Excerpted from The Responsibility Process by Christopher Avery.
Intention is defined as “the thing that you plan to do or achieve: an aim or purpose.” For example, “I intend to meet with my team today.” It is a determination to feel, behave, or experience something in a certain way. I’ve heard Intention described as a stretching or bending of the mind toward some object or outcome. Intention is also described as a fixedness of attention, as in to focus or concentrate. It’s a sense of earnestness and impulse toward something. I’ve even heard it called an internal carrier wave.
Let me illustrate with a simple story. The first house Amy and I owned was in a lovely and hilly neighborhood in Austin, Texas, called Northwest Hills. The house sat at the bottom of not one hill, but two. Although the landscape was lush and green, it was also humid and stuffy, and our views were into the hillsides comprising the neighbors’ yards and tree trunks. A few years later as our family grew and we started thinking of moving, I remember looking at a house sitting high on a hill with a beautiful view. I could also feel a breeze there that would not be felt at our house a few blocks away at the bottom of those hills. I remember thinking I want to live at the top of a hill with a view. It was the type of I want this! thought that sticks. I’m sure you know what I mean. As we looked at properties, being on a hill with a view became one of the criteria. You won’t be surprised that our next house was high on a hill in Austin with expansive views in three points of the compass. And, as I write this, our house in Comfort, Texas, sits on the edge of a hill almost 300 feet above the Guadalupe River and looks out over the river valley more than five miles to hills on the other side.
Thus, about twenty years ago I generated a simple thought, an Intention, to live high on a hill with a view. And for nineteen years, that Intention has been met. And that feels good.
There is nothing unique about this story. The Intention to live on a hill is one of thousands, or perhaps millions, of intentions I’ve generated. It’s not the most important nor largest of my intentions. Nor did it require significant effort or time to realize. And most importantly, there is nothing unique about me for having and realizing intentions because we all do it. It simply illustrates what an Intention is: the thing you plan to do or achieve; a determination to feel, behave, or experience something; a stretching or bending of the mind toward some object or outcome; a fixedness of attention; a sense of earnestness and impulse toward something; an internal carrier wave.
Intention is an essential component of free will, your individual ability to decide what you want to experience. It’s a fundamental aspect of being human. If we look at synonyms for Intention it’s easy to see how much we apply Intention in business. We have visions and purposes, we develop strategies and plans, and we set goals and objectives. They all mean something we aim to make true, something we pursue and intend to accomplish or attain.
Think of some of the intentions you have generated in your life that came true or are in the process of being realized. They don’t have to be examples of massive things, nor of intentions that required great effort, fortitude, or time. Simply think of things in your life where you thought to yourself I want to do, be, or experience X and then you did.
When you recall intentions that you set and then met, how does it feel?
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Christopher Avery studies, speaks, and writes about the benefits and practices of personal and shared responsibility. He founded The Leadership Gift™ Program to make world-class personal leadership development accessible to individuals worldwide. His books include The Responsibility Process and Teamwork Is An Individual Skill.