“Intentions” have gotten a bad rap, no thanks to that old saying, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” There’s actually something quite heavenly about setting an intention and having it fulfilled.
In coaching jargon, an “intention” is a concise statement summarizing a state of mind about who you intend to be, even in the midst of the changes and challenges of leadership. It starts with “I am” and ends with a value. A few examples:
“I am independent and confident.”
“I am courageous.”
“I am generous and compassionate.”
Each of these intentions describes a mindset you might choose at any given moment.
Leaders often set intentions when they need to stay cool in an intense situation, when they’re too busy to stay focused on what’s important to them, or when they are trying to make changes in their thinking. As you go through the stormy parts of life, your intentions anchor you to your values.
Why set an intention? Intentions shift your thinking away from negative self-defeating or counterproductive thoughts, and replace them with a mindset more aligned with your values. They also help you reframe a situation so you can choose how to act, think, and be for the best possible result. To give a few examples of leaders who have chosen intentions:
- When Ryan, a corporate CFO, had to cut expenses, he set the intention to be resourceful and creative.
- When Lei, a business owner, had to confront an angry customer, she the intention to be calm.
- When David, an exhausted new dad, had to make an important presentation, he set the intention to be alert and focused.
An intention reframes the way you see a situation so that you can approach it in the best possible way – consciously choosing how to act, think, and be. Your intention has the power to change your perspective, open your mind, and shift your experience.
To create your intention, start by asking yourself, Who do I want to be as a leader? How do I want to experience my life? How do I want other people to experience me? What mindset or perspective do I want to hold? By purposefully choosing who you want to be, you enter leadership with the best of intentions.
Practice setting an intention for an upcoming event – anything from your next meeting to a difficult interaction, to an evening at home. Use the Your Intentions worksheet in The Extension as a guide.
The ideas in this article are drawn from The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership and the accompanying eBook called The Extension. The eBook is designed to give you simple, engaging personal leadership exercises and activities to help you be a better leader, and lead a better life. Get your copy today! Click here for a Preview or Order Now.