Another great post! Thanks for your insight, transparency, and authenticity! I wrote my Moments book to encourage and challenge people to make the most of their moments in all aspects of life and help them be more intentional. Thanks for impacting your sphere of influence to do the same! You may want to also check out a blog I wrote a few years ago entitled “BE=DO.”

    http://vanhoozer.blogs.com/my_weblog/2006/01/be_do.html

    Stay Strong! Stay Faithful!

    Mike

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